Bienvenido a Ecuador
MINKA welcomes you to Ecuador, a very diverse and colorful country. This blog is a guideline for our visitors; it contains useful travel information and some highlights features of our country and customs.
Ecuador is the perfect destination for those travelers who love nature and adventure. Visitors can enjoy the benefits of a growing variety of tourism facilities as well the hospitality of the people. There are lots of places (some still undiscovered) to stay either alone, in families with special friends or in group, ranging from simple lodgings or in local families to places that offer a rare level of international luxury.
Ecuador´s incomparable natural beauty, its hospitable people and its fascinating history make this small country in south America an ideal destination for your vacations in our 4 different worlds.
You can explore the amazon rainforest, one of the new 7 world naturals wonders, by canoe, guided by local indigenous people. Be part of festivals that are a mixture of catholic religion and old paganism, visit one of many Andean indigenous market or dance to the rhythms of afro-ecuadorian music in El Chota Valley or in the northwest of Ecuador. Enjoy the Enchanted Galapagos Islands, walk through a misty cloud forest and go birding from here to the Paramo in the highland or in the other side on direction to the Coast. Ecuador has more than 1600 species of birds. There are places you might even see a spectacled bear, a puma or the majestic Andean condor. Share the jaguar spirit with the Achuar community in a typical amazon ritual or a good shrimp ceviche in one of beaches located in more than 350 km of pacific coastline and sail to see humpback whales from June to late September. Take part of conservation process of native forest and old lifestyles by visiting programs managed by local and indigenous communities, in association with NGO´s and private companies.
We are sure that you will go back to your country feeling that your trip has made a difference in you and truly contributed to develop a sustainable and ecological tourism in Ecuador.
When to come?
Ecuador is a year-round destination; each region has its optimal visiting season. Instead of the typical 4 seasons, Ecuador only has rainy and dry seasons, but there are significant variations among the geographical regions, and temperature is often a factor of altitude.
The highlands or the Andean World enjoys a temperate climate with 18 degrees Celsius average (65´s Farenheit) all year around. Day by day, temperature ranges from 13 to 23 degrees Celsius. Generally, the drier months are from June to September with very clear skies in most of the Andean region and the wettest from January to May, expecting to have more rain but not all day long. Usually, rains late afternoons while the mornings are dry.
In the amazon rainforest or jungle area is hot and humid. Its rains frequently (more than 250 days year-round) and often unexpectedly, but the rain is warm and refreshing. From April to September is usually the rainiest. The average year-round temperature is 27 celsius (80´s Farenheit) during the day.
The Pacific Coast and Galapagos Islands have similar climate conditions. From December to May is the hot and rainy season with temperatures from 21 to 33 Celsius (70 – 90´s Fahrenheit). From June to November cools down and the temperatures range from 18 to 26 Celsius (60 – 70´s Fahrenheit). In the case of Galapagos, this season is called garua (cooler season).
Ecuador is a safe and wonderful country for travel but no matter where you go, it´s wise to get some travel insurance specially if your daily health care needs special medications or in cases you have any medical problem that does develop. While the potential dangers can seem quite commons, in reality, few travelers experience anything more than an upset stomach.
In case of recommended vaccinations, first plan ahead for getting them. Although no vaccines are legally mandated, the next are recommended like hepatitis A, typhoid and yellow fever. About Malaria, Ecuador reports a few cases in the Amazon region and Esmeraldas province in the Coast. If you plan to visit these tropical areas, bring your own medication.
In Ecuador, we don’t have any type of terrorism, coca plantation is illegal. Lucky of us, problems related with this are not an issue. But like any country in the world, specially in big cities, please take precaution at all times when visiting crowded places and markets to avoid pickpockets. Do not wear jewelry on the streets and do keep wallets, purses and bags securely. Do not carry all of your cash, passports and valuables with you. Please consult with your guide, our staff members or hotel staff as to which areas are best avoided, when not on a tour.
In terms of water, Quito has the best water of Ecuador for its quality, but anyway tap water is not very recommendable because visitors are not used to it. Better if you drink bottled water. About food, the best is to avoid raw vegetables with the exception of hotel and recommended restaurants. Eat only fruits you can peel. Use your judgement where you choose to eat and avoid street vendors.
Finally, for being located at the Equator, always use a sun block, even on cloudy days. The sun is very strong.
ECUADOR GENERAL FACTS
Area: 256.370 km2 (98.985 square miles), about the size of New Zealand or US state of Nevada and it´s somewhat larger than the United Kingdom.
Important cities: Quito & Cuenca in the highlands, and Guayaquil in the Coast region.
Language: Officially, Ecuador has 3 (Spanish, Kiwchua and Shuar) but 14 languages are spoken in total.
Religion: The predominant religion is Roman Catholic, but freedom of creeds exists.
Population: around 17 million at 2020.
Currency: US dollar only since 2000. Most major credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and stores. ATM machines are available in the cities and larger towns.
Time: Continental Ecuador is 5 hours behind GMT (equivalent to USA EST during daylight saving time). The Galapagos Islands are 1 hour behind mainland Ecuador time.
Bargaining: It is acceptable at the indigenous markets and crafts stores in rural villages.
Electricity: 110 volts. Plugs have two flat prongs, as in the USA. Adapters can be obtained easily.
Taxes: 12% VAT and 10% service in most hotels and in some restaurants.