Ecuador, as its name implies, lies on the Equator. This fascinating and incredibly scenic South America country is made up of three distinct areas – the coast (Costa), mountainous area (Sierra) and Oriente (which includes the Amazon). The exceptional Galapagos Islands are also part of Ecuador and are filled with phenomenal wildlife such as giant tortoises and black iguanas as well as exquisite scenery.
The country’s capital, Quito, is a vibrant city, home to the best-preserved historic centre in Latin America. It offers numerous sights to see, lively nightlife and excellent restaurants. Then there’s the town of Banos, which is popular with adventure-seekers for its various adrenaline-packed activities including paragliding and bungee jumping.
Why travel to Ecuador
- The weather is near-perfect, with never-ending springtime.
- The historical centre in the capital, Quito, is one of the world’s first UNESCO-listed heritage cities and a joy to explore.
- The wildlife on the Galapagos Islands is quite unique.
- You haven’t tasted chocolate until you’ve sampled some from Ecuador.
- Quito’s museums are some of the most unique in Latin America.
- You can explore the incomparable Amazon Jungle.
- To see some of its magnificent 20 volcanoes.
- You can learn all about the Inca Empire.
- Ecuador’s beaches are superb.
Known as South America’s Hidden Jewel, Ecuador is a country full of glorious sandy beaches, magical mountainous areas and tropical rainforest. In Ecuador you’ll find one of the highest active volcanoes in the world as well as incredibly diverse wildlife, some found nowhere else on earth. An Ecuador holiday is all about spending time outdoors – on the beaches, in the jungle, climbing mountains or enjoying numerous adventure activities. Whether you’re travelling solo, with your family or friends, or as a couple, let Thompsons Holidays take you to Ecuador on an unforgettable adventure holiday package.
Things to do in Ecuador
A haven for adventure sports enthusiasts, beautiful Ecuador has only recently been on travellers’ radars as an incredible place to enjoy a holiday. It’s an excellent destination to enjoy gorgeous beaches, explore fascinating history and culture, and sample a variety of adrenaline sports including bungee jumping, white water rafting, deep-sea diving and much more.
Located right on the Equator, Ecuador’s glorious year-round weather is another major drawcard, ensuring that visitors can participate in any number of fun and exciting outdoor activities. Whatever you want to do, there is plenty to keep you busy.
Things to do in Ecuador
- Swing at the end of the world in Casa del Arbol with death-defying depths below you.
- Climb the active volcano Cotopaxi with its icy glaciers in the Andean Mountains.
- Party in Quito’s La Mariscal district in Plaza Foch, which is full of bars, clubs and restaurants.
- Go shopping in Ecuador’s largest artisan market, Otavalo.
- Take the Devil’s Nose (Nariz del Diablo), a unique train journey zigzagging across an 800-meter sheer rockface.
- Visit the mountain retreat of Zaruma, a beautifully preserved colonial town.
- Enjoy surfing in Montañita on the Pacific Coast.
- Discover unique wildlife in the Galapagos Islands.
- See the archaeological site of Ingapinca, which dates back to before the Incas.
- Stand on the Equator at the Inti Nan Museum near Quito.
- Enjoy white water rafting at Tana in the Amazon.
- Trek to magnificent Lake Quilotoa.
Explore the jungle, climb snow-capped mountains, enjoy water sports from exquisite white sand beaches and discover Ecuador’s history and culture in its cities and towns. Savour delicious cuisine, shop for exotic souvenirs in the markets and then take home memories and stories that will stay with you forever. Thompsons Holidays can put together an unforgettable Ecuador holiday package.
Know before you go...
- Best time to visit Ecuador is in the rainy season (summer), December to April.
- Dry season (winter) is June to November.
- Flight duration from Johannesburg to Quito: 17 hours & 30 minutes with one stopover.
- There are not many regular flights from South Africa to Ecuador.
- South African passport holders do not require a visa to enter Ecuador for a stay of up to 90 days.
- Passports must be valid for 6 months after departure from Ecuador.
- Ecuador is 7 hours behind South Africa.
- Daylight saving is not practiced in Ecuador.
- The official currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar ($ or USD).
- Credit cards are widely accepted & ATMs are prevalent. Some retailers charge a surcharge for credit card payments.
- Tipping is not expected in Ecuador.
- The official language is Spanish.
- English is the most widely spoken foreign language in Ecuador.
- Roman Catholicism is the main religion in Ecuador.
- When visiting sacred sites and temples, dress conservatively. (See ‘What to pack’).
- It is not advisable to drink tap water in Ecuador. Bottled water is readily available.
- Many public restrooms charge a small fee for use, so keep change on hand for this.
- Smoking is not permitted in public areas such as restaurants, bars and indoor work places as well as on public transport. Airports offer designated smoking rooms.
- Vaccinations – please check with your travel clinic before you go.
What must I pack?
- Lightweight clothing in summer, layerable clothing for winter.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- Transport within Ecuador revolves around buses and taxis.
- Towns in outlying areas may have less sophisticated transport infrastructure – it depends where you are going.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Instead of using plastic bags, take fabric shopping bags with you.
- Respect each other's cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
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