I Travel Preparations
Which custom restrictions are there?
Pre-Columbian objects, religious arti-cles, plants, food, animals or parts of it (skin, bones etc.) are not allowed to be taken out of the country.
Which medical issues are there?
You do not really need vaccinations to come to Ecuador
Which recommends are there for taking along medicaments from your country?
We recommend you to take along the most important medicaments (against diarrhea, insects, inflammation, problems with the circulation, pain killers etc.). Please contact your doctor or a pharmacist in advance. But you do not have to worry as the medical circumstances in the big cities are also very good.
Which visa restrictions are there?
Please inform you at the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate in your country how the entry restrictions are for you country. As a tourist, you normally do not need a visa when you stay less than 90 days. Passport must be valid 6 months beyond intended stay.
Which travel insurances are recommended?
We recommend you to conclude a baggage and travel health insurance. You can book the insurances in a travel agency. About rates and conditions please inform you at your insurance company or in the internet.
Which currency does exist and how to prepare for the travel?
Depending on your currency and the US Dollar exchange rate, it can be recommended to exchange money in Ecuador, as the exchange rate can be much better here than in your country. You should take USD in cash with you and/or traveler checks.
The most common credit cards to pay with or to draw cash with all the credit card In the cities you will be able to use your credit card in many places but when paying cash you can save up to 10%.
What else to take along from home?
Because of the very various altitudes, Ecuador is a country in which you can find nearly EVERY climate. In general, it is recommendable to bag comfortable clothes and sportive shoes. As the solarisation is very intense, please do not forget a high quality sun protector, sun glasses, a hat and a sun blocker.
In the Andean Highlands, a warm jacket and rain protection could be helpful.
On Galapagos, at the coast and in the Amazon Rain Forest area, T-Shirts, shorts and long, easy shirts are optimal to be protected from mosquitoes. But also here, a rain jacket should be in your baggage, as there are often strong, but "warm" rain showers. For Amazonas Area and Galapagos we recommend robust sandals.
If you would like to watch animals on Galapagos or in the Amazonas, binoculars are important.
If adventure and climbing tours are planned, you will need special equipment. Please have a look at the descriptions in our programs as we often provide the necessary equipment.
We recommend normal films (100 ASA) for the highlands, the coast and the Galapagos Islands. For photography in the Jungle we recommend films with about 400 ASA. It is also recommended to use a UV-filter. It is not allowed to take pictures of military objects and police stations. Please be sensitive when taking pictures of people. Please ask them kindly and explain why and for what reason you would like to take a picture.
Cosmetic and hygiene articles should be taken along from your home country as they are very expensive in Ecuador. In the supermarkets, you will find nearly every article and "American / European Standard". In the suburbs and far away from the cities this could be more difficult.
Which literature is recommendable?
Ecuador and the Galapagos-Islands (Lonely-Planet)
Ecuador& Galapagos-Handbook (Footprint)
Climbing and Hiking in Ecuador (Bradt Publications)
Alexander v. Humboldt
Birds of Ecuador, Crespo Greenfield & Matheus, Ecuador 1990
Huasipungo. Unser kleines Stückchen Erde, Jorge Icaza, Bornheim 1977 Top
II During the Travel
How is the political situation in Ecuador?
Ecuador is a presidential republic. Although there are several problems in the country, the political situation is very stable. Further information you will find in the internet
How is the economical situation in Ecuador?
Thanks to the diversity of the agriculture in Ecuador with its different climate and cultivation areas, the country has a wide range of export possibilities. Bananas, flowers, shrimps, coffee, cacao and fruits are exported. But the most important source of income is the petroleum export. Furthermore, Tourism gets more and more important for the economy.
What is the climate like in Ecuador?
On account of Ecuador's varied regions and because of its location directly atop the equator, it is an excellent travel destination all year-round. Rather than rotating through four seasons, most of Ecuador experiences oscillating wet and dry periods.
The general weather trends for each region are as follows:
El Oriente (Amazon region)
… normally has a warm, humid and rainy climate. The average temperature varies from 23 to 26 oC (72 to 80 F). The drier season is generally November to February but varies by region.
La Sierra (Andean Highlands)
… though on the equator, is generally cooler than most people would expect. The cli-mate in the Andes varies according to the altitude and the time of the year. In Quito the temperature ranges from 7 degrees C (55 F) at night, to 26 C (78 F) at noon, av-eraging 15 C (64 F).
La Costa (Coastal lowlands)
… Climate is usually very warm with temperatures averaging 25 degrees C (76 F) to 31 C (90 F) during the year. The rainy season (December to May) is warm and very hu-mid. The dry season is less humid and cooler.
The Galapagos Islands
... enjoy warm and dry weather from November to April, with an average temperature of 28º C. (85 F). From June to October it is the “garua” season. This is drizzle especially in the highlands of the Islands, the average temperature is about 23° C and the currents are rougher.
What about altitude?
Quito is located in an altitude of 2.850 meters. The highest mountains in Ecuador are more than 6.000 meters high. You should be aware of this fact while traveling around. Your body must get used to the altitude slowly and you should give him the time! If you tend to a high blood pressure or problems with circulation, it is recommendable to talk to you doctor in advance.
Is it recommendable to hire a car?
The conditions to drive with a private car in our country are quite difficult. Sometimes, there are no traffic signs, direction signs and the Ecuadorians have their own way to drive. If your Spanish is not proper, we disadvice you to hire a car. We recommend you taking part in our tours or hiring a car with qualified driver.
How about public transport?
The public busses and taxis, for example in Quito, are really cheap The destination of the busses, can be seen in the windscreen of the busses. The busses hold, when you wave with the hand in almost every corner. But to get off the bus you nearly only can do so at a bus stop. A one-way Bus ticket costs between 12 and 25 Centavos, doesn't matter how far you go, as long as it is within the network. There are also lots of taxis within the cities. You can stop a taxi, by waving with the hand. During the day a taximeter should be switched on. In the evenings you should first discuss the price. Please only use registered taxis (yellow taxis with registration number and the name of the taxi company).
Which language knowledge is necessary?
The official language in Ecuador is Spanish. Many Indio in the Sierra are however bilingual. Besides of Spanish they also speak Quechua. The Indios, who live in the Rainforest, also speak their own languages. However the bigger cities, you can survive with a bit of English.
How secure is the travel destination Ecuador?
Ecuador is a quite safe destination. Nevertheless, you shouldn't be to careless with you belongings. Pick pocketing is very common, especially in tourist areas, like the Old Town of Quito. The safest would be to carry a "money belt" under your cloth. It would also be safer, if you just walk in groups by night.
What is important to know, concerning beggars?
In front of churches and famous sights, you will see old people or disabled persons, who also get something from locals. In the bigger cities you will see children, who ask for money or working in small businesses, like cleaning shoes. Finally it is on your own, if you would like to give something or not and how much. You can use the service of the children and so they have a bit of money. Generally you should have sensitiveness, when dealing with beggars, disabled persons and children.
Is it a problem to travel with children?
Generally it is just partly advisable to travel with children in Ecuador. The hygienic conditions, especially in rural areas, the climate, and the distances can be a problem for children. Furthermore children less than 7 years are not accepted in some Galapagos yachts and Jungle lodges.
What is the time difference between central-European time and Ecuadorian time?
The time difference to central-European time is minus 6 hours in winter (Galapagos minus 7 hours) and minus 7 hours in summer (Galapagos minus 8 hours)
What's about mail, telephone and internet?
Mail to Europe needs at least 10 days. An airmail letter from Quito to Europe needs about one week. We would suggest sending the letters from Quito or Guayaquil. Advisable are the mail offices in the cities and the office of Lufthansa, where you can hand in prepaid letters. This will be faster and more secure to Germany.
Calls to Europe cost about 40 cents per minute. Furthermore you can buy special phone cards. Another possibility would be to call from "Internet-Cafes" in Quito. Via the Internet it cost just 10 cents a minute
Area code from and to Europe
To Ecuador 00593 (Quito: +2+number)
To Germany 0049
To Swiss 0041
To Austria 0043
If you need any other area codes please contact us.
To keep in contact with you home country, while you are travelling in Ecuador or read the world news, it is best to use the Internet. In the bigger cities of Ecuador, especially Quito, there are lots of Internet cafes. For using the internet for one hour you normally pay about 80 cents. It is also cheaper to phone via the internet. Most of the "Internet-cafes" within Quito are located in the street Juan Leon Mera (district Mariscal), where you also find many bars.
What kind of power supply network is in Ecuador?
In Ecuador you can use the 110 V alternation current with American Plugs. You should be able to switch your electrical equipment to 110 V. You will receive an adapter for the special plugs in almost every electro-shop, or you bring something from your home-country.
What about the nightlife in Ecuador?
Like almost every city in the world, also the cities here, do have lots of restaurants, Bars and discothèques. So there will be something for everyone. Especially it is suggested to get to know the nightlife of Quito, which has a very special flair. The "Mariscal", which is the tourist and pleasure district within Quito is best for this.
We recommend the following places:
Cafe Sutra: cosy Cafe for having a chat, eating or drinking Cocktails. (Juan Leon Mera y Calama)
No-Bar: Famouse discotheque with national and international music, great Cuba Libre (Juan Leon Mera y Calama)
Cafecito: comfortable Cafe (Cordero y Reina Victoria)
Seseribó: Salsa-Discothèque (Veintimilla y 12 de Octubre)
What important holidays and festivals are in Ecuador?
||New Year (Año nuevo)
||Day of discovering the Amazonas (Día del Oriente)
||Day of labour (Día del trabajo)
||Day of the battle in Pichincha (Batalla de Pichincha)
||Birthday of Simón Bolívar (Nacimiento de Bolívar)
||Independence day of Quito (Primer grito de Independencia/in Quito)
||Independence day of Guayaquil (Independencia de Guayaquil)
||Discovery of Americas (Día de la Raza)
||Allerheiligen (Día de los difuntos)
||Independence day Cuenca (Independencia de Cuenca)
||Foundation day of Quitos (Fundación de Quito/nur in Quito)
|There will be the Good Friday, without fixed date (Viernes Santo).
||New Years festivals with dancing and singing
||Festival of the holy 3 kings, with folklore dancing
||Carnival in Ecuador (can vary)
||Otavalo und Guamote: Festival the Johannes, with dancing and singing
|3.-5. August Esmeraldas:
||Festival the Independence with Marimbas and Afro-american Folklore
||Otavalo: Festival de Yamor with may attractions, cockfighting, music, dancing and Folklore.
||Sangolquí: Dancing and bullfights
||Cuenca: Indebendence day with music and dancing
||Quito: Fiestas de Quito (with many attractions, bull fights...)
||Festival of the foools.
||New Year, with dancing, burning of political dolls
What Indio-markets do I have to visit?
In the highlands, there are almost every day Indio markets, whereby Otovalo offers the best goods. However also all the others are good to see.
Animal market in Ambato (the biggest within Ecuador)
Pujilí (Comestibles and other goods)
Saquisilí (Comestibles, art-goods, typical things)
Otavalo (arts and crafts, comestibles, typical goods, animals)
Riobamba (typical goods, arts and crafts)
Latacunga (typical goods and handpags)
Pujilí, Machachi, Gualaceo (comestibles and other goods)
Sangolqui (arts and crafts)
Cotacachi (leather goods)
Salasaca (Jeans and other textiles)
What do I need to know about food and beverages?
The Ecuadorian cuisine is very flavorsome. Besides a lot of fish and meat, we use lots of potatoes, rice, corn, bananas and so on. Very typical Specialties are "Cebiche", a cocktail with fish and sea fruits, served as a cold soup, "Locro" a potato soup and all the fresh squeezed Juices, with exotic fruits, which most of you won’t even know. In big hotels, they also serve international cuisine.
How much tip am I supposed to give?
A Chauffeur normally gets a tip of 3-5 USD per person/day and a tour guide 5-10 USD per day and person. If you take part in a group, we advice USD 2 per person/day for the guide and USD 1 per person/day for the bus driver. Taxi driver do not expect a tip, however we suggest you to round up. Waiter do nor-mally get 5 % of the invoice amount.
The amounts we suggest here are just benchmarks. If and how much tip you give you better decide by your own, depending on the quality and so on.
How many taxes do you have in Ecuador?
Generally there are 12 % taxes added on goods and services. The tax is not always signposted in the price, but will be added at the final price. In restaurants and hotels, there is an additional service charge of 10% added to the price. In most cases there will also be the net price signposted. The taxes will then be added at the final invoice. In all Restaurants, shops and Hotels you will see if it is the net price or brut price.
What's about catering during the tour?
Please have a look at our programs, to see what kind of catering is included in the price. If it is not separately mentioned, there won't be any catering during the tour. The additional costs for eating and drinking are normally cheaper than in Europe.
What is important to note, by checking hotel prices or tour prices?
Our tours are calculated in US Dollar per person. Normally the price will be for double rooms. If you are travelling alone, there will be a single supplement.
We reserve ones right to change Tour and Hotel prices.
What kind of accommodation is available during tours?
On the mainland the standard of hotels in Ecuador is very good. Generally speaking, you have the choice between middle class (average requirements) or the first class (higher requirements) hotels.
Those are accommodations in former farm houses, which have typical Ecuadorian style. They are mostly in huge garden areas, which are really typical for Ecuador. The rooms are normally really big and individually designed. These accommodations are very comfortable, however normally not really modern, what gives them a great atmosphere. The prices are stated in USD, for a double room. If you are travelling alone you have to add a single supplement. If not specially mentioned, the price is for standard rooms.
Do I need special fitness for the tours?
With some hiking and trekking tours, as well as climbing and sport excursions, you do need a good fitness. In some individual cases, you better contact us or our guides, or ask your doctor. This can prevent disappointments.
Which rules to follow on Galapagos concerning nature protection?
The beauty of nature of Galapagos can only be preserved if the visitors follow these 12 rules, which have been drawn up by the administration of the National Park.
1. Do not touch any animals
2. Do not feed the animals - it will disturb them in their natural comportment
3. Do not scare away nesting birds
4. Do not take away animals, plants or parts of them as a souvenir
5. Do not buy souvenirs consisting in parts of animals or plants
6. Do not bring any animals or plants from the mainland - otherwise the Islands' ecosystem could be destroyed
7. Do not bring any food to the Islands
8. Throwing away litter is not allowed
9. Do not write or carve your name in trees or rocks
10. Follow the instructions of your guide
11. You are not allowed to leave the marked trails
12. Point out the rules of the National Park to inattentive visitors
How to reach the islands?
There are flights from Quito (stopover in Guayaquil) and Guayaquil to San Cristobal or Baltra on Galápagos. It takes 45 minutes to get from Quito to Guayaquil and about one hour and a half from Guayaquil to the Galápagos archipelago. Once you book a cruise we automatically book a flight to the Galápagos Islands for you and issue your tickets. It is required that passengers arrive in Ecuador at least one day before the departure date of the cruise.
Are there luggage restrictions on the airplanes?
For the flights to Galápagos, only one checked suitcase (44 lbs., 20 kg) and one carry-on bag are allowed. If you are flying with EMETEBE (small airline operation on the Galapagos Islands) you can only check 10 kg per person.
Which additional costs are there when traveling to Galapagos?
Not included in the tours are:
National park entrance fee (100 USD per person - payable in cash at the airport in Galápagos)
Drinks (except water, tea and coffee on cruises)
Snorkeling equipment and wet suits (depending on the ship)
Migration card USD 10.- per person
Flight from Ecuador to Galápagos and back
What to bring?
You will need your passport, US Dollar in cash and should bring your credit card but please note that you cannot use them everywhere.
The Galápagos Islands are situated right on the equator so the weather is usually nice and warm. So bring mainly light clothes and just a few warmer ones for the evenings or when it starts raining. For this case you should bring also rain gear and for swimming two bathing suits.
You might want to bring a small bag for the excursions, a water bottle and at least two pairs of walking shoes (one might get wet when you have to step into water to get ashore). The sun on the equator is really strong, so make sure to bring suntan lotion (at least #15) and sun block, as well as sunglasses and a hat. As it is difficult to buy things on the islands, you should not count on being able to buy things there. Especially bring enough films and batteries for your camera because on the islands they are more expensive and the films often do not have a very good quality. Do not forget your camera, you will really regret it!
Useful are also insect repellant, a travel alarm clock, binoculars, flashlight, snorkeling equipment and wet suits (some boats offer the last two but there is only a certain quantity available and usually it is "first come - first serve").
Is it allowed to smoke on board or on the islands?
It is not allowed to smoke in the cabins or on the islands. However, some of the boats offer certain smoking areas.
Is there a possibility to change money on the islands?
The "Banco de Pacifico" in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) cashes dollars. It is open Monday to Friday 8:00am - 3:30pm. The ATM accepts only Mastercard and Cirrus (operates 7:00am - 11:30pm) but does not always work.
What is the electric current on board?
110V, 60 Hz, sometimes ships offer 220V.
Is it possible to make phone calls to my home country?
Most ships only have a phone to contact the mainland in cases of emergency. But nearly all of them have a stopover in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) where you can call home or use a internet café to send emails.
Are children allowed on board?
Children under the age of 7 are not allowed on board. The strict regulations on the is-lands are not adequate for them.
Are single or triple suites available?
Single and triple cabins are available for additional charge. Triple cabins nearly only exist on the cruise ships and are only for parents with their child.
Do you have to bring a certain physical condition?
Some of the trails on the islands are quite rough so passengers should bring a good physical condition
Are there medical services available?
There is only first aid available on Galápagos. All vessels have radio contact with the mainland in case of emergency. Some of the bigger ships may have their own doctor aboard. But there is no hospital so in case of an illness you have to return to the mainland.
Is seasickness common?
Most people are not affected but there may occure rough sea or the constant motion of the ship might bother you. So if you are susceptible to seasickness you should take some medication, just in case.
Are there special meals for people with dietary requests?
Just let us know about 2 weeks in advance and we will arrange a special diet for you
How much should we tip the guide and the crew?
Tipping primarily is a personal matter. However in Galápagos it is very common and if you want to be polite you should tip about USD 10 per person/per day for the guide and USD 10.- per person/per day for the whole crew of the ship.
What kind of guides accompany the ships?
All boats are accompanied by naturalist class ll and lll guides that all speak English and have a thorough knowledge of the wildlife of Galápagos. Some economy ships also have naturalist guides level I. They all have been trained by the Charles Darwin Station and are licensed by the National Park.
What are wet landings?
A small boat called "panga" brings you from the yacht to the shore. Some landings are "dry", that means you can step directly on volcanic rock. Wet landings mean that you have to wade ashore in shallow water (can be from your ankle up to your knee). The water may splash so you should pack your camera into a plastic bag.
If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us.