Frequently Asked Questions &

ecuador travel tips

Ecuador Travel Tips


1. Ecuador Travel Information

Public transportation in Ecuador is extensive but overcrowded. By the end of 2022, Quito will be operating the country’s first subterranean metro line. For getting around cites, Uber is your best bet. The account you use at home will also work in Ecuador. There are plenty of yellow cabs around Ecuador too, but if you have a language barrier, or are unfamiliar with your route, it’s less stressful and more secure to order a car. WiFi and internet connectivity is generally pretty accessible for tourists. Quito is in the process of installing free public access points across the city. Ecuador’s biggest cities offer a full range of hotel and dining options. When venturing into smaller towns the options become limited. Haciendas can be found all throughout the Andes, can offer anything from a rustic to a fully luxurious experience. Power outlets are the same 110v style used in North America.
Travel in Ecuador is generally quite safe, especially in the Galapagos Islands. Traveling the mainland in Ecuador is usually pretty carefree, especially when you are on a structured tour. However, when visiting plazas, markets, or other crowded areas you need to be aware of pickpockets. In most public areas it’s a good practice to keep small bags, cameras, and cell phones secure. We recommend using a money belt, passport pouch, or leg strap wallet to keep your credit cards and passports secure while traveling. Keep alert in public places and you shouldn’t have any problems. Leaving your important documents in the hotel is advised. Carry a copy of your passport with you while you are out for the day.
Major cities, such as Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Manta offer modern hospitals, with many doctors having received their education in North America or Europe. The Galapagos has a couple of medical clinics but is not set up for any major medical procedures. If you do get sick or injured, and out-of-pocket doctor’s visit will generally cost about $20-50. We recommend that you consider medical travel insurance if your regular plan doesn’t cover you while abroad.
Ecuador is an extremely family-friendly destination. There are many great activities for an active family with young kids. Many hotels allow kids to stay for free, and tour operators often offer discounts. Restrictions. Most Galapagos yachts do not allow children on board, and if they do allow them, discounts are very limited. So, if you plan to visit the Galapagos with young children, a land-based option is probably the way to go. The deep Amazon is probably the only zone we would say is not so great for bringing the little ones along. There are some secondary forest options that would allow for easier and safer travel with the little guys.
Spanish is the national language of Ecuador. Kichwa is a prominent language in many indigenous communities, but Spanish is also spoken. All hotels in tourist areas of Ecuador will have English-speaking staff members. You will certainly be able to get around without understanding Spanish, as most locals are quite helpful and enjoy the chance to practice a bit of English. Also, it’s a nice gesture to learn a few words and basic numbers for negotiating at the market.
Tap water is generally clean in Ecuador albeit mineral heavy. Most Ecuadorians drink purified or filtered water. It is fine to rinse your vegetables and use tap water for general food prep, but it should be avoided as drinking water. You don’t want an upset tummy to put a damper on your vacations. Stick to bottled water. Keep in mind most fruit juices will also be prepared with some tap water mixed in.
Ecuador Travel Tips & FAQ

2. Galapagos Islands Travel Information

There are primarily two seasons in the Galapagos, the Wet and the Dry. The dry season (July to November) brings calm cool weather. The water is a bit colder, but also calmer in general. For people who are prone to seasickness, or don’t like hot weather, this is a good time to visit. The wet season (December to June) offers warmer temperatures overall, including more comfortable water. The rain usually is not significant enough to affect daily excursions. There is never a bad time to visit the archipelago. Due to the location on the equator, weather patterns and sea conditions do not change drastically throughout the year. Park management helps to spread out visitors and prevent overcrowding. No matter what time of year you visit you will have an intimate and memorable experience on the islands and with the wildlife. For more details on Galapagos Islands season check out this article: When is the Best Time to visit the Galapagos Islands? For Geographical and Geological insights please reference Wikipedia’s Galapagos Islands page.

Undoubtedly the best overall way to experience the islands is by yacht. However, for many people, this is not the ideal option.

Exploring by yacht allows you to travel while you sleep, and wake up at a new destination every day. It is also possible to reach more remote spots of the archipelago. These are all-inclusive experiences, that maximize your time.

For those who prefer to stay on land, there are many packages available that will allow you to make great use of your time. You will primarily stay on the islands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela. Each day will consist of morning activity and an afternoon activity. This option also allows you to spend some time exploring a few spots on your own or some downtime if you prefer to relax a bit.

When cruising your extras will primarily be tips and your bar bill. Dinks are usually more reasonably priced than you would expect.

When hotel-based, you will probably need to allow for a few extra meals in the range of $15-25 per person per meal. If you want to book any day tours, expect to pay $150-$300 per person, depending on the activity and the distance/duration.

The park entrance fee is $100 plus another $20 for the immigration process. Children under 12 years of age pay $50 to enter the park.

The primary activities are:

• Swimming
• Photography
• Diving
• Snorkeling
• Trekking
• Surfing
• Kayaking
• Horseback riding
• Biking
• Birding
• Cruising
• Wildlife observation

These are the 10 principal rules to follow while visiting the islands:


1. Keep a minimum distance of 2 meters from wildlife, this includes your camera.
2. Do not feed the animals.
3. Do not remove elements of the ecosystem.
4. No smoking or drinking in protected areas.
5. Stay on marked trails
6. Take photos without flash. Drones and professional photographic equipment need prior authorization.
7. Camp only in designated areas, and campfires are not allowed.
8. Fishing is only allowed with licensed “vivencial” fishing boats.
9. Do not introduce any external elements to the ecosystem.
10. The use of personal watercraft is strictly prohibited.

• Visit protected areas only with a specialized guide.
• Do not write on the landscape.
• Use only licensed services for touristic activities.
• Do not litter, and please place recyclable goods in their appropriate bins.

Ecuador Travel Tips & FAQ

3. Ecuador Amazon Rainforest 

Be prepared to get wet. After all, this is the rainforest. No matter what time of year you are visiting plan on getting rained on. April-September the rains increase, but also bring slightly cooler temperatures. Depending on the time of year, average daily high temperatures can range from 75 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As with the rest of Ecuador, the Amazon is an amazing destination year-round. Pack quick-dry clothes and waterproof bags for your gadgets.

A lodge is the traditional and more intimate way to visit the Amazon. There is a full range of comfort and service available. Options from rustic bunkhouses to fully luxurious accommodations are available. A lodge generally offers deeper access to the forest than a cruise option. More space to relax, and a more direct experience with the forest.

A river cruise allows visitors to explore a larger portion of the rainforest, but with less access to the deep forest. The boat needs to stay in the main water channels which can limit access to some more intimate areas. Excursions can include walks through the forest, both during the day and at night, wildlife viewing, indigenous community visits, or perhaps kayaking.

The lodges and cruises include everything you need while on your tour. Optional expenses you will incur will be gratuities and bar consumption when available. Consider tipping 10-20% of what your package cost you, with about half going to the guide(s) and the other half to the rest of the staff. Most locations will require a park entrance fee or community visit fee. Please check the itinerary to see if it is already included or is an additional cost.

The primary activities of the Ecuador Amazon Rainforest are:• Wildlife observation
• Botanical education
• Nature walks
• Indigenous community visits
• Swimming
• Kayaking
• Canoe trips
• Fishing
• Optional shamanic experiences

Ecuador Travel Tips & FAQ

4. High Andes – Ecuador Tours

Absolutely! The Andes are truly enchanting and are the soul of Ecuador. Multiday tours are the best way to incorporate the highlights into your Ecuador vacation. Many activities can be done as day tours from Quito as well. Check out some of our pre-designed itineraries for more info. Trips from three days to three weeks are available to suit your timeline.

• Walking tours
• Hiking
• Handicraft markets
• Horseback riding
• Climbing
• Rafting
• Hot springs
• Historic centers
• Volcano trips
• Bird watching
• Ziplines
• Waterfall treks
• Hacienda visits

Like the rest of Ecuador, the seasons are divided into wet and dry. The rainy season in the Andes generally lasts from December to April. Afternoon showers are normal during this time, but most days are still quite enjoyable. April can bring multiple days of prolonged rain. In primary destinations, such as Quito, Cuenca, and Otavalo the temperatures stay quite mild all year round. During the day it’s normally around 70F and can drop down to 50F at night.
Ecuador Travel Tips & FAQ

5. Cloud Forest

Primary activities
• Bird watching
• Hiking
• Rafting
• Repelling
• Kayaking
• Ziplines
• Biking

This humid lower section of the Andes is a jungle-like forest and has a rainier season of December to May. Amazing world-leading birding can be experienced here year-round, but if visiting from late March to early May be sure to pack extra rain gear.
Ecuador Travel Tips & FAQ

Booking Policies and Payment Options

To confirm your reservation a deposit of 20-50% is generally required. The balance will be paid in accordance with the type of tour you are on and how long until your departure. Typically, cruises need to be paid in full 90 days before the departure date, with at least 50% due 180 days prior.. Each lodge or cruise has different policies regarding payments. Before we accept your deposit, we will send you the policies of your corresponding tour(s).

Please reference our booking policy page for more details.

Once we have your itinerary set you will receive an invoice from Ecuador Unlimited, with all agreed upon payment terms and options. Credit cards, PayPal, and ACH transfers (wire) are the primary payment methods. All of our banking is handled in the USA, providing you with the same consumer protection policies you would expect with any other USA travel company.
All travel itineraries, instructions, and vouchers will be sent to you via email in PDF form. In most cases, you will only need your ID to join your tour, meet a driver, or board a flight. However, its always a good idea to have a backup copy (physical or digital) of your travel plans and information.
These policies range greatly depending on the tour you are joining. Galapagos yachts generally have rigid cancelation policies, and they become stricter as your departure date arrives. This is because they have limited space, and it can often be difficult to fill a spot last minute. Other destinations, such as a hacienda or a jungle lodge, will offer more flexible policies. Again, before we accept your deposit and confirm your itinerary, we will review the refund and payment policy of your corresponding tour operator. Please check out our full Cancelation Policies page.
Ecuador Travel Tips & FAQ

Know Before You Go

■ Passport with at least 6 months validity from the return date of your trip
■ For stays less than 10 days try and pack enough clothes to avoid doing laundry
■ For longer stays, don’t overpack. Just ask us about finding laundry service along the journey
■ Lightweight, quick-dry clothing is the best option
■ A mix of short sleeve and long sleeve shirts
■ A hat with decent sun protection
■ Two pairs of shoes, plus sandals if going to the coast or Galapagos
■ A breathable waterproof jacket
■ One or two lightweight sweatshirts or windbreaker
■ Spare batteries and chargers. Anything electronic is expensive in Ecuador
■ Sunblock

A travel medical policy is always a good idea when outside of your home coverage. Ecuador has been trying to enact policies that would require tourists to provide proof of coverage upon arrival, with a primary focus on the Galapagos Islands. A practical path to implementation has yet to transpire. So, for now private medical insurance is not obligatory.

Trip insurance is highly recommended, especially if booking a Galapagos cruise. Most of the cruise operators have strict cancelation policies. In the event of an emergency you will have been wise to have invested in travel coverage. Travel to the Galapagos is not inexpensive, and we would hate to see you lose out on your trip due to unforeseeable circumstances.

The U.S. Dollar is the official currency of Ecuador. It is helpful if you bring small bills with you. You will find it difficult to spend a $50 or $100 bill. Counterfeit bills occasionally get passed around, so most small businesses and shops refuse to accept large bills. You will also need those small bills when shopping and bartering in the markets. Credit cards are widely accepted in Ecuador, Visa & Mastercard more so than AMEX or Discover. ATM’s are everywhere but small villages. Sales tax (12%) is generally included in the listed price in shops and restaurants. Some nicer restaurants may not have it included and will also add 10% service to the bill (22% total). Just keep an eye out for this, as it should state on the menu if its included.

If you are visiting the Amazon, or certain regions of the coast, it is suggested you have had your Yellow Fever vaccination.
Malaria is also a small concern. It is up to you if you wish to take preventative medication. Please consult your doctor and discuss if these meds are right for you.

■ Seasickness
Galapagos seas are fairly calm most of the time, but if you are prone to motion sickness here are a few tips:
• August to October can bring rougher waters, consider another date.
• Larger boats are more stable, with a catamaran being the best option.
• Avoid smaller sailboats.
• Book a cabin on a lower deck, towards the back of the boat.
■ Altitude Sickness
■ Traveler’s diarrhea & constipation
■ Medication & first aid packing list
• Pepto-Bismol in tablet form
• Motion sickness pills
• Band-Aids
• Antibiotic cream
• Imodium
• Aloe Vera
• Tylenol or Ibuprofen
• Small first aid kit
All of these items are readily available in pharmacies, but when you are out on a tour it may be a while before you will have a chance to buy what you need.

■ Restaurants
Tipping is not common in Ecuadorian culture. Only in nicer restaurants is it expected. In general, a 10% tip would be standard and is often included in the bill. If you receive excellent service, please feel free to leave a 15-20% total tip.

■ Tipping for Tours.
Think in terms of per day here, with a range of $25-35 per day per guest.

If your Galapagos cruise is for 8 days, your tip should be about $200-300. Most boats will provide two envelopes to the passengers on the last night of the cruise. One envelope for the guide, and another to be divided amongst the rest of the crew. For a tip of $300, you may want to tip your guide $100, and leave the other $200 to the crew. This is totally up to you, and feel free to discuss with your fellow passengers.

An Amazon jungle lodge will not generally work quite as formally.  If you spent $2000 on the tour, consider a tip of around $100, with a portion going directly to your guide.

Day tours can be a little different. If your group spends $300 on tour, expect to tip about $20 to your guide, and consider tipping the driver $10. If you are on a multi-day tour, use the same methodology of tipping both the guide and the driver based upon the total price you paid.

The tourism industry does rely on tips, but this is totally up to you and how satisfied you are with the service provided.

Ecuador Travel Tips & FAQ

Arriving to Ecuador

■ The Quito airport is modern and easy to navigate. Official airport taxis charge $25 for the trip to the city (about 40 minutes). The airport has free wifi, which you can use to order an Uber if you prefer. Uber generally runs about $16-22 to the city. We can also arrange for a private transfer if you prefer.


There are plenty of things to do in and around the city. Quito’s historic center is a must-visit, one of UNESCO’s original world heritage sites.

A trip up the flanks of Pichincha Volcano allows you to ride a gondola (teleferiqo) up approximately 3000 ft. This is best to do in the morning when the views of the city and surrounding Andean peaks have better visibility.

A trip to Ecuador wouldn’t be complete without visiting the equator itself. The monument and museums are located about 45 minutes to the north of the city. We suggest you take an Uber or ask for a recommended driver to assist you. It’s also possible by public transport if you prefer.

We will provide you with detailed information on how to meet up with any tours you may have booked with us. In many instances, you will have a pickup from your hotel. If you are traveling to the Galapagos Islands or to one of the Amazon’s port towns, your meeting point will be at the arrival airport.