Ecuador - Frequently Asked Questions
For everything you ever wanted to know about Ecuador but we haven't covered in detail throughout our travel guide, here is that famous little list of Frequently Asked Questions about this beautiful South American destination.
Covering all the basics and resolving those important doubts most people have about this emerging holiday paradise, our FAQs section aims to help you with the things you want to find out most about before and after you book your getaway there.
Table of contents
- When is the best time to go?
- Do you need a visa?
- How can I get there?
- What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
- What is there to see and do?
- What is the best way to go to Galapagos?
- What immunisations are recommended?
- How safe is Ecuador?
When is the best time to go?
There is a lot of geographical variation in the Ecuadorian climate, meaning that the best time to visit can depend on exactly where you plan to go. Generally speaking, however, the high season is from June to September in the highlands. On the coast, it falls between December and April, seeing warmer temperatures and the occasional shower. If you intend to visit the Galapagos Islands, however, January to May is the best time to travel.
Do you need a visa?
If you intend to stay in Ecuador for fewer than 90 days, you won't need a visa. However, be prepared to provide evidence of onward or return travel when you arrive. It is also crucial that your passport is valid for at least six months from your date of entry, or you will be refused entry.
How can I get there?
There are no direct flights to Ecuador from the UK. Typically, your journey by air will include a stopover at either a European or American city, with journey times usually totalling between 15 and 17 hours.
What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
US dollars are the legal currency of Ecuador. If possible, try to take small denomination notes, as larger ones, such as $50 and $100 bills, are often rejected in shops and restaurants. Plus, you will find a lot of establishments struggle to provide change when you pay, so having as close to the exact price as possible is good. Credit cards are typically accepted in cities, where ATMs are also plentiful, but it's worth bearing in mind that electronic banking systems here often go down, so carrying cash is important.
What is there to see and do?
A paradise for nature and adventure lovers alike, Ecuador is one of South America's most exciting countries. Here, you can discover glittering, pristine beaches, jungles teeming with life, and the world-famous wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. If you like the sound of adventure, don't miss the chance to visit the town of Banos, where you can try everything from bungee jumping to exploring an active volcano. Should you prefer the sound of relaxing on the beach, Montanita and Los Frailes are some of the best on offer. Lovers of history, meanwhile, should travel to Cuenca. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is often called the Athens of the Andes and is packed with fascinating buildings. Wildlife lovers, of course, cannot beat a trip to the Galapagos Islands, which provide a habitat for everything from turtles and exotic birds to giant tortoises.
What is the best way to go to Galapagos?
The Galapagos Islands are almost 600 miles off the coast of the mainland, meaning that by far the best and quickest way to get there is to fly. There are no direct international flights to Galapagos, but there are daily flights to Isla Baltra and San Cristobal from the mainland hubs of Quito and Guayaquil. Flights from the mainland typically take one-and-a-half to two hours.
What immunisations are recommended?
Visit your doctor at least four to six weeks before you intend to travel to find out what immunisations you need. Typically, these will include hepatitis A and tetanus.
How safe is Ecuador?
Ecuador is a beautiful country, but like most destinations, pickpocketing is particularly problematic for tourists, especially in the cities of Quito and Guayaquil. It's also worth being vigilant for thieves in restaurants and cafes, where robbers can distract you by either squirting ketchup, water or something similar on you and 'helping' you clean up, or by staging fights, and taking your bag while your attention is elsewhere. Try to avoid wearing expensive jewellery, or carrying bags in such a way as to leave them easy prey to thieves. Only used registered taxis, preferably booking through your hotel.
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