By Mara Precoma
Currently, a lot of us are longing for adventures that extend beyond zoom calls, backyard hangs or grocery store visits. Once it will be safe and possible to go, I highly recommend considering Ecuador as your next travel destination. Until then, here are some tips to get you prepared and pumped:
When to Go
In general, there is no best time to visit Ecuador. When you should go really depends on where you want to go. Visit the coast during rainy season from December to May. During dry season, it can get cool and overcast. The highlands are best experienced outside of the warmer, wetter period which occurs from December to March. It rains all year long in the Amazon, but December to May is especially soggy. It is cooler during this time, but wildlife will be harder to track down whilst mosquitos will constantly track you down. The best months to visit the Galapagos are December to May. There is a higher chance of rain, but it is warmer and the sea will be calmer. If you plan on combining mainland and the Galapagos, try to visit in May. Avoid peak season from June to August and late December to January if you are on a budget.
How to Get Around
The cheapest (but also slowest) way to get around cities is by bus. Taxis are affordable, but only metered in bigger cities. If they aren’t, ask about the fare beforehand. When available, use EasyTaxi, Cabify or Uber to call a ride. For long-distance trips (also to Peru or Colombia), consider taking the bus. Prices are affordable and the network is extensive. You can usually buy tickets at any bus station. Flights within the mainland are relatively affordable and short, but certainly less environmentally friendly or adventurous. Trains are not the best option to travel around the country, but there are routes specifically designed for tourists. Use WAZE or Map.Me to find locations and download maps which work without internet connection.
How to Safe Money
Note that Ecuador uses USD as its official currency. Apart from the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is one of the most budget-friendly countries in South America. $30-35 per day can get you far if you are staying in hostel dorms, eat at food stalls or markets, and use public transportation. Stay at hospedajes (family-run guesthouses) for a few dollars per night. Eat a filling and cheap almuerzo (a set menu) for lunch. Couchsurf for free accommodation and new friends.
How to Stay Safe
Ecuador is generally a safe travel destination. The most common type of crime is petty theft. Be careful when you use public transport and avoid old town Quito at night. Be aware of taxi crimes and only use registered taxis. Install the tourism ministry’s travel safety app so responders can locate you if necessary. Be extra careful in border areas. Remember that some places are at high altitude; be aware of dehydration and altitude sickness. Avoid unfiltered tap water.
What to See
In recent years, tourism has become an important part of Ecuador’s economy. According to the Central Bank of Ecuador, tourism constitutes the third-largest source of non-oil revenues, after banana and shrimp exports. Due to its spectacular natural wealth, the country is best known for ecotourism and adventure travel. Whilst ecotourism can help to finance conservation efforts and support local communities, it is important to note that it can also result in cultural and environmental exploitation and deterioration, particularly if “ecotourism” is used as a marketing strategy only. Be as considerate as possible when traveling so that future travelers and Ecuadorians will be able to enjoy all that the beautiful country has to offer.
Brown, Vicki. “Best Time to Visit Ecuador.” Responsible Travel, 2020, www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/ecuador/travel-guide/best-time-to-visit-ecuador.
Dearsley, Bryan. “10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ecuador.” Planet Ware, 9 Sep. 2019, www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/ecuador-ecu.htm.
Kepnes, Matt. “Ecuador Travel Guide.” Nomadic Matt, 25 Apr. 2020, www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-guides/ecuador-travel-tips/.
Maes, Jonathan. “Ultimate Ecuador Travel Guide (43 Tips).” Ecuador Abroad, Aug. 2018, ecuadorabroad.com/travel-tips/.
Pollack, Vanderlei J. “Tourism in Ecuador Contributes Significantly to the Economy.” Tourism Review, 25 Feb. 2019, www.tourism-review.com/tourism-in-ecuador-growing-in-importance-news10953.
Widmer, John. “20 Best Things to Do in Ecuador & Incredible Places to Visit.” Roaming Around the World, 2 Apr. 2020, www.roamingaroundtheworld.com/best-things-to-do-in-ecuador/.
Woodrow, Christy. “Ecuador Travel Tips: Everything You Need to Know.” Ordinary Traveler, 31 Oct. 2018, ordinarytraveler.com/ecuador-travel-guide.