Ecuador Travel Guide
As one of the few countries on Earth where the two hemispheres meet, Ecuador is a country of curiosities. It’s home to Chimborazo which boasts a summit that is the farthest point you can get from Earth's inner core. Then, there’s Quito, the highest capital in the world and the infamous islands that inspired the Theory of Evolution. Safe to say, there's plenty waiting to astound you in Ecuador.
The capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Quito is not to be missed – even if you’re only there to stand on both sides of the equator at the same time. Get that out of the way and then explore the rest of the city. See its stunning monuments and architecture, visit its captivating museums and shop until you drop at the Artisan Market.
Llanganates National Park
This national park is more than just the setting for legends and stories of buried treasures. Llanganates is home to ocelots, spectacled bears, tapirs, toucans and other wildlife. Whether you’re going on a guided hike, river rafting, zip lining or simply wildlife watching, you’re in for memorable adventures.
Sangay National Park
Animal lovers, volcano watchers, waterfall enthusiasts and trekkers alike will find something to worship about Sangay National Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a refuge for rare animals as well as home to several volcanoes and waterfalls worth trekking to. From wildlife watching to discovering endemic plant species to climbing an inactive volcano, there’s a myriad of things to do.
Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes is undeniably awe-inspiring, but climbing the snow and ice capped summit of the Chimborazo is a must for extreme adventurers. Trekking this Andean stratovolcano is one for the bucket list, and even if you can’t make it all the way to the top, an easy hike to where the glacier starts or admiring it from a nearby village is enough.
Though Cuenca’s centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its beautiful historical buildings, the city boasts more than just its architecture. Learn how Panama hats are made, dine at the restaurant dedicated to Che Guevarra, take a walk along La Calle Larga and enjoy the views at El Turi. When you’re finished exploring, use the city as your jumping off point to Cajas National Park.
It’s not hard to fall in love with Banos, Ecuador’s gateway to the Amazon. Also known as Baños de Agua Santa, this small city south of Quito is where many heroic journeys and extraordinary adventures begin including rafting the rapids to hiking to one of the 60 waterfalls nearby and exploring the famous jungle. Then spoil yourself by sampling local delicacies and taking a dip in a hot spring.
Ecuador is a country in South America, bordering Colombia, Peru and the Pacific Ocean. From New York, a non-stop flight is about 6h 15m. From London, a flight is about 15 hours, with a stopover.
Quito is located on the lower slopes of the volcano Pichincha. It is the second-highest official capital city in the world and closest to the Equator.
Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport is the main hub for domestic and international travellers. It is located 18km from the city of Quito in the Tababela Parish.
- Closest City
The official language of Ecuador is Spanish. English is spoken in most businesses and restaurants catering to tourists.
Ecuador uses the US Dollar. The currency code is USD. ATMs are found in most cities and towns, though some can run out of money. Keep smaller bills on hand as some vendors won’t accept larger bills.
For Australian, Canadian, UK and US citizens, no prior visa is required and will be issued free upon arrival. Stays of up to 90 days in Ecuador are allowed in most cases.
Quito uses 110V/60hz as well as US Type A and Type B plugs. An adapter or converter might be necessary if you’re not coming from the United States.
Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, Rabies and antimalarial tablets are advised. Proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination is required if travelling from a high-risk country.
The phone numbers to call in case of emergency are 101 for the police, 131 for an ambulance and 102 for a fire. 911 is used in major cities as the general emergency number.
When to Visit
Visit ResponsiblyTravelling responsibly means respecting the communities, culture and environment of the places you visit. Keep these tips in mind when travelling to Ecuador:
Go green. Be environmentally conscious on the road by taking short showers; turning off the lights in your hotel room when you leave; and resisting the urge to collect any plants, seashells, or other natural flora.
Respect cultural differences. Before travelling, read about the local culture and customs – even just knowing the dress code and a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way.
Support local businesses. Enjoy a more authentic experience and directly support the local economy by travelling with a local guide, eating in local restaurants, buying from local artisans, and staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations.
Wherever possible, avoid single-use plastics. Pack reusable items such as your own shopping bags, utensils, a water bottle, and a straw. These items are typically lightweight and compact, and will greatly reduce your consumption of plastics.
Be conscious of overtourism. Opt to visit the lesser-known regions of Ecuador or travel outside the peak season – you'll likely even get a better deal and won't have all the crowds!
Sustainable Tourism in EcuadorNational Sustainability Standards for Tourism
Ecuador's tourism industry has adopted a set of standards that ensure that tourism throughout the country is carried our sustainably. These standards are the result of a collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and have received a mark of "Recognition" by the GSTC that their standards are aligned with the universal standards set by the council.
Bountiful Biodiversity on the Galapagos Islands
When it comes to impressive flora and fauna, the Galapagos islands are tough to beat.The Galapagos archipelago and surrounding waters are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and more than 95% protected under the status of conservation. Travellers are welcome in controlled numbers, and while the entry fees to the Galapagos National Park contribute to conservation. Throughout the rest of the country, there are also many opportunities to experience nature through ecotourism.