Planning a trip to Ecuador is no small feat-the county’s infrastructure is still being developed to accommodate international travelers. For the unaware, this can cause awkward moments that usually can be avoided with some planning before you arrive. Keep reading for five useful tips to consider before you pack your bags and get on the plane.
So you’ve decided that a cruise boat, rather than a hotel stay or island-hopping, is the best way to see a great variety of Galapagos wildlife with the minimum of fuss. Itineraries range from 4 to 15 days, visiting 4-15 islands (more or less!) and almost everything is included.
Now, whatever your budget range, there will be at least half a dozen options. Prices roughly correspond with boat size, because spacious cabins allow for queen/king beds, large sundecks allow for a jacuzzi, and it is preferable to have separate dining, bar and lounge areas.
The vast majority of boats can accommodate 16 passengers, though on most cruises the actual number on board is less. The standard of service provided by the crew, and especially the guide which leads tours on land, is universally high — but can vary markedly.
When visiting a new country for tourism or any other reason, it’s reassuring to plan for a smooth outward journey. Ecuador requires a passport valid for a minimum of six months from date of arrival, and proof of return or onward travel. Leaving the country, a 5% tax is now levied on any cash exceeding US$1,080 (per adult traveller) with an additional allowance of US$366 per accompanying child.
When arranging transfers to and from Quito’s airport, bear in mind that fixed-rate fares apply to all airport taxis (click image to expand). For example, a ride to anywhere in the Historic Quarter, at any time of day or night, with up to four passengers and their luggage, is just US$26. If arriving after midnight, you may prefer to book a room in Tumbaco, halfway between the airport and Quito (US$13.50 in taxi), or a hotel within walking distance.