Country guides South & Central America
Ecuador Travel Guide
Though smaller than its Andean neighbours, Peru and Colombia, Ecuador offers travellers a startling contrast of scenery. Nature lovers will relish visiting one of the world's most bio-diverse destinations, where palm-fringed beaches, steamy rainforests, breath-taking highlands and ice-covered volcanos are all part of the experience. They can also view an incredible variety of wildlife and vegetation.
Added to this, travellers can immerse themselves in Ecuador's fascinating history, bustling highland markets, and gorgeous colonial architecture. A diverse mix of locals makes visiting even more special. Indeed, the country's people can trace their roots to Europe, Africa and the region's indigenous tribes. As a whole, Ecuadorians have a reputation for friendliness.
Best time to visit Ecuador
The best time to visit Ecuador is in late spring (April and May) and early autumn (late August through September), when the humidity isn't quite so high. Ecuador's wet season runs from October to May, and the dry summer season from June to September.
The waters around the Galapagos get cool and choppy from around September, though temperatures stay mild into early autumn. Ecuador's climate varies according to region but is fairly mild throughout the year. Travellers should note that prices are noticeably higher and accommodation fills up quickly during the high season (December to January and June to August).
Top things to see in Ecuador
-Hike Cotopaxi, one of the world's highest active volcanoes, located in a national park surrounded by beautiful forests.
-Walk around the quaint colonial town of Cuenca, founded in 1557.
-View Quito from the Pichincha Volcano by taking a ride on the Telerifico cable car.
-Explore El Mitad Del Mundo, a complex of shops and museums straddling the equator.
Top things to do in Ecuador
-Have a drink and people-watch on one of the many plazas in Quito, such as Plaza San Francisco.
-Enjoy the warm, clear waters by going to one of the many surf or dive camps along the coast.
-Take a cruise to the Galapagos Islands and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station near Puerto Ayora.
-Visit the therapeutic hot springs of Banos.
Getting to Ecuador
There are few direct flights to Ecuador from the UK, but many indirect flights are available to airports in Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil, San Cristobal, and the Galapagos Islands. There are direct flights from the US to Ecuador. Most flights to Ecuador land at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito. Indirect flights may stop over in Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia or Panama.
Bruna and Her Sisters in the Sleeping City by Alicia Yanez Cossio, and The Queen of Water by Laura Resau
Proof of Life (2000)
Canelazo, a warm, sweet and spicy alcoholic drink made with water, cinnamon sticks (canela), brown sugar, acid fruit juice such as naranjilla or lemon, and aguardiente (fire water).
Pasillo, an extremely popular form of Latin music and the country's national genre. The Amorfino, a type of ballad, is also a very popular genre.
What to buy
Colourful woven cloths, shawls, carpets, and hats.
What to pack
Swimsuits, surfing, snorkelling or diving gear, plenty of mosquito repellent, and hiking boots to climb Cotopaxi.
Did you know?
Ecuador used to be the northernmost part of the Inca kingdom.
A final word
The fascinating local culture and delicious food combined with pretty colonial buildings, warm seas, and beautiful beaches make Ecuador an idyllic South American holiday destination.