Ecuador and the Galapagos

Diminutive in size, yet incredibly diverse, Ecuador lives up to the saying: ‘the best things come in small packages’. No trip would be complete without making your way offshore to the country’s biggest draw card, the Galapagos Islands, home to cannot-see-anywhere-else wildlife including giant tortoises and marine iguanas. Back on the mainland, wander the cobblestone streets of the Andean capital, Quito, admiring the colonial architecture that has earned its Old Town World Heritage status, or barter at the Otavalo markets for textiles, handicrafts and jewellery made by the local, indigenous people. Ride the Devil’s Nose Train along some of the steepest stretches of railway you’ll ever come across, hike through the Avenues of the Volcanoes or head into the Amazon rainforest, keeping your eyes peeled for toucans, jaguars and sloths.

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Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Information

  • Fly from London to Ecuador with one stopover (no direct flights available at the present time). 
  • Currency: US Dollar 
  • Time difference: GMT -5 
  • Flight time from the UK: Minimum flight time 15 hours  
  • Visa: No visas required for UK nationals 
  • Language: Spanish 
  • National drink: Colada morada (made with corn flour, fruits, sugar and spices) 
  • National dish: ceviche or cuy (guinea pig) 
  • Travel tip: Carry small change, as it can be hard to break anything over a $20 in small towns or villages
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Tips and Advice for Ecuador and Galapagos

Ecuador Activities

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to get excited about in Ecuador. Climb up (or hike round) one of 10 active volcanoes towering over 5000 metres, including the snow-capped Cotopaxi. Head to Baños, the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the country – walk to waterfalls, try kayaking or rafting in the rivers, bungee jump, paraglide or simple relax in the thermal hot pools. Practice yoru haggling skills in the Otavalo market, snapping up traditional handicrafts and textiles, or take a tour into the Amazon rainforest for spotting toucans, sloths and (if you’re lucky) jaguars. 

Ecuador Food & Drink

Carb lovers will be in food heaven with the potato, rice and bean-heavy cuisine of Ecuador. While differences exist between the coast, where seafood reigns supreme, and inland, focusing on meat dishes, snack foods are ubiquitous. Empanadas (deep-fried pastries with meat and potatoes) and llapingachos (potato-and-cheese cakes) are popular everywhere you go. You cannot leave the country without sampling cuy, or guinea pig, considered a delicacy. Fresh jugos, or fruit juices, are staples at most meals; if you’re looking for something stronger, sip aguardiente a strong, sugar-cane spirit translating as ‘fire water’. 

Ecuador Attractions

First on everyone’s bucket list when travelling to Ecuador, is a visit to the Galapagos Islands. The unique ecosystem of this archipelago of volcanic islands led to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; here you can swim with sea lions and get up close to giant tortoises and marine iguanas. Walk the streets and visit the cathedrals of the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Cuenca and Quito; legend says that if the currently incomplete Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito is finished, the world will end!

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