Ecuador & Galapagos Travel Tips
Getting to Ecuador
Although not every country has a direct flight to Ecuador, getting to Ecuador from International destinations such as United States, Canada, Europe or America; is very simple.
There are direct flights to Quito or Guayaquil from cities like Miami (LAN, American Airlines – 4 hours flight), Houston (Continental, United – 5 hours flight), Atlanta (Delta – 7 hours flight), New York (LAN, Continental – 6 hours flight).
There are also direct flights connecting Europe to Ecuador. These flights depart from Madrid (LAN. Iberia – 11 hours flight) or from Amsterdam (KLM – 12 hours flight). There are also other airlines offering direct flights from different cities in Europe to cities in Latin America such as Bogota, Lima and Caracas. From any of these Latin American cities you can take a flight that will finally take you to Quito or Guayaquil. Non direct flights between Europe and Ecuador last 18 to 25 hours approximately, depending on the starting point and the number of stops.
Several airlines offer direct flights from different cities in South and Central America (Lima, Bogota, Caracas, San Jose, Panama, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo) to Quito and Guayaquil. The airlines operating these routes are LAN, COPA Airlines, TACA, AVIANCA among other local Ecuadorian Airlines like TAME and AEROGAL. From other destinations in South America, you can take a connecting flight to any of the cities mentioned above in order to board a direct flight to Quito or Guayaquil.
Your first step in preparing for your trip is to make sure you have all your travel documents in order. You will be required to present a valid passport when entering Ecuador. If you don’t have a passport, please apply for one immediately as it can take some time to obtain one. If you already have a valid passport, be sure to check that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date you plan to enter Ecuador, as you will not be allowed to enter the country if this is not the case.
Citizens of most countries including USA, Canada and in Europe can stay a maximum of 90 days without needing a visa. The countries whose citizens require a visa to enter Ecuador are: China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia.
We strongly recommend you to purchase travel insurance, including trip cancellation and interruption coverage, medical coverage including coverage for emergency evacuation, as well as baggage loss protection.
Quito is located 9200 feet above sea level, for this reason some passengers traveling from lower elevations may experience symptoms of altitude sickness. This typically results in shortness of breath, nausea and headaches. In most cases the symptoms will gradually lessen and pass as one’s body adjusts to the altitude, during the first days of your stay take it easy and drink lots of water. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water or tea seems to lessen symptoms. If you have high blood pressure, heart trouble or had issues with altitude sickness in the past please consult your physician before traveling to Quito.
No inoculations are required for entry into Ecuador, except a yellow fever certificate is mandatory if you are going to the Provinces of Orellana and Sucumbíos (The Amazon Basin). Although no cases of yellow fever have been reported in Ecuador in the last 20 years, the Ministry of Health has issued a yellow fever vaccination requirement to all travelers visiting Orellana and Sucumbíos Provinces, starting March 1st, 2008 in order to avoid any possible contaminations.
All tourists visiting mentioned zones must have the “Yellow fever” vaccination 10 days before entering into the Amazon Region and posses the certificate of vaccination.
This vaccination provides protection for 10 years after which it is required a reinforcement dose.
For detailed up to date information on immunizations for this region, visit on the web the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) site.
IMPORTANT: Passengers who visit Ecuador and then go to Brazil, Panama or Costa Rica must have a yellow fever vaccination certificate or will not be allowed to board the international flight (International regulations).
Ecuador General Information
Money, Currency Issues & Fees
- Since January 2,000 the regular currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar.
- Most major credit cards are accepted in large stores, hotels and restaurants, but there might be an additional charge for paying with a credit card. Visa, American Express and MasterCard are the most widely recognized.
- Money should be brought in US dollars cash
- ATM machines are available in the major cities but there is a daily withdrawal limit.
- Banking hours are from 09:00 to 16:00 Monday thru Friday.
- Important Notice Concerning Counterfeit US $100 Bills: In order to prevent the circulation of counterfeit US $100 bills, Ecuador’s commerce and banking system has stopped accepting $100 bills. All passengers traveling to Ecuador are advised not to bring US $100 bills with them because these will not be accepted, changed or cashed even at banks. Passengers are advised to carry smaller denominations of US bills instead.
- Ecuador was named after its position on the equator line.
- It covers a total area of approximately 256,370Km2 /159,355miles2, including The Galapagos Islands.
- Its borders are: Colombia to the north, Peru to the south and east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
- The capital is Quito, the main port and the largest city is Guayaquil.
- The Galapagos Islands are located 603 miles / 972 km from continental Ecuador
Ecuador & Galapagos Climate
Climate is largely determined by the altitude in the four main regions but the weather phenomenon, El Niño, which occurs between every 2 and 7 years alters weather patterns.
- Temperatures range from the mid 50°F /10ºC to the low 70°F /21ºC.
- The drier and warmest months are from June to September, with the clearest skies in the Northern part of the Sierra; August to January for the South.
- The rainy season from January to May, also October. During this season rain usually comes by mid afternoon, while the mornings are dry.
- The hottest months are from December to May, temperatures range from the low 80°F / 26ºC to the low 90°F / 32ºC. The average water temperature is 75ºF / 24ºC
- The misty and cooler season is from June to September and the temperature ranges between the low 60°F / 15ºC to high 70°F / 21ºC with a possibility of rain late in the afternoon or at night. The average water temperature is 70ºF / 21ºC
- From October to December the temperature ranges from 70°F / 21ºC to the 80°F / 26ºC. The average water temperature is 70ºF / 20ºC
- Weather in the jungle is hot and humid year round. It rains frequently and often unexpectedly but the rain is warm and freshens the air.
- Average temperature is 80ºF / 26ºC
- The rainiest season is from April to September but most of the time there is light or heavy rain in the afternoon.
- The coast has a climate similar to the Galapagos.
- The rainy and hot months are between December and May, when the temperature varies from the low 70°F / 21ºC to the low 90°F / 32ºC
- The cooler months are from June to November, temperatures range from the mid 60°F/15ºC to the high 70°F/21ºC.
- The period from October to May is usually the best for the beach.
110 volts throughout the country; outlets are for two flat prongs.
Continental Ecuador is 5 hours behind GMT (equivalent to USA Eastern Standard Time).
The Galapagos Islands are 6 hours behind GMT.
- Spanish is the official language.
- Quechua is spoken by the Indian population but most Indians also speak Spanish.
- English is spoken in the main tourist centers, also very limited French and German.
Freedom of creed exists in Ecuador.
- The predominant religion is Roman Catholic.
- Baptist, Evangelist, Lutheran churches are available in the main cities
- Synagogues are available in Quito and Guayaquil
Shopping hours in the cities are from 10:00/10 am to 19:00/7 pm, Monday to Saturday. All stores are closed on Sundays, except shopping malls.
Bargaining is acceptable only at Indian stalls and in rural villages (up to 10% bargaining would be appropriate)
- International Airport Departure Tax Included on Air fare.
- Galapagos National Park Tax, adults US $ 100.00
- Galapagos Control Visitor Card US $ 10.00*
- Galapagos National Park Tax, children US $ 50.00 (under 12 years old)
Taxes are subject to change without previous notice.
*The Control Visitor Card is a requirement effective from February 25th, 2008. This applies to every passenger traveling to Galapagos Islands and has no relation to the Galapagos Park Tax fee. You must present this application the day you travel to Galapagos and ask for your Card at the CGG´s counters which are located at the airports of Quito and Guayaquil. The Visitor Card, you must present it at the entrance and departure of the Baltra, San Cristobal and Isabela airports.
If you are arranging Galapagos tours through us, in order to save you time at the airport counters, you must send the following information to our offices at least 15 days prior your departure.
- Full name
- Passport numbers
- Date of birth
Tipping is not mandatory; it is a personal matter based on your discretion.
However guides, drivers, restaurant and hotel staff will expect a tip from you after receiving a good service. Of course the quality of service should determine the extent of any gratuity. The following guidelines could be very helpful if you want to reward an excellent service:
- 10% of bill at restaurants
- $0.50 per bag for porters at the airport and bell boys at the hotels.
- $5 to $10 per person for the guide in mainland Ecuador (for a full day tour).
- $3 to $5 per person for the driver in mainland Ecuador (for a full day tour)
Galapagos guides and crew members have their own guidelines depending of the boat or hotel you are going to. In this case you will receive the guidelines on site.
Special Holidays in Ecuador & Galapagos
- March/April* Carnival/Easter
- May 1 Labor Day
- May 24 Anniversary of the Battle of Pichincha
- August 10 Independence Day
- October 9 Guayaquil’s Independence Day
- November 2 All Soul’s Day (Day of the Dead)
- November 3 Cuenca and Manta’s Independence Day
- December 6 Founding of Quito
- December 24 & 25 Christmas
- December 31 New Year
- January 1 New Year
* Exact dates subject to change. During holidays museums, stores and banks are closed
We offer six ways to explore Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.