1. When is the best time to go to Ecuador?
Travelers can visit Ecuador any time of year. Because Ecuador is located on the Equator, there is little seasonal variability. Ecuadorians will often tell you that you can expect four seasons in one day. Although there is a slightly wetter and slightly drier season, these variations are unpredictable and the months vary depending upon where in Ecuador you are.
Quito and the highlands are comfortable year-round, with temperatures usually in the 60s during the day and occasional light showers. The Amazon regions are hot, humid, and wet year-round with a slightly wetter season from April to June. Even the rains can be a refreshing break from the heat and humidity so any time of year can be a fine choice.
School holidays are particularly popular so travelers should plan ahead (ideally 6-9 months in advance) for these times.
2. What are the accommodations like?
In Ecuador, we use charming accommodations that are locally owned and characteristic of the area. They can best be compared to small, family run bed and breakfasts rather than international chain hotels. All of our Ecuadorian hotels have private baths, hot water and clean, comfortable rooms. They are located within walking distance of the town center and the reception generally speaks English.
Historic haciendas dot the Ecuadorian countryside and provide comfortable accommodations complete with walking or horseback riding trails that wind through nearby orchards or forests. For more information on all of our lodging options, check out our Ecuador Lodging
page to view pictures of our standard hotels.
3. Are meals included?
We have tried to balance flexibility and convenience regarding meal options. For this reason, we include meals on any of our tour days when you are traveling off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. For example, meals are usually included on all of the rainforest and Galapagos segments of our Ecuadorian tours. In the major cities, where there are a wide variety of restaurants, we generally do not include meals, to allow our travelers the flexibility of choosing their own food preferences. Your tour leader or hotel staff can recommend some great restaurant options. Your hotel will also provide a light continental breakfast on these days.
4. What are the tour leaders like?
All of our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and Spanish. They are from the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. Our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
5. What type of transportation is used?
Our Ecuador tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans/ cars, comfortable tourist buses, flights, canoes, etc. We use a mix of private/ public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transportation in each area. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
6. What type of food is typical of Ecuador?
Popular Ecuadorian staples include meat, potatoes, corn, seafood, and rice. Soups and stews are served as a main dish or appetizer. Ceviche, a local favorite, is a cold seafood soup soaked in lemon juice. Roast pork, fried corn or potato pancakes, and grilled steak are also common. Vegetarians can find plenty to eat, but will generally have less variety to choose from than meat eaters.
7. What types of planes are used for internal flights?
Most internal flights use 727s or similar size jet planes with a capacity of 80-120 passengers. Some Amazon lodges, such as Kapawi, use small, 10-15 passenger charter planes instead.
8. Are these trips suitable for kids?
Ecuador is a wonderful place for families to visit with a mix of wildlife encounters, multi-sport adventures, and warm hospitality. Our Family Travel Page
has some helpful hints for making the most of your family vacation and also has some minimum age recommendations for each tour. We realize that you know your kids best so we will be happy to answer all of your questions and try to give you the most accurate impression of what to expect. However, please remember that these are adventure tours and flexibility is essential!
9. What is the typical age range for these tours?
We have had travelers of nearly every age on our Ecuador tours. Places like Sacha Lodge and the Galapagos commonly attract a wide range of ages from multi-generational families to adventurous 20-30 somethings. Even our Ecuador Adventurer and Amazon Adventurer that were designed for adventurous adults, have had rave reviews from children as young as 8 to adults in their 70s. If you are looking for a particular range of ages, ask our trip coordinators for a recommended departure date.
10. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Our Ecuador tours tend to attract a great mix of solo travelers, families, friends, etc. We can often match you with a roommate if desired, to save on single supplement costs or you can request a private room if you prefer. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
11. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in South America flights.
12. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
We can arrange an airport transfer for you or you can take a local taxi. Taxis are usually less expensive, though some travelers prefer the convenience of having someone waiting for them at the airport when they arrive, especially after an exhausting flight. Please let us know your preference!
13. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary in Latin America to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, though some travelers report that ~$2-$10/ day for your guide and ~$1-$3/ day for your driver is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
14. Are there any discounts available?
We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts
page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
15. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Ecuador tour at any tour. Booking early (4 months or more recommended) is especially important for travelers visiting during school holidays as Galapagos yachts and Amazon lodges tend to fill up months in advance. Travelers visiting outside of these busy months can often book a bit more last minute, though 2-3 months notice is still recommended.
Further, we usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available.
We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice Amazon lodge or Galapagos yacht may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting!
16. Are tour dates flexible?
Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available.
17. Can I extend or change my stay?
Check out our Ecuador Extensions
for ideas. Extra days can also be arranged in Quito, the Galapagos, the Amazon or other areas if desired. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
18. What should I pack?
You will receive a detailed packing list after you book your tour. Since the Ecuadorian climate varies dramatically depending upon the elevation, layers are the rule for travelers visiting different climates. Bring plenty of light, comfortable clothes for the Galapagos and Amazon. Warm sweaters and long pants are generally recommended for cool highland evenings. Fancy attire is generally not necessary on any of our tours, though a few of the luxury Galapagos yachts may request "no jeans or shorts" for meals.
19. What time zone is Ecuador?
Ecuador is five hours behind GMT (same as EST). They do not observe daylight-savings time so during these months (April-October), Ecuador is on CST. The Galapagos Islands are one hour behind the mainland.
20. Can I use US dollars?
In fact, Ecuador has adopted the US dollar as its national currency.
21. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?
Most travelers bring a small amount of US cash with them and withdraw from ATMs as they need it along they way. ATMs are readily available in the larger towns and cities. Traveler's checks are fine, but they often have to be cashed at banks, as most local establishments will not accept them. Departure taxes and the Galapagos National Park fee must be paid in cash. Credit cards are accepted only in the larger restaurants and stores. Although it is helpful to bring a credit card along for emergencies, don't count on using it for most purchases.
22. Can I use my cell phone?
Check with your cell phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information.
23. Do I need a visa/passport?
Travelers will all need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Most travelers do not need a visa for Ecuador. To date, visas are required only for travelers from the following countries: Costa Rica, Cuba, China, Bangladesh, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam, and most middle-Eastern countries. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler's responsibility to check with the consulate
for the most up-to-date visa information.
24. What immunizations are recommended/ required?
A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to the Ecuadorian Amazon. This vaccination must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in Ecuador. Travelers must bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination. However, those who are only visiting the highlands and the Galapagos Islands do not need this vaccination. The vaccine is required for any travelers entering Ecuador from a country with a perceived risk (Peru is not considered a country with a risk).
Please note that some countries, such as Costa Rica, require a yellow fever vaccination if traveling directly from Ecuador. Please check with the Center for Disease Control
for information for your onward travel from Ecuador.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended on most of our Ecuador excursions. Malaria preventatives are also recommended on our other Amazon journeys. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov
25. Do I need a converter/ adapter for the electricity?
Ecuador uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, same as the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not typically need a converter or adapter.
26. How safe is Ecuador?
Travelers should take the same precautions that they would in a major city in the US. Pay attention to the advice of your tour leader and hotel reception and take common-sense precautions such as not going into unfamiliar areas alone, especially at night. Demonstrations, usually non-violent, are not uncommon in Ecuador. Travelers are advised to avoid these demonstrations as protesters occasionally burn tires, throw Molotov cocktails, or fire handguns into the air.
Petty theft is common in airports, crowded tourist sites, and busy markets so be aware of your valuables and avoid carrying large amounts of cash, jewelry or other expensive items. Check out the US State Department travel advisories for the latest information at: travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html
27. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is generally not safe to drink in Ecuador. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants. Don't forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth as well! Ice is not always made with boiled/ bottled water. Order your beverages without ice ("sin hielo") or ask your tour leader if the ice is safe in a particular restaurant. Most Galapagos yachts will include bottled water in your room. Ice used on board these yachts is generally made with purified water as well.
28. Is travel insurance recommended?
We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked
page for more information.