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Ecuador isn’t a travel destination for the indecisive; from the Galapagos Islands to volcanic mountains, you’ll have a hard time deciding what to do first. Whether you’re an eco-friendly traveller looking to explore a tropical cloud forest or an adventurous spirit with a penchant for mountaineering, you’ll love the diverse landscapes and wildlife that Ecuador has to offer.

Ecuador is an Andean country in the northwestern corner of South America. In addition to being bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the country shares borders with Colombia and Peru. While Ecuador is famous for the Galapagos Islands, they are actually around 1000km away from the mainland, so visitors need to budget for the cost of a flight to the islands, the $100 park entrance fee, and the cost of booking a licensed tour boat to get around.

From the beaches to the mountains, Ecuador is an extremely diverse country for its size. The western coastline includes the laid-back beach cities of Atacames, Salinas, and Montañita, where you can experience everything from banana boats to whale-watching.

In the Amazon, you can mountain-bike around dormant volcanoes and spot howler monkeys and exotic fauna. Also of note are major cities Quito and Cuenca, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Getting to and from Ecuador

Most international travellers fly into Quito Airport, but there are also some international flights into Guayaquil. LAN and TAME run the most frequent flights in and out of the country. All passengers leaving the country through an airport have to pay a US$25 exit fee.

To and From the Airport has the rundown on getting you from the airport to the city. Frequent Flyer Masters learn to earn their miles fast, and get free flights around the world.

Upon entering the country, you’ll need a valid passport, and customs will issue citizens from most countries a 90-day tourist visa. Longer visas may be obtained in advance for studying abroad, volunteering, or religious travel; you can arrange these visas through your embassy or through an internal group such as a study abroad program or nonprofit organisation that welcomes international volunteers.

Some travellers arriving by boat choose to dock at Salinas, but otherwise very few cruise ships come in along the coast.

Bussing over the border of Ecuador and Colombia is not recommended for safety reasons; it’s more expensive but definitely worth buying a flight from Colombia if you can. Bussing into Ecuador from Peru is a little less dangerous, but the terrain along the mountains is rough. You’ll probably be on the bus for a day or more, depending on your destination. The bus trip from Lima to Quito takes about 30 hours.

Ecuador travel resources

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This page was written by Hope Nardini.