Information on Ecuador
The first time I went to Ecuador I discovered from a fellow
traveler on the plane that the official currency of Ecuador was
now the U.S. Dollar. Good information to have, since I thought
I'd have to find a place to exchange my money at midnight in
Quito. Not only could I use the dollar bills in my pocket, but
I soon discovered that just one of them would buy a three-course
lunch at a clean restaurant (it probably takes two dollars now).
I fell in love with Ecuador immediately. I fell in love with
my wife-to-be Ana a few days later. Here is some more information...
Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America.
It borders the Pacific Coast and it is crossed by the Equator.
The Galapagos Islands are Ecuadorian territory, and the country
is often called "la tierra de la eterna primavera"
(the land of eternal spring) because of its amazing mountain
weather. In Mountain cities like the Quito (the capital) it is
never below 40 degree Fahrenheit, rarely above 80, and averages
a wonderful 64 degrees year-round. The coast can get a little
hot and humid, but never reaches the extreme temperatures experienced
in the States.
I had a great time in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Centro
Del Mundo, the hostel where I stayed initially, cost only $4
per night, and that included breakfast. The walls were covered
with maps and all the information I needed. There were travelers
from fourteen different countries there during my five day stay.
I took a tour to Cotapaxi, and hiked up to the glaciers on the
volcano with three others, from Israel, France and England. I
danced (Free Rum in the hostel on Friday nights), wandered the
city, and took lessons from a beautiful tutor for $2 per hour.
Ana was not only a great teacher, but soon became my tour guide,
and eventually, my wife.
I went to Riobamba, another beautiful mountain city, for a
few days. I stayed in a hotel for $3 per night, this time in
a private room with a TV. The manager had connections for, and
information on, anything I wanted (this is common, I discovered).
He arranged for a guide to take me to the summit of Mount Chimborazo,
at 20,600 feet, the furthest point from the center of the Earth
(due to the bulge at the equator), and the highest mountain in
Ecuador. For the rest of this story, go to the page, " Mount Chimborazo."
Steve riding La Chiva in Banos Ecuador
When I returned to Quito, I called Ana right away, and we
made plans to go to Banos De Santa Agua, a town in central Ecuador
that is famous for its hot springs. We took a bus for only $3,
and when we arrived, found a nice motel with cable T.V. for $7
per night. The second day we were there, we ate out for breakfast,
lunch and dinner, went to the hot springs, bought souvenirs,
went to a movie, visited several bars for drinking and dancing
- and the entire day, including motel, cost only $34! For more
information on Banos, visit the page, "Banos,
Ecuador uses the U.S. Dollar as its only currency, making
it very convenient for those of us from the United States.
Quito (the capital), and the other mountain towns (For example;
Riobamba, Loja, Cuenca, Otavalo, Ibarra, Ambato, Latacunga) have
wonderful climates. It is normally in the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit
every day of the year. Guayaquil and the other coastal cities
can be hot, but the temperature is moderated by the Humboldt
Current, which brings cool water along the coast of South America
Good meals can still be had for under two dollars in most
cities, if you eat where the locals do.
Hotels in most cities start at around $12 per night now, although
if you like dorm style accommodations, you can get a bed in a
nice hostel for $6 per night. Hostels are also great places to
get information on what to see, and where the best meals, bars,
and other attractions are.
The people of Ecuador are almost universally friendly, and
speak one of the clearest, easiest to understand dialects of
Spanish (a great place to learn).
Cross-country travel by bus is cheap, and generally more comfortable
than bus travel in the U.S. (the last trip we took by bus there
included a movie and there were curtains on the windows).
If you like beaches, you have many options. In Salinas, for
example, you can sit on a beautiful Pacific Ocean beach, while
vendors bring you everything from beer to ice cream to chair
rentals an music. For $20 you can rent a jet ski and have some
fun in the waves.
The Galapagos Islands are a part of Ecuador, and information
on tours is available in all the major cities (It is cheaper
to wait until you are in Ecuador to book a tour).
Ecuador is a safe, democratic republic, with a legal system
similar to that of the U.S.
For more information on the country visit the Ecuadorian
Government Travel Website. That link should take you to information
Still More Information on Ecuador
Here is some more information, taken from the official Ecuadorian
Ecuador is a growing tourist destination, with clean, beautiful
beaches, ancestral cities, snow-covered mountains, the Amazon
rain forest, and the Galapagos Islands (a true natural laboratory).
Ecuador has had two cities declared cultural heritage sites
of the world: Quito and Cuenca. These cities preserve archaeological
and colonial treasures. Also, the Galapagos Islands, with its
marine reserve and the Sangay National Park have been declared
Natural Heritage sites of the World.
The Coast of Ecuador has fascinating flora and fauna, and
has fifteen indigenous communities in its small territory, many
conserving their ancestral customs.
Ecuador has incredible diversity for a small country. You
can go from the glowing heat of the Costa Region, cross mountains,
snow covered peaks and majestic volcanoes, then descend to the
Amazon basin, which has more than 120 thousand square kilometers
of exuberant vegetation -- and you can do it all in a day or
two if you wanted to.
It harbors in its territory 25,000 species of vascular plants,
more than exist in all of North America (Ecuador is smaller than
Montana). The family of the orchids represents 2,725 identified
species that are approximately 11 percent of all the species
and 30 percent of the species classified for Latin America. Ecuador
has more than 20 Natural Parks and Reserve Areas to protect its
biodiversity, spectacular landscapes and unique species.
Ecuador is quickly becoming one of the most important tourist
destinations of the world. It has great hotels and culinary specialties
of the highest quality. It has mountains, beaches, rain forests,
classic architecture, parks, and more.
Facts You May Not Know
Here are a few facts about Ecuador that might surprise you.
- Although Ecuador is only the size of the state of Colorado
in the U.S., there are 18 different languages spoken among native
communities. Spanish is the primary language of the country,
and most of the indigenous population also speaks Quichua.
- Although on the equator, Ecuador is not a hot country. Cities
along the Andes Mountains, like Cuenca, Riobamba, and the capital
Quito, have average high temperatures in the 60s Fahrenheit (16
to 21 C) year-round, only occasionally reaching 80 degrees (27
C). The coast is cooled by the Humboldt Current, and though humid,
the temperature rarely reaches 95 degrees (35 C). Guayaquil is
typically in the 80s (27-31 C). The high mountains have perpetual
snow, and the Amazon Basin is the only area that is consistently
hot and humid.
- Although most of the population is Catholic, the Mormon
church also has a significant following in Ecuador.
- The official currency of Ecuador is the U.S. Dollar. In
fact, Ecuador is the only country besides the U.S. that uses
the U.S. Dollar as its only currency. You can use the same bills
and coins as you use in the United States. There are some Ecuadorian
coins that are used as well, with values of one cent, five cents,
ten cents, twenty-five cents and fifty cents.
- Ecuador has the most biodiversity of any country in the
world by area, with more than 9 species of plants and animals
per square kilometer.
- By culture and environment, Ecuador is generally divided
into four parts: the Galapagos Islands, the coastal area, the
Andes Mountains area, and the Amazon rain forest.
- Ecuador has the closest place on the planet to the sun,
the summit of Mount Chimborazo. Although at 20,702 feet above
sea level it is considered lower than Mount Everest (29,031 feet),
the Earth bulges at the equator. This makes the top of Chimborazo
the furthest point from the center of the Earth, or to look at
it the other way, the closest point on the planet to the sun.
- Ecuador has 14 bird species that are found nowhere else
in the world. It is also one of the most diverse countries when
it comes to birds. In fact, despite its small size, it is ranked
third in the world in total number of bird species.
10 Cheap Vacations
All of our pages about Ecuador:
Chimborazo - My personal story of climbing glaciers to the
top of a huge mountain.
de Agua Santa - You'll find tons of info here on this beautiful
mountain resort town.
Train Rides - One of the routes covered is in Ecuador.
- One of the best I have stayed at was in Quito.
Beach Vacation - Our day in Salinas.
Pailon del Diablo - We have information and photos of this
waterfall and the surrounding terrain.