Ecuador

Ecuador might be smaller than its heavyweight South American neighbours, but this audacious land stakes a legitimate claim as the continent's most complete package. Blessed with a bonanza of perfect beaches and the remarkable Galapagos Islands, Ecuador’s wealth of natural riches make it a one-stop shop for incredible real life experiences. Come and indulge in a scoopful of the Amazon rainforest, a generous helping of the Andes and a refreshing glass of colonial Quito - Ecuador makes for a scrumptious serving of South America’s best.

Ecuador Tours & Travel

All our Ecuador trips

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ZAR R39,454
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Look for green turtles nesting on the white beaches of Las Bachas, scan the water for pods of dolphins off Isla...
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CHF FR2,871
Travel from Ecuador’s striking capital to the Galapagos Islands. Explore the archipelago’s rich history, dazzling...
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CAD $4,018
AUD $4,059
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ZAR R39,454
CHF FR3,249
Discover the wonders of San Cristobal, Espanola, Floreana and Santa Cruz islands sailing on the Nemo III. See the...
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CHF FR2,244
Begin this tour with a quick exploration of Quito. Travel to Isla San Cristobal, stop by the Charles Darwin Research...
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Watch sea lions on Isla Santa Fe, explore the hidden bays and coves of Sombrero Chino and observe the peculiar...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands and embark on a sailing adventure around southern islands that serve as a paradise...
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Sail the aquamarine waters of the Galapagos’ central southern islands taking in Mosquera, Cerro Dragon, Isla Rabida,...
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Discover the natural treasures of the Galapagos Islands. Snorkel with sea lions in the waters of Santa Fe, visit the...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands from Quito, Ecuador. Tour the Galapagos' highlights from Isla San Cristobal to Isla...
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Visit the Galapagos Islands for the adventure of a lifetime onboard the stylish Nemo III. Discover the history of...
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Fly to the Galapagos where the Nemo III catamaran is waiting to take you on an amazing adventure. Take in Genovesa,...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands and sail around the central eastern islands, witnessing amazing wildlife and visiting...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands and see the unique Scalesia cloud forest, myriad birdlife of Isla Española and...
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Take to cerulean waters to explore the beautiful Galapagos Islands. See huge populations of animals and experience...
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Journey deep into the Amazon and spend three days in the jungle searching for wildlife, walking around Pilchicocha...
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Venture into Ecuador's lush Amazon rainforest in search of monkeys, caimans, pumas, sloths and birdlife. Stay in a...
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Set off on an adventure through stunning Ecuador. Travel through the Amazon Jungle, visit laidback Banos and discover...
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Explore the central islands of the Galapagos on this startling adventure that highlights the best of the San...
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Visit South America and travel to the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Visit Quito, San Cristobal, Lima,...
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Travel from captivating Quito through the jungles of the Amazon, to the spa town of Banos, the seaside of Zorritos...
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Travel to Ecuador and the wildlife-rich shores of the Galapagos Islands. Then visit Peru and embark on an Inca Trail...
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Discover the Galapagos Islands on this enchanting adventure visiting the islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz and San...
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Get to know the culture, people, towns and countryside of Ecuador on this best of Ecuador tour. Visit Banos, Otavalo,...
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Take an exciting overland trip through Colombia. Travel from Quito to Cartagena, visiting Los Nevados NP, Cali,...
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Visit South America and travel through Ecuador and Peru on a tour from Quito to Lima. Explore the Amazon Jungle, Rio...
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CAD $13,187
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CHF FR10,768
Visit South America and travel through Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Follow the Inca trail and...
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CHF FR7,645
Visit South America and travel through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Follow the Inca trail,...
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AUD $1,720
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CHF FR1,414
Take an exciting overland trip through Colombia. Travel from Cartagena to Quito visiting Mompos, Medellin, Manizales,...
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Embark on an unforgettable journey into Ecuador's Amazon Jungle. Search for local wildlife, float downriver by raft...
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CAD $2,129
AUD $2,112
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ZAR R20,858
CHF FR1,737
Travel Overland from Lima, Peru, to Quito, Ecuador. Hit the beach in Punta Sal, get daring in Banos and go camping in...
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CAD $2,620
AUD $2,571
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ZAR R25,716
CHF FR2,140
Travel from Quito out to the gorgeous Galapagos Islands. Sail pristine waters, be awed by the friendly wildlife and...
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CAD $602
AUD $590
EUR €405
GBP £340
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ZAR R5,905
CHF FR490
Get way out of town and head into the Amazon on this unique Ecuador community experience. Learn about local life, see...

Ecuador trip reviews

Our Ecuador trips score an average of 4.59 out of 5 based on 259 reviews in the last year.

Active Galapagos, August 2015

Galapagos Venture, August 2015

Articles on Ecuador

The best (and worst) times to visit the Galapagos Islands – infographic

Posted on Wed, 6 May 2015

When to go and what to see in the Galapagos Islands.

Read more

He thinks the Galapagos Islands are a model for the rest of us. He might be right. (video)

Posted on Fri, 10 Apr 2015

"It's possible for the Galapagos Islands to be a model for the rest of the world," says Galapagos guide Oswaldo Noboa as he gazes over the side of his boat.

Read more

20 photos that prove how incredible the Galapagos Islands are

Posted on Fri, 10 Apr 2015

The Galapagos Islands: the most photogenic place on earth?

Read more

We sent a filmmaker to the Galapagos Islands. What he came back with left us speechless.

Posted on Fri, 10 Apr 2015

The Galapagos video to end all Galapagos videos.

Read more

About Ecuador

At a glance

Capital city: Quito (population 1.5 million)
Population: 14.7 million
Language: Spanish
Currency: USD
Time zone: (GMT-05:00) Bogota, Lima, Quito, Rio Branco
Electricity: Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
Dialing code: +593

Best time to visit Ecuador

There are two seasons in Ecuador, wet and dry, and they vary depending on the region you are travelling in. For the most part, Ecuador is a sunny, warm country, and even the wet season will bring its fair share of sunny days. The best time to visit is largely dependent on your itinerary, although it should be noted that the Christmas period (December - January) is often the busiest, so be prepared for large crowds. In the Amazon, August and December through March are the driest seasons and April to June are the wettest. In the highlands, the dry season is from June to September as well as December. The Galapagos and coastal regions are mainly influenced by ocean currents. The hot and rainy season runs from January to April. It doesn't rain much, but you can expect some downpours at times. From May to December it can be a bit cooler, with more overcast days. High seasons in the Galapagos (June through August, December and January) are generally determined by holiday trends and not by weather conditions.

Ecuador weather chart

Geography and environment

Pristine beach in Ecuador
Ecuador is one of South America’s smallest countries, tucked away on the continent’s Pacific coastline. Bordering Colombia in the north and Peru in the south, Ecuador contains its own segments of some of South America’s most famous landmarks, such as the Amazon rainforest and the Andes. Adding to Ecuador’s list of natural wonders are the incredible Galapagos Islands, which lie about 1000 km west of the mainland. These volcanic islands are famed for their association with botanist Charles Darwin, who spent considerable time studying their incredible biodiversity. Like many other South American countries, Ecuador’s coastline boasts a large number of pristine beaches. Mantra, Crucita, Canoa and Montanita are among the famous spots, however there are many other national parks and small coastal towns that offer their own variations of beachside bliss. Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is located in the north of the country, and is renowned for its colonial architecture. To the west of the city is Pichincha, one of Ecuador’s many spectacular volcanoes.

Top Picks

Galagagos Island boats Iguana

Top 5 Natural Marvels of Ecuador

1. Volcanoes

Ecuador is a climbing and mountaineering paradise, with some of the grandest (and most active) volcanoes in the world. Just south of Quito lies the ‘Avenue of Volcanos’, which includes the country's highest peak, and no less than nine awe-inspiring volcanos.

2. Beaches

Ecuador is a beach lover’s haven, with a well-earned reputation for supplying some of the most gorgeous spots on South America’s Pacific coast. While there are no shortage of backpacker havens and crowded Ecuadorian holiday spots, those seeking a little more privacy should check out the beautiful Manta and the gorgeous Machalilla National Park.

3. The Andes

Hard to ignore, the Andes form Ecuador’s rocky spine and are home to breathtaking tropical valleys, snow-capped peaks and fresh mountain lakes. A welcome escape from Ecuador’s hot summers, the Andes offer an unforgettable array of high-altitude adventures.

4. The Amazon

Rich in colour and natural diversity, Ecuador is blessed with a sizeable portion of the famous Amazon rainforest. Lying to the west of the Andes, this incredible jungle is home to some of the world’s most fascinating and unique species, as well as being an ideal place to enjoy activities such as canoeing, trekking and bird watching.

5. Galapagos Islands

Journey to a lost world and discover a wildlife sanctuary that continues to inspire visitors and scientists alike. Relatively untouched by human life, the Galapagos is an ecological Disneyland, the jewel in Ecuador’s already glistening crown.

FAQs on Ecuador

ECUADOR TOURIST VISA
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Not required

Citizens of the Republic of China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia, require an appropriate visa to enter Ecuador..
Tipping isn't mandatory in Ecuador, but feel free to round up the bill or leave spare change at restaurants and cafes. Some restaurants may already include a 10% service charge, in which case, an extra tip isn't required.
Ecuador's cities and tourist centres have internet access available in internet cafes and hotels. Less internet access is available in rural and remote areas, so prepare to disconnect when leaving the city.
Mobile phone coverage is generally good in Ecuador's cities and metropolitan areas, although expect limited coverage in remote, mountainous and isolated areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your carrier if you wish to use your phone while in Ecuador.
Ecuador's toilets are a mixture of flushable toilets and squat toilets, so be prepared to encounter both. Carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap, as these aren't always provided.
Short bus ride = US$0.20
Juice = US$1
Street food snack = US$1.50
Simple lunch = US$3-5
Sit down dinner at a cafe or restaurant = US$10
Travellers should avoid drinking tap water in Ecuador. For environmental reasons, try to avoid bottled water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found as some hotels provide this. Remember to peel fruit and vegetables before eating and avoid ice in drinks.
Major credit cards are accepted by most large shops, hotels and restaurants, although smaller vendors and market stalls often only accept cash. Be sure to carry multiple methods of payment as credit cards aren't always an option everywhere in Ecuador.
ATMs are easily found in the large cities and airports, although are less common in rural and remote areas. When travelling out of the city, be prepared by having enough cash, as ATMs aren't always available.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Mar 29 Good Friday
May 1 Labour Day
May 24 Battle of Pichincha
Aug 10 Independence Day
Oct 9 Guayaquil Independence Day
Nov 2 All Souls' Day
Nov 3 Cuenca Independence Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 31 New Year's Eve

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/ecuador/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Ecuador Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Ecuador

1. Be considerate of Ecuador’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

9. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

10. If travelling in the Galapagos, respect the biodiversity of this area by not removing anything from the island - except rubbish!

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.

In Ecuador, the Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:

The Charles Darwin Foundation

This vital centre represents and protects fragile species in the Galapagos area by restoring natural environments and increasing habitats for endangered species. Conservation projects work to restore degraded areas, protect precious ecosystems and garner community involvement and support for this important part of the world.

Image supplied by Jane Crouch.

To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
The Ecuador EffectDavid E Stuart
Galapagos at the CrossroadsCarol Ann Bassett
The Queen of WaterLaura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango
Living Poor: A Peace Corps ChronicleMoritz Thomsen
The Panama Hat TrailTom Miller
Darwin in Galapagos: Footsteps to a New WorldK Thalia Grant and Gregory C Estes
GalapagosKurt Vonnegut