Ecuador, officially the Republic of is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1000km/620mi west of the mainland.
Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970s for having the best preserved and least altered historic centre in Latin America. Ecuador is also home to a great variety of species, many of them endemic, such as those of the Galápagos Islands. This species diversity makes Ecuador one of the seventeen mega diverse countries in the world.
Time zone: The time zone is UTC/GMT -5 hours.
International calling code: +593
Currency: In Ecuador the local currency is the US Dollar (USD). The US Dollar is easily found outside Ecuador otherwise the €uro can be changed fairly easily (be careful not to bring bills that are in some way damaged) or use your credit card to withdraw cash.
Security: In terms of crime Ecuador is in the Latin American average. However, like anywhere, wherever there are tourists there are pickpockets. Stay alert and do not let your bags and valuables unattended.
Shopping: Almost everything is cheaper in Ecuador. You can often find good deals on art, fabrics, clothes, leather, musical instruments etc. Let the seller give you a first offer and then you can start negotiating.
Gastronomy: We recommend dishes like Cuy Asado (roasted guinea pig), Ceviche (raw fish or seafood, marinated in lemon juice, onion and perhaps coriander), Yaguarlocro (a type of blood sausage stew), Aji (not a dish but rather a hot sauce used for seasoning), empanadas, Humitas etc.
Climate: There is great variety in the climate, largely determined by altitude. It is mild year-round in the mountain valleys; Humid Subtropical Climate in coastal and Rain Forests in lowlands. The Pacific coastal area has a tropical climate, with a severe rainy season. The climate in the Andean highlands is temperate and relatively dry; and the Amazon basin on the eastern side of the mountains shares the climate of other rain forest zones. Because of its location at the equator, Ecuador experiences little variation in daylight hours during the course of a year. Both sunrise and sunset occur each day at the two six o'clock hours.
Last but not least...: The unforeseen happens – and nowhere more than in South America - your flight might be late or the bus brakes down! Remember that life works at a different pace here, and people do not have the same sense of timekeeping as at home - people do not expect you to be on time! Try to accept this as part of the charm of travelling in a relaxed country. We always include extra time to allow for these things, sometimes too much and sometimes not enough; in both cases we try to ensure that you have a great trip.