Bienvenidos a Ecuador
Welcome to Ecuador.
Ecuador is a small country in South America, but it is great in much other aspects. Ecuador has jungles, the Andean Mountains and a large cost line. And of course not to forget the Galapagos Islands, which are just fantastic and a real unique place in the world.
Since february 2013 I live in this amazing country and I love it! In this lens I introduce you Ecuador, I want to tell you some facts and figures and give you useful advices when you want to visit. I hope you enjoy this lens and can learn new things about this amazing country in the middle of the world. Feel free to ask me everything you want when something is not clear to you or when you need help to come here.
I will update this hub from time to time to add more information about other cities, like Cuenca, Montañita and Otavalo. So when you are interested to know more, stay tuned and visit from time to time. Or is there any thing special you want to know or ask me? Please write it down on the comment form.
My Photographs about Ecuador in the Internet.
- Tom Christen (@tomchristen_photography) • Instagram photos and videos
- Tom Christen | Flickr
Explore Tom Christen's 159 photos on Flickr!
Where is Ecuador?
Ecuador is in the middle of the world and got his name from the equator. As you can see in the picture Ecuador is bordering Colombia in the North and Peru in the South. About 1000 km from the mainland are the Galapagos Islands.
This is Ecuador...
About 15 millions habitants, the most people live in large cities like Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Santo Domingo and Machala.
The capital city is Quito, 1,9 millions habitants.
The biggest city is Guayaquil, 3.3 millions habitants. Guayaquil is the economic center and has the largest harbor from the country.
The officials languages are Spanish, Kichwa (which is a bit different from the Quechua they speak in Peru and Bolivia) Shuar and many others for the official use for indigenous people. That gives an amazing amount of 23 different languages and dialects which are spoken. No worries with Spanish you can survive.
Ecuador is a unitary state and a constitutional republic. The president is Rafael Correa.
Do you like orchids? Then you definitely must visit Ecuador. In no other country you can find a larger variety of orchids than here. There are over 4200 documented species of orchids, 1300 blossom just in Ecuador and there are expectations that in Ecuador exist more than 5000 species of orchids. See this beautiful video: Ecuador the Orchid Garden of the World.
Here you can find over 50 volcanoes. Some of them are really huge and over 6000 meters (19 685feet) high. A few of them are really active, like Tungurahua and Sangay.
Ecuador is one of the biggest exporter for bananas. Also oil and fish exports are very important for the economy. Always more important for the economy has become the exports for cacao, coffee beans, shrimps and flowers.
And not to forget the growing tourism. Year by year Ecuador has more tourists, thanks to the many UNESCO places, the Galapagos Islands, the large, unique and beautiful biodiversity and amazing landscapes you can find here.
The currency is US Dollars.
Ecuador is great for animal and bird watching! Great for outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, horse riding, snorkel, scuba diving, rafting and of course you can do surfing on the many beautiful beaches.
Of course you also can just relax in an amazing jungle lodge, or enjoy a fantastic city walk in the historical part from Quito and Cuenca, make a Spa day in BaÃ±os and just enjoy the beauty and diversity you will find everywhere in the country. No other country has such a huge diversity of animals, birds, plants and flowers, like Orchids.
Ecuador has a great bus transportation service. All the bigger towns have their own bus terminals. And the amazing thing is that there is always a bus for where you want to go. Ok maybe I am just lucky, but I never had to wait for a bus. They don't have a time schedule. You just go to the terminal, or in the little towns you can make them stop in the main street. One hour bus ride is about 1$. So from Quito to Guayaquil, an 8 hour bus ride, is 8$. From Guayaquil to Cuenca, 4 hours for 4$. I always enjoy taking the bus to go somewhere, because it is a unique experience and the landscapes are just amazing. If you are on a longer trip they make stops for going to the restrooms and to eat something. But normally when the bus is arriving on a town there is always someone who is entering the bus and sells drinks and something to eat.
The best hours to travel is to start in the early morning. Don't travel by night. The baggage you can leave in the luggage tray, but I recommend that you carry all your important and value stuff with you and when you go out from the bus that you take it with you.
On sundays you are not allowed to drink or buy alcohol. When there are elections then is the "ley seca" where you are not allowed to drink alcohol for 3 days till the elections is over. Normally from friday till sunday.
Quito The Capital CityClick thumbnail to view full-size
Quito is 2850 meters over sea level (9,350 feet) and the highest capital city of the world. (Some say that the highest capital city is La Paz, Bolivia with 3675m, but that is not truth. Because La Paz is not a capital city, it is just where the seat of government is. The capital city from Bolivia is Sucre) Because of the high I really advice you to take it slow for the first days you are there, you will feel that up there it is much harder to breath. A good advice is to drink tea from coca leaves, the de coca.
Quito is a fantastic and wonderful city, where you have an amazing mix between culture, modernity, delicious restaurants, great nightlife, many outdoor activities and whatever you do you will enjoy a fantastic view over the Andeans Mountains and volcanoes. What a great and unique place to stay!
The marvelous Centro historico (UNESCO titled it as world heritage place) with his colored colonial buildings and many churches is the ideal place for getting started to know Quito. Just walk on the streets and feel the spirit and life from this city. Although it is very busy, for me it is like a magical place which you always find something new and something to be amazed about.
The heart of the city and the old town is the Plaza Grande, a beautiful square with old buildings and many palm trees. Here you will find the white Palacio del Gobierno, the government palace, which can be visited with a guided tour. It is really worth visiting because you can see an amazing mosaic which shows an amazonian river cruise from Francisco de Orellanas and you can see some really magnificent rooms. In this building the ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is working, so you just can see the room which he is not using at the moment. Also very interesting to see is the changing of the guards at the main square every monday on 11.00 am.
Right next to the government Palace is the Cathedral, which has very pretty and nice paintings from the Escuela Quiteña. A very interesting one is the painting from the last supper, which has special details for Ecuador, like the guinea pig as a dish.
For me a really highlight in Quito is the Monasterio de San Francisco . The monastery was started to build just after the independence from Quito in the year 1534, and got finished in the year 1604. It is one of the biggest colonial buildings in Quito. In the museum from it you can have a very good guided tour trough the monastery.
My favorite placs in Quito is El Panecillo, which is the landmark from the city. There you have an amazing and breathtaking view over the big city. When you are lucky you can see the many volcanoes also. It is really just great.
The QuiteÃ±os are very proud of their statue from La Virgen de Quito, because it is the only virgin in the world that has wings.
If you want to come up there, and you really should not miss it, then I recommend you to take a taxi. When you want to go back to the town take also a taxi, there are many waiting. From the city center to the Panecillo the taxi should not cost more than 4$.
An even better and more spectacular view you have from the Cruz Loma (4100m) on the volcano Pichincha. You have the possibility to walk till the peak (4680m), when you are in a good condition you should be able to do it in 3 hours. When you want to go up there, stay more than three days in Quito, to get used to the high. You can also rent horses to get to the peak.
Of course when you are in Quito you should not miss to go to the Mitad del Mundo, the middle of the earth. There you can stand on the equator line and see an interesting monument with the planet earth.
Near the Mitad del Mundo complex you can find the museum Museo Solar Inti Ãan, which has some very interesting information about the equator. The highlight there is the unique solar chronometer from 1865, which shows the astronomical time and very exact the conventional time, month, day and season and all just based on the sunbeam. Very interesting are also the many experiments they make there, to show the power of the equator.
Quito offers you a really wide range of delicious restaurants where they serve traditional and international food. The restaurant scene in Quito is very big. You can find nearly every cuisine you are looking for.
One of my favorite is the San Augustin in the historical center. The restaurant is in a very pretty colonial building from 1858. They serve very delicious traditional ecuadorian dishes. The best choice here is the "Seco de chivo".
Another restaurant I can recommend you is the Vista Hermosa, where you can enjoy a nice view over the city and some really good dishes. Sometime there is live music.
A very special one is also the Tianguez, which is in the stone arcade from the monastery de San Francisco and a mix between cafe and an art craft shop.
Quito is great and very well know for his great and crazy nightlife. In the Mariscal district you can find many bars and clubs. When you want more to chill and enjoy good drinks it is better at the La Floresta and Guapulo districts.
You definitely should go to one of the many salsatecas, where they dance salsa.
I Want to Go to Quito! Where Can I Sleep? - In Quito you can find many hotels and hostels. My top five:
- Boutique Hotel Casa San Marcos
This is one of the top address when you want to sleep in one of the finest and luxurious hotel in Quito. They have just six rooms, but each of them really beautiful and unique. The restaurant is very exquisite and nice.
- Hostal Colonial House
A very nice and small hostel made for travelers. A relaxing and nice atmosphere you can expect here.
- Colonial Hostal Secret Garden
A good hostel with a terrace. The hostel is very popular. They have a little restaurant where they offer economic meals. They give spanish lessons and they also have very good travel agency in the hostel.
- Hostel La Posada Colonial
A very nice and economic hostel in the city center.
Did You Know That Panama Hats are From Ecuador?
Yes, Panama Hats are from Ecuador!
Here you can find the best quality and the widest selection for the lowest price.
In Ecuador the Panama Hats are called "sombrero de paja toquilla". Connoisseurs and aficionados call it Montecristi, this is the most popular hat making town.
Guayaquil La Perla del PacificoClick thumbnail to view full-size
Guayaquil is called "la perla del Pacifico" (The pearl from the Pacific). And for me it is a really beauty pearl. Now I live here since february 2013 and I really love this city. Every day I see something new, the city is full of hidden surprises. Here you can feel the spirit of the new. Everywhere in town they are building new office buildings, new shopping malls, new hotels, new living areas and new recreation places, like the new bridge they are building to connect the city with the Isla del Santay, which is an ecological biosphere. The bridge will be open for public this december, I can't wait to take a walk over the bridge to the island.
The city center with beautiful, old and colored buildings. In the middle of the city you can find the Parque Bolivar where live hundreds of Iguanas. Where else you can find that in a center? I always like to sit down and watch the Iguanas. Some are really big, so watch out to not step them on their long tails.
In the city center you can find the very interesting Museo Municipal, there you can learn and see about the inca and other pre-inca cultures. It is definitely worth seeing! The entrance is free and the very friendly staff will guide you. Yes, they speak english too.
Also a very nice museum is the Museo Nahim Isaias , which has a nice collection of sculptures, items and printings from the colonial time.
The very large Avenida 9 de Octubre is a very busy and large Avenue, with offices, little shops, restaurants, a cinema, large fashion stores and hotels. If you follow the avenue you will come to the Parque del Centernario, which is a beautiful and large park. Very nice to relax a bit from the busy city.
Near the city center is the Malecon 2000, which is a very long shore promenade along the Guayas River. It has a tropical garden, Museums, an IMAX Cinema, a shopping mall, many little restaurants and play grounds for kids. I love to walk along the Malecon 2000 and enjoy the view over the river, Las PeÃ±as and faraway the largest bridge from Ecuador, Puente Rafael Mendoza Aviles.
On the Malecon 2000 you also can find the Captain Henry Morgan ship. Which make great and spectacular tours on the Guayas River.
Las Peñas and the Cerro Santa Ana are at the end of the Malecon 2000. You can say that this is the old part from Guayaquil. With many colorful and little houses, the most are restaurants, bars art galleries and shops. But still many people live there, so it is also a neighborhood.
Take the 444 steps to the, what I call, "top of Guayaquil", the lighthouse and the Fortin del Cerro (Fort Cerro, which protected the city from the many pirates attacks). From there you enjoy a spectacular view over Guayaquil. I most enjoy it at sunset or at night, when the many lights from the city are on. It is just fantastic!
In las Peñas you can find a very interesting museum about the popular singer and songwriter Julio Jaramillo and the traditional ecuadorian music. In the same building you also find a little museum about the history of beer and the most famous beer in Ecuador Pilsener. But my favorite beer is Club Verde. Talking about beer; across the museum is the Casa Pilsener, a nice restaurant where you can refresh yourself with a cold beer and enjoy a very delicious meal.
The Malecon El Salado is another promenade along the river El Salado. It is much smaller then the Malecon 2000, but still very pretty and calm to go for a walk. Every night you can enjoy a water and light show. You can rent a little boat and make a little ride on the river el Salado.
Near the Malecon el Salado, if you walk on the Avenue 9 de Octubre you will find the Museo Presley Norton, which has a nice collection of sculptures from ancient time. The museum is in a very beautiful, restored colonial villa.
A bit outside from the center is the Parque Historico Guayaquil. A taxi-drive from the center costs about 5 to 8$. This park is a mix between a zoo, where you can see many animals which needs protection, and an open-air museum with historic buildings from the old Guayaquil. There is also a so called traditional zone, where they show handcrafts, traditions from the countryside and agriculture. I always enjoy going there; I like to watch the animals, to know more about the traditions and the handcrafts. It is really a must see in Guayaquil.
Guayaquil is great for shopping. Here you can find many large shopping malls like;
Mall del Sol, which is one of the largest Malls in South America.
Plaza Lagos, a bit outside from Guayaquil, but a very beautiful and calm place. With delicious Restaurants.
Great to shop some souvenirs or a new leather jacket is the Mercado Artesanal Loja where you can find many handcrafted products from all over Ecuador. Here you should definitely stop by. The people from Otavalo, whom are very famous for their handmade crafts and their selling skills, wear the traditional clothes and are offering their products.
Avenida Victor Emilio Estrada Here you find many Restaurants, Fast Food (try out the Shawarmas from Malek El Shawarma, they are just great!) and Bars. Here you find many seafood Restaurants and all of them offers the specialty from Guayaquil; Crabs.
Guayaquil has some really great and delicious restaurants. You should not miss the following:
Cocolon offers a great range of traditional ecuadorian food in a new way. My absolutely favorite dish there is the "Moros de la costa" Try it out and you know what I mean! Also the coconut juice is unforgettable.
Menestras del Negro This is more like a fast food restaurant, but with delicious meat dishes. I love the rice here.
Noe Sushi Bar is Sushi Restaurant cain which offers the best and the most delicious Sushi I ever had! They really have some unique and amazing Sushis! If you love Sushi then you should not miss Noe! The have various Restaurants in Guayaquil and you can find them also in Quito and Cuenca.
Mannys They are famous for their delicious sea food dishes. The best Paella in town! This restaurant you find at the avenida Victor Emilio Estrada.
Sweet & Coffee It is not a Restaurant, it is a cafe-cain, like Starbucks but way better and 100% ecuadorian. The coffee and the cakes here are just delicious. Their milkshakes are fantastic, especially the Oreo flavored.
Another great restaurant/Bar at the avenida Victor Emilio Estrada is Frutabar. They offer some really delicious and unique sandwiches, really great combinations you can find there! Every night there is happy hour, so it is always worth going there;). The ambient and décor is very unusual and unique. I always enjoy it here!
La Paleta The best Bar in the city, whit a fancy, little crazy and unique ambient and décor. Great cocktails!
There are so many more good and delicious Restaurants and Cafes, too hard to tell them all.
I Want to Go to Guayaquil! Where Can I Sleep?
- Hotel Oro Verde
A luxury 5* Hotel...
- Hotel Hilton Colon
The international standard from the Hilton Company.
- Hotel Sheraton Guayaquil
Another international Hotel cain.
- Hostel Suites Madrid
A very nice, clean and safe Hotel in the city. The staff is very friendly and the owner Christopher Jimenez helps you in every belonging. He have also a Travel agency there, where you can book a tour to the Galapagos Islands and other places in Ecuad
- Hostel Dreamkapture
This Hostel is economic and for backpackers. A good and safe place.
- Hostal El Manso Boutique
A beautiful Boutique Hotel at the Malecon!
A promotion video from Ecuador Travel. Amazing isn't it?
This one is another great travel guide for Ecuador. Moontravel is specialized for South America travels. A great choice if you don't like Lonely Planet.
When GPS is not working, then you definitely will need a map! This one is great and includes information about distances, roads and highway. With this map you will always find a way...
This great book is about the history, culture and politics from Ecuador. I can really recommend it to you when you want to know more about this great country.
A wonderful photo collection from Ecuador.
BañosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Baños de Agua Santa (1815 m) is for me a really must see when you are visiting Ecuador. In this small town are so many things to do and see. Baños got his name from the hot-springs from the volcano Tungurahua and from the holy "Nuestra Senora de Agua Santa". In the Cathedral Basilica de Nuestro Senora de Agua Santa you can see and read many paintings about the wonders from it. The water from the springs are very healthy, hot and definitely in somehow a miracle.
Here you can find many spas where you can relax in the hot-springs. A very nice and beautiful spa is Las Piscinas de la Virgen, which is the only one direct in the town. It is beside the waterfall, which gives the water for some baths and showers too in the spa. A real highlight there is the Ojo del agua where the 50 Â° C water sizzles from the ground.
Also a very nice hot-spring spa is the Baños el Salado a bit outside from town.
There are many other spas which offers massages, saunas, medicinal mud baths and other applications. All top class hotels have their own spas which you can enter also when you are not a guest from the hotel. A very good and really beautiful spa,with every service, is the Spa Garden El Refugio.
Baños is not just great for relaxing, it offers a really wide range from outdoor activities like, biking, hiking, kayaking, climbing, horse riding and puenting.
There are many hiking tracks. A very nice one is when you follow up the stairs (many stairs) to the statue La Virgen del Agua Santa, from there you have an amazing view over Baños and the mountains. Then follow the little track to Runtun, then you will come to the hotel and restaurant Luna Runtun, where you can have a refreshment and a very delicious lunch with a fantastic view. From there follow the signs to the Casa del Arbol, this is a very beautiful tree house where you can enjoy an amazing view over the Tungurahua.
On the way to the Casa de Arbol you will come along the hotel and restaurant Hosteria Las Orquideas, which is a very pretty and small hotel. At the restaurant you can have a delicious lunch and a cool refreshment. There you can enjoy a really great view over the Tungurahua. They have also a small and very beautiful Orchid Garden, which you can visit. When you are looking for a really quite and calm place to relax a few days, this is definitely the place to go.
The highlight in BaÃ±os is for me La Ruta de las Cascadas, the waterfall route, where you can see over 12 waterfalls. The route starts in Baños at 1815 m and ends in the amazonian city Puyo at 950 m. You can take the bus, but the best way to explore the nature is by bike. Most of the time it goes down, so it is not that hard. But there are some really heavy slopes sometimes. The whole way from Baños to Puyo is 61 km. You should take one full day to do that. The really great and amazing thing is you can see and feel the difference and change from the vegetation when you are going from the andeans mountains down to the jungle. It is just great and a real adventure. On the way you can stop at the many waterfalls, the most amazing is the Pailon del Diablo. Also don't forget to bring your swimming suite, because at some points you can take a refreshing bath in the river. The mountain bikes you can rent in Baños for about 10$ a day. They give you also a helmet, which you should really wear, and a bike lock, which you definitely also should use when you are visiting the waterfalls or make a stop. The bike ways are very good signed, so just follow the signs. In Puyo you can take the bus back to Baños.
In Baños I really can recommend you the hostel La Casa del Molino Blanco. The friendly and amazing helpful team from Elbita and Jügen make your stay really pleasant and unforgettable. They will help you in any belongings. It is a really great hostel about 5 minutes from the city center, so it is very calm and quite. I was five days there and enjoyed every minute. The breakfast is great and the cleanness and infrastructure are perfect. For me it is the best hostel I ever been. I just can recommend it to you.
In this little town you can find much good and delicious Restaurants, my favorite is the Swiss Restaurant Swiss Bistro where you can enjoy traditional swiss food like Fondue, Raclette and Rösti. I loved it there. The owner has also a little hostel and Restaurant on the way to Puyo, this one is in Cumanda and is called Finca de la Vaca.
Also a great and very delicious Restaurant is the Quilombo, where they serve argentinean meat and the wine comes in large glasses. Quilombo means in the argentinean slang insanity or mess, so you can imagine the décor. It is a cool and freaky place. Don't miss it when you are there.
Baños has many bars and clubs for a good nightlife or just to chill. So there is always something to do. You definitely will leave BaÃ±os with a large smile and soon you will wish to be back there again.
Everything Sounds Spanish to You?
In Ecuador when you don't speak a word spanish it is very hard to get around. Of course you can do it, but much more nicer is it when you can speak some words in spanish. And it is definitely a really great door opener when you want to get in contact with locals. Here are some great dictionaries and language helps when you are traveling trough Ecuador or any spanish speaking country.
This is a Pocket Dictionary, the best when you are traveling.
The most common phrases in spanish for travelers.
Great to improve your spanish skills before you are traveling.
The Merriam Dictionary for Kindle.
Are You Interested to Visit Ecuador?
So now you know much about Ecuador. Are you interested to visit Ecuador? Or you have been to Ecuador already?
You Want to Go The Galapagos Islands?
I am working on another page about the Islands to give you many infos and tips, stay tuned!
Also stay tuned at this page here, I will add more useful information from time to time!
Please feel free to write any ideas, suggestions here. I am very happy to hear feedbacks. Tell me what you like and what not. You also can tell me what other informations you want to read soon here. Or just say hello and thank. I am looking forward to read many comments from you.