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Country Guides for South America


Ecuador Ecuador is a small country packed with treasures for the traveler. The Galapagos Islands offer terrific diving, and the chance to spend time with giant tortoises, sea lions, and a variety of bird species including, yes, penguins! Mainland Ecuador ranges from Amazon jungle and tropical cloud forest to glacier-clad volcanoes and warm Pacific beaches, and an amazing array of plant and animal life can be enjoyed. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Cuenca and Quito are magnificent examples of colonial architecture, and culture abounds in colorful highland markets and traditional costumes and festivals.

B>Language: Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quecha)

Major International Airports:


From City
QuitoMariscal Sucre Int'lUIO5 miles N

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found universally throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including some cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. Travelers to malaria-risk areas, including infants, children, and former residents of South America, should take an antimalarial drug.

Chloroquine is the recommended drug for Paraguay.
Travelers to Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).

A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

If you visit the Andes Mountains, ascend gradually to allow time for your body to adjust to the high altitude, which can cause insomnia, headaches, nausea, and altitude sickness. In addition, use sunblock rated at least 15 SPF, because the risk of sunburn is greater at high altitudes.

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) are other diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for immunizations to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay >6 months in the region, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • Yellow fever vaccination, if you will be traveling outside urban areas.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not complete the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • If you will be visiting an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

Those traveling to Ecuador are at risk from dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria transmitted by mosquito bites,and leishmaniasis from sandfly bites. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.

The water supply in Ecuador is contaminated with viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Travelers should treat water before drinking to avoid potentially serious health problems.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy in Quito advises against travel to the northern border of Ecuador - to include the provinces of Sucumbios, Orellana, and Carchi. U.S. Government personnel are restricted from travel to these areas due to the spread of organized crime, drug trafficking, small arms trafficking, and incursions by various Colombian terrorist and criminal organizations. Since 1998, at least nine U.S. citizens have been kidnapped near Ecuador's border with Colombia. One U.S. citizen was murdered in January 2001 by kidnappers holding him for ransom.
Political demonstrations occur sporadically throughout Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands. Protesters sometimes block city streets and rural highways, and public transportation tends to be disrupted during these incidents. Protestors also occasionally burn tires, throw Molotov cocktails, detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and fire handguns into the air during demonstrations. The police generally respond by using water cannons and tear gas. Travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are in progress and keep informed by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides.

Since 1993, there have been hundreds of small pamphlet bombings throughout Ecuador. In 2002 and 2003, bombs have exploded at a McDonalds restaurant in Guayaquil and at an American Airlines office in Quito. Bombings have also occurred in city parks and at Ecuadorian government buildings. Although no foreign tourists have been injured in these explosions, American citizens visiting or residing in Ecuador are urged to exercise caution and avoid suspicious looking packages.

The President of Ecuador has the authority to declare temporary states of emergency. Under these states of emergency, the military is allowed to perform joint patrols with the police, and curfews may be imposed. The police and military may be granted expanded search authority under a state of emergency, and roadblocks may be set up to check personal identification and vehicle registration. U.S. citizens should carry identification at all times, including proof of U.S. citizenship, and abide by any restrictions imposed during a state of emergency or risk arrest. Travelers should follow the local news or consult with the U.S. Embassy in Quito or the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil for specific information.
Travelers to Ecuador's beach areas should be aware that strong currents, undertow, and underwater hazards are common and not posted. While a few beaches have lifeguard stations, they are usually unmanned.

CRIME: Violent and non-violent crime is on the rise in urban Ecuador. In an increasing number of cases, thieves are armed with guns or knives. The Ecuadorian Government has increased police patrols in tourist areas, but travelers in resort areas along the coast and in Quito and Guayaquil should remain alert to their surroundings and maintain constant control of personal belongings. It's not a good idea to wear expensive-looking jewelry and watches. Avoid the interior regions of large city parks day and night and exercise caution around their perimeters. Public markets, airports, bus terminals, restaurants, and crowded streets provide opportunities for non-violent crimes such as pick pocketing, burglary of personal effects, and thefts from vehicles. Sexual assaults are also on the rise in urban areas. Backpackers are frequently targeted for robbery and snatch and grabs. Always be aware of your surroundings and try to not travel alone.

In Quito, travelers should be particularly alert on the crowded streets of south Quito, at the Panecillo, in Old Quito and in the areas of El Tejar, Parroquia San Sebastian, Avenida Cristobal Colon and Gonzalez Suarez. The Mariscal Sucre District is a popular tourist area in Quito with numerous restaurants, bars, hotels and shopping sites. Since 1999, several U.S. Government employees and private U.S. citizens have been targeted there, prompting the U.S. Embassy to put certain establishments off-limits and to declare a nighttime curfew in the area for its employees. The presence of additional police has had little effect on the rising crime rate.

In Guayaquil, extra caution should be taken in the downtown area, in the street market area of La Bahia, at the Christ Statue (Sagrado Corazon de Jesus) on Cerro del Carmen, in the airport area, and in the southern part of the city. There have been repeated instances of travelers followed from the airport and intercepted by robbers using two vehicles to cut off the traveler; although there is some evidence that those most at risk are people who appear to be returning for family visits laden with gifts and large amounts of cash, there have been instances of robbery of people who did not fit this profile. There have been numerous armed robberies of restaurants and their patrons, including in the fashionable areas of Guayaquil. Guayaquil has also experienced a dramatic increase in kidnappings for ransom, often in connection with hijackings.

Many beach areas are relatively deserted at night; crimes such as rape and robbery have been reported in 2003. Armed robbery of inter-city buses is on the increase. There have been several reported incidents in 2003 or passengers being robbed on buses. The Embassy recommends that you use legitimate taxicabs as a way to get around the larger cities. Public transportation can be dangerous - both from a traffic safety and personal security point of view.

Criminals sometimes use incapacitating drugs on unsuspecting tourists in order to rob them. These so-called "date rape" drugs, called scopolamine in Ecuador, are administered into drinks in order to drug the unsuspecting victim. This drug can render the victim disoriented and can cause prolonged unconsciousness and serious medical problems. Never allow a stranger to "buy" you a drink and never leave your drink unattended. During 2003, several American citizens reported thefts of property following ingestion of such substances.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

Source: U.S. Department of State

Ecuador is an equatorial country, with little temperature variation from month to month - the climate is influenced primarily by altitude and proximity to the ocean. The Galapagos Islands are subtropical with warm, conditions year round, moderated by onshore winds with a rainy season from January to April. As you move to mainland Ecuador the coastal region experiences high temperatures and humidity year round, and a rainy season from December to April.In the Andean region and gain altitude, the temperatures become cooler, and precipitation becomes heavier particularly from October to May. Eastern Ecuador has a hot, wet climate with rainfall distributed throughout the year.


Precip. Days
Precip. Totals
Seymour Island11054"

Ecuador's electrical current is 120/60 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in these countries provide grounding.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and depart Ecuador. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a stay of 90 days or less. Those planning a longer visit must obtain a visa in advance. U.S. citizens whose passports are lost or stolen in Ecuador must obtain a new passport at the U.S. Embassy in Quito or the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil and present it, together with a police report of the loss or theft, to the main immigration offices in those cities to obtain permission to depart. An exit tax must be paid at the airport when departing Ecuador. For further information regarding entry, exit, and customs requirements, travelers should contact the Ecuadoran Embassy at 2535 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone (202) 234-7166; Internet; or the Ecuadorian consulate in Chicago (312) 329-0266, Houston (713) 622-1787, Jersey City (201) 985-1700, Los Angeles (323) 658-6020, Miami (305) 539-8214, New Orleans (504) 523-3229, New York (212) 808-0170, or San Francisco (415) 957-5921.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments, including Ecuador's, have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MINORS: Ecuador's specific procedures mandate that minors (under 18) who are citizens or residents of Ecuador and who are traveling alone, with one parent, or with a third party must present a copy of their birth certificate and written authorization from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian, specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent, or with a third party. When a parent is deceased, a notarized copy of the death certificate is required in lieu of the written authorization. If documents are prepared in the United States, the authorization and the birth certificate must be translated into Spanish, notarized, and authenticated by the Ecuadorian Embassy or an Ecuadorian consulate within the United States. If documents are prepared in Ecuador, only notarization by an Ecuadorian notary is required. This paragraph does not apply to children who enter Ecuador with U.S. passports as tourists, unless they hold dual U.S./Ecuadorian citizenship.

Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Ecuador is -6 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Ecuador would be 11:00 am

The unit of currency in Ecuador is the US dollar (USD).

Look up the current exchange rate using's Universal Currency Converter

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