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Travel in Latin America

Ecuador Travel Facts
By:J. Clark

Ecuador may be small---approximately the size of Colorado---but it makes for a variety-filled vacation option. "Nowhere else on earth will you find so much natural diversity--and all the fun that accompanies it," Lonely Planet says.

Ecuador is comprised of four distinct regions for tourists: the Amazon rainforest, the coast, the Galapagos islands and the Andes mountains. Each contains its own attractions and climate to consider when planning a trip.

Travel Documents
Visitors from nations such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand do not need tourist visas to travel to Ecuador for 90 days or less. However, no foreigner can enter Ecuador with a passport that will expire within six months.

Health Issues
Visitors to the Andes or high-altitude cities like Quito or Cuenca may want to bring along an altitude-sickness medication, like Diamox. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, risk of malaria occurs at elevations below 1,500 meters (4,921 feet), though it is not present in Guayaquil or the Galapagos Islands. Consult a doctor about medications such as mefloquine, doxycycline or Malarone.

Bus travel in Ecuador isn't quite at the comfort level of other Latin American nations like Mexico or Argentina, but it's generally reliable, safe and affordable. The airlines Tame, Icaro and Aerogal offer domestic routes. There are only a handful of passenger train routes (Riobamba to Sibambe, Quito to Cotopaxi National Park and Ibarra to Primer Paso are at least routes still in service).

Crime and Safety
Stay clear of the border region with Colombia, where there is a fair amount of guerrilla activity. Foreigners have been victims of kidnappings. Elsewhere, robberies and pickpocketing are the most common crimes affecting tourists in Ecuador.

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