Travel to Ecuador
Travel to Ecuador and the Galapagos
15% of the world’s bird species. 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Ecuador is located in the northwest region of South America, straddling the equator right along latitude 0°. Quito, its capital city, sits less than an hour away from the renowned “Middle of the World” while also being the home of one of the first-ever UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The country’s unique geography encompasses a dazzling variety of landscapes: magnificent beaches on the shores of the Pacific, the lush jungles of the Amazon and Choco Bioregion, snow-capped mountains and volcanoes, indigenous towns and villages up in the highlands, colonial cities; and, of course, the legendary Galapagos Islands, to name a few…
This is Ecuador, a country blessed by its unique location on our planet. A country we invite you to share with us.
Places to Visit in Ecuador
When traveling to a new country, many questions come to our minds. What’re the people like? What language do they speak? What should I visit? What should I expect? What should I be mindful of?
If you are planning a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos you surely have many questions, and we have answers! If you are of the curious kind – and you might be, considering you are here – this blog’s for you.
We give you…
- Population: 15’584,009 (2011 census)
- Area: 256,370 Km² (99,027 square miles)
- Government: Democratic Republic
- Ecuador’s currency is the US Dollar
Ecuador is a producer and exporter of oil and member of the OPEC. The oil is drilled for and piped from the Amazon Basin and then carried to the Pacific Coast via two pipelines. The country’s most important export products include bananas (it’s the world’s number one exporter of bananas) as well as shrimp, roses, cocoa, fish (fresh, frozen & canned), coffee and tropical fruits. It was recently proved that cocoa (or cacao) actually comes from Ecuador and not Central America. The country also recently registered the “Denomination Cacao Arriba” for a certain type of chocolate it produces – ranked among the best in the world. Ecuadorian roses, too, are regarded as some of the world’s finest, since they benefit from the strong, year-round perpendicular sun (they grow straight upwards!) as well as fine waters and soils of the Andes.
The government has lately sought to change the nation’s ‘productive matrix’, moving the economy away from commodity exports to higher value foreign-exchange earning products as well as a ‘knowledge economy’. Great strides have been taken over the last years in improving the country’s infrastructure in order to realise this ambition. The university-cum-city Yachay is an example of the government’s aim. Tourism is regarded as an important component in the country’s future production.
Ecuador’s official language is Spanish, but Kichwa (also quichua, part of the Northern Quechua group of languages) – the lingua franca of the Inca Empire – and shuar are official languages of intercultural relations.
The predominant religion is Roman Catholic. There is complete religious freedom in Ecuador.
GMT/UCT minus 5 hours on Mainland Ecuador; and minus 6 hours in the Galapagos Islands.
110 volts, 60 cycles AC is used. Most outlets are for two flat prongs (like in North America). It is advisable to have an outlet adaptor.
Quito and the highlands
June to September is the dry season with daytime temperatures of around 21°C (70°F). Rainy season is from October to May with March/April being the wettest months. This usually means clear mornings and an afternoon heavy downpour, followed by the sun coming out again.
In the Galapagos January to April are the warmer, wetter months. The islands are humid, and days can be hot, especially around noon. Temperatures range from 24°C-30°C (75°F-86°F) with daytime temperatures up to around 29°C (85°F) and the occasional shower. May to December are the drier, cooler months. This is the time of the year where wildlife is at its best, since most will be reproducing. The air temperature ranges from 23°C-28°C (73°F-82°F) with July to September normally experiencing more choppy and windy sea conditions.
Guayaquil and the Coast
The coastal lowlands are tropical, warm all year. From May to December is the dry season, with often overcast days and pleasantly cool nights. The warmer, rainy season goes from January to April; expect high humidity.
The Oriente or Amazon Basin
The rainforest is, of course, the wettest region of the country with high rainfall throughout the year. It tends to be sunny in the mornings with afternoon downpours and temperatures around 24°C (75°F). Nights are cool in the rainforest, a windbreaker comes in handy.
Please note also that in recent years the traditional seasons in Ecuador, as elsewhere in the world, have become less predictable.
Shop till you drop in Ecuador
Anyone who puts shopping high on the list of activities that make a destination desirable will find Ecuador not just desirable, but irresistible. Craftsmanship is skilled, the artistry highly imaginative and the prices low.
Whether it be a (misnamed) Panama hat, an alpaca sweater, silver jewellery, scarves, flutes, music, leather goods, wood or jade carvings, ceramics, coffee, chocolate or even fruit liquor, you can't leave Ecuador without at least half of your suitcase full of the country's little treasures. In fact, it's wise to bring a suitcase that's going to be big enough to cram in all your purchases!
To give you an idea of what to look out for, here's a quick list:
- A poncho from an indigenous market: Otavalo, Pujilí or Saquisilí.
- An elegant Panama hat
- Beautiful ceramics either from the coast, the highlands (particularly from Cuenca) or the Amazon.
- Wood-carved crafts from San Antonio, near Otavalo
- Leather goods from Cotacachi
- "Espíritu del Ecuador", fruit liquor.
- A "Middle of the world" miniature monument
- Galapagos T-shirts
- Balsawood Macaws and balsa wood exotic flowers, from Puyo
- Beautiful jewellery from Chordeleg in Azuay, near Cuenca.
- Silver jewellery with Inca designs.
- Decorations in jade from Otavalo market.
- Soft alpaca rugs or covers for cushions.
- Folkloric music
- A "Rondador" (pan pipe)
- "Masapan" figures from Calderón, near Quito
- "Melcochas" (hard candy) from Baños
- "Cocadas" (coco and brown sugar candy) from Esmeraldas.
- Ecuadorian coffee
- Ecuadorian chocolate
- "Palo de Lluvia" bamboo rain stick
- Wool sweaters from Imbabura Province (Otavalo and around)
- Ecuador football team t-shirt
Good places to head for souvenirs in Quito include the street called La Ronda in the Old Town, El Quinde shop (Palacio Municipal, Plaza Grande), Otavalo market, El Tianguez on the San Francisco square, the shop inside the Mindalae Museum (Diego de Almagro, Mariscal quarter), Folklore Olga Fisch (on Avenida Colón up from Av. 6 de Diciembre, and in Hotel Patio Andaluz), and the Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal (Jorge Washington, Mariscal quarter).
Calendar of Ecuador's Most Important Festivities
|New Year||Country-wide||.||1||The Ecuadorians celebrate the New Year with dances, costumes and masked parties, and burning effigies in the street.|
|Carnaval||Country-wide||.||Movable||The carnival date depends on the day of Passover. Many towns celebrate with parades, dances and allegories. Throughout the country, throwing water is popular – be warned!|
|Holy Week||Country-wide||.||Movable||The week begins with Palm Sunday. The passion and death of Christ are remembered with masses and processions full of devotion and sadness. In Quito, the biggest procession is Jesus del Gran Poder on Good Friday.|
|Cuenca Foundation Day||Cuenca||All the province||12||Fireworks, artistic presentations, popular celebrations and many other activities.|
|Labour Day||Country-wide||Country-wide||1||Parades along the streets.|
|Battle of Pichincha||Country-wide||24||The battle of Pichincha (1822), that sealed the independence of Ecuador, is remembered with cultural parades and activities.|
|Corpus Christi||Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Azuay and Loja||Movable||The most important celebration of the Central Highlands vary according to the place it is made. For example in Salasaca it is celebrated with music and dances. The dancers get dressed in spectacular embroidered suits, plaster masks and hats adorned with shining tapes and feathers.|
|Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo||Country-wide||Movable||In some communities of Imbabura (Cotacachi and Cayambe), this festivity is celebrated with dances, parades, bonfires and delivery roosters ceremonies.|
|Guayaquil Foundation Day||Guayas||All the province||23 - 25||Parades, dances in the streets and the International Beauty Contest "Pearl of the Pacific" are held. Also cultural exhibitions of art and activities are organized.|
|Ecuador Independence Day||Country-wide||10||National Festivity that commemorates the Independence of Ecuador (1809). Military and scholastic parades are traditional for this date|
|Virgen de la Merced||Cotopaxi, Azuay||Latacunga, Cuenca||23 - 24||Celebrates to Our Lady of Mercy with masks dances, typical bands, fireworks, mass of rooster and folkloric festivals.|
|Guayaquil Independence Day||Guayas||Guayaquil||9 - 12||Guayaquil Independence is commemorated with an International Industrial Fair, concerts, dances, parades, exhibition and other activities.|
|Colombus Day||Country-wide||12||Columbus's arrival to America is commemorated.|
|All Souls' Day||Country-wide||2||guaguas de pan (bread dolls) and colada morada (syrup of fermented corn).|
|Cuenca Independence Day||Azuay||Cuenca||3||Cultural processions, dances and other activities.|
|Virgen del Quinche||Pichincha||21||Religious ceremony, peregrinations and commercial fairs.|
|Quito Foundation Day||Pichincha||Quito||1 - 6||Parades, free concerts, cultural shows and dances throughout the city.|
|Christmas||Country-wide||25||Nativity scenes in churches.Families and friends get together to read the 'Novenas'.|
|New Year's Eve||Country-wide||31||The Old Year ends with the burning of effigies, usually representing politicians or famous people.|