Entry/Visa Requirements: A visa is not required for U.S. and Canadian citizens, but they must carry a passport that is valid for for at least the next six months for a stay of up to 90 days during a 12-month period.

Customs: All visitors arriving from abroad must go through customs.

Currency: U.S. Dollar

Money: US travelers checks can easily be exchanged for cash in Ecuador and a commission of 1.5%-5% is usually charged. Larger establishments such as 3-star hotels and above, large restaurants, tour companies and operators will generally accept travelers checks, but smaller businesses will not. The most commonly accepted credit cards in Ecuador include Visa, MasterCard, Diners and in some larger establishments American Express. Withdrawing cash in Ecuador is easy as ATMs are readily available at airports, cities and large towns and are compatible with international credit cards.

Tipping: In most restaurants a 10 percent service charge is included in the bill, but travelers can give an extra 5 percent on top if the service was good. It is customary to give a $1 tip to hotel and airport porters. Tipping taxi drivers is not expected, but rounding off the fare is often appreciated. Naturalists and other expert guides should be tipped $5-$10 per person per day, drivers about $2-$3 per person per day.

Languages: Spanish and Quichua in the highlands, among other indigenous dialects. English is widely spoken at most places frequented by tourists.

Climate: Ecuador’s climate is as varied as its territory. One can experience four distinct weather patterns within a day’s travel in Ecuador.

The Galapagos Islands offer a pleasant sub-tropical climate and an average temperature of 75°F year-round.

The Coast tends to be dry and hot in the south to more tropical and humid in the north. Temperatures vary from 75°F-88°F. The area experiences two distinct seasons, the rainy season (from December to May) and the dry season during the remaining months of the year.

The Andes climate varies according to the altitude. Although the region is said to experience a sub-tropical climate throughout the year, visitors will find a variation from hot in the south to temperate to cold in the north, especially in the higher altitudes. Temperatures can be between 45°F- 55°F in the north to 55°F-65°F in the south.

The Amazon is generally warm and humid. Although the region experiences rain and mild temperatures between 70°F-80°F throughout the year, it also has a dry season from October through December when temperatures can get into the upper 80’s.

Electricity: Ecuador uses 110/120 VAC 60 Hertz. Plugs have two flat pins, like the ones in the U.S. Power converters and plug adapters are available for purchase in electronic stores. Main hotels frequented by international tourists use the same 110/60-cycle current as in the U.S.

Time: Eastern Standard Time

Health Requirements: No vaccinations are required to enter Ecuador. However, visitors planning to spend a lot of time in the Amazon should consider taking anti-malaria medication before their departure. Consulting with one’s doctor prior to traveling , is always a good idea.

Public Holidays:

January 1 – New Year’s Day.

Holy Thursday and Good Friday – dates change every year, depending on the onset of Lent

May 1 – Labor Day

May 24 – Battle of Pichincha.

May 26 – Corpus Christi

July 24 – Simon Bolivar Day

August 10 – Independence Day

November 2 – All Souls’ Day

December 25 – Christmas Day

December 31 – New Year’s Eve.

Air Service: Travelers to Ecuador from the U. S. can choose from a number of U.S. and Latin American airlines. These are American Airlines, Avianca, Continental Airlines, COPA, Lan Ecuador, Mexicana and TACA. Non-stop flights depart from New York and Miami. Ecuador’s national airline, TAME offers good service between all major cities in Ecuador, operating numerous daily flights between Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil as well as serving the Galapagos Islands. Smaller national airlines include Aerogal, Icaro and Austro Air which offer flights to several cities and towns along the Coast and the Andes, as well as the Amazon and Galapagos Islands.

Getting Around: Because Ecuador is small and has a good network of roads and highways, ground travel within the country is easy and quick.

Buses: As most roads are paved, buses are fast becoming a popular and convenient means of transportation. In addition, since the country’s main attractions are within a day of Quito, bus transportation can be the most inexpensive option for travelers on a budget. Most bus companies have modern, air-conditioned buses. Clients should be advised to travel by day, since there’s less risk of an accident.

Car Rentals: Driving in Ecuador is also a good option in tourist areas. Outside less frequented parts of the countries drivers can get lost since the road signage is not that adequate. When renting a car, drivers should closely follow a road map. Major car rental companies with offices at the Quito and/or Guayaquil international airports are Avis, Budget and Hertz.

Taxis: In Ecuador, taxis are safe as well as readily available, inexpensive and clean. Taxi drivers are courteous and most of them will speak at least a few words in English. This mode of transportation is an excellent option when visiting main cities and towns.

Trains: Trains in Ecuador are more of an attraction than an efficient mean of transportation. The most popular journey is from Riobamba to Devil’s Nose, where the train climbs through a very narrow path to the top of a cliff and then descends a steep slope zigzagging back and fortha thrilling experience.

Boats: Boat travel is a popular way of transportation in the Amazon, the coast and the Galapagos regions. There are a variety of vessels: from dugout canoes in the rainforest, to sailboats, catamarans, private yachts and cruise ships elsewhere.

Area Codes: Calling from the U.S., dial 0-11 (593) plus the local area code, followed by the number. Local area codes are: Quito (2), Cuenca (7), Guayaquil (4), Galapagos (5), and all cellular phones, (9).

Useful Contacts:

U.S. representative office: LATITUDE: (212) 633-2047 or ecuador@latitudepr.com. Embassy of Ecuador in the U..S.: (202) 234-7200. Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador: + (593-2) 250-7559.