10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING TO ECUADOR
- BE READY TO EAT
Food in Ecuador is exquisite and delightful, we have an incredible diversity in our gastronomy, but you do need to know we like to eat a lot, specially carbs. Throughout the country, rice is the most important part of the plate, we eat rice with mashed potatoes and beef or chicken, rice with pasta, is always rice with something else. Then you will find some differences by region: The highlands of Ecuador tends to consume more potatoes and the coast leans a bit more for plantain. Anyways, we like big portions, so if don’t eat that much, you should say that in advance in local restaurants or to the person you are staying with.
2. BRING SUN BLOCK
Since Ecuador is by the equator, the sun is strong here, no matter in what part of the country you are. You should apply sunblock every morning and re-apply every 4 hours, even if you don’t see the sun brighting that day, you can still get burnt so is always better to prevent. The good thing is that you can get a nice tan here!
3. DON’T DRINK TAP WATER
Even though Ecuador has potable water in all it’s cities and towns, is not recommended to drink it right from the tab. The potable water will be good enough for you too cook with it, take showers and even brush your teeth. For drinking most of the hotels include bottle waters, and you can also by in any shop for very cheep. The 500ml will be around 50 cents and the liter around one dollar. The most known and safe brands are: Vivant, Splendor, Dasani, All Natural, Pure Water and Cielo.
4. WE USE DOLLARS!
One of the good things for international travelers that visit Ecuador is that we use american dollars as our local currency, so it’s easier to exchange your currency at your hometown, and brin dollars from there. If you are form the United States you don’t even have to do that, just bring your same money!
5. BRING CHANGE
Now that you know we use american dollars as our local currency, I have to tell you that is very important to bring change. In Ecuador, a bill of $20 is considered big for small shops and they may not have change for it. $50 and $100 bills are not accepted in most of the places. Singles are important as well, most of the street vendors sell everything for $1.
6. DON’T FORGET YOUR ALTITUDE PILLS!
In Ecuador, the altitude can change dramatically within 2 hours of driving. This applies just if you are going to the Andes, because the coast, including Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands are sea level. But for example, if you start your trip in Guayaquil and have planned to drive to Cuenca, keep in mind you will go from sea level to 4400m (14000 feet) high and then back to 2500 m (8300 feet) which is the altitud of Cuenca. Quito is 2850 m high (9350 feet).
7. BE READY FOR THE WARMTH OF ITS PEOPLE
Ecuadorians are very warm people, you will notice it since the moment you say hi. Specially if you go to visit a friend in Ecuador you will see how they regular way to say hi is a kiss on the cheek between women and between men and women, between guys is a hug. For saying goodbye is a hug most of the times. Now woth COVID this has changed, but be ready just in case!
In Ecuador, tipping will depend on where you eat. If you eat in a nice place, they will probably include the 10% service charge in the bill, you can check if at the end it says “Servicio”, that means they have included it. If the service was really good, you can leave an extra 5%, is always optional. In small restaurants they don’t include the service in the bill, you can leave a 10% and it will be fine, is not mandatory, but if you do it they will appreciate it. If you take an uber we also tip since the fees in uber in Ecuador are so low.
9. CLOTH WILL DEPEND ON THE AREA YOU VISIT
Ecuador is known for having 4 different regions: The coast, the highlands, the Amazon and the Galapagos islands. Every region have a different weather. If you will visit the highlands, bring cloth that will keep you warm. If you go to the Amazon, bring long pants and long sleeve shirts but light and cool, because you will need protection for bugs is going to be humid. Finally for the coast and the Galapagos light cloth is fine, shorts and tshirts are enough, just don’t forget your hat!
10. BE OPEN FOR ADVENTURE, FUN, GOOD FOOD AND LOVE!
Finally, when you come to Ecuador you have to be ready to have fun, enjoy its places, go exploring, try it’s delicious food and recieve the best treatment by its people. Ecuadorians will provide a lovely service no matter where you go, and I can guarantee they are being authentic, they are very truly happy about visitors coming and we all work very hard to provide the best experience while you are here.
If you are planning to come down here, do it, you won’t regret it. We will be waiting with open arms.
Author: Mario Fuentes, tour guide in Guayaquil.