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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.

Quito, Ecuador

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.

Riobamba, Ecuador

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."

La Chiva in Banos Ecuador
Steve riding La Chiva in Banos Ecuador

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."

More Information

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 here.

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 in English.

Still More Information on Ecuador

Here is some more information, taken from the official Ecuadorian Government Website:

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.

Other Pages:

United States Travel
Cheap Family Vacations
Cheap Solo Vacations
10 Cheap Vacations

All of our pages about Ecuador:

Mount Chimborazo - My personal story of climbing glaciers to the top of a huge mountain.

Baños de Agua Santa - You'll find tons of info here on this beautiful mountain resort town.

Scenic Train Rides - One of the routes covered is in Ecuador.

Hostels - One of the best I have stayed at was in Quito.

A Beach Vacation - Our day in Salinas.

El Pailon del Diablo - We have information and photos of this waterfall and the surrounding terrain.

Everything About Travel | Information on Ecuador