Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of traveling through Ecuador with the Nomadic Boys. First of all, let me just say, traveling with the Nomadic Boys was an awesome experience. They’re great guys and I’m super glad I met them over the summer of 2016. So hanging out with them is awesome but then hanging out in Ecuador was even more amazing. I spent a month in the country so you can expect plenty of awesome posts coming your way. Below you’ll find a few Ecuador travel tips
Ecuador is a country about the size of Colorado in South America with a diversity of topographical and environmental features. From the high Andes to cloud forests and meadow-like scenery to the low coastal area, the potential to experience new climates and environments is unbound. Everywhere you turn there is something incredible to experience.
Not only does the country have a plethora of natural wonders, it’s also overflowing with culture and history. Ecuador has a rich culture of agronomy which means you’ll enjoy a diversity of tropical fruits and veggies at just a fraction of the cost of home. On top of that, the people of Ecuador span thousands of years starting with the various indigenous cultures including the coastal Awá, Chachi, and Tsáchila, as well as the Oriente Quichua Canelo and Quijos, and the Shuar, Huaorani, Siona-Secoya, Cofán, and the Achuar. Combine this with the predominant Mestizo culture (a mixture of indigenous, Andalusian, and Castilian Spanish culture) and you get the rich, varied culture of Ecuador.
Now, in order to really gain an understanding of the overall culture and atmosphere of Ecuador. you needn’t go too far. Simply visiting a larger city such as Guayaquil or Quito will immerse you in the Ecuadorian lifestyle and give you a better understanding of the people. I, on the other hand, decided to travel throughout the entire country. My trip included visits and stopovers to Quito, the Galapagos Islands, various small villages and towns, Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Baños. Each place was a treasure on its own and represented various aspects of the overall Ecuadorian culture.
As a traveler, I hear many things about traveling through developing countries. Many people give advice such being wary of pickpockets, watching out for those taking advantage of tourists, and the list goes on and on. While these bits of advice are valuable no matter where you travel, Ecuador is a relatively safe country. I never felt threatened or in danger during my month traveling around the country. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s probably one of the countries in which I felt the safest.
That being said, here are a few things I learned as I traveled through Ecuador.
1) People Are Kind
You might hear stories about mean-spirited people in other countries and that would be with good reason. There are always people who will take advantage of others, no matter where you might go. But the people in Ecuador are generally kind-hearted. They go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and you’ll see more smiles than you know what to do with…that’s a great thing! Not only that, for the gay traveler, Ecuador is the perfect destination. The country has a come as you are attitude in most places and I never felt discriminated against or anything.
One of the awesome things about Ecuador (at least for US citizens) is the country uses US dollars as its currency. So there is no hassle with currency exchange for us. The dollar in Ecuador is not worth the same as the dollar in the US. In fact, if you are traveling from the US or most Western countries, you’re money will be worth a lot more. You can get a nice 3-course lunch for around $5 and a beer costs $1-2. Some items are a bit more expensive because of taxes and tariffs but for the most part Ecuador is highly affordable for the Western traveler.
3) Service Charges
When you eat at a restaurant, you’ll need to make sure service is included. Most places include a service fee which means you don’t need to add a tip on top of the bill. There are some places that do not do this though so you’ll want to be sure to tip your server. On top of this, if you hire a tour guide then you should also tip them. Make sure you tip any service staff you have if you take a Galapagos cruise.
4) It’ll Take Your Breath Away
Ecuador is just astoundingly beautiful. There’s no other way to say it. You will see beautiful landscapes, crazy heights, unique wildlife, and beautiful cities. Even boring bus rides turn into interesting events as you watch the incredible country side roll by. Just make sure you don’t take it for granted.
5) Water Issues
In most of Latin America you have to be cautious with drinking the water. Ecuador is no exception. You should avoid drinking the water in most cities because the country’s water sanitation is not up to par with most Western countries. That being said, the city of Quito has fairly decent water sanitation. I drank water in the city and didn’t get sick. Also, if you are staying at a large chain hotel, such as the Swissotel, then you don’t have to worry about it because the hotel will have a water filtration system. Even so, most hotels provide bottled water and if you need to purchase water it is pretty cheap. It usually costs about 50 cents to $1 per bottle of water.
Pin Me, Please!