- Quito Side trip - Devil's Nose Railway, 2 days
- Quito Side trip - Otavalo Market Experience, 2 days
- Quito Stop Over, 3 days
- Colonial Quito and Cuenca, 8 days
- Conquistador Explorer Classic, 12 days
- Mashpi Jungle Lodge, 3 & 4 days
- Sacha Lodge - Amazon Jungle, 6 days
- Unique Dining Quito, 1 day
LATIN AMERICAN DESTINATIONS
- Antarctica (12 trips)
- Argentina (28 trips)
- Belize (6 trips)
- Bolivia (10 trips)
- Brazil (28 trips)
- Chile (30 trips)
- Colombia (9 trips)
- Costa Rica (7 trips)
- Ecuador (14 trips)
- El Salvador (4 trips)
- Falkland Islands (2 trips)
- Galapagos (14 trips)
- Guatemala (7 trips)
- Honduras (2 trips)
- Panama (6 trips)
- Peru (36 trips)
- Uruguay (3 trips)
- Venezuela (2 trips)
HOLIDAYS OF A LIFETIME
- Splendours of South America (2012), 17 days
- Splendours of South America (2013), 15 days
- Magical Ecuador and Peru (2012), 20 days
- Magical Ecuador and Peru plus Bolivia (2013/2014), 23 days
- Best of Ecuador, 11 days
- Cradle of the Incas, 13 days
Trekking, walking, wildlife encounters, cycling, rafting, sailing, cruising, camping, safaris, overland journeys and more.
Country General Information
Founded by a group of Spanish settlers, Quito began developing its now considered largest and best preserved historic center in all of Latin-American in 1534. Quito's rich history and European influence, evident through the city's streets, propelled it to be named one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites of Humanity by UNESCO in 1978! With a population of 2.5 million, Quito remains the heart of any visit to Ecuador but many travelers overlook the historical richness, and diversity of activities Quito has to offer as they make it to the Galapagos.
Named after the original inhabitants the Quitu, modern day Quito is a mix of ancient indigenous cultures, Inca heritage, Spanish colonial influences and 21st century modernization.
Dining in Quito is memorable with offerings of traditional Ecuadorean Cuisine. Or step it up and dine at restaurants located on the sides of volcanoes with stunning day or night views over the city. Chosen as the Cultural Capital of the Americas in 2011, Quito's night life is abundant as are the more sophisticated choices of museums and galleries including the Guayasamin Art Gallery and the La Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man) inside of which is covered with a mural by the artist Guayasamin. Quito has 11,436 rooms available which includes luxury hotels, hostels, renovated colonial buildings, eco lodges, among others.
Not just a gateway to the Amazon, the pacific coast and the Galapagos, Quito and its surroundings offer a wide choice of activities from adventure to luxury with an equally wide choice of accommodation from basic hostels to modern boutique, colonial splendor haciendas. Quito, the modern day heart of Ecuador, pumps with a vitality unlike any other Latin city and should never be overlooked.
For more information on our Quito packages please call
- Food & Drinks
- Travel Info
- Passport & Visas
Weather varies greatly, depending on the altitude. The coastal and Amazonian lowlands have a wet equatorial climate, but the higher you go, the colder it becomes. Most large cities are located in a fairly comfortable subtropical zone, although it can be very cold at night in Quito. Further up, it can be cold at all times. Ecuador is a year-round destination, but highland areas are best visited during the dry season - from June to September.
Lightweight natural fabrics; rainwear in subtropical areas. Warmer clothes are needed in upland areas.
US Dollar (USD; symbol US$) = 100 cents.
Notes are in denominations of US$100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1.
Coins are in denominations of US$1 and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents.
Some coins are usual US cents and some are Ecuadorean centavos. They have the same value.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and at casas de cambio (exchange houses), the latter being generally the best option. It may be difficult to exchange money in the Oriente. The rate of commission varies between 1 to 4%, so it is worth shopping around.
Credit / Debit Cars
Major credit/debit cards are accepted in most businesses. ATMs are available at most banks in urban areas. On the Galápagos Islands, currently only MasterCard is accepted.
Traveller's cheques are generally accepted in the larger cities and can be exchanged into currency at most banks and casas de cambio.
Generally Mon-Fri 0830-1600/1700; Sat mornings.
Food and Drink
Ecuador has some of the best beer in South America; the most popular brand is Pilsener, along with Club and Biela. Good, inexpensive Chilean and Argentinean wine is available, alongside pricier international drinks. Restaurants have waiter service and there are cafe-style bars. Things to know: Alcohol cannot be sold after 0200.
Cuy (roasted guinea pig).
Llapingachos (pancakes stuffed with mashed potato and cheese).
The best of the jungle fruits include chirimoya, with a delicious custard-like inside; mamey, which has a red, sweet, squash-like meat; and pepinos, a sweet white and purple striped cucumber-like fruit.
Shrimp or lobster ceviche. This is traditionally accompanied by popcorn and chifles (thinly sliced and fried green bananas).
Locro (soup of potatoes, corn and cheese).
Naranjilla (fruit juice with a taste somewhere between citrus and peach).
Canelazo (made from sugar cane, alcohol, lemon, sugar and cinnamon)
Pisco - the local brandy
Chicha (fermented corn drink)
Herbal teas made from native plants
10% service charge is usually added to the bill in hotels and restaurants.
There is little nightlife, except in Quito and Guayaquil where there are excellent restaurants and other attractions. In smaller towns, social life takes place in the home and in private clubs. The cinema is the most popular form of entertainment. Things liven up from Thursday to Saturday evenings. Bars are generally open between 2000-0200, with clubs staying on until about 0400.
1 Jan New Year's Day;
12 Feb Amazon and Galapagos Day;
27Feb Civicism and National Unity Day;
2 Apr Good Friday;
1 May Labour Day;
24 May Battle of Pichincha;
10 Aug Independence Day;
9Oct Guayaquil Independence Day;
2 Nov All Souls' Day;
3 Nov Cuenca Independence Day;
25 Dec Christmas Day;
31 Dec New Year's Eve.
NOTE: Ecuador's Carnival (in March/April), the Foundation of Guayaquil (usually in October), the Foundation of Cuenca (usually in November) and the Foundation of Quito (usually in December) are not official public holidays, but are widely observed. Other holidays, in addition to the above, may be marked locally.
Things to Do
Hiking in the Andes - High-altitude walks in the Cotopaxi and El Cajas national parks require some stamina due to the lack of oxygen, but this is your chance to see the stunning scenery of the grass-covered paramo plateaus, surrounded by volcanoes.
Scaling volcanoes - Cotopaxi - the world's highest active volcano - is one of the best mountains to start your climbing career. The climb doesn't require previous experience, but you need to be very fit and accustomed to high altitude.
Jungle - The wet equatorial forest of the Oriente is teeming with wildlife. Some areas are dotted with eco-lodges from where travellers embark on canoe expeditions through the intricate network of rivers and creeks that form the Amazon basin.
Cycling down the Andes - A few tour agencies in Quito offer cycling trips that take in the high-altitude paramo at an altitude of 4,000m (13,123ft) down to the lush tropical forests at 1,000m (3,280ft), passing the numerous climatic zones in between.
Cruising in the Galapagos - One of the world's most enticing destinations, the remote Pacific islands are full of unique creatures that you can't find anywhere else in the world. The ultimate experience is swimming with the giant Galapagos tortoises. Cruises should be booked in advance.
Surfing - The Pacific coast of Ecuador has sandy beaches that draw crowds of surfers. The village of Montañitahas grown into a surfers' enclave with plenty of cheap accommodation and active nightlife.
Devil's Nose - The famously precipitous Devil's Nose' train route takes you from Riobamba to the Alausi station, with most passengers opting to ride on top of the carriage.
Indian shopping - Indigenous markets are an ethnologist's wonder, but also a cheap and efficient way to stock up on gifts for your friends and families. While the Otavalo market mostly caters for tourists, the market in Saqisili is a authentically local affair.
Things to See
Quito - Set at 2,850m (9,348ft), the Ecuadorean capital boasts one of the continent's best-preserved colonial downtowns. Its lavishly decorated 16th-century churches are full of exquisite religious art, while its plazas remember marching conquistadores, shackled slaves and Jesuits preaching to the Indians.
Avenue of Volcanoes - Driving along the Panamericana on a sunny day, you'll find yourself surrounded by towering snow-capped volcanoes that invite for a hiking or climbing adventure. The most notable of them are volcanoes Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.
Equator line - The huge granite monument marking the equator line is not far from Quito (www.mitaddelmundo.com). Local guides will show how water swirls clockwise and anti-clockwise direction on both side of the line to prove its scientific significance.
Cuenca - Founded in 1577, Cuenca (www.cuenca.com.ec) is perhaps the best example of a South American colonial city. You are likely to feel the ambience already when checking into your hotel, most of which are located in heritage buildings. The nearby Ingapirca site gives a glimpse of Ecuador's pre-colonial history.
Guayaquil - The long riverside promenade in Ecuador's commercial capital (www.inguayaquil.com) is a masterpiece of modern architecture, with shady gardens and nice restaurants. Nearby, Barrio las Peñas is a former slum converted into a bohemian district, full of galleries, souvenir shops and bars.
Littoral - This narrow coastal belt has several attractive towns, such as Playas Posoria and Salinas, while Esmeraldas, one of the country's most important ports, is also known for its beautiful beaches. The relaxing island of Muisne is fast becoming a popular destination.
Baños - This tourist resort is booming despite having been several times evacuated because of its violent neighbour - the permanently erupting Tungurahua volcano. At night, you can watch from a safe distance how the mountain exhales fumes and lava streaks.
Galapagos Islands - This is the place to see the main characters in Charles Darwin's Origin of Species' - Darwin finches and more unusual creatures, such as the flightless cormorant, Galapagos tortoise, marine iguana and the unique tropical penguins (www.galapagospark.org).
Passports must be carried at all times.
Passport valid for at least six months required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.
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