holiday in Ecuador?
is a great South American destination for colourful culture, wildlife
and outdoor activities, though in truth Peru offers a probably more colourful and widespread Andean and Inca culture experience. Peru cannot, however, compete with the Galapagos Islands!
Ecuador is small - the size of the UK - but has a huge diversity
from the Amazon rainforest to the Andes Mountains, with the unique
Galapagos Islands a short flight offshore.
Local people have an historically rich background, with varied influences
ranging from from pre-Inca and Inca to Spanish colonial. Some say
these are the friendliest people in Latin America.
- Although it is relatively safe to get around compared to
neighbouring Colombia and Peru, you still need to take precautions,
especially in cities and around the northeastern border
- though this area is not recommended.
- also, like other Andean countries, light-fingered locals local 'rateros' are common.
Oct-May. Cool and dry in most areas, hot and wet on the coast.
Worst: June-Sept. Hot and humid in lowlands with wet, impassable
roads in the Oriente region of the Amazon rainforest.
***Quito. A tranquil, historic city (UNESCO World Heritage
site), located between Andean volcanoes, with a pleasant atmosphere,
many picturesque colonial buildings and some Inca stonework still
The prime sights are: Monastery of San Francisco, La Ronda,
El Panecillo (the little bread loaf) and
***Otavalo. A pleasant town 100
km north of Quito, famous for its colourful Indian market (Saturday
is the biggest). Many locals in traditional dress come from the
Some of the best quality handicraft souvenirs can be found there.
**The Oriente (The Amazon). Misahulli and Tena are popular bases in the Amazon for jungle expeditions.
For a more genuine, deep jungle experience, head for Coca or Lago
Agrio. Highlights include the indigenous tribes, ceibo trees, Huaorani Ecolodge and campsite, hummingbirds, blue morpho butterflies, the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve. More.
**Cuenca, one of the most attractive
cities in South America, with charming colonial architecture, particular
16th -17th century churches.
Also known for Panama hats. This is a good base to explore Cajas
National Park, with many scenic lakes. *Ingapirca, 50 km north,
has Ecuador's best preserved Inca ruin (a fortress) - although less
inspiring than those in Peru.
***Baños, a town that is developing
into something of an activity base, offering both short and long
hikes in stunning cloudforest or the high Andes, mountain biking
and river rafting. When you stagger back to town steaming natural
hot springs will soothe the limbs and varied international cuisine
will fill the stomach.
*** The Galapagos Islands. One of the
most irresistible wildlife scenes you could experience on earth,
and the home of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Climbing and trekking: most National
Parks are excellent for walks.
Birdwatching: the best places are Cajas
National Park, Cotopaxi National Park, the Galapagos Islands and
the jungle area.
Rainforest trips: in the Oriente, including
hiking, swimming, canoeing, birdwatching. Can be arranged at Misahualí,
Coca, Lago Agrio, Baños, Tena, Puyo, Macas, and Quito (but
it's more expensive to book in the capital).
Swimming: due to warm coastal currents,
the sea is pleasant all year round, although Jan-April is the coast's
wet, mosquito season. Some sandy beaches can be found at Atacames,
Bahía de Caráquez, Bahía de Manta, Salinas,
San Vicente, and Playas.
Scuba diving and snorkelling: particularly
good in the Galapagos Islands, but experienced divers are advised
to bring their own basic gear and book in advance. If you're lucky
you'll be mixing with sea lions, seals, iguanas, turtles,
and hammerhead sharks - ace!
Due to the country being Catholic, most festivals are religiously
bent, so to speak.
Feb/March, The Easter Carnival, a week-long nationwide celebration,
with processions and a water festival.
June, Corpus Christi, another lively religious fiesta, with a harvest
celebration and folk dancing.
November, All Soul's Day, one of the most colourful religious festivals,
with flowers and offerings to ancestors.
Independence day, date varies town to town, Cuenca, Quito, Guayaquil
and Otavalo are the biggest.
Late December, Christmas and the New Year celebrations.
Corpus Christi Festival Tour
This 3 day trip starts and ends in Quito. Each June, thousands of Ecuadorians congregate in Pujili for the Corpus Christi festival which features El Danzante parade. This fiesta is a fascinating mix of Christian and traditional celebration of the harvest, as well as worship of Inti, the Inca sun god. The multi-day fiesta is an exhibition for the region's folk dance, music, cuisine and art; the tour also offers the opportunity to visit Cotopaxi Volcano and Quilatoa Lagoon.
120v, 2 flat pins.
Most nationalities can get a 90 day tourist visa on arrival.
Western food is widely available, but local delicacies are worth
trying. Soups and stews - sopa, locro and caldo - are the most
common. Corn pancakes 'humita' are good for breakfast.
Fried food (eggs, vegetables, meat and fish) with rice or potatoes
is a typical evening meal.
Try to taste 'cuy', roasted guinea pig. Splendid seafood can be
served along the coast.
Ecuadorian handicrafts are excellent quality and reasonably priced.
Local markets are good place to get souvenirs, as well as for people
watching, particularly the Saturday market in Otavalo.
Homespun woollen goods are popular and ponchos from
Otavalo are regarded as the best in South America. The quality of
Panama hats from Cuenca is also supreme.
Ecuador Map | Galapagos Guide | Galapagos Pictures
America Map | Galapagos Tours