Frequently Asked Questions
Check the frequently asked questions about travelling to Ecuador or South America in general. If you have a specific question that is not on this list, go to our Contact Page or check our contact form and send us a message.
CURRENCY AND CUSTOMS
There are no restrictions of the import and export of the country’s currency and other currencies.
Pre-Columbian objects are not allowed to be taken out of the country.
01 January: New Year
12 February: day of discovery of the Amazon Rainforest (Día del Oriente)
01 May: day of work (Día del trabajo)
24 May: battle of Pichincha (Batalla de Pichincha)
24 July: Simón Bólivar’s day of birth (Nacimiento de Bolívar)
10 August: Independence Day of Quito (Primer grito de Independencia/in Quito)
9 October: Independence Day of Guayaquil (Independencia de Guayaquil/in Guayaquil)
12 October: discovery of America (Día de la Raza)
01 November: All Soul’s Day (Día de los difuntos)
03 November: Cuenca – Independence Day (Independencia de Cuenca/in Cuenca)
06 December: foundation of Quito (Fundación de Quito/only in Quito)
25 December: Christmas (Navidad)
01 January: New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo) American music and dances
06 January: nationwide celebration of the tree Magi with traditional folkloric dances
February: carnival in Ecuador (varies)
24 June: Otavalo and Guamote – St. Johan’s day with dances and other performances
3 – 5 August: Esmeraldas – Independence Day with Marimbas and afro-American folklore
2 – 5 September Otavalo: Yamorfestival with many attractions and traditional music dances
8 – 9 September Sangolqui: dances and bullfights
3 November: Cuenca – Independence Day with music and dances
1 – 6 Dezember: Quito – celebrations in Quito with many attractions, bullfights and many other attractions
28 Dezember: National processions of the Fools Day
31 Dezember: New Year’s – dances and burning of politician-dolls on a national
we recommend normal films (200 ASA) for the highlands, the coast and the Galapagos Islands. For photography in the jungle we recommend films with about 400 ASA. It is also recommended to use a UV-filter. It is not allowed to take pictures of military objects and police stations. Please be sensitive when taking pictures of people. Please ask them kindly and explain why and for what reason you would like to take a picture.
the beauty and the variety of the Galapagos Islands can only be protected if tourists follow the rules given by the National Park. These rules are the following:
- Do not touch the animals, as they will smell differently and therefore be left by their parents
- Do not give food to the animals, as this has a negative impact on the animal’s behaviour
- Do not chase animals and especially not those that are in their nesting place
- Do not remove animals or plants from the island
- Do not buy souvenirs that have been made out of animal or plant parts
- Do not bring plants or animals from the mainland to the islands, or from one
- Island to the other, as each island has its unique eco-system
- Do not throw garbage away
- Do not leave your name or initials on trunks or rocks
- The visitor points and marked ways may not be left
- Please inform careless visitors about the park rules
Money and money exchange
It is recommended to exchange money in Ecuador, as the exchange rate is much better here than in Europe. You should take USD in cash with you or traveller cheques.
The most common credit cards to pay with or to draw cash are American Express (Banco de Guayaquil), Euro/MasterCard (MasterCard Bank) and Visa (Banco de Guayaquil). In the cities you will be able to use your credit card in many places but when paying cash you can save up to 10%.
Unless you enter Ecuador from a country where yellow fever is a risk, vaccinations are not mandatory when entering Ecuador. However, we advice you to get the following vaccinations:
- Tetanus and Polio
- Yellow Fever and Typhoid (if you stay for longer periods in the jungle)
- Malaria prophylaxis (if you stay in the coast areas and Amazon Basin
Please contact your doctor or visit the nearest tropical diseases Institute to make all the necessary arrangements before coming to Ecuador.
In the highlands are almost markets on a daily basis. Otavalo has the largest variety, but the others are definitely worth going to as well.
Monday: Animal market in Ambato (the biggest in Ecuador)
Wednesday: Pujili (goods and food)
Thursday: Saquisili (food, goods, art)
Saturday: Otavalo (art, food, goods, animals), Riobamba (goods, art), Latacunga
(Goods and bags made of Agave fabric)
Sunday: Pujili, Machachi, Gualaceo (food and goods), Sangolqui (art), Cotocachi (leather works), Salasaca (textiles and jeans)
There are many Internet Cafes in Quito and in the other big cities in Ecuador. They charge you about 0.60 Dollar per hour. You can also use the Internet to make cheap phone calls to Europe or other parts of the world. Most of these Internet Cafes can be found in la Mariscal. In this area are also many bars.
South-American-Handbook (annually new edition)
Ecuador and the Galapagos-Islands (Lonely-Planet)
Ecuador& Galapagos-Handbook (Footprint)
Climbing and Hiking in Ecuador (Bradt Publications)
Birds of Ecuador, Crespo Greenfield & Matheus, Ecuador 1990
As in any other city, the major cities of Ecuador offer a lot of nightlife with restaurants, bars and nightclubs to suit all tastes.
Most of all you should you should get into the nightlife of Quito, which enchants its visitors with its special flair.
Highly recommended are the following places in Quito:
Café Sutra (cosy Café also to eat or enjoy a cocktail, Juan Leon Mera y Calama.), Zocalo (trendy bar, Juan Leon Mera y Calama)
Encuentro (bar with nice atmosphere).
No Bar (popular Nightclub with national and international music, good Caipirinha, Juan Leon Mera y Calama),
Seseribó (Salsa-Night Club, Veintimilla y 12 de Octubre),
Pobre Diablo (cosy bar, Isabel La catolica),
La Bunga (night club, alternative, salsa and international music),
Beerhouse (international music).
Travel season and clothing to take
The climate is suitable for travelling all year round. At the coast, the Oriente and the Galapagos Islands light and breathable clothing are recommended. When travelling to the highlands you should think about taking warmer clothes. A raincoat is always suitable. Those planning to do mountain-climbing need the special equipment which can also be hired in Quito.
Ecuador is a quite safe country to travel. Nevertheless you should not leave you valuables unguarded. Thefts are quite common, especially in places, which are frequently visited by tourists, such as the historic centre of Quito. It’s best to carry your valuables in money-belts, which can be worn underneath your clothes.
It is also recommended to join a group of other people when travelling alone.
The language spoken in Ecuador is Spanish. Many indios of the highland are bilingual. They speak Spanish as well as Quechua. Indigenous people living in the rainforest speak their own languages and dialects.
In front of the churches and sights you occasionally find old and disabled people, who get alms by the locals. In the major cities a lot of children are walking through the streets begging for money, children working as shoeshine-boys at the age of four or five are a common sight.
In the end it is up to you if you give them money and how much. To give these kids an opportunity to earn money you can let them clean your shoes without needing to have a guilty conscience.
City buses and taxis in Quito are not expensive. In the front windows of the buses it is indicated where they go to. They stop when you wave your hand on almost all roads. It is possible to get off the bus at every time. A single ticket costs about 25 cent, no matter how far you want to go, as long as it is within the city centre.
There are also a lot of taxis available. Taxis will stop on hand signal. During the day the price is based on taximeter, in the evening the price should be negotiated beforehand.
The time difference compared to middle Europe is 6 hours in winter (Galápagos minus 7 hours) and 7 hours in summer (Galápagos minus 8 hours).