Nestled in a long narrow valley in the Andes, Quito is a mix of colonial and modern architecture. Its greatest treasures are the temples and convents that are perfect examples of the mixture of Spanish and Indian culture.


Cuenca is a charming city, with its cobblestone streets, old-world cathedrals and colonial parks. This former Inca capital retains an Andean indigenous influence found in its colorful, open-air markets.


An indigenous town in the Imbabura province, Otavalo is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura, Cotacachi and Mojanda volcanoes. Discover Otavalo’s artisan market, one of the most well-known and colourful indigenous markets in South America.


The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, home to an incredible array of plant and animal species as well as extraordinary indigenous Indian cultures.

Cloud Forest

Ecuador’s Cloud Forests are the single richest hotspots on earth, containing around 15% of the world’s plant species and nearly 20% of its bird diversity. They are home to iconic species such as the spectacled bear, jaguar, sloth, puma and more.

Galapagos Islands

Located 563 mi off the Ecuadorian coast, the Galapagos Islands are one of the most pristine ecosystems on the planet. The archipelago and surrounding marine reserve are a living museum and famously known as the place that inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Useful information

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Country Code for Ecuador: +593
Visa Global Assistance: Call the US on +1 303 967 1090
Emergency Services: Dial 101 for Police, 131 for Ambulance and 102 for Fire. The Emergency services may not always have English speakers available. 


Respeto (respect) is the key to etiquette across all of the class and ethnic divisions and between the genders. To be granted respect is to have dignidad (dignity) which is a social cognate of the legal status of derechos ("rights"). The granting and receiving—or withholding and denying—of respect governs much of interpersonal relationships. The opposite of respect is desprecio (disrespect). One counters disrespect to one's dignity by claiming "rights," and such rights come to one as an ecuatoriano, Ecuadorian. All Ecuadorians demand respect in their interactions, and conflict on interpersonal, aggregate, or group bases occurs when disrespect is repeatedly observed or inferred. One of the fundamental features of the black social movement is found in the phrase el rescate de la dignidad national ("the rescue of national dignity"). Black leaders say that Ecuador will lack dignity until the ideology of mestizaje, with its built-in premise of blanqueamiento and subtext of mejorar la raza ("improve the race" of indigenous and Afro–Ecuadorian people) is abandoned. The indigenous and black social movements, and movements by women and poor people, are oriented toward achieving the status of dignity through the allocation and/or appropriation of respect.


Electrical Plug type: USA and Japanese (Type A & B)
Voltage: 120V
Modem Plug: USA

Getting around

Ecuador’s inexpensive and generally reliable buses are the country’s preferred form of public transport, and trundle along just about anywhere there’s a road. By contrast, the train network covers only a small fraction of the country.

The road network is limited by North American and European standards, but expanding and improving all the time thanks to recent investments in the country’s infrastructure, supported by the introduction of road tolls. Less than twenty percent of the highways are paved so expect a bumpy ride if you’re going on any but the most important routes. The Panamericana (Pan-American Highway, often called la Pana by locals) forms the backbone of the country’s road network, linking all the major highland towns and cities from Tulcán to Loja and on to Peru. A handful of other good roads spill down the Andes to important coastal cities including Guayaquil, Manta, and Esmeraldas, while in the Oriente the road system is the least developed and exists almost entirely to serve the needs of the local oil industry.

The network’s biggest problem has always been the weather, with floods and landslides both common, knocking out roads sometimes for weeks at a time. Even in fine conditions, rough terrain means traveling in the country’s highland regions is often much slower than you might expect: going the length of the country by bus from the Colombian border to Peru, a distance of 818km on mostly paved roads, takes around 18 hours.


Spanish 93%, Quechua 4%.


Tipping in Ecuador can be common in certain places and rare in others. If traveling in Quito you might expect to tip but in the countryside, tipping isn’t common at all.


Ecuador's indigenous markets are definitely a treat for the curious traveller. Not only do they provide a glimpse into the vibrant local life which has remained unchanged over the years, but they're also a place where you can strike some unusual deals. Most native markets are hotspots for picking up inexpensive and delicious snacks and fresh fruits. The most famous Ecuador market is Otavalo; however, there are many more which are more popular among the locals and where you're likely to be one of the very few foreigners. The markets in Ecuador will not only provide you with a bargain on some popular items such as ponchos or the Panama hats but you will also get to mingle with the locals! Shopping hours for shopping malls are Monday – Friday 10:00 – 20:00 and Saturdays 08:00 – 21:00. Local stores may have shorter opening hours.


The Travel Corporation has partnered with the company Sherpa to provide travellers with the latest government and health restrictions. Simply enter the country you want to travel to for information on safety regulations, border closures, quarantine requirements, your travel visa and more using the Sherpa travel tool.


Official travel advice is available by visiting the SmartTraveller Website

From the blog