Please verify that your passport has been stamped with the number of days required for your visit to Ecuador. We recommend that you make copies of all your important documents and leave the originals in the safety box of your hotel. Keep a copy of your passport with you. Please note that while travelling in mainland Ecuador, you don't need to carry your passport with you. However, when going to the Galápagos or the Amazon region, you will need to carry your passport.
IT IS IMPORTANT that you keep the immigration entry form (duly stamped by the Immigration authorities upon arrival), as it will be requested when you leave the country.
In the event your luggage does not arrive with you, immediately submit your claim with the respective airline at the airport terminal. The airline is responsible for your luggage and should inform you when, in which flight and at what time your luggage is due to arrive. If this situation occurs, please do inform your guide. If you need any additional assistance to go to or from the airport, do not hesitate to contact us, although please note that we will charge for transportation.
Airlines now only issue E-tickets. You should take note of your confirmation code. Outbound flights no longer need to be reconfirmed. We suggest you to check with your airline if it's possible to check-in online the day before in order to facilitate the check-in process at the airport.
Airline policies encourage passengers to be at the airport three hours before departure time for international flights. For guests with transfer services, a message will be delivered to your hotel, informing you of the pick-up time. Please keep your carry-on luggage with you at all times; like at most big airports, leaving your luggage on the floor can increase the possibilities of losing it.
The equatorial sun is very strong and is able to burn even through cloud cover. It is highly recommended to use sunscreen with a suitably high protection factor, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. Fair-skinned travellers should use sun protection at high altitudes and seashore at all times, even if the weather is cloudy, as UV rays penetrate light clouds.
Ecuador's currency is the US Dollar. Bills over 20 dollars are hard to change; bring bills of smaller denominations or break larger notes in more sophisticated businesses (eg. hotels, expensive restaurants). Ecuador issues local coins for 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents, which are equivalent to US coins, as well as using the 1 dollar coin; however, these are only accepted in Ecuador. Euros may be changed for US Dollars at banks, hotels and money exchange offices.
Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express. Cruise ships in the Galápagos also accept most credit cards. Payment for Metropolitan Touring services can be charged to your card. Take note that Travellers' Cheques are less and less accepted by establishments, or else incur onerous transaction charges.
Banks and Businesses
Most city offices and banks are open from 9:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday. Currency exchange facilities and banks are also open on Saturday morning and throughout the week only at major hotels and malls. ATMs are easily found throughout the main cities. Cash advances can be made at most banks or ATMs. Banking facilities are not available and use of credit cards less common in remote areas, so it's advisable to carry cash.
Ecuador's varied geography has produced an equally varied cuisine. A dazzling range of potatoes and corn from the highlands; bananas and tropical fruits in the coastal areas, together with the bounty of the waters of the Pacific, particularly shrimp, makes dining in Ecuador a remarkable experience.
Some foods are ever-present – like bananas that come in varied sizes and colours, from tiny "finger" bananas to large, green plantains - and potatoes; every Indian market displays an amazing range -- all colours, sizes and shapes.
Ecuador has one of the tastiest cuisines in South America, with a great variety of fruits and vegetables, reflecting the country's biodiversity. Apart from more traditional recipes, creative chefs in major cities and at hotels today offer contemporary Ecuadorian cuisine: healthy, light and delicious, where a wide variety of traditional, native ingredients are cooked with different combinations of aromas, flavours and colours.
Water and Beverages
The tap water in most of Ecuador is potable, but the chemical content varies from place to place. To avoid problems, we recommend that you always drink bottled water. Bottled mineral water, with or without carbonation, is available at all hotels, ships, and lodges. Ecuadorian beer (Pilsener or Club) is excellent and bottled soft drinks are available everywhere. In establishments which we include as part of our programmes, juices and salads are safe for foreign stomachs.
All major cities have an ample selection of fine restaurants featuring international cuisine or regional culinary specialties. Dining out in Ecuador will be a remarkable experience. See suggestions for restaurants in each city in the next pages.
The key is casual and comfortable. In the highlands, dressing in layers, with clothes that you can either put on or take off as required, is ideal: T-shirt, blouse or shirt, sweater and a warm jacket, as evenings get chilly. Cottons are ideal for the coast and rainforest. When visiting churches, monasteries, and shrines, women should not wear shorts or miniskirts. Comfortable, waterproof shoes are a must. Laundry service is available in most hotels.
Around US$25 to US$30 per ride from Quito's airport to downtown. Routes within Quito rarely exceed $5. Rates vary among the main cities. It's safest to have your hotel or a restaurant call you a cab on your behalf.
Children over six will have no problem in the mainland or Galápagos excursions. Hotels in the major cities cater to children of all ages, providing children's menus, baby sitters and extra beds/cribs. We do not recommend that very young children join some of our tours such as Galápagos or other adventuresome destinations. Please inquire.
The hotels, haciendas and lodges used on our tours are the best available in each location. The excitement of visiting remote areas amply compensates for the lack of luxury or some urban comfort in rural accommodations.
Newspapers & Magazines
Local dailies are available in Spanish. The Miami Herald in English is sold or available daily at selected hotels and bookstores. Foreign language magazines and pocketbooks are available at larger bookshops, such as Libri Mundi or Mr Books. Cable TV news is available in main hotels.
Calling in and outside Ecuador
To make a local call, no city codes are necessary and the number will have 7 digits.
When calling from city to city, respective codes should be included.
When calling from outside of Ecuador or with roaming on your own cellphone, country code and city code (omitting the 0) are required:
Ecuador (country code) 593.
Since 2012, all cellphone numbers have 10 digits, with a 9 after the first 0. If you are dialling an old number without 10 digits, add the 9.
- City codes:
- Quito 02
- Guayaquil 04
- Cuenca 07
- Galápagos 05
Most shops are open from 9:00 to 18:00. Shopping malls in main cities are open from 10:00 to 18:00. Please note that to guarantee authenticity in your jewellery, antiques or artwork, shop at specialized stores. Archaeological pieces and colonial art are not allowed to be taken out of Ecuador.
The safest option is a money belt worn under clothing. Keep spare cash in a separate purse for easy access. Like in most big cities, heavily loaded wallets or pockets are attractive targets for pickpockets. Remember to leave your documents and valuables in the safety deposit box of your hotel. In the city, you just need to carry the copy of your passport. After 18:00 it is best to call a taxi from the hotel or restaurant for evening visits to the city or when going out for dinner.
Filming or pictures are not allowed inside many churches and some museums. Your guide will advise you on restrictions in photographing people, military and/or government installations. It's advisable to use 'fill-in' flash for portraits in strong sunlight to avoid shadows.
Arrangements can be made for tennis, golf, and horseback riding, white-water rafting, paragliding, mountain biking, trekking & hiking.
Taxes & Service Charges
A 12% sales tax is added to all purchases in Ecuador. A service tax of 10% is nearly always added to hotel and restaurant bills. In Quito, there is also a small city hotel tax.
Gratuities often represent part of a worker's earnings and are regarded as an incentive to provide the best service possible. Here are some guidelines; adjust them to represent the service you receive and the thanks you want to express: If a service charge (10%) is included in your restaurant bill, no additional tip is required. However, if you received particularly good service, an extra 5% will be appreciated. Tips for bellboys are usually equivalent to US$1 per bag; chambermaids US$1 a day; for room service 10% of the bill is already charged as service charge. Taxi drivers are not tipped in Ecuador.