The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. In 1959 the Galápagos became Ecuador’s first national park, and in 1978, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife viewing. A province of Ecuador, it lies about 1,000km off its coast and its isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else on earth. Charles Darwin visited in 1835, and his observation of Galápagos' species later inspired his theory of evolution. As amazing as you think the Galápagos Islands will be, they routinely exceed expectations. It is a place where lizards swim, birds walk, turtles crawl…and for once, humans don’t take centre stage. The Galápagos Islands may just inspire you to think differently about the world. Many of the islands in the Galápagos archipelago are uninhabited, however, a wide range of hotels can be found on Santa Cruz Island and San Cristóbal Island.
Founded in the 1530s, Ecuador's largest city Guayaquil is the beating commercial heart of Ecuador. High rises give it that big city feel, and several hillsides are engulfed by colourful favelas. It is however the Río Guayas’ malecón (the riverfront town square) that defines the city’s identity. The picturesque barrio of Las Peñas, which perches over the river, anchors the city both geographically and historically and amidst revitalized squares, parks and massive urban-renewal projects, the city has a growing theatre, film and arts scene and lively bars. The 465-step climb to the top of Santa Ana Hill provides sweeping views and a chance to stand on the site of the city's birthplace. The port is the main access point for Galapagos cruises.
A capital city high in the Andes, Quito is dramatically situated, squeezed between mountain peaks whose greenery is concealed by the afternoon mist. Warm and relaxed, traditional Ecuadorian Sierra culture (overflowing market stands, shamanistic healers, fourth generation hatmakers) mixes with a vibrant and sophisticated culinary and nightlife scene. The city's crown jewel is its 'Old Town,' a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with colonial monuments and architectural treasures. Its handsomely restored blocks feature 17th-century facades, picturesque plazas and magnificent art-filled churches and pulse with everyday life. The city is quite unique. It sits at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,800 meters) and La Paz, Bolivia is the only higher capital city in the world. Quito is also surrounded by several volcanoes and Cotopaxi, the 2nd largest active volcano in the world can be easily seen on a clear day.
SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND
San Cristóbal is the easternmost island in the Galápagos archipelago, as well as one of the oldest geologically. It is administratively part of San Cristóbal Canton, Ecuador. Its Spanish name "San Cristóbal" comes from the patron saint of seafarers, St. Christopher. It is home to a small town, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and the Junco Lagoon. El Junco has been the object of a study in which the sediments on the bottom of the lake were analysed to uncover information about the vegetation and climate of the archipelago thousands of years ago. San Cristobal is the only island where three different species of booby birds and the great frigatebird can be seen nesting in the same area.
SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
Santa Cruz is an island in Ecuador’s Galápagos National Park known for sandy beaches like El Garrapatero. The town of Puerto Ayora is the archipelago’s hub. The Charles Darwin Research Station has a breeding program for endangered giant tortoises, which live wild in El Chato Reserve. Tortuga Bay attracts sea turtles and marine iguanas. Los Gemelos volcanic calderas and a lava tunnel lie inland.
Nestled between Colombia and Peru, and sitting on the equator, this compact country has an abundance of contrasts and scenery from the breath-taking Andes to the Amazonian rainforest.
Thanks to its extraordinary variety of ecosystems and species, Ecuador is also renowned as one of the hot spots for biological diversity on earth.
Explore the famous Avenue of the Volcanoes in the Andes, and the green and gold valleys picturesque villages. Visit majestic cities like Quito and Cuenca, World Heritage Sites full of history and colonial art and architecture. Relax and take in the beauty of this Pacific coastline, its beaches, fishing villages, seaports, and ancient archaeology. Visit the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador´s main seaport, full of history and tropical charm.
Venturing to the enchanting world of Galapagos islands, with its unique species that are found nowhere else on the planet, is a place not to be missed.
When to Visit
Ecuador generally has two seasons which are wet and dry. Due to the country being so geographically diverse local weather patterns do vary. It is not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day.
The mainland coastal areas and the Galapagos Islands are influenced by ocean currents and are hot and rainy between January and April and tend to be dryer throughout the rest of the year.
The dry season in the highlands is between June and September and around December, but even the mountains' wet season it is not particularly wet, and the dry season sees its share of downpours.
It is generally spring like climate in the central valley all year round, with mild temperatures around 24°C (66°F).
As you may expect, The Amazon experiences, rain, heat and more rain and heat! The average daytime temperatures are hot whereas night can cool down considerably.
The least rainy months tends to be January to May whilst June, July, and August are the wettest.
September to December can be very unpredictable!
We’d say, prepare to expect rain and heat all year round!
US dollars are the official currency of Ecuador and they are identical to those issued in the USA.
Coins of one, five, 10, 25 and 50 cents are identical in shape, size, and colour to their US equivalents, but bear images of famous Ecuadorians. Both US and Ecuadorian coins are used in Ecuador. The $1 coin is widely used.
ATMs are widely available but note that not all foreign cards work in the ATMs. Bring more than one option with you and be sure to alert your home bank that you are traveling to Ecuador.
Credit cards are accepted in most first-class hotels, major shops, and restaurants. Smaller hotels and restaurants tend to only accept cash.
Visas and Vaccinations
You must have all visas (and vaccination) certificates that are necessary to enter or pass through Ecuador.
Visa requirements are subject to change so please check with a Visa Service Company in the country in which you are located or you can check details online instantly with companies such as CIBT Visas (https://cibtvisas.co.uk/. Visas can be obtained through the relevant embassy or consulate.
General Note: Some countries refuse admission to travellers not meeting their accepted standards of dress or appearance (even if they hold a visa). Entry may also be refused to certain countries if your passport bears stamps or visas (valid or expired) for Israel.
A useful general health advice website for travellers is http://www.who.int/ith/en/ and there are also advice sites in individual countries.
Please note it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct, current visa and vaccination information and that you act on it.