Our classic tour of Ecuador, complete with a stay in the Amazon rainforest and wildlife-spotting in the Galapagos Islands.
Our classic tour of Ecuador, complete with a stay in the Amazon rainforest and wildlife-spotting in the Galapagos Islands.
Exoticca Travel Stories
Creating unforgettable memories, one traveler at a time
Everything that you have dreamt about and imagined is right there. From mating blue-footed boobies to swimming with sea lions! This was our David Attenborough moment, a bucket list destination. Finally, we were able to take the plunge and boy was it worth it. Be brave, be explorers!
Establishing the best time to travel to Ecuador is not easy. The climate is unpredictable and determining the best time to visit can sometimes come down to pure luck! Although you can travel to Ecuador throughout the year, here are some tips to help your trip run smoothly, no matter the weather.
The climate in Ecuador is divided into two main seasons: rainy and dry. If you want to travel to the Andes, you can go at any time of the year. For the Amazon, it is best to go between October and November, and for the Galapagos Islands, June and August. Another option is to choose your travel dates so they coincide with some of the many festivals that this country holds.
On the other hand, generally, the climate is warm and humid between April and June. But keep in mind that the Amazon region is humid all year round. From December to the beginning of May it is the rainy season, but this does not affect every destination in the country. Let’s find out the best times to travel to the different regions of Ecuador.LEARN MORE
The popular festivals of Ecuador are a true reflection of a rich and lively culture. The carnivals, the colourful troupes and the traditions come together to bring life to a great variety of events.
Festivities in Ecuador take place throughout the year, almost every month there is an important festival. Whatever the region, traditional festivities in Ecuador are always a spectacle worth seeing. If you travel to Ecuador, take note of the following dates.
This popular Ecuadorean festival is celebrated from 1st to the 6th of January when dancers gather from all communities and neighbourhoods. The Diablada consists of boisterous parades, art exhibitions, tasting of local dishes and different musical events. It’s a whole display of colour, folk traditions and authenticity that you cannot miss.
Also in January, on the 21st, the festival of Santa Fe de Galán is celebrated in Chimborazo and the festivities of Urcuqui are celebrated on the 25th. Both are traditional festivals related to the rural environment.
Of all the events that you could see in Ecuador, it is essential that you see the Fiesta de la Yuca. It is celebrated between January and March and is a typical festival of the Ecuadorean Amazon. The villages of Zaparos and Kichwas sing tributes to celebrate the ripening of the fruit.
Other celebrations that take place in February are the Día del Oriente Ecuatoriano (East Ecuador Day) on the 12th of February, the provincialisation of the Galápagos (18th of February), and the Batalla de Tarqui (the Battle of Tarqui) on the 27th. The latter commemorates the battle which took place in 1829 in the Portete de Tarqui.
The 4th and 5th of March are the key dates for experiencing the full splendour of the Ecuadorean carnival. As the carnival is celebrated in each region, some places start from the 10th to the 13th of February, and others at the beginning of March. Among them all, the carnival of Guaranda (4th to 5th of March) is the most famous and most recommended.
Ecuadorean festivities always have a traditional framework, and this is highlighted in the Fiesta Kasama of the Tsachila community. At El Poste, the Tsachila community celebrates the beginning of a new year from the 13th to 15th of April. This is a festival where dance, music, theatre and traditional clothing are the protagonists.
At Puná, on the 3rd of May the Festival de la Chirimoya is celebrated with a whole day of festivities based around this tropical fruit. Traditional dishes are eaten and there are competitions where people are invited to be on the judging panel to choose the best fruit.
In May, the Batalla de Pichincha is also celebrated, namely on the 24th of May. This festival celebrates none other than Ecuador’s independence after the battle of Pichincha in 1822.
Of all the festivities in Ecuador, the Inti Raymi has a special symbolism as it is the Festival of the Sun. This festival is celebrated throughout the whole country and, at the same time, gives thanks for good harvests. The celebrations take place between the 21st and the 24th of June each year.
In June the bullfighting celebrations also take place, such as the Toros Populares at Píllaro and those at San Pedro de Cayambe.
On the 25th of July each year Guayaquil celebrates the festival of Santiago del Mayor. These festivities commemorate the founding of the city. This Saint’s Day festival of Guayaquil also coincides with the Feria Internacional Gastronómica de Raíces (The International Traditional Gastronomy Fair).
In the valley of the Aguarico River on the 24th and 25th of August each year the inhabitants of Cantesiaya celebrate their new year. This is an ancestral celebration where the village shamans take Yagé (a sacred hallucinogenic plant). By doing this they contact the spirit world to welcome in the new year.
From the 6th to the 14th of September two traditional celebrations are held in Ecuador. Both revive the cultures and memories of the indigenous inhabitants by wearing traditional dress and performing ancestral dances.
If you travel to Ecuador on the 24th to the 28th of September, don’t miss out on the Imbabura Lakes Festival in Ibarra. This town is known as the White Town, and apart from being a paradise for tourists, it celebrates its legends and traditions.
In October, there are various lesser festivals, such as the festival at Puná and the Rodeo Montubio in Bbahoyo. Both are held on the 12th of October.
From the 26th to the 31st of December, the inhabitants of Atuntaqui take to the streets to take part in parades, troupes and popular dances. This is a popular festival which has a tradition of over 70 years.
As you can see, there are many different kinds of popular festivals in Ecuador. Choose your travel dates carefully so that you can take part in the one you like best.LEARN MORE
To find out what to eat in Ecuador you need to keep in mind that the gastronomy of this country is very varied. Food and drink preparation will vary according to the region you are travelling in. There are four main regions: the coast, the mountains, the east and the inland region. Each of these has its own customs and traditions.
In general, Ecuadorean gastronomy contains the following basic ingredients: rice, egg, potatoes, avocado and beef or pork. In the coastal area there is of course produce from the sea.
Nonetheless, the best known traditional dishes are: the ceviche, the fanesca (a soup), the sancocho de pescado (fish soup), and the churrasco (grilled meat). Fruits take centre stage in the more tropical areas: guanábana (soursop), granadilla (passion fruit), pitahaya (dragon fruit), papaya, lulo (a citrus fruit), etc. But we can find out more about Ecuadorean gastronomy through the traditional dishes.
This dish is known globally. Its main ingredient is raw seafood. In Ecuador, as in Colombia, the prawn ceviche is the star. It is prepared by marinating the prawns in lemon and lime juice, and includes onions, tomato and salt. It is served accompanied by fried plantain, garlic and chifles (thin slices of ripe fried plantain).
Meat is another essential ingredient of Ecuadorean cuisine. Along the whole coast, particularly in Guayaquil, churrasco meat is prepared on a griddle. The Ecuadorean churrasco consists of a piece of beef which is cooked on a griddle or directly over the flames. It is seasoned with chimichurri sauce and served with rice, fried potatoes, salad, avocado and garlic.
It should be clarified that the Cuy is a small edible rodent from Latin America. Its meat contains much protein and little fat. It is served both fried and roasted accompanied by potatoes, milled maize and salad. If you are not keen on trying it, you could think of it as hare or another type of game animal.
The recipe for encocado de Camarones consists of marinating the shrimp in lemon and spices. Once marinated, they are cooked in a sauce of coriander, onion, tomatoes, coconut milk and peppers. As you can imagine, they acquire an exquisite flavour. They are served with rice.
If you like pork, you will love the fritada. The pork is cooked with hot spices and then fried in its own fat. It is served accompanied by potatoes, maize, sweet, plantain slices, cucumber, onion and tomato. It is an explosion of flavours for the most demanding palates.
If the fritada is fried pork, the hornado is the roast version. The pork is served with potato cakes, choclo maduro (corn cobs) and avocado. This dish is typical of the mountain region of Ecuador.
In the Amazon region of Ecuador the Maito is cooked by wrapping the fish in banana leaves. It is served accompanied by yucca, rice or sliced plantain. It goes without saying that it is a very tasty dish which will delight those who love fish.
Apart from the traditional Ecuadorean dishes, you will also find culinary gems in the street food. Below is a summary of the country’s tastiest and most traditional street food.
In reality, Humitas originated in Peru, but they have spread to other regions. The dish consists of a maize paste which is wrapped and cooked in maize leaves. They are served with eggs, avocado, onions and seasoned with different spices. They can be sweet or savoury.
Green plantains are used to prepare the Bolones. These are crushed and cooked into a paste, and then filled with cheese, pork or chorizo. They are ideal for breakfast accompanied by a fried egg, garlic and a cup of Ecuadorean coffee.
This originally-named dish is vegetarian/vegan. It is prepared from the lupin beans, lemon, salt, onion, tomato sauce, toasted maize and friend plantain. It is a delicious vegan ceviche with an exquisite flavour.
This bread is made with white cheese, yucca starch, eggs and baking powder. It is traditional along the Ecuadorean coast and can be served for breakfast or for snacks, accompanied by a coffee or tea. It also serves as a starter with other typical Ecuadorean dishes.
As in many other Latin American countries, the Patacones (green fried bananas) form an essential part of Ecuadorean gastronomy. They are generally an accompaniment to many other dishes, so much so that one might say that there isn’t a single traditional dish that doesn’t include them.
This is a very popular fast food dish based on fried sausages, fried potatoes and a variety of sauces. It is the perfect thing to stave off hunger when you don’t have the time to stop and eat a fabulous main dish.
You can also accompany these gastronomic delicacies with drinks like the Canelazo (cinnamon drink), the Chicha (fermented beer), the Morocho (maize drink), or the Ponche de Leche (egg and milk drink). Enjoy!LEARN MORE
If you don't know which souvenirs from Ecuador to buy on your trip we will help you come back with the best gifts. This country offers handicrafts, coffee, chocolate, toys and so much more you'll want to take back with you.
When we talk about traditional products we also mean souvenirs. So, here are 10 ideas to find the best Ecuador souvenirs, in addition to other very tasty products.
In case you didn't know, Ecuador has the best cocoa in the world, which is why its chocolate is of great quality. Many types have won awards for purity, taste and manufacturing method. This makes buying cocoa or chocolate always the right choice, as it is the perfect souvenir.
There are many varieties and brands of chocolate, all exquisite and many world-renowned. Pacari Chocolates, originally from Quito, has won up to 6 gold medals. Its particularity is that it specializes in organic chocolate. Another famous chocolate is that of the Kallari cooperative, available in the best supermarkets in the United States.
Finally, as an anecdote, you should know that the To'ak chocolate bars have been sold at 260 dollars per unit. This is due to the complex and exclusive flavour of the chocolate of this Ecuadorian brand.
Though not as famous as Colombian coffee, Ecuador's is also very good. Its flavour and fruity aroma carries a sweet note that makes it unique. Of all the typical products of Ecuador, coffee may be overlooked by many travellers, but it is highly recommended. The country is a great producer of coffee, so much so that it exports all the varieties of coffee that exist in the market. It grows and exports washed Arabica, natural Arabica and Robusta.
This Ecuadorian delicacy is a small round sweet stuffed with peanuts or almonds. It also contains sugar, water, lemon, essences and some other secret by the creator. Luis Banda has kept this tradition alive for more than 100 years in his family business in Quito. This sweet used to be eaten for Christmas, but its fame has transcended dates and borders.
In the Plaza de San Francisco, in Quito, Emma Lagla welcomes her customers into a small shop. She is a well-known herbert, sought after by locals and foreigners alike. Her natural herbal remedies can also be a good choice for gifts or for your own use.
In addition to all the products for consumption detailed above, in Ecuador, you can also buy a wide variety of souvenirs.
Of all the typical Ecuadorian products you could take home, these are the most popular:
Reminisce about your childhood with this colourful wooden toy. If you visit Quito, La Ronda has a place full of these colourful toys hanging everywhere. Handmade and filled with nostalgic feeling they are great for adults and children alike. Choose one, make it dance and take the one you like the most, it will make for a different and fun souvenir.
Hats are perhaps the most purchased souvenir items in Ecuador. Traditional Ecuadorian hats are made of toquilla straw. They come in different models and prices, from 35 dollars to almost 400. Their quality and price depend on the tightness of the fabric, the tighter the fabric the higher the price.
Ponchos are also one of the most traditional and typical gifts from Ecuador. If you want to get a quality one at a good price we recommend that you visit the Otavalo market. This market is held every Saturday and offers such a variety of prices and models that you will need to visit it at ease.
This market is also known as the Ponchos Market, and offers also hats, scarves, shirts, trousers, espadrilles, etc. There are also handicrafts in clay, paintings, wood, jewellery, and goldsmithery. It's kind of a paradise for traditional souvenirs.
A rondador is a type of zampoña (musical instrument) typical of Ecuador. It is made with reeds and, exceptionally, condor feather quills are added. Its characteristic sound is very crystalline and only allows two pentatonic scales. This peculiarity produces a peculiar sound, reminiscent of birdsong. Undoubtedly they are a precious and authentic souvenir of Ecuador.
The dolls dressed in traditional Ecuadorian costumes are perfect gifts. They are made of fabric and their hair is made of yarn, and there are different sizes and clothes. Besides being quite cheap they are very nice and will always remind you of the traditions of this great country.
Now you know what to buy in Ecuador, as you have seen, you have a wide range of possibilities. Save a portion of your budget for purchases because once you start you won't be able to stop. You don't want to leave without your memory of Ecuador.LEARN MORE
Situated on the equator in South America, Ecuador is known for its tropical rainforests, indigenous culture and it’s the mystical Galápagos Islands, an isolated volcanic archipelago home to more endemic species than anywhere on earth, and where the giant tortoises live. Charles Darwin’s playground, the Galapagos have put Ecuador on the map as a bucket list destination; a trip to Ecuador now tops the lists of most intrepid travelers searching for an adventure tour. On the mainland, you can expect to find charming quintessential colonial architecture, Andean villages and remote Amazonian settlements, where the rainforest is at the heart of local life.
Choose a holiday to Ecuador and you can quench both your thirst for adventure and your desire to unwind; go bird-watching in the Mindo Cloudforest or kick-back in a tranquil hilltop village where gracefully restored haciendas provide a sublime setting to relax in. The capital city, Quito, the second-highest capital city in the world after La Paz, is the starting point for most adventures, either into the highlands or out into the Pacific coast for a Galapagos discovery, although the largest city is Guayaquil, situated at the mouth of the River Guayas. Ecuador borders it’s larger neighbors of Peru, to the south, and Colombia to the north. A non-negotiable stop on any South American tour, an Ecuador tour package is the perfect way to discover the unbeatable biodiversity, stunning natural landscapes and colorful culture of a country famed as the first in the world to recognize the ‘rights of nature’!
Ecuador is known for its Incan heritage and many visit the country to uncover legacy and ruins of this once mighty empire, such as the walls of Ingapirca, a captivating highlight on a tour of Ecuador. Despite the fame of the Incas, other civilizations have left their own influence on modern Ecuador. A variety of Amerindian groups were incorporated into the huge, territory-spanning Inca Empire in the 15th-century, but the following century marked the beginning of the Spanish colonization of Ecuador and the consequential collapse of the mighty Incas. Native communities were forced into the labor system and Quito was appointment as an important administrative center for the Spanish Empire. A huge earthquake in 1797 devastated the city of Riobamba and its surroundings, resulting in tens of thousands of casualties and dubbed the most powerful historical event ever known in Ecuador’s history. In the 19th-century, Ecuador set the trend for independence in South America, beginning its struggle in 1820 and finally unifying with the Republic of Gran Colombia in 1822, which was led by the liberator, Simon Bolivar. Ecuador later broke from the republic, becoming its own independent republic in 1830.
On a holiday to Ecuador, you’ll notice the diversity of local culture and people, evidence of the complex history which built the country into what it is today. More recent history has been dominated by on-going disputes and conflicts over the Amazon Basin with neighboring Peru, a struggle which lasted over 100 years until the signing of a peace treaty in 1998. A brief military junta in the 70s was followed by the return of democracy in the 80s, with modern Ecuador famed for its dedication to wildlife preservation and the protection of the natural environment.
One of the world’s most biodiverse and species-rich destinations, an Ecuador holiday is a dream-come-true for nature lovers. Famously home to the iconic Galapagos Islands, which attract travelers from across the globe, the Amazon rainforest and the Andes also offer excellent opportunities to get in touch with nature. Due to its location on the equator, there are roughly 12 hours of sunlight a day throughout the year, with the sun setting at 6 p.m. and rising again at 6 a.m., making any time of year the perfect time to embark on a tour of Ecuador.
You can even stand with one foot in each hemisphere at the Middle of the Earth Monument, just outside of the colonial city of Quito. Aside from the fascinating Galapagos, there’s plenty of other natural attractions to whet your appetite for nature. Cotopaxi National Park, home to the volcano of the same name, the highest active volcano in the world, is filled with fantastic hiking trails and is the perfect destination for exhilarating mountain biking or tranquil horseriding. If you’re looking for something a little more tropical, then the village of Mindo, nestled in the slopes of the Andes, is a natural paradise of cloud forests, waterfalls, butterflies and tropical birds; in fact, it's a bird-watching haven which attracts bird-watchers from across the world!
Finally, Cuicocha Lake is another unmissable natural attraction to discover on a trip to Ecuador. This ancient crater lake, close to Otavalo, is filled with bright blue water and dotted with tiny little islands. It was formed over 3000 years ago by a huge volcanic eruption.
As diverse as its natural attractions, Ecuador’s culture is a fusion of numerous different influences, cultivated by the communities that have settled on its beautiful lands over the centuries. Spanish is the official language although Quechua, known as the ‘living language of the Incas’ is widely spoken, particularly in the highlands. Much of the population belong to the Roman Catholic church, a remnant of the Spanish colonialists who arrived in the 16th-century.
Although Latin culture is predominant, as seen in the music, architecture, and cuisine of Ecuador, there exist countless remote communities of indigenous peoples, particularly in the wilds of the Amazon Basin. Many of these communities practice their own native cultures, such as the Huaorani people, who have almost entirely rejected contact with the outside world and, instead, move deeper into the rainforest in a hope to preserve their ways of life.
Communities like these posses traditional animistic worldviews and tend to hunt and gather in order to sustain themselves. If you have the opportunity to explore the Amazon jungle on an Ecuador travel you may have the chance to get close to and learn about these distinct and unique cultures.
What could be more exotic than visit Ecuador? An exciting and diverse travel destination, a holiday to Ecuador is unique in so many ways. From the vast endemic species of the iconic Galapagos Islands to the rich tapestry of local culture and the landscapes of towering volcanoes and tropical rainforests, it’s a bucket-list-worthy destination for any intrepid traveler.
Minimum of 6 months validity with one passport page. Mandatory travel insurance.
No visa required for stays of up to 90 days
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Types A and B, 110 V North American type plug
Other useful information
It is mandatory for tourists to carry a valid health insurance policy.
Please consult your doctor regarding the vaccination against yellow fever and malaria prophylaxis. Travellers over 60 years must consult their doctor as the Yellow Fever vaccine can have serious side effects.
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