Travel Information Ecuador

Time: Mainland UTC-5, Galápagos Islands UTC-6, no clock change
Currency: 1 US Dollar (USD) = 100 Cents
Languages: Spanish (official), indigenous languages (Quechua, Shuar)
Capital: Quito
International Dialing Code: +593
International Airports: Quito (UIO), Guayaquil (GYE); Esmeraldas (ESM), Latacunga (LTX), Manta (MEC).
Electricity: 110-220V/60 Hz, same adapter as for USA.
Measurement: Metric system
Volcanoes: 55 Volcanoes, 18 are still active.

UNESCO World (Natural) Heritage Sites:

• Galápagos Islands
• Quito's historic center
• Cuenca

Cities:

• Quito: Highest capital of the world. World-famous historic center.
• Guayaquil: Most populous city (2.634 millions). Most important economic center.
• Cuenca: 3rd-biggest city. Capital of Arts.
• Baños: Active volcano "Tungurahua". Hot springs. Adrenalin sports.
• Otavalo: World-famous handicraft market.
• Ambato: City of flowers. Carnival (February).
• Latacunga: Provincial Capital of Cotopaxi. "Mama-Negra-Celebration" in November.
• Loja: Oldest colonial city.
• Montañita: World-famous beach for surfing. Nightlife.
• Mindo: Cloud forest. Bird watching.
• Puerto López: "Galápagos for the poor"
• Tena: Town in the Rainforest.

National Holidays:

• January 1, 2016 - Año Nuevo (New Year)
• February 27-28, 2017 - Carnaval (Carnival)
• April 14, 2017 - Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
• May 1, 2017 - Día del Trabajo (May Day)
• May 26, 2017 - Batalla de Pichincha (Battle of Pichincha)
• August 11, 2017  - Primer Grito de Independencia (First Call for Independence)
• October 9, 2017 - Independencia de Guayaquil (Independence of Guayaquil)
• November 2-3, 2017 - Día de Difuntos e Independencia de Cuenca (Day of the Dead & Idependence of Cuenca)
• December 6, 2017 - Fundación de Quito (Foundation of Quito, only in Quito)
• December 24-25, 2017 - Navidad (Christmas)

Tourist High Season: December-January & June-August. (During European, North American and Ecuadorian vacation periods)

Galapagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands that lies 926 km west of continental Ecuador. Due to its unique flora and fauna, the islands were declared world natural heritage by the UNESCO. The archipelago consists of 13 main islands of which only five are sparsely populated.

Time

GALT (Galápagos Time) UTC/GMT – 6 hours

Climate

In spite of its location on the equator, there is no typical tropical weather but a unique microclimate determined by sea and air currents.
The archipelago provides seven vegetation zones from arid coastal zones to evergreen cloud forests to treeless pampas zones.
The Galápagos Islands are a fantastic year-round destination.

Seasons

The Galápagos is a major intersection of several currents, which vary in intensity and consequently bring two distinct seasons to the islands. These currents also control the pattern and variety of Galápagos flora and fauna.
Hot/Rainy Season December - May/June Warm Panama Current
Dry/Garua Season June – November/December Antarctic Humboldt Current

Temperature

Temperatures 22°-30°C / 71°-86°F
Sea Temperatures 16°-25°C / 61°-76°F. Varies significantly from island to island.
Northern waters (near Genovesa) are warmed by the Panama Current; whereas the cold Cromwell Current from the west is cause for the always chilly water to the west of Isabela.

MONTH Jan Feb Mar  Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Air Temp °F 77 80 82  80  77  72  73  70  69  71  72  74
°C 25 25  28  27  25  22  23  21  20  22  22  23
Water Temp °F 75 76  76  76  74  73 68  67  66  70  72  74
°C 24 24 24 24 23 23 20 19 19 21 22 23

Overview

January      Galápagos High Season. Hot, sunny, odd cloudbursts. Warm, relatively calm seas.
February    Hot, sunny, rain showers. Warm calm seas.
March         Hot, humid, sunny, cloudbursts. Warm calm seas.
April            Hot, sunny, rain showers. Warm calm seas.
May            Changeover Period. Still hot, occasional rain, less sunshine. Still warm sea but a little more swell.
June           Warm, still few rain showers, stars to be cloudy and maybe misty at times. Still warm sea, more wind causes a bit of a swell.
July            Warm, cloudy, windy. Choppier sea, start to cool off with the cold waters brought in by the Humboldt Current.
August        Cooler, cloudy, windy, mostly dry. Cool, choppy seas.
September  Cool, little sunshine, cloudy, windy, little rain. Rough seas. Many Galápagos cruise boats are out of action for low season maintenance.
October      Warm, windy, cloudy, mostly dry. Cool, less rough sea.
November   Warmer, less windy, still cloudy, little rain. Cool choppy seas.
December   Temperatures and prices go up. Galápagos Christmas season. Changeover period. More sunshine, some rain, vegetation greens up. Calmer seas.

El Niño

In some years, the trade winds in the South Pacific change which causes a weakening of the Humboldt Current and the flow of warm waters increases: an "El Niño" year results. Surface water temperatures are higher, rainfall can increase up to ten times the usual level and "normal" weather patterns may not apply. Wildlife populations and activity are also affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

Seasickness

The seas around the Galápagos are generally shallow and despite being the crossroads of several currents, the waters are not terribly rough. The seas are at their calmest January through April. December, May and June are transitional months during which seas are relatively calm, though it varies year to year depending on the shift in the currents. July through November one will find choppier seas, with August through October being the roughest.
Certain vessels are more stable than others and cabin location can also help avoid seasickness.
Most travel is done at night while passengers are sleeping with only exception being the short midday transit (two hours or less). During the day, vessels dock in calm waters near shore. Passengers spend most of the day on land or snorkeling. These factors lessen the risk of seasickness.

Diving

Dry season (June to December) is ideal for diving because of the Antarctic Humboldt Current that brings cold eutrophic water which increases the plankton. Lots of sea dwellers and birds seize these nutrient-rich months to reproduce.
The months from August throughout November are especially interesting for divers because there are the highest activities of sub-marine life. During these months the possibility to see whales, whale sharks and dolphins is highest.

What to bring

  • Camera (good memory capacity & charger)
  • Binoculars
  • Sea sickness medication
  • Strong waterproof Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Small handbag (waterproof)
  • Cash
  • Good walking shoes
  • Sandals
  • Windbreaker or light raincoat
  • Swimsuits
  • Snorkel Equipment (Also available for rent in Galápagos)
  • Light pants (shorts)
  • T-Shirts & long sleeve shirts
  • Sweater for evenings

Do not forget that you will be far off the mainland, so bring what you need. There are only few small towns on Galápagos and stores might not offer what you need. Furthermore, costs are higher than on the mainland.

Coast

The Ecuadorian coast is divided in five provinces, from north to south: Esmeraldas, Manabí, Los Ríos, Guayas and El Oro. The coast covers about 70.000 km2, less than one third of the surface of Ecuador, but 50% of the population live in this region, mainly in and around the city of Guayaquil.

Weather

The region's climate varies from hot and arid on the Santa Elena peninsula to hot and humid in the alluvial plains and interiors between Esmeraldas and the gulf of Guayaquil. The average temperature is 24°C (18°C to 30°C); the climate is very much influenced by the ocean currents El Niño (warm) and Humboldt (cold).
Dry Season           June –     December Temperatures drop, mist, less sun.
Hot/Rainy Season January – June High Season. Hot, sunny, occasional heavy rain.

Guayaquil

Ecuador's largest and most populous city features a tropical climate with two seasons. From January throughout April the weather is hot and humid with heavy rainfalls, especially during El Niño years (s. Galápagos Weather – El Niño) when rainfall increases dramatically and flooding usually occurs. Between May and December the cooling influence of the Humboldt Current leads to decrease in rainfalls, usually cloudy mornings and evening breezes.

MONTH Jan Feb Mar  Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Air Temp °F 77 77  77  77  75  75  75  76  77  77  78  78
°C 25 25  25  25  24  24  24  24.5  25  25  25.5  25.5
Rainy Days d 20 19  23  24  24  22 21   18  19  21  20  20

Average Air Humidity 75%
Average Water Temperature 23°C

What to bring

  • Strong waterproof Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Small handbag
  • Cash (small bills/notes)
  • Swimsuits
  • Towels
  • Sweater for evenings
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Umbrella (for rain and sun)
  • Camera (good memory capacity & charger)
  • Summer clothing
  • Sandals
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Windbreaker or light raincoat

Sierra

The Sierra consists of two major chains of the Andean mountains, known as the Cordillera Occidental (Western Chain) and Cordillera Oriental (Eastern Chain), and the intermountain basin or plateau between the two chains.
The Andean region counts eight highland provinces: Azuay, Cañar, Carchi, Chimborazo, Imbabura, Loja, Pichincha and Tungurahua.
This region contains most of Ecuador's volcanoes and all of its snow-capped peaks.

Weather

Despite its location right on the equator, the Andean region is generally cooler than most people would expect.
The temperatures in the Ecuadorian mountain region do not vary greatly on a seasonal basis; the hottest month averages 16°C and the coolest month 13°C. However, diurnal temperatures can vary dramatically from cold mornings to hot afternoons.
Typical Sierra days are characterized by bright sunny mornings and cloudy rainy afternoons. The climatic contrasts that are represented during the course of a day, allows one to enjoy the four seasons of the year around the clock.
Rainfall amounts and temperature depend on the local conditions (like altitude) of a place and the time of the year. The rainy season in the Ecuadorian Sierra lasts from October to May with the heaviest rainfall in April. Driest months are June through September.

Quito

The Ecuadorian capital has a subtropical highland climate. Due to its elevation and its proximity to the equator, Quito has a fairly constant cool climate with spring-like weather year-round. The average temperature at noon is 19°C (66°F) with a normal night-time low of 9°C (48°F).

MONTH Jan Feb Mar  Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Air Temp °F 79 80  80  79  79  77  75  75  77  77  77  79
°C 13 13.5  13.5  14  13.5  13.5  14  14 14  14  14  13.5
Rainy Days d 10 11  15  15  13  7  5  11  14  11  11

What to bring

  • Sunscreen
  • Raincoat
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Cash (small bills/notes)
  • Camera (good memory capacity & charger)
  • All kind of clothing
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Hiking shoes
  • Gloves, scarf, wool hat
  • Small handbag
  • Umbrella (for rain and sun)

One must be prepared for any kind of weather every day.

Amazonia

The Amazon region is the largest of the four zones and contains six provinces: Orellana, Pastaza, Napo, Sucumbíos, Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe. The region borders on the Andes in the west and on Colombia and Peru in the east.

Weather

The Amazon usually enjoys hot and rainy climate. It is Ecuador’s most humid region. There weare no seasons like in the other Ecuadorian regions. The Amazonia offers always a generous amount of rain; hence the Amazonian weather can only be divided in a rainy and less rainy season. Both seasons are great times to visit, as more rain falls the amount of animal activity increases.

Despite the huge amount of rainfall, it never gets cold. The average daytime temperature varies from 30°C to 32°C (85°F to 90°F). During nights it can cool down to 20°C (68°F). 

Coca

El Coca is the capital of the Orellana province and one of the most important cities in the Amazon region. The city is located at the confluence of the Coca River and the Napo River.

MONTH Jan Feb Mar  Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Air Temp °F 77 77  77  77  75  75  75  76  77  77  78  78
°C 25 25  25  25  24  24  24  24.5  25  25  25.5  25.5
Rainy Days d 20 19  23  24  24  22 21   18  19  21  20  20

What to bring

  • Mosquito repellent
  • Medication for insect bites and stings
  • Camera (good memory capacity & charger)
  • Binoculars
  • Waterproof bag for things that must not get wet
  • Small backpack
  • Raincoat
  • Clothing for humid clima (no jeans)
  • Lots of socks
  • Torch & batteries
  • Water bottle
  • Cash (small bills/notes)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking shoes
  • Sandals
  • Swimsuits
  • Hat
  • Rubber boots (if you have large-sized feet, the lodge might not have your size)

Be prepared for rain and humidity.

Payments

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