Ecuador travel tips

Nature tips

Morag Prosser, from our supplier ROW Adventures, shares her Ecuador travel tips for nature lovers: "The cloud forest is starting to become very popular because it’s so close to the city and the airports, but it’s another world. For birders, it’s heaven on earth. It’s just a couple of hours drive into the most spectacular place – birds, butterflies, orchids – people do it just because it’s easy and cheap, but they come away saying it’s one of the best experiences they’ve had."

Cloud forest tips

David Orrock, from our partner Pura Aventura, shares his tip on how to make the most of the cloud forest: "One of the great mistakes might make is to go to the cloud forest on a daytrip from Quito. It's only a couple of hours away - however, the whole point is to be there at dusk and dawn because that's when everything's happening. If you get there for lunchtime you'll get birds, of course, but you are missing the best displays. You get the whole atmosphere of night falling in the forest, and at sunrise you can see the bright orange or red cock-of-the rock. At dawn, all the males shout and scream to attract the females with a massive cacophony of noise all round you. You can't do that if you are just on a daytrip."

Hiking tips

James Garratt, from our partner Wild Frontiers, shares his Ecuador travel tips for those tackling Cotopaxi: "The Avenue of the Volcanoes, south of Quito, is the perfect place for walkers and hikers. Cotopaxi is the most famous volcano. You have to be physically prepared if you’re doing the ascent and you’ll need professional gear to get to the peak, but there are plenty of other, less strenuous options. You can do a daytrip there which just goes to the base camp and doesn’t require any hardcore climbing. Or you can just stay in Cotopaxi National Park and take a guided trek or just follow a trail and return to your lodge at the end of the day – you’ll still make the most of your surroundings."

Accommodation tips

Morag Prosser, from our partner ROW Adventures:
"One of our favourite haciendas is El Porvenir. They probably have the best mountain bikes in South America. The owner is completely crazy about bikes, and their trails go from complete beginner downhill, to adrenaline addicts. The hacienda has been family-owned for hundreds of years, and it’s absolutely beautiful. You can experience the local food there and go out on a horse with the chagras (peasant farmers) and chaps – it’s just really traditional. Hacienda Zuleta is a favourite too – just because it’s really how Ecuador used to be. It’s just a piece of perfect history. For families, we love Hacienda Cusin. It’s right by Otavalo market and it’s really well set up for families in terms of accommodation."

Health & safety in Ecuador


Much of Ecuador is at high altitude, including Quito, which is at around 2,800m. As most tourists fly into Quito, this could leave you feeling rough for the first few days of your holiday – although this will acclimatise you for further ascents into the highlands. Don't attempt high altitude hikes or climbing any of the volcanoes until you’ve had several days to acclimatise. Fitness has little impact on altitude sickness so acclimatisation is the only way to prepare. You should also keep well hydrated and avoid alcohol, which makes the symptoms much worse. Seasickness is a real possibility during Galápagos cruises. December to May tend to bring calmer seas, but you’re still out in the open water – so bring medication. Ginger can also ease nausea. Tap water is not safe to drink, but bottled water is readily available and cheap. Ask for juices made with mineral water, and served without ice. Food is generally of high quality and food poisoning is uncommon. However, if travelling to remote areas it’s bring medication for mild stomach upsets, just in case, as medical facilities will be limited. Visit your GP at least 6-8 weeks before travel to ensure you have the necessary vaccinations. You may also need antimalarial medication if travelling to the Amazon or coastal rainforests; the highlands are malaria-free. Wear long sleeved shirts and long trousers in the jungle, and use insect repellent. The coastal rainforests and mangroves are far worse than the Amazon for mosquito bites. Mosquito nets should be provided when necessary. Good healthcare is available in major cities. Ensure your travel insurance covers any adventure activities you may be undertaking (including boat travel and high altitude hiking) as well as emergency repatriation. Ecuador is at risk of Zika virus transmission. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, consult your GP or travel clinic to understand the safety risks to the foetus. Zika does not generally pose a high risk to other travellers.


The vast majority of visits to Ecuador are trouble free, and pickpocketing is the greatest threat. However, there are a number of ways you can avoid problems in Ecuador. Ecuador has several active volcanoes, with Tungurahua near Baños being one of the most active. Get up to date travel advice before travelling there. Theft is not uncommon in Quito, and unfortunately resistance can lead to violence. Use a money belt, don’t leave any valuables or cameras on show and keep rucksacks on your front. Be extremely vigilant on public transport and in bus stations where theft is particularly rife. Stay in the main downtown and Malecón areas of Guayaquil. The city has been revamped in recent years but many areas remain dangerous thanks to high poverty levels. Don't leave belongings unattended on beaches. Tourism police are employed in the cities – do report any crimes as soon as possible. Kidnappings have been reported in areas close to the Colombian border, including Cuyabeno National Park in the Amazon. Currently, travel to the border region is not advised by the FCO. Credit card fraud is increasing in Ecuador. To avoid scams, never let your card out of sight when paying in shops or restaurants, and check your bank statement regularly. It is not safe to walk up the Panecillo hill in Quito; take a tour if you want to visit. Be careful in the city’s parks, and avoid them at night; tourists are targeted by robbers. In Quito and Ibarra, the emergency number is 911. In Guayaquil, Cuenca and Loja, it is 112.

Ecuador tips from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Ecuador travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
Ensure that you spend time talking to the native communities. Even if your main purpose in going to the Amazon is to see the animals, it is a humbling experience to see how these people live.
– Julia Saurazas
"Beware it’s a pretty active holiday. But that’s why I went. Lots to do each day, not much lounging around. But to be fair it wasn’t over the top - and there was even a 76-year-old grandma on the trip who managed to do everything. So don’t be put off. " – John Farmer

"Take lots of small bills in cash – even $20 bills are hard to change." – Cara Roberts

"Worth doing a bit of background reading into Galapagos before travelling (or on the flight!). The guides are brilliant, but there is so much information, it helps to have a bit of prior knowledge!" – Richard Mayon-White

"Take a little notebook to write down your spottings – I am not a twitcher but you cannot help becoming interested and noting the birds and animals down is infectious as it allows you to learn even more back at the lodge." – Linda Johnstone
Bring useable but worn clothing to leave behind to make room for the wonderfully affordable local art and clothing. Practice a little Spanish so you can interact with the local folks who reward any communication with a quick smile and immediate charm.
– Jennifer Hann
"It gets cold up in Andes at night. Ensure you have long trousers and a couple of fleeces plus a warm jacket – you will need them. Otherwise go with an open mind and just enjoy everything on offer." – Jane Rawson

"Even when things went ostensibly "wrong" we ended up by having an even better or more interesting time than expected!!! Travelling in Latin America is always best with an open mind and flexible attitude anyway!" – Alison Pelikan

"Although the children loved every minute, the equatorial sun was difficult to escape and we had to really keep on top of their hydration. There was a lot of travelling, on road, by boat and plane so it's a good idea for the kids to have books and things to play and make." – Vimty Muir
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: Longjourneys] [Cloud Forest: simonsimages] [Hiking: Bryant Stivien Salazar Aguirre] [Quito: Dr. Alexey Yakolev] [Textiles: Myths and mountains]