Traveling In Ecuador
By Steve Gillman
My first time in Ecuador I discovered that the official currency
of Ecuador is now the U.S. Dollar. A nice surprise, since I thought
I'd have to find a place to exchange my money at midnight in
Quito. Not only could I use the dollar bills in my pocket, but
I soon found out that just one of them would buy a three-course
lunch at a clean restaurant. I fell in love with Ecuador immediately,
and I fell in love with my wife-to-be Ana a few days later.
I had a wonderful time in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Centro
Del Mundo, the hostel where I stayed the first few nights, cost
only $4 per night, and that included breakfast. The walls were
covered with maps and all the information I needed. There were
travelers from fourteen different countries there during my five
day stay. I took a tour to Cotapaxi, and hiked up to the glaciers
on the volcano with three others, from Israel, France and England.
I danced (Free Rum in the hostel on Friday nights), wandered
the city, and took lessons from a beautiful tutor for $2 per
hour. Ana was not only a great teacher, but soon became my tour
guide, and eventually, my wife.
I went to Riobamba, another beautiful mountain city, for a
few days. I stayed in a hotel for $3 per night, this time in
a private room with a TV. The manager had connections for, and
information on, anything I wanted (this is common, I discovered).
He arranged for a guide to take me to the summit of Mount Chimborazo,
at 20,600 feet, the furthest point from the center of the Earth
(due to the bulge at the equator), and the highest mountain in
When I returned to Quito, I called Ana right away, and we
made plans to go to Banos De Santa Agua, a town in central Ecuador
that is famous for its hot springs. We took a bus for only $3,
and when we arrived, found a nice motel with cable T.V. for $7
per night. The second day we were there, we ate out for breakfast,
lunch and dinner, went to the hot springs, bought souvenirs,
went to a movie, visited several bars for drinking and dancing
- and the entire day, including motel, cost only $34!
More Information on Ecuador
Ecuador uses the U.S. Dollar as its only currency, making
it very convenient for those of us from the United States.
Quito (the capital), and the other mountain towns (For example;
Riobamba, Loja, Cuenca, Otavalo, Ibarra, Ambato, Latacunga) have
wonderful climates. It is normally in the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit
every day of the year. Guayaquil and the other coastal cities
can be hot, but the temperature is moderated by the Humboldt
Current, which brings cool water along the coast of South America
Good meals can still be had for under two dollars in most
cities, if you eat where the locals do.
Hotels in most cities start at around $12 per night now, although
if you like dorm style accommodations, you can get a bed in a
nice hostel for $6 per night. Hostels are also great places to
get information on what to see, and where the best meals, bars,
The people of Ecuador are almost universally friendly, and
speak one of the clearest, easiest to understand dialects of
Spanish (A great place to learn).
Cross-country travel by bus is cheap, and generally more comfortable
than bus travel in the U.S.
If you like beaches, you have many options. In Salinas, for
example, you can sit on a beautiful Pacific Ocean beach, while
vendors bring you everything from beer to ice cream to chair
rentals an music. For $20 you can rent a jet ski and have some
fun in the waves.
The Galapagos Islands are a part of Ecuador, and information
on tours is available in all the major cities (It is cheaper
to wait until you are in Ecuador to book a tour).
Ecuador is a safe, democratic republic, with a legal system
similar to that of the U.S.
For more information on Ecuador, visit the governments Ecuadorian
Government Travel Website. The link here will take you to information
Still More Information On Ecuador
Here is some more information, taken from the official Ecuadorian
Ecuador is a tourist paradise, with clean, beautiful beaches,
ancestral cities, snow-covered mountains, the majesty and mystery
of the Amazon rain forest, and the Galapagos Islands (a true
Ecuador has had two cities declared cultural heritage sites
of the world: Quito and Cuenca. These cities are architectural
jewels that preserve archaeological and colonial treasures. Also,
the Galapagos Islands, with its marine reserve and the Sangay
National Park has been declared Natural Heritage of the World.
The Costa of Ecuador shows its fascinating evolution that
harbors flora and fauna, and has fifteen indigenous communities
in its small territory, many conserving their ancestral customs.
Ecuador has an incredible diversity for a small country. You
can go from the glowing heat of the Costa Region, cross mountains,
snow covered peaks and majestic volcanoes, then descend to the
Amazon basin, which has more than 120 thousand square kilometers
of exuberant vegetation. And you can do it all in a day or two
(But take your time - it's worth it).
It harbors in its territory 25,000 species of vascular plants,
more than exist in all of North America (Ecuador is smaller than
Montana). The family of the orchids represents 2,725 identified
species that are approximately 11 percent of all the species
and 30 percent of the species classified for Latin America. Ecuador
has more than 20 Natural Parks and Reserve Areas to protect its
biodiversity, spectacular landscapes and unique species.
Ecuador is quickly becoming one of the most important tourist
destinations of the world. It has great hotels and culinary specialties
of the highest quality. It has mountains, beaches, rain forests,
classic architecture, parks, and more.
Steve Gillman hit the road at sixteen, and traveled the United
States and Mexico alone at 17. Now 40, he travels with his wife
Ana, whom he met in Ecuador. Read more stories, tips and travel
information at: http://www.EverythingAboutTravel.com.