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Ecuador Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT -5

Electricity

Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin, flat prong plugs are standard.

Language

Spanish is the official language, but many speak an Amerindian language called Quichua.

Travel Health

Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if travellers are arriving from Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Uganda, or have transited through an airport in one of these countries. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is a high risk of malaria in areas below 5,000 feet (1,500m), and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of reported cases of dengue fever, primarily in coastal and Amazon regions. The best prevention is for visitors to cover up and use mosquito repellent liberally throughout the day. High altitude can affect some people's health so visitors to Quito (6,500 feet/2,800m), for example, are advised to take it easy for the first few days. Tap water should not be consumed; bottled water is available. Medical facilities are often inadequate, especially outside of Quito, and comprehensive medical insurance is highly recommended.

Tipping

A 10 percent service charge is usually added to bills at good-quality hotels and restaurants, but patrons often add another five to 10 percent as a tip. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped but tour guides usually do.

Safety Information

Ecuador is generally a safe country to travel to but visitors should be vigilant with their belongings, as most crime is opportunistic. Travellers are warned not to store belongings in the overhead lockers or under seats on public buses and trains, and to watch out for pickpockets. Kidnapping is a concern throughout the country.

Travellers should also avoid hiking to Volcan Pichincha via Cruz Loma, as violent gangs are known to operate in the wooded areas; a cable car provides access, but there have been several cases of armed robbery and rape reported in the area. Several incidents have also occurred along the hiking trail up Cerro Mandango near Vilcabamba, Loja, where masked men have robbed hikers of all valuables.

Ecuador has many active volcanoes, which are rather poorly monitored. Eruptions have caused the evacuation of thousands of people, particularly in the Banos area.

There is an ongoing risk of disruption to travel due to social and political unrest; all public gatherings and demonstrations should be avoided, as they should be in all foreign countries.

Local Customs

Travellers should always ask permission to take photos of the local people, who will often request a tip for taking a photo. It is a legal requirement to carry identification at all times. Dress is more conservative and modest in the highlands compared to the coast. Politeness and good manners are essential and a light handshake is the practiced form of greeting.

Business

An essential aspect of conducting business in Ecuador is having a link with a reputable local partner. Business dealings are somewhat formal; dress is usually smart and conservative, punctuality is important and greetings are made with a handshake. Dress can be more casual in hotter regions such as Guayaquil. Business cards are usually exchanged and it is recommended to have some business cards, company brochures and presentations translated into Spanish. Business disputes that would be dealt with by civil litigation in countries such as the United States are often, under Ecuadorian law, viewed as criminal, and can lead to arrest and imprisonment. Although the official language is Spanish, English is widely spoken and understood in the business sector. Business hours are usually 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, with some businesses closing during lunch.

Communications

The international access code for Ecuador is +593. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free WiFi are widely available. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.

Duty Free

Travellers entering Ecuador do not have to pay customs duty on 400 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 500g tobacco, three litres of alcoholic beverages, and perfume for personal use.

Become our Ecuador Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Ecuador travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Ecuador or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.

iExplore

iExplore designs made-to-order, privately-guided adventure tours to Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and over 200 other world wonders. Come Back Different!

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Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel, one of the world's leading suppliers of small group adventures focused on getting off the beaten track, interacting with the locals and having real life experiences throughout Ecuador.

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