Ecuador: detailed travel guide

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Ecuador: detailed travel guide

Ecuador is a distant country located in the northwest of South America, the name of which speaks for itself, in translation from Spanish Ecuador means equator. With a relatively small area of ​​only 283,561 km², Ecuador combines on its territory an extraordinary variety of climatic zones and zones – the equatorial belt of the Andes, the Pacific coast, the Amazonian lowlands, as well as the legendary Galapagos Islands.

It is not surprising that such unimaginable diversification makes this small country extremely attractive for active tourism. Accordingly, the excursion program here will be extremely rich and varied. In addition to exotic destinations, Ecuador is also famous for its rich colonial heritage, presented mainly in the capital of the country Quito and the city of Cuenca, extremely interesting and unique in terms of architecture. A highlight of Ecuador, once part of the Inca empire, combining Spanish cultural heritage with indigenous Indian traditions.

Washed in the west by the Pacific Ocean, Ecuador is located between Colombia and Peru.

On a demographic basis, Ecuador occupies only 67th place in the world with a population of 16 385 068 people. In the ethnic and racial composition of the country, mestizos prevail – 71.9%, followed by Indians – 25%, whites – 6.1% and blacks – 3%.

Midworld Monument

Midworld Monument

The capital of the country is the city of Quito, the most beautiful colonial city included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, is the second most populous city in the country. There are 2,735,987 people living in the capital. The leading place in the demographic plan belongs to the city of Guayaquil.

The national currency of the country is the US dollar, which, of course, facilitates settlements within the country, since there is no need to exchange currency.

Most of the population of Ecuador is Catholic, and there are also followers of Baptists, Adventists and evangelical conferences.

The country’s economy is based mainly on oil production and export. Tourism plays an important role. Ecuador is also the world’s largest banana exporter. Recently, the export of flowers and shrimp has also played an important role in the country’s economy.

Customs regulations

Ecuador does not impose any restrictions on the import and export of foreign currency with its obligatory declaration.

It should be noted that it is prohibited to export from the country items of historical, artistic and archaeological value, antiques, zloty products, drugs and drugs containing drugs, as well as wild animals and stuffed animals. The import of firearms, ammunition, meat and products from it, as well as fresh vegetables and fruits is prohibited in the country. When exporting wool and leather products, souvenirs and jewelry, you must present a receipt from the store.

How to get to Ecuador

Ecuador is located on another continent, and it is impossible to get there by anything other than an airplane. Of course, you can sail by steamer as part of a cruise, but in this case, you stay on the ship, having seen the country quite a bit. Therefore, in the form below, you can specify your city of departure and city of arrival – Quito. It is the capital of Ecuador and all international flights from Europe arrive here at Quito airport. The system will tell you the cost of tickets and you can buy them with just one bank card. The main flights are via Madrid, there are also options via Lisbon, Paris, Rome and Frankfurt.

How to get to Ecuador from Peru

Recently, tourists are increasingly combining a visit to Ecuador with Peru. You can move between these countries in different ways. The most reliable airline in South America is LAN. Today the united group of companies LATAM (or simply LAN) is considered the undisputed leader in the Latin American aviation market. LAN is famous for its quality service and reliable modern aircraft, but its ticket prices are quite high. Thus, the average cost of an economy class air ticket on the Lima – Quito – Lima route will be approximately $ 300, provided that the ticket is purchased several months before departure. Immediately before departure, prices can reach $ 500. The disadvantage is that LAN runs such a route only through Guayaquil, that is, with a transfer. Travel time, respectively, can vary from three to 10 hours. Periodically, this airline arranges sales, and then, if you’re lucky and there is an opportunity to play with numbers, then you can snatch a ticket for this route for $ 150. As a rule, such special offers happen in March.

Direct flights between Lima and Quito are operated by the Ecuadorian airline Tame, which offers a round-trip ticket on this route for an average of $ 300. Travel time is about two hours. Alternatively, you can also fly from Lima to Quito by the Panamanian airline Copa Airlines with a transfer in Panama.

History of Ecuador

Speaking about the history of Ecuador, there are several main periods.

Inca period, 15th century

Volcano Pechincha

Volcano Pechincha

At this time, the kingdom of Kitu was conquered by the Tahuantinsuyu Inca state, becoming the capital of the northern Inca province of Chinchasuyu. Since then, the Inca language of Quechua has become the most widely spoken language in Ecuador. The most ancient period, 1st century AD. e. The time of coexistence on the territory of Ecuador of various Indian tribes – Kara, Kanyari, Kitu, Tumba, internecine wars between them and the creation of a despotic state known as the “Kingdom of Kitu”.

The period of Spanish colonization, XVI century

Ecuador was conquered by the associates of the famous Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who built the city of San Francisco de Quito in 1539, which later became the capital of Ecuador, Quito. Ecuador at that time was part of New Castile, but later, its territory several times passed from the Viceroyalty of New Granada to Peru and back. In the 18th century, plantations began to be created in Ecuador and slaves were imported from Africa.

Independence period, XIX century

As elsewhere in Latin America, the 19th century brought a wave of national liberation struggles to Ecuador. In 1809, a revolution took place here, and in 1822, by the decision of Bolivar and José de San Martín, control over Ecuador passed to the Colombian Republic. And only in 1830, Ecuador seceded from the Colombian Federation.

Banana Republic period, XX century

At the beginning of the 20th century, the country was dominated by political and economic instability. It was at this time, starting from the twenties of the last century, bananas became the main export item of Ecuador. The forties were marked by the war with Peru over the territory of the upper Amazon, as a result of which the disputed territories went to Peru.

The war period and the oil boom, the end of the 20th century

In the seventies of the 20th century, the exploitation of oil deposits in Oriente began in Ecuador. Oil prices were rising at that time, which led to the rapid growth of the country’s economy. The rapid rise was followed by inflation and a rise in the country’s external debt. The intensification of the social crisis, the coming to power of the military junta, the austerity policy, the devaluation of the national currency, the introduction of a state of emergency in the country – these are the main characteristics of the period from the 70s to the 90s of the 20th century.

Modern period

In 2006, leftist candidate Rafael Correa won the election. The policy of this extremely popular president, known for his anti-American views, is aimed at expelling foreign oil companies from the country, freezing external debt and solving social problems of the poor.

Cities and regions

Geographically, Ecuador is subdivided into four zones – Coast, Mountain, Amazon and Galapagos. As for the territorial and administrative structure, today Ecuador is conditionally subdivided into 7 autonomous regions (see the map on the right). In turn, each of these regions is subdivided into provinces.

1. Northern region

  • Karchi
  • Esmeraldas
  • Imbabura
  • Sucumbios

2. Region of the Central North

  • Napo
  • Pichincha
  • Orellana

3. Central region

  • Chimborazo
  • Cotopaxi
  • Pasta
  • Tuncuragua

4. Pacific region

  • Manabi
  • Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas

5. Coastal region

  • Bolivar
  • Guayas
  • Los Rios
  • Santa elena

6. Region of the Central South

  • Asuay
  • Canyar
  • Morona-Santiago

7. Southern region

  • El Oro
  • Loja
  • Zamora-Chinchipe

In addition, three more zones with a special status stand apart:

  1. Cantons of Guayaquil, Samborondon and Duran (conditional zone 8 on the map on the right)
  2. Federal District of Quito (zone 9)
  3. A special division of the Galapagos, although by division into regions it belongs to No. 5 – Coastal Region

Each of these regions has its own interesting specifics and features, both natural-geographical and cultural-historical.

Using the links above, you can find additional information about the cities of the regions, as well as the attractions that can be visited in each specific region.

What to see in Ecuador

As a rule, a visit to Ecuador traditionally starts from Quito. The rest of the sights and places of interest are very scattered and remote from each other. Below you will find links to the sights of the capital and other regions of Ecuador.

National parks of Ecuador

Despite its small area, Ecuador is famous for its extraordinary biodiversity.There are many natural parks on its territory, the most interesting and worth visiting of which are the following:

  • Intinyan Museum

    Intinyan Museum

    The Cajas National Park (El Parque Nacional Cajas) is especially popular due to its proximity to the tourist Cuenca. The park is located just 29 km. from the city and is famous for its Andean lakes, there are 275 lakes on its territory. Here you can go fishing, trekking, bird watching, which are represented by hummingbirds, toucans and other birds of the area.

  • National Park Cotopaxi (El Parque Nacional Cotopaxi), located in the vicinity of Quito.
  • Yasuni National Park (E Parque Nacional Yasuni), the country’s largest mainland park in the Amazon region.
  • Machalilla National Park, the only coastal national park in Ecuador. The park is located in the vicinity of Guayaquil and is famous primarily for its coral formations on the island of Isla de la Plata. Damp rain forests and an abundance of birds complete its picture.
  • The active volcano park El Parque Nacional Sangay lies in the neighboring provinces of Chimborazo, Tungurahua and Morona Santiago. The park is famous for its numerous lagoons, dense forests and, most importantly, three active volcanoes – el Sangay, el Tungurahua and el Altar. The diverse flora of the park, many of which are endemics and unique ecology, made it possible for the park to receive the high status of a UNESCO Reserve.

Ecuador is also famous for its luxurious beaches. Among the best beaches in mainland Ecuador are the following:

  • Playa Los Frailes is an idyllic wild beach in the province of Manabi.
  • Playa de Canoa is a paradise beach with white sand in the province of Manabi. Favored by surfers because of the strong waves.
  • Manta – wild beaches in Manta in the province of Manabi.
  • Playa de Atacames in Esmeraldas province is the largest beach in Ecuador, famous for its excellent infrastructure and proximity to Quito.
  • Playa de Same in the Esmeraldas province is an exclusive beach in a tranquil bay. The advantages of this beach include its proximity to Súa, where you can watch humpback whales from June to September.
  • The beaches of the popular resort of Salinas in the province of Santa Elena.

Other sights of Ecuador

  • Church of San Francisco

    Church of San Francisco

    Pumapungo Museum and Archaeological Park

  • Barranco quarter
  • Ruins of Ingapirka
  • El Panecillo Hill
  • Independence Square
  • Basilica del Voto Nacional
  • Church of the Jesuits La Compagnie de Jesus
  • Church and Convent of Saint Francisco
  • Mid World Monument
  • Intinyan Museum
  • El Teleférico cable car
  • Quilotoa Lagoon
  • Tourist area La Mariscal
  • Indian craft market
  • Otavalo Indian Market
  • Mindo Park
  • Parroquia de Baños Baths Complex
  • Pedestrian street La Ronda
  • Long street
  • Church of La Merced
  • Church of San Agustin
  • Church and Convent of Santo Domingo
  • El Turi viewpoint
  • Abdon Calderon Square

What to do in Ecuador

Ecuador nature

Ecuador nature

Ecuador is famous both for its cultural and historical sights and for the extraordinary biodiversity of nature. Accordingly, this country has excellent opportunities for combining cultural and educational tourism with ecological tourism. Beach holidays are widely represented on the country’s Pacific coast, ecological tours in the Amazon region, a combination of beach and eco tours can be found in the Galapagos Islands, and in such colonial cities as Quito and Cuenca enjoy immersion in ancient colonial architecture.

As in other Catholic countries, there are many church holidays in Ecuador. Interestingly, most of them have absorbed folk motifs and traditional Indian rituals, resulting in a kind of ethnic mix.

In Ecuador, each city celebrates its independence day, this is its originality and difference from its neighbors. So, in Quito, Independence Day is celebrated on December 6, in Cuenca – on April 11, and in Guayaquil – on October 9. In December, Quito’s City Day is widely celebrated; it is a grandiose folk festival with fairs, performances, dances and even bullfights.

In Ecuador, there are many unique folk holidays that are particularly picturesque and colorful. Here are just a few of them:

In January, in the province of Tungurahua, the ancient Feast of the Devil is widely celebrated, during which masked Indians, personifying the devil, dance and sing their folk songs. A noisy, colorful action, rooted in the distant pre-Hispanic past.

On November 2, one of the most popular local holidays is celebrated – Memorial Day. On this day, almost the entire population of the country, young and old, visits the graves of their ancestors and brings them gifts.

In September and November, the province of Cotopaxi celebrates the feast of the Black Mother, which embodies the fusion of Indian, Spanish and African culture in Ecuador. During the colorful ceremony, one can see and understand an unprecedented mix of these cultures and traditions.

In September, will attend the Yamor festival with many cultural events in Otavalo, the agricultural fair in Makara and bullfighting in Sangolki.

Getting around the country

When planning your route in Ecuador, it is important to understand where and by what means of transport you can get.

Bus service

Ecuador has a well-developed bus system. This type of transport is convenient, quite economical and is in great demand among travelers around the country. It is preferable to travel by first class Ejecutivo buses, which are more comfortable and safe, and also equipped with air conditioning and toilets.

Quito has two bus terminals, from where you can go to almost any part of the country:

Kitumbe in the south (La terminal terrestre de Quitumbe), from where buses leave every hour to Banos, Cuenca, Guayaquil and Riobamba.

Carcelen in the north (La terminal terrestre Carcelen), from where buses leave for the provinces of Carchi and Imbabura.

On average, a bus trip from Quito to Cuenca takes 10 hours at a cost of about $ 12 one way. Likewise in Guayaquil. The trip from Quito to Banos will take about four hours at a cost of $ 4 one way.

Railway connection

Due to the peculiarities of the relief, the railway communication in Ecuador is practically not developed. The total length of all railways in the country is only 1200 kilometers. Only Guayaquil is connected by rail with the cities of Cuenca and Quito.

Air traffic

It would be wise to use the plane if your goal is to get to the Galapagos Islands. You can get to the islands only through Guayaquil, the flight from there takes about two hours. Flights to the Galapagos are operated by various airlines, including Tame, Avianca and LAN. The cost of the Guayaquil-Baltra-Guayaquil flight is quite high and varies from 300 to 600 US dollars if you buy a ticket in advance.

Culture

The culture of Ecuador

The culture of Ecuador

The culture of Ecuador is distinguished by a unique interplay of Spanish heritage with indigenous traditions. The ancient Inca empire also left its mark on the cultural life of the country – several centuries ago Ecuador was part of this powerful empire. The richest cultural heritage of the colonial period is undoubtedly concentrated in Quito. There are many amazing Baroque churches and cathedrals filled with priceless works of art, museums and monuments.

The musical culture of Ecuador was formed under the influence of Indian folklore. The most popular folk melody is called Sanjuanito, and it is remarkable for its amazing melody using flute and pipe.

Among the writers of Ecuador, Jorge Icaza is the most famous – his novel Wasipungo has been translated into several languages, including Russian; Benjamin Carrion is a writer and literary critic. In the Guayaquil group, writers such as Joaquin Lara, Enrique, Alfredo Pareja Diescanseco stand out – one of the most famous novelists of the country. Prominent poet of Ecuador – Jorge Carrera Andrade.

Ecuadorian cuisine

Ecuadorian cuisine

Ecuadorian cuisine

Ecuadorian cuisine has long been renowned for its variety and exquisite taste. It is characterized by the careful preservation of the centuries-old culinary traditions of the Indian peoples and the original design of dishes. Rice, grains, vegetables and a variety of soups are traditionally the basis of the Ecuadorian diet. On the coast, preference is given to fish and seafood. The most popular side dishes are fried bananas, yucca and cassava.

Here are just some of the most popular and delicious Ecuadorian dishes that will be interesting to try while traveling around the country:

  • Locro de papas – potato soup with corn, grated cheese and avocado.
  • Chupe de pescado – fish and vegetable soup.
  • Sancocho – fish soup with banana and yucca.
  • Patacon – fried bananas
  • Bolon is a fried green banana with flour and eggs.
  • Ceviche Mixto is a cocktail of fresh fish and seafood marinated with lime juice. An unusually tasty and fresh dish that came to Ecuador from Peru.
  • Fried guinea pig Cui, a popular dish in the Andes and Sierra, also originated from Peru.
  • Lechon is a roasted suckling pig.
  • Guatita is a dish made from cow’s stomach in peanut sauce and potatoes.
  • Mondongo is a spiced cow tripe soup.
  • Fretada – roast pork with onions and garlic.
  • Seco de polio is a chicken stew garnished with rice and avocado.
  • Seko de chivo – lamb stew with rice.

In Ecuador, freshly squeezed juices from exotic tropical fruits such as chirimoya, pepinos, mama, tomato de arbol, passionfruit, naranjilla and others are very worth trying.

By the way, beer in Ecuador is of excellent quality and enjoys a well-deserved popularity; the most famous brands are Pilsner, Belle and Club.

For lovers of something stronger, you can offer to try cane vodka aguardiente, which is often mixed with fruit juices, as well as corn chicha. Just like in neighboring Peru, pisco from Muscat grapes is popular here.

Purchases

What makes sense to bring from this distant South American country? First of all, ethnic souvenirs, which can be purchased at handicraft Indian markets. So, in the famous Otavalo market, you can buy colorful carpets, skins, leather goods, original national clothes, magnificent ceramics, silver jewelry of the finest work, handmade woolen goods, hats, products made of wood, palm trees and seeds, colorful tapestries, as well as original crafts from a tagua nut. Llama and alpaca products are especially good – ponchos, sweaters, hats, etc. Their prices are quite reasonable, and the quality is excellent.

It should be remembered that bargaining in the markets is always and everywhere appropriate and encouraged. As an alternative to the market in Otavalo, you can offer its smaller counterpart, the Indian market in La Mariscal Quito.

Communication

Difficulties with mobile communications and Internet access are usually not observed in tourist places in Ecuador. Even in the Galapagos, there is a connection and Wi-Fi everywhere. Problems can only arise in remote mountainous areas, where communication interruptions are often observed.

The most common mobile operator in Ecuador is Claro. They have the best rates and favorable conditions. This company operates practically without interruptions, which is why it enjoys well-deserved popularity in the country. Movistar is another major mobile operator with a well-established reputation.

For local calls within Ecuador, we recommend purchasing a card from one of these operators; their services will be much cheaper than roaming provided by Russian operators – MTS, Beeline and MegaFon.

The international dialing code of Ecuador is 593. In order to call from Moscow to Ecuador, you need to dial 7 – 10 (or just “+” instead of this combination, if we are talking about a mobile phone) – 593 – area code and phone number, and in order to be in Ecuador, to call from a mobile phone to Russia, you need to dial 00 7, area code and phone number.

Security in Ecuador

Ecuador is considered one of the most reliable countries in South America in terms of the crime situation. However, so that your trip is not overshadowed by unpleasant incidents, you should still follow certain precautions and not lose your vigilance.

  • Street in Ecuador

    Street in Ecuador

    You should not provoke the local population with your appearance, wear expensive jewelry, demonstrate expensive equipment, large amounts of cash. You need to look so that you can blend in with the crowd and not be conspicuous.

  • Demonstrate self-confidence to others, do not show confusion, doubts, etc.
  • You should not publicly check a tourist map on the street, betraying yourself as a tourist. It is better to study the route at the hotel in advance and follow it confidently.
  • Leave valuables, documents and cash in the hotel safe. It is better to carry a photocopy of your passport with you.
  • If you need to withdraw money from an ATM, it is better to do it during the day and not alone.
  • It is better to order a taxi at a hotel or restaurant. If you catch a taxi on the street, make sure it is an official taxi. When paying with taxi drivers, it is advisable to give the exact amount, there were times when taxi drivers pretended that they had no change. It is best to keep the windows closed during the taxi ride.
  • It is advisable to refrain from riding city buses, especially during peak hours. It is much better, and by the way, not much more expensive, to take a taxi.
  • Try to avoid crowded places, it is much easier for thieves to steal money in a crowd. Accordingly, always keep an eye on your bags and wallets.
  • If suddenly you see that your clothes are stained with something, do not let strangers approach you who can offer you help. This is a common trick, during which scammers try to distract you and in the meantime take out money.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash with you, it is better to limit yourself to a small amount in accordance with your daily spending.
  • In restaurants, ladies should not hang a purse on the back of a chair; it is much safer to keep it on your lap.
  • Walking alone at night is not recommended. If you do not have a company and you are late, you should call an official taxi.
  • As for the Galapagos Islands, there are simply no security problems there.

Police phone for tourists in Quito – (593 2) 254-3983 / (593 2) 295-5785

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