Ecuador is the second smallest South American country, located on the equator line. The country has a very wide-ranging climate. The four main regions of the country are La Sierra (Highlands), La Costa (Coastal Lowlands), El Oriente (Amazon region) and the Galapagos Islands and each of them has different temperatures, climates and seasons.
When to travel
There’s no real summer and winter in Ecuador. Weather generally varies by regional geography, with temperatures determined more by altitude than by season or latitude.
The warmest and driest months in the sierra are June to September. Outside these months, typical sierra weather offers sunny, clear mornings and cloudy, often wet, afternoons. In the Oriente, you can expect it to be warm, humid and rainy throughout the year. In the lowlands it can get particularly hot on clear days, with temperatures of 30°C. The coast has the most clearly defined wet and dry seasons, and the best time to visit is from December to April. From May to November it’s often overcast and relatively cool, especially in the south, with less chance of rainfall. The Galápagos climate sees hot, sunny days interspersed with the odd heavy shower from January to June, and dry and overcast weather for the rest of the year.
The official time is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-5). During summer time difference between Amsterdam and Ecuador is 7 hours (it is 7 hours earlier in Ecuador). During winter the time difference is 6 hours.
The official language of Ecuador is Spanish, but Quechua, an Inca language, is spoken by the Indian population. English is the most spoken foreign language among tourist providers and professionals.
A valid Dutch passport is needed upon entering Ecuador. Upon return in your home country the passport should be valid for 6 months more. No long stay visa is needed if your stay in Ecuador is no longer then three months. For all other nationalities, we advise you to contact the embassy or consulate of Ecuador. All travelers, including kids at any age need to carry their own international passport. Keep a copy of your passport and other documents in your luggage and keep a digital copy, for instance in your mail. In case you lose your original documents you still have the copies.
Ecuador has a high rate of violent crime, and tourists are frequent targets. Pickpocketing and other petty theft are common in Ecuador. But crimes also include murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault in tourist destinations and in far-flung areas. You should remain extremely vigilant and cautious about your, especially on arrival in the country. You should take sensible precautions:
• Carry a copy of identification documents. Keep originals and your valuables in the safety deposit box of your hotel and make sure to list down what you deposit and verify the responsibility assumed by the establishment.
• Carry valuables discreetly. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Keep an eye on your bags and luggage.
• Do not carry suitcases, bags or sac packs on your back.
• Do not exchange money out in the street.
• Do not walk around at night through areas with poor lighting or without companion.
Currency and banks
Ecuador uses the US dollar as currency. US dollar bills are the only paper money accepted, but Ecuador also produces its own coins and accepts both those and US coins. Don’t take $100 bills to Ecuador, banks will not change them for smaller bills, because they are not allowed to, only the central bank can do this. Many small businesses will have trouble finding change for a small purchase from a $20. In rural areas, travel with small denomination bills (no larger than $10). In major towns and cities, cash machines are available. Check with your bank before leaving home.
• By Bus. Busetas (22 seat small buses) cover long distances quickly. Keep your passport with you when traveling by bus, as there are frequent transit police checks on the outskirts of towns, especially travelling between two cities. Avoid taking night buses through Guayas Province, as the routes are favored by hijackers.
• By Air. Ecuador has a more efficient air transportation system than most other Andean countries. Almost all flights begin or end in Quito or Guayaquil.
• By Taxi’s. Taxis are abundant, low-cost and available everywhere. The primary consideration is to use registered taxis. Registered taxis in Ecuador are yellow, with cab number on the windshield and side doors in an orange placard.
• Rail travel. There is no International train service. The national railroad from Quito to Guayaquil is reportedly being rebuilt but certain sections are open to tourists such as from Alausi to Nariz del Diablo.
When taking public transport, safeguard valuables by keeping them on your body at all times. Always padlock your bag as this is a huge deterrent for would-be thieves. On longer bus journeys make sure to pack enough water and snacks. Always be alert at bus terminals or bus stops for pickpockets and bag snatchers.
The standard voltage in Ecuador is 120V. Sockets are a mixture of the European, two-pronged round variety and US flat-pin. We advise you to bring a power plug and/or voltage adapter.
If you bring a compatible (GSM only) cell phone to Ecuador, it will only work if your provider offers roaming. Ecuador uses GSM 850 or 1900 MHz frequency, so check, if your cell phone supports this one (older European phones don’t).
Internet is commonly available throughout Ecuador, almost all hotels provide good and free wireless internet (WIFI).
Health & Vaccinations
Seek for medical advice before travelling to Ecuador from your local health practitioner and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid, hepatitis A (for stays over 4 weeks) and hepatitis B (for stays over 3 months) are recommended.
The tap water in Ecuador is not safe to drink, so only drink bottled water and it’s wise to avoid ice cubes in drinks and salads which may have been washed in unhygienic water.
Take a small first-aid kit along with you which includes iodine, plasters, sterilon and anti-fever, diarrhea, constipation, insect bites, sunburn and possibly a cure for motion sickness. Consider also a tick, thermometer (unbreakable), ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts, from dehydration) and vitamin tablets. Hygiene traveling including a bottle disinfectant gel (to wash your hands without the need for water and soap) and disinfecting wipes. If you go to a malaria area, think of anti-malaria tablets, an ointment containing DEET and an impregnated mosquito net.
The climate of the Galápagos Islands is, mostly pleasant. Just bring a windbreaker and a light sweater is a good idea. If you are going to the islands, bring a swimsuit and some sun protector. Sunrays may get pretty strong along the equator. The weather in the Amazon Basin is very humid and warm. Bring one or two sweaters, for the little chilly nights. Stick to relatively fast-drying material, it can get really humid and there can be a rain shower, especially from March until September. Also bring lots of cotton socks, a good quality rain jacket or a waterproof poncho and a big thick plastic.For visiting the Andes, light wool is ideal and a warm jacket is usually necessary in the highlands after the sunset. Bring comfortable shoes for walking or good hiking boots if you are planning on doing any trekking. If you’re planning on visiting the Cotopaxi National Park or other places of a rather high altitude, it is advisable to bring a thick sweater and a jacket. Remember that the higher you are, the colder the weather will be.
Ecuadorian Embassy in The Hague
2514 AJ S-Gravenhage
Tel: (+31) 70 346 95 63
Fax: (+31) 70 365 8910
Netherlands Embassy in Quito
Ecuador Edificio World Trade Center
Av. 12 de Octubre 1942 y Cordero Torre A
Piso 1 P.O. Box 17-21-1384 Quito
Tel: (+593) 2-222 9229
Fax: (+593) 2-256 7917