Travel in Latin America
Ecuador is a beautiful and diverse South American country that appeals to many groups of travelers. While it is the second smallest country on the continent, it still manages to contain within its borders mountainous highlands, Amazon rain forests to explore, culture and local markets to experience, and a beautiful cluster of islands just off the mainland. No matter what aspect of this country grabs your interest, there are a few things any traveler should know.
The conversion to the US dollar as official currency makes money matters for US travelers much simpler, but there are still a few things to keep in mind.
Ecuador is a relatively inexpensive country to visit. Once you are there, you can enjoy your trip on about $50 per day.
When making purchases, avoid credit cards. Many nicer establishments will accept Visa and Mastercard, but most will also impose a usage fee ranging from 4 to 10 percent of your bill. Also never assume that a vendor displaying a Visa or Mastercard sticker will take your card. Many vendors will display the sticker but then demand cash.
Cash can be easily withdrawn from ATMs throughout the country. Just be sure that your PIN is four digits in length, as ATMs in Ecuador will not accept anything longer. Traveler's checks can also be cashed at Western Union locations.
Considering that Ecuador is the second smallest country on the continent, its expansive public transportation system is impressive.
Bus is the most popular way to get from place to place among locals. It is available nearly anywhere in the country, and it's the most economical way to travel.
Boat taxis are also popular and fun. Waterways and canals are plentiful throughout the country, and nearly all have water taxis to shuttle you from place to place. If you take a tour through the Amazon, you are likely to experience being paddled along in a boat taxi.
There are only two tourist trains in operation in Ecuador, and they will be more expensive than the bus. Car rental is also more expensive and generally not necessary.
Weather in this small country is surprisingly varied due to the different terrains. In the highlands, it will be cool enough to need a sweater or jacket, while valley regions will make you sweat regardless of your apparel.
There are no traditional seasons here because of the country's location on the Equator, but there are rainy seasons and dry seasons in different portions of the country.