1. Where is Ecuador?

Ecuador is a small country of 240,000 square kilometers located in north-western Southamerica between Colombia to the north, and Peru to the South and West. It has the Andes mountain range running through the middle from north to south, with the highest peak Mt. Chimborazo at 6,310 meters (20,700 feet), active volcanoes, Cloudforests, Amazon Rainforest, the Galapagos Islands, and more.

Almost 45% of the country is considered Amazon region from lowland rainforest extending to the eastern Andean foothills. Most of the population in Ecuador is located in the Andes and Pacific Coast. The biggest city is Guayaquil (pop. 3.5 million) and the capital is Quito (pop. over 2 million). Both cities have international airports. It has a new highway and road system connecting all regions (Coast, Andes, Amazon), and overland connectivity is good.

2. How is the weather like in Ecuador? When is the best time to travel to Ecuador? To the Amazon? And to the Galapagos Islands?

Weather seasons, thanks to increased climate variability due to Climate Change, are less predictable than before, however, the dry season in Andes and Galapagos starts in mid-June until late November and early December. This is followed by a transition period of intermittent rain, with the rainy season between February and May.

Weather in Quito (2,800 meters) can range from 4 degrees Celsius to the high 20s in the same day. In Galapagos, the colder months (both air and ocean temperatures) are July through November, with the hottest months January through April.

In the Amazon, the rainiest months are also between February and May, and the driest months occur between August and November. Anything in between are transition “less rainy” months.

3. How do you to get to the Galapagos Islands?

You can fly from Quito and Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands. There are 2 airports in the Galapagos Islands (Baltra-Santa Cruz, and San Cristobal). Santa Cruz is located more centrally, and thus have better inter-island connectivity. San Cristobal is located to the east of the Archipelago. There are direct flights from Quito (2-hours) and Guayaquil (1.5 hours), usually on 737s. There are 5 daily flights to Baltra/Santa Cruz, and 3-4 to San Cristobal.

4. How far is the Amazon from Quito?

To the Amazon, you can drive overland from Quito 4-5 hours passing the small city of Baños, one of Ecuador’s main tourist destinations, and you arrive to Puyo. From Puyo you can fly on a chartered plane to a few community ecotourism projects in the southeastern Amazon. You can also fly from Quito to Coca or Lago Agrio in the northern Amazon region (30- minute flight usually on a 737).

5. Which are the international airports in Ecuador?

Quito, the capital, and Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city, have international airports. Guayaquil is closer to the Galapagos Islands, and sometimes provides a faster way to get there. Quito has better internal connectivity to visit the Andes, Coast, and Amazon regions.

6. Do I need a visa or vaccinations to travel to Ecuador?

Most countries only need a valid passport (more than 6 months valid) to travel to Ecuador, if you are planning a stay of less than 90 days. Some African and Asian countries require a special visa. There are no vaccination requirements to enter Ecuador. There is, however, a requirement of yellow fever vaccination only if you plan to go to some areas in the northern Amazon region.

7. Do I need to bring a lot of cash to Ecuador?

No. Ecuador uses the US Dollar as national currency since 2000. Most places take credit cards, and there are ATMs available in most airports and destinations.

8. Is Ecuador safe?

Ecuador is a safe country. As a reference, the U.S. State Department includes Ecuador on a short list of the safest countries in Latin America (2018). A traveler, however, should always exercise normal precautions.