Most people don’t know much about Ecuador, but all of us have heard of the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador is the main gateway to the Galapagos Islands and they are a part of it. Ecuador is easily accessible by land or air and despite not much being known about it on the tourist map otherwise, there is a lot on offer. Here are some travel tips, ideas and some adventurous stuff. As always make sure you have good travel insurance before you go and have a great time.
- Getting ready for high altitude. If you are going to Quito and even anywhere else in Ecuador, get ready for high altitude sickness. Some people are affected a lot and others not much. The only way to find out is to go. You will find yourself very short of breath but if you just take your time and take your first 2 days slowly with a lot of rest you will find that your body adjusts very quickly. Getting used to altitude does not have much to do with your level of fitness, it is actually related to your blood and lungs and people adjust differently. Keep your fluids up!
- Galapagos Islands. Official name: ArchipelagoColón; other Spanish names: Islas de Colón or Islas GaláGalapagos. One of the must-see places in your lifetime. Tours can be booked in advance or very easily and very cheaply just about anywhere in Ecuador but recommended particularly while staying in Quito (pronounced: keeto,) and Guayaquil (pronounced: why-a-keel,) with good cheap travel insurance often included. It is only a short trip by air, road and sea from Quito the main hub to them. Normal short trips range from 2 – 4 days.
- Quito. Although not considered much of a destination in itself, it is the central hub of transport to other countries, and hosts a huge amount of day activities and adventures. Accommodation is abundant with good food and all the fun you would expect. People in Quito are very friendly and particularly laid back – probably because it is the second highest city in the world. There are great markets and beautiful old Spanish buildings everywhere. Demonstrations are common but tourists are well protected and cared for as tourism income is a huge source of the country’s income. Most locals participating in demonstrations do not disturb tourists.
- Climb a volcano! If you have never thought of mountain climbing Ecuador is your chance to do it in style. Many tours and greatly skilled guides will take you up safely to base camp, and back in a full day tour, to the main, of over a dozen volcanoes in the vicinity. Any higher and you need acclimatise. Cotopaxi Volcano is still active and at over 5 kilometres high, and you will feel like you can touch the sky, see outer space and the curve of the atmosphere. It is a truly amazing experience.
- Mate de Coca. Tea is drank heavily in Ecuador and there are a variety of delicious pots for the connoisseur. If you are involved in climbing, full day tours or just a rough road touring, Made de Coca is a good choice for you. Tea is herbal tea made from the leaves of the coca plant, containing something like 0.2 percent cocaine benzoylmethylecgonine, a crystalline tropane alkaloid. Don’t worry you are not taking illicit drugs, it is completely legal, and is a great and refreshing way to deal with altitude and vigorous exercise. It will give a lift and that warm fuzzy feeling to help you through the day, in a much different fashion to coffee. More subtle and soothing. A must try at altitude.
There is a huge range of other places to visit while in Ecuador. Guayaquil, the biggest city and trading port, numerous tropical beaches, Cuenca,another of the four United National World Heritage Sites, Banos, a religious town in the Andes where many miracles have said to happen, to mention a few. Ecuador is a relaxed and great entry point to your tour of Latin America.