Ecuador

Ecuador is bursting with stunning colonial architecture, colourful highland markets, tropical rainforest, jungle, snow-capped volcanoes, palm-fringed beaches and the Galapagos Islands and is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. Ecuador is home to numerous national parks and reserves, and is one of the richest places for birdlife in the world. The countries indigenous heritage of traditional costumes and highland markets will enchant you. As for colonial architecture, few cities top the beauty of Cuenca and Quito.

When to Visit

Ecuador is a year-round destination with each region offering an optimal season to visit. The highlands are at their best during the dry season from June to September, while in the Oriente rainforest and lowland regions the drier months are December through March.

Highlights

QUITO 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 Cuenca is a charming city, with its cobble stone streets, old-world cathedrals and colonial parks. This former Inca capital retains an Andeanindigenous influence found in its colourful, open-air markets.

OTAVALO An indigenous town in the Imbabura province, Otavalo is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura, Cotacachi and Mojanda volcanoes. The Otavalo Market is one of the largest and most colourful markets on the continent.

COTOPAXI VOLCANO Situated around 50km south of Quito is one of the highest volcanoes in the world, with a near perfect conical shape covered in snow that has erupted more than 50 times since the 16th century.

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.

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

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Useful Information

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 travelling 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 – an average speed of 45kmh.

Language

Spanish 93%, Quechua 4%.

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: USA and Japanese Voltage: 110-120 volts (different to New Zealand, voltage/frequency converter required). Modem Plug: USA. Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical adapters, or for further information, please go to www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Ecuador: +593 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz. Emergency Services: Quito and Ibarra Guayaquil, Cuenca, Loja Elsewhere dial 101 for Police, 102 for Ambulance and Fire or 131 for the Red Cross. The Emergency services may not always have English speakers available. In this case, you should have a Spanish speaker call on your behalf or contact the New Zealand Embassy.

Shopping

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.

Tipping

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 country side tipping isn’t common at all.

Visas

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting www.safetravel.govt.nz

Please note that due to a new Government regulation that will be effective on February 2018, (Human Mobility Act), it is required that all visitors travelling to Ecuador must hold valid international travel insurance that covers them in case of an emergency throughout the full-time of their stay in the country.  

 

Customs

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.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Ecuador. Frequent or long stay travellers should consider vaccination against hepatitis B. Vaccination against rabies (particularly if working with animals) and typhoid (particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene) should be considered by travellers to Ecuador. There is a medium risk of malaria in Ecuador and dengue fever also occurs, thus insect avoidance measures and anti malarial medication may be necessary depending on your itinerary. Yellow fever vaccination is usually required. Care with food and beverage selection is recommended in Ecuador. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Ecuador should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

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