Overview

Introduction

Ecuador is a beautiful and fascinating country to visit. Small in size by South American standards, just half the size of France, Ecuador is so rich in culture, landscapes and wildlife. Ecuador is an ideal destination to enjoy a wealth of wonderful experiences in a relatively short amount of time.

Famous for the diversity of its geography and wildlife, it is dwarfed by its neighbours Colombia and Peru. However, the dramatic geographical and cultural contrasts within Ecuador make it a fascinating place to visit. In addition, visiting the Galápagos Islands, annexed by Ecuador in 1832, is a truly fascinating and unique experience.

Little remains from the pre-Inca or Inca civilisations in Ecuador but evidence of their 16th century Spanish conquerors is widespread. From the official spoken language and the colonial style buildings in the centre of many towns, to the large mestizo (mixed race) population, Spanish influence is apparent. Ecuador eventually achieved independence in 1822 and is now a democratic republic.

Modern Ecuador is divided into three geographic regions plus the unique Galápagos Islands. In the west the Pacific coastal plain has a lively, mixed race population and is an agricultural area farming bananas, cocoa, rice, coffee, sugar cane, tropical fruits and shrimps.

It is also home to a wide variety of birds. Through the centre of the country run the Andes mountains, including the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’ named by the German explorer, Alexander Von Humboldt in 1802. The snow capped peaks are a commanding presence and a challenge to many trekkers; the cloud forests on the lower slopes are home to wildlife, many species of birds and delicate orchids. To the east, the Ecuadorian Amazonian jungle is home to distinctive tribes of indigenous Indians and an almost infinite number of wildlife species including, birds, bats, butterflies, fish, monkeys, sloth, caiman, dolphins and giant otters.

Also a paradise for shoppers, the different areas of Ecuador each have attractive, regional arts and crafts which are for sale on local stalls and markets. Particularly famous is the Panama hat which has been woven in the southern sierra and in the coastal areas for more than a century.

Our Latin America Senior Travel Consultant, Stephen Bray travelled on the first public journey of the Tren Cruceros from Quito to Guayaquil. Here he reflects on this new journey. Read full itinerary including this journey.

Read more

Getting There

There are no direct flights from the UK to Ecuador. The European airlines flying to Quito and Guayaquil are Iberia from London Heathrow (via Madrid) and KLM from London Heathrow and regional airports (via Amsterdam). Other options from London airports include LATAM Airlines and Air Europa via Madrid to Guayaquil; and Avianca to Quito and Guayaquil via Bogota. Also there are flights from London Heathrow to Quito and Guayaquil via Miami on American Airlines.  Any flights via the US require an ESTA application. Regional departures include Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham.

Flights to the Galapagos Islands only operate from Quito and Guayaquil.
Please note there is a 1 hour time difference between the Ecuador mainland and Galapagos.

 

Combinations

Ecuador combines well with both The Galapagos Islands and Peru.

At a Glance

- 3 distinct areas: Pacific coastal area, Andes mountain range including volcanoes and cloud forest, and Amazonian jungle
- Wonderful biodiversity. Especially good for bird watching
- Beautiful handicrafts and colourful markets
- Good standard accommodation including historic haciendas
- Equator runs across the north of the country
- Ecuador can be visited all year round. Climates vary from area to area.
- Compact country ideally suited for a fly-drive holiday in the Andes
- Quito & Guayaquil are stepping off points for the Galápagos Islands

Foreign Office advice

We’ve partnered with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Aware campaign to help provide top tips and advice for planning for your trip abroad. It’s important to do some research before you travel to learn about any necessary visas and vaccinations required for entry to your destination, understand any unusual laws and customs and to be aware of the latest travel advice for the region. Click on the link below for more information on what to prepare for your trip overseas. You can also sign up for email alerts and follow @FCOtravel on Twitter for alerts whilst you are away.

Visit gov.uk/travelaware for more information

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There are charming hotels and stunning train journeys aplenty - it squeezes in a little bit of everything. I love the epic rail-ride on the Tren Crucero and there is more than enough to satisfy the culture vulture.

Stephen Bray
Stephen Bray
Best time to go
  • JAN
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Time Difference

GMT -5 hours

Currency

US Dollar

Language

Spanish

Average flight times

14 hours 15 minutes. From London Heathrow via Amsterdam (KLM)

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Talk to our Ecuador expert

Stephen Bray
Stephen Bray

There are charming hotels and stunning train journeys aplenty - it squeezes in a little bit of everything. I love the epic rail-ride on the Tren Crucero and there is more than enough to satisfy the culture vulture.

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