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Ecuador is located on the northwestern coast of South America, between Peru to the south and east and Colombia to the north. The famous Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador, and are located approximately 1,000 kilometers off the coast. Ecuador covers 256,370 square kilometers of land and is the smallest country in South America after Uruguay and the Guianas.

 

Ecuador is one of 18 megadiverse countries in the world according to Conservation International. With 1,600 bird species (15% of the world's known bird species) in the continental area, and 38 more endemic to the Galápagos. In addition to 25,000 species of plants, the country has 106 endemic reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 species of butterfly. The Galápagos Islands are well known as a region of distinct fauna, famous as the place of birth of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Ecuador's capital is Quito, which is in the province of Pichincha in the Sierra region. Its largest city is Guayaquil, in the Guayas Province. Cotopaxi, which is just south of Quito, features one of the world's highest active volcanoes. The top of Mount Chimborazo (6,310-m above sea level) is considered to be the most distant point from the center of the earth, given the ovoidal shape of the planet (wider at the equator).

 

Located on the northwestern coast of South America, Mainland Ecuador is bordered by Colombia to the north and Peru to the south and east. It is crossed by the Equatorial line, from where its name derives. Ecuador also owns the Galapagos Islands, located approximately 970 kilometers westward off the Ecuadorian Coast been one of the smallest countries in South America, with 256,370 square kilometers. Continental local time is -5 GMT (US Eastern Standard Time) year round. Galapagos Islands are on -6 GMT (US Central Standard Time) year round.

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ABOUT ECUADOR

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Republic of Ecuador
Northwest of South America. It is bound on the north by Colombia, East and South by Peru and on the West by the Pacific Ocean.

 

256,370 sq. Km
Quito, located along the Equatorial Line at 2,850 meters above sea level.

 

13,363.593 habitants (as of July, 2005)
August 10th
Democratic
Executive, Legislative, and Judicial
Spanish and Quichua, the lingua franca of the Inca Empire. English is spoken in major visiting places.

 

U.S dollars
Roman Catholic (predominant) and many other religious creeds.

 

Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca
Andean Highlands (15 C), Coastal tropical plain (27 to 33 C),
Amazon Basin (25 to 29 c), Galapagos Islands (26 to 30 c).

GMT-5 (Ecuador Continental).GMT-6 (Galapagos Islands)
IS (International System)
Valid Passport with a maximum stay of 90 days without visa
110 AC

 

Geography and Climate

Ecuador is crossed from north to south by the Andes, which divides its continental territory in three big regions, generally known as Costa (Western Lowlands), Sierra (Andes) and Oriente (Amazon). These three regions are not farther than ( 30-minutes flight) from each other and about eight hours by ground transportation, which allows travellers to seeing dramatic landscape changes in a very short period of time.

 

Ecuador has 7 geographical zones:

  • The Andean region, also known as Sierra, formed by the Eastern and Western mountain ranges, and in between the inter-Andean valleys, known as the Volcano Avenue. The Highlands above 3000mts, better known as Paramo, where a cold temperature prevails during the day (12°C or less) and can dramatically drop during the night to few degrees below zero. Both ranges are decorated with the snowy Peaks, which exceed 4500mts of height. The highest point is Chimborazo Volcano, with 6,310mts. In the valley, haciendas and small towns predominate; the average temperatures oscillate between 12 to 20°C.Quito, the second largest city and capital of Ecuador is located on one of these valleys, with approximately 1.5 million inhabitants.
  • The western slope of the Andes, also known as Chocó, characterized by the presence of cloud forests and a huge variety of Flora and Fauna which have remained fairly unaltered due to the land's irregularity. Temperatures here oscillate between 20 to 26°C.
  • The humid coastal region up North, and its humid tropical weather; where you can observe the famous ever green vegetation and some areas of primary tropical rainforests.
  • The dry coastal region down South, characterized by the presence of dry tropical forests, and low rainfall. Guayaquil the largest city of Ecuador is located here, with almost 2 million inhabitants. Temperatures here oscillate between 18 -to32°C.
  • The Amazon region is also the most humid region of the country, drained by tributary rivers of the Amazon River. Tropical rainforest prevails in this area; however there are great land extensions for livestock ranches and farms, particularly in the western side, next to the main roads and rivers. Oil is extracted from this area, and it is at the present time the most important source of income for the country. Precipitation can be as high as 5,000mm per year. Temperatures oscillate between 18 -to32°C. with 70% of humidity.
  • The Galapagos Islands region located in the Pacific Ocean at 970km from mainland consist of 13 main islands, 6 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets .The influence of different winds and currents during the year produce two different seasons: Warmer Rainy season from January to May and the cold Garua season from June to December.

 

Diversity

Ecuador has numerous and diverse ecosystems (45 on the Mainland), plus an assortment of landscapes. Because of its privileged location, Ecuador is listed as one of the 17 “mega-diverse “countries of the world, been the smallest of the group.

 

Fauna

At the moment, 1340 species of fish are registered, of which more than 800 are fresh water fish; from these, 470 species live on the Napo river basin alone;415 amphibians species, from which 60% are endemic;394 reptilian species and 369 mammalian , 30% are endemic. Each year, many new species are described, especially amphibians.1, 616 bird species, from which 52 are endemic.132 species of hummingbirds, (37% of the world total). Ecuador has more endemic bird species by square kilometer than the rest of South America .The Invertebrate field is the least known in Ecuador. There is an estimate 500,000 registered species but only 45% of these have been identified.

 

Flora

Ecuador has around 16,087 species of plants, from these 15,306 species are native and 4,173 are endemic been the country with the largest diversity of orchids in the world

 

Protected Areas

At the moment, 26 protected areas have been established and are part now of the Natural Protected Areas System of Ecuador (besides those privately owned) covering approximately 4’666,871 hectares of terrestrial surface (18.21% of Ecuador's area) and 14’110.000 hectares of marine area.

 

People

Ecuador has a large diversity of cultures. We count along with the mestizos about 27 nationalities of indigenous peoples and Afro-Ecuadorians; each one with its own distinctive customs.

 

Language

The main language in Ecuador is Spanish. The Indian towns of the Sierra and some from the Amazon mostly speak Quechua. Other Indian communities speak 9 different languages.

Our guides are fluent in English as well as other languages. If you need a guide in a language other than English or Spanish, please contact us.

 

Required Documents

To enter Ecuador a valid passport for six months or more from the day of arrival is necessary. Most countries don't require a visa; you can ask for the visa requirements in your country or by filling our contact form.

At your departure from Ecuador, you will have to pay US $45.00 after checking at the counter and obtaining the boarding pass. Our tour leader will help you with the paperwork and our agency will take care of the flight reservation as well as any other necessary paperwork.

 

Packing

For a trip to Ecuador you don't need to bring a lot, besides your outdoor clothing, Photographic equipment, and the willing to learn and discover. We will suggest the proper items according to the places you will visit and each activity you will have. The basic recommended equipment can be checked out at Galapagos packing Checklist and Amazon Packing Checklist for these two regions.

 

Money

Ecuadorian Currency is the US Dollar. In Indian markets and in almost every souvenir stores inside or out of Quito, you can only pay in cash. Traveller’s Checks are quite useful to avoid carrying too much cash, and they can be cashed at any bank. Major credit cards are taken at almost every restaurant, hotel and first class store. In Galapagos, only MasterCard is honoured to cash currency, others are accepted at most stores.

 

Bank hours

They vary from bank to bank. The usual schedule is from 9 am to 5 pm, some are open Saturdays. In bigger towns almost every bank has a cash machine, most of which are also connected to the main credit cards.

 

Park fees

Each and every one of the parks and natural reserves has an entrance fee that has to be paid in cash at the time of entry. The amount varies from place to place, can change without previous notice and is not included in any package rate. The highest tax is from The Galapagos National Park, of USD $100, 00 for adults, and USD $50, 00 for those younger than 12 years old.

 

Tipping

Tips are common in Ecuador, as well as any touristic country. Every person that gives a personal service, expect always a tip that will be the way of demonstrating satisfaction with the received services. It is also normal to tip the waiter in addition to the 10% charged in the check.

 

Electricity

In all of Ecuador's land, the electrical supply is of 110 v. 60 Hz. In all of our Galapagos Ships you will also have 220v and 12v. There are some places that lack electric energy, or have solar electricity of 12v, like our eco-lodges in the Amazon.

Communications

Phone communications are possible from and to Ecuador in all major cities and towns. There is no phone service in most Yachts neither in most lodges of the Amazon or other distant places.

 

Health

Ecuadorian law does not demand a vaccination prior entrance to the country. However we recommend following your own country and doctor instructions. For more information please visit http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationEcuador.aspx

Always drink from a bottle, wear sun-block, sunglasses and a hat in exposed places. The Ecuadorian Sun is always something to be aware of, even on cloudy days. For an adventure trips, it is quite important to be in a good physical state.

If you have a medicine prescription, make sure to bring enough for the whole trip, as well as a copy of the prescription. If you wear glasses it's better to bring a reserve pair.

 

Insurance

For every traveller to Ecuador, we recommend the acquisition of an insurance against cancellations, accidents, disease and theft. Make sure your insurance covers the risks for every activity you plan on doing, such as hiking, diving, etc

 

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Galapagos Islands

Birdwatching

Amazon Rain Forest

Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique living museum and showcase of evolution. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galapagos are a melting pot of marine species.

Ecuador's IBAs are found not only in national protected areas, but also in urban sites. More than 50 % of Ecuador's IBAs already have tourist facilities and are growing in infrastructure. Morever, Ecuador holds the world's top two endemic bird areas (EBAs).

The Amazon ecosystem, particularly the tropical rainforest, is considered one of the richest and most complex plant and animal biomes in the world. Many important chemical compounds for pharmaceuticals evolved here and many are surely yet to be discovered.

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Eco-tourism is responsible travel that promotes environmental education and conservation of nature and sustains the well being of local people