When to go & weather: Being directly on the Equator, Ecuador enjoys a temperate climate all year round. The hottest season is from November to May, when the rain forest and the highlands experience heavy afternoon showers. Temperatures are lower in the highlands, ranging from around 5 degrees at night, to 25 degrees during the day.
Documents: Make paper and digital copies of all your travel documents before leaving home, and store them in a safe place. Do the same for any documents that you pick-up along the way (eg. Any tickets you buy locally and Immigration cards which you will be given upon entering most countries.) Having a copy of your lost or stolen documents will make it much easier to replace them. In most countries in South America you are legally required to carry a form of photo ID at all times in case of random police checks, a copy of your passport is sufficient.
Visa requirements: British Passport holders do not need a visa in advance and will be given a 90 day tourist visa on arrival. You may be asked to produce proof of onward travel upon arrival in Ecuador so we recommend you keep a printed version of your tickets with you at all times. Upon arrival you will complete an arrival card, make sure you keep your part of this document as you will need to present it with your passport when leaving the country. Make a copy or take a digital photo of this card and store it with your copy of your passport. If you lose it you will have to pay for a replacement before being allowed to leave the country.
Travel Insurance: You must take out an appropriate Travel Insurance policy to travel with Discover South America Ltd. Make sure you are covered for medical expenses abroad and repatriation should it be necessary. If you plan to carry out any adventurous activities such as multi-day treks at altitude (whether as part of your Discover South America tour, or independently) make sure your policy covers you. Most insurers will include cover for specific activities at a premium if those activities are not included as standard. We can advise upon suitable policies.
Money: The currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar. ATMS (cajeros automaticos) dispense Dollars and are normally open 24 hours. Visa, Cirrus and Maestro cards are widely accepted at ATMs. For safety reasons, use ATMs inside banks with security guards, preferably during daylight hours. Credit cards may be accepted at some tourist hotels and restaurants, with up to a 7% surcharge. Make sure you tell your bank or card provider before you travel if you are planning to use your card abroad and check their fees for making withdrawals and using your credit card abroad.
Before you go: Visit your GP at least 8 weeks before departure, so that any vaccinations you may need have become fully effective before you travel. Many UK surgeries have travel clinics and will advise you on the specific requirements for the countries you are visiting. To visit lowland jungle areas you should have a yellow fever vaccination, and some sources recommend malaria prophylaxes. Check the NHS Fit for Travel website for more information: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx
While you are there: Avoid buying food from street vendors, peel raw fruit and vegetables, and only drink bottled water in all parts of the country. Yellow fever and malaria are problems in the Amazon and some parts of the coast, make sure you have the necessary vaccinations. Altitude sickness can be a problem in Highland areas including Quito, take time to acclimatize, eat lightly upon arrival and drink plenty of water and coca tea.
Safety: Unfortunately, pick pocketing and distraction theft occurs in cities all over South America, particularly in places frequented by tourists such as bus terminals. Common sense is often your best defence – do not wear flashy jewellery or display valuable objects in poor areas and big cities. Your local guides will advise you on the safe areas to walk around independently, and any areas to avoid. If travelling independently before or after your tour, or if you do not have transfers included, make sure you always use a registered radio taxi in cities, identifiable by their plaques. Hotels will always be happy to call a trusted taxi company for you.
View our destination guide for Ecuador.