Famed for its volcanic chain of islands populated with a staggering variety of wildlife, Ecuador is the most biodiverse country in the world. While a small country on the northwestern coast of South America lying right on the equator, Ecuador has a lot to offer to visitors outside of the Galapagos islands: Andean peaks, a slice of the Amazon rainforest, colonial towns, native crafts markets, and sun-drenched beaches are just among its major tourist draws. Read through this Ecuador travel blog for more information on which sights to see, when to go best, and what precautions to take.
The Galapagos islands are justly famed for their variety of wildlife, and going on a cruise is one way to experience the otherworldly landscapes these volcanic islands have to offer. For a more up close encounter with its fascinating marine wildlife, going on a liveaboard or diving expedition offers an unparalleled experience.
The Amazon rainforest extends well into Ecuador, and you can best experience its diversity (and thousands of orchid varieties) at the Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve as well as meet indigenous communities and local shamans that populate its fringes. If you are more of a mountain trekker, the Andes passes through Ecuador as its winds its way down to Argentina and Chile. Check with Ecuador travel blogs on how you can mountain bike, ride on horseback or hike from village to village and stay at local guesthouses along the way.
Of course, the Pacific coast brims with sunny beaches and surf spots, with some of the most amazing beaches found in the provinces of Manabi, Esmeraldas, Guayas and Guayaquil.
Ecuador Travel Blog and Holiday Tips
Medical and Healthcare:
Acclimatize gradually to avoid getting altitude sickness, which is a common complaint among those who fly to Quito, which is sitting at an elevation of 2850m. Aside from elevation, you also need to get ample protection against mosquitoes, which are carriers of various diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever.
Be wary of the food and water you take, as they can be contaminated and give you typhoid fever. Keep an eye out on outbreaks of cholera so you can avoid going to places where they are occurring. Check with your doctor about the possibility of getting vaccines against malaria and yellow fever, and don’t leave without a comprehensive travel and health insurance. Pregnant women may want to consider the US CDC travel alert on Zika virus before going.
Money and Foreign Exchange
Aside from the Ecuadorian centaro, Ecuador uses the US dollar as its official currency, which you can withdraw from widely available ATMs in major cities and tourist areas for a small withdrawal fee. However, avoid using ATMs on the street as these are prone to street thievery. Better withdraw (ideally, small bills below $10)) from hotels or other establishments with security guards nearby. Credit and debit cards are accepted in many tourist places in exchange for a small commission. Traveler’s checks can also be exchanged at a few banks for a small fee. The Euro, Peruvian soles and Colombian nuevos soles can easily be converted, while other currencies can be converted with difficulty or at fixed exchange rates.
When to go
If you plan to go on a Galapagos cruise, book way ahead of high season, which runs from January to May. But if you can withstand rough seas, you can enjoy cooler temperatures, drier weather, and fewer tourists from June to December. Highlands see sunny and clear days from June to September, while the coast sees lots of traffic from December to April when the temperatures are warm and cooled by occasional showers.
Getting around – Ecuador has good roads and driving through the country, either with a rental car from international agencies, widely available taxis, motorcycles, and public buses, can be a pleasant experience. To get to Galapagos, it’s easier to fly from either Guayaquil or Quito.