We will advise you on the best time of the year to travel and, just as importantly, when not to go to a particular region or place. We hope the following guidelines are useful:
The best months for the Galapagos Islands are December to March, when the seas are at their calmest. You should avoid September-October as there is a sea mist at this time.
Ecuador has a very even temperature throughout the year but the wet season runs from October to April. Whilst temperatures rise to 22oC in Quito during the day, it can get quite cool at night at altitude (2850m), colder at higher altitudes in the Andes. It is generally hottest on the coast between December and April and can get quite sticky at this time in the Amazon rainforest.
Official Name: Republic of Ecuador
Size: 105,037 sq. miles (UK: 93,638 sq. miles)
Population: 14.6 million (UN 2011)
Main Language: Spanish
Currency: US Dollar
Exchange rate: 1.476 (valid 14 April 2015)
Time Zone: GMT -5hrs
GNI (per capita): US$3,850 (World Bank (2011)
President: Rafael Correa
Exports: Oil, coffee, flowers
Major religion : Christianity
Please click the links below for up-to-date visa and entry requirements for British nationals travelling to Ecuador:
Please make sure your passport is valid and up to date. In general terms, your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from your date of arrival into all South American countries.
Evidence of Yellow Fever vaccination may be required for travellers who are going to or have recently been to countries where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission.
Travelling with children
Single parents or adults travelling with children under the age of 18 are required to provide notarised documentary evidence of parental responsibility, or consent to travel from those with parental responsibility. Such documentation is often required before being allowed to enter Latin American countries and, in many cases, before permitting children to leave the country.
Local airport taxes
International and domestic airport taxes may be payable locally if it is not included with your airline tickets. This is usually payable in US dollars and it may not always be possible to pay by credit/debit card.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR VISITORS
Entry Fees & Transit Control Card
The Ecuadorian government currently levies a Galapagos Islands Park entry fee of $100 USD per person. This is payable at the airport upon arrival in the Galapagos. It is not usually included in the cost of the tour, and must be paid in cash. This fee funds park maintenance and supervision in the Galapagos Islands, as well as ecological study, conservation and infrastructure development in Ecuador’s other National Parks.
You also have to obtain a Transit Control Card, for which there is a current fee of $20 USD per person, payable only in cash.
The Transit Control Card has to be purchased at a counter at Quito airport before boarding your flight to the Galapagos. You will be required to present this on arrival in the Galapagos Islands.
This is a supplement to the existing entry fee to the National Park and is not controlled by tour operators or travel agencies. It is understood to be one of a number of initiatives to track, control and maintain the sustainable tourism targets set out by the Galapagos National Park and the Ecuadorian government as part of their drive to preserve the fragile environment of the archipelago.
The Galapagos National Park authorities carefully control the numbers of ships and passengers arriving at any one island at any time.
Travellers to the Galapagos will understand the need for strict controls and inspections. All bags are checked prior to arriving at the Galapagos archipelago. No fresh fruit, vegetables, meat or dairy products are allowed to be taken to the Galapagos or indeed livestock.
General Dos and Don’ts
Please stick to paths and rigorously obey the instructions of the fully trained local naturalist guides on your Galapagos cruise.
– Do not touch animals, birds or plants
– Do not transfer seeds, sands or soil between islands
– Do not leave any litter anywhere
– Do not carry food onto the islands
What to take
Sunblock, a hat, sunglasses and practical shoes which are suitable for both wet and dry shore landings are essential. You may want to carry your camera in a plastic bag when there are wet landings. Spare batteries (or a power monkey) for cameras can be useful and make sure devices have plenty of memory as travellers usually take many more photographs than they expect.
If you suffer from sea-sickness you can try using a single ear plug which (apparently) has the effect of confusing the inner ear. You can buy mouldable earplugs from most high street chemists.
If you are a keen snorkeller and wear glasses, you may want to obtain a prescription mask.
Generally there are two separate tips to be considered: one for your naturalist guide and another for the rest of the ship’s crew.
For up-to-date advice on any vaccination requirements and any health risks associated with visiting South America, contact your local GP.
The following NHS website provides health information and advice for travellers to South America, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica:
When travelling in the Andes you should bear in mind that you will be at fairly high altitude. So if you have a heart condition or are very asthmatic you should check with your doctor. You should advise your travel insurers of any pre-existing medical condition.
Please click onto the links below for up-to-date advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office:
Help for British nationals in South America:
Ecuador uses the US Dollar and abolished their own currency, the Sucre, some years ago.
You should always take sensible precautions when using bank ATMs but bear in mind that cash points are not generally available in remote locations such as the Amazon jungle, the cloudforest or some of the Galapagos Islands.
We always recommend you keep a supply of US dollars handy including some small denomination notes (which are useful for tips in hotels and baggage carriers). You should make sure that notes are clean and undamaged. Torn or damaged notes (e.g. from a staple or scribbled on) will not be accepted.
Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels and the better restaurants and shops but may not be accepted in small shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, nor in local markets.
In general terms, MasterCard is more widespread than Visa. It may be a good idea to take both if you have them. Usage of American Express is rare.
If you are a regular traveller to countries where the currency is the US dollar (e.g. Ecuador, Panama, the United States) or where you can obtain US dollars from some bank ATMs (e.g. Peru, Bolivia) you may like to consider obtaining a currency card. Caxton FX, Foreignex and FairFX are amongst suppliers. Charges and fees vary.
Ecuador is pegged to the US Dollar having abolished their own currency, the Sucre, some years ago. The pound/dollar exchange rate is subject to change.
For other countries in Central and South America the following indicative rates apply:
Ecuador: Quito GMT -5