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Things to know before traveling to Ecuador

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Ecuador is absolutely amazing country but there are a few things you need to know before traveling to Ecuador.

To make sure your trip goes smoothly, here are 5 things you need to consider:

  1. Make sure you have booked a return ticket

  2. Watch out for stray dogs

  3. Be careful with the thieves on the buses

  4. Everything takes time

  5. Don't rely purely on the information online

  6. The best month to visit Ecuador

Return tickets and entry rules

There are a few things you need to do even before entering Ecuador.

Firstly, make sure you have booked tickets out of Ecuador within 90 days of entering. This might be more for those traveling through South America without set dates. To get on the plane to Ecuador from your destination, proof of ticket out will be required.

Secondly, you have to fill in the health declaration form. It is nothing majorly complicated, just a standard procedure. Make sure you have filled it out within 72 hours before departing.

Both documents can be saved and used electronically.

Stray dogs

Dealing with stray dogs can be a challenge for travelers in Ecuador, as it's a significant issue that the country faces. Stray dogs are found almost everywhere in Ecuador, in cities as well as rural areas. It's important to approach this issue with caution and awareness, because unfortunately, not all these dogs are friendly. Some may display aggressive behavior, which could be provoked by fear, hunger, or previous traumatic experiences.

Stray dogs can pose potential health risks, as they may carry diseases such as rabies, a serious viral disease that can be transmitted to humans through a bite or scratch. Rabies is fatal once symptoms appear, so any contact with an aggressive dog, especially one that results in a bite or scratch, should be taken very seriously.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have been attacked or bitten by a stray dog, it's crucial to seek immediate medical attention, even if the wound appears minor. Rabies, once it has developed, is almost always fatal, but it's preventable with prompt medical intervention.

While it's important to be aware of this issue, remember that not all stray dogs pose a threat. Many are harmless and simply looking for food or shelter. Always maintain a safe distance, avoid direct contact, and never provoke or disturb a dog that seems aggressive or scared.

Thieves on the buses

It's important to be cautious, especially when it comes to your personal belongings on public transport - specifically long bus rides from city to city. There's a particularly crafty method of theft that you should be aware of, one that has been uniquely perfected by local thieves.

The thieves typically operate on night buses and long rides. They typically stay concealed towards the back of the bus or hide under the seats, where they're less likely to be noticed. Then, using sharp objects, they slice open your bag under the seat and remove your possessions.

Their method is so discreet and quick that most travelers don't even notice the theft until it's too late. By the time you realize what has happened, the thieves have usually exited the bus, making it almost impossible to apprehend them. Because in Ecuador, you can just ask the driver to drop you off somewhere on the route.

It is a real thing and almost happened to us! Luckily bus driver checked the bus before we left and kicked the thief out. But we heard many stories where people say that it happened so seamlessly that they don't even know when exactly it happened.

The main advice I can give regarding this is to keep your bag in your lap. Do not put it in the space above or between your legs on the floor. Just hold on tight to it in your lap!

Be patient

Exploring Ecuador comes with many unique cultural experiences, and one of them is the pace of life, particularly noticeable in the service industry. Compared to what you might be accustomed to, the rhythm in Ecuador is much slower, including in the restaurants and supermarkets.

Picture this: you're sitting at a local restaurant on an ordinary day, no special events or holiday crowds. Yet, you might find yourself waiting for your food for an hour and a half! This can seem quite daunting, especially if you're ravenous or have plans afterward. But it's important to remember that this isn't necessarily due to negligence or indifference; it's just a different cultural rhythm.

Supermarkets are no different. Shopping can turn into quite a leisurely affair as each customer often takes about 10 minutes to complete their transactions. The queues might move at a snail's pace, but this laid-back approach is part and parcel of the Ecuadorian lifestyle.

If you're short on time, or your stomach can't quite bear the wait, don't worry, there are alternatives. You'll find a variety of street food vendors, where you can grab a quick and tasty bite. These stalls usually serve up their dishes much faster, allowing you to enjoy Ecuadorian cuisine without the long wait.

So, when you're in Ecuador, embrace the slower pace. Try to use it as an opportunity to unwind, soak in your surroundings, and truly experience the Ecuadorian way of life. Your patience will not only be rewarded with delicious food but also a richer travel experience.

Online does not always match the reality

This I faced on several occasions. Mostly regarding buses and their timelines but also there were services I looked up according to pricing but in the end ended up paying different anyway.

So for example, online it says that the bus leaves at 11am, 2pm and 5pm, once we arrive at the bus stop there is a bus every 30 minutes or only 2 buses per day. Also, I looked up hot springs in Cuenca and picked one based on the offer. Once we arrived there the pricing was completely different and no offers.

So just be aware of this!

The best month to visit Ecuador

Planning a trip to Ecuador demands careful consideration of the weather patterns. The dry season, which typically extends from June to September, is often touted as the ideal time to visit. However, the reality is slightly more nuanced due to Ecuador's diverse geography and climatic conditions.

Ecuador's coastal region remains pleasant throughout the year. During the rainy season, the beaches retain their appeal with refreshing breezes and cooler temperatures that make seaside lounging a delightful experience. So, if you're yearning for a beach escape, you can pretty much plan your trip any time of the year.

Interestingly, Ecuador's dry season aligns with their winter, which means the temperatures during this period are actually cooler than during the rainy season. This might seem counterintuitive, but the hottest month in Ecuador is not in the dry season but in January, at the height of the rainy season.

June, the start of the dry season, tends to be the coldest month, which could be perfect if you're planning to explore the Andean highlands or take on some mountain hikes. For those seeking warmer weather, January might be a better choice. Keep in mind, though, that April is usually the rainiest month, so if you want to avoid heavy showers, you might want to plan around it.

Ultimately, the best time to travel to Ecuador would depend on your activities and personal preferences. Whether it's mountain trekking, exploring the cities, or lounging by the beach, each season offers a unique aspect of Ecuador's beauty to enjoy.

If you are planning a trip to Ecuador
make sure to watch my 'The Best of Ecuador' video:


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