Backpacking in Ecuador
You can also make a short stop in Ecuador on your South American trip, but it is advisable to spend a complete holiday there at the so-called “navel of the world”. The relatively small South American country has so many special highlights to offer that a few weeks are simply not enough to get to know the country intensively.
In the following you will find more details about what there is to discover in Ecuador and how it behaves with travelling in Ecuador. In addition, you will also be informed a little more about the question of travel costs. It will be exciting. Take your time and discover the diverse country not hectically like the packages and the Abhaker backpackers, but calmly and calmly. Adapt to the indigenous rhythm and get to know life from another side. It’s worth it.
Ecuador – at the hub of the world
Ecuador is a microcosm of sensual and tasty impressions. You will discover a land based on a unique culture that is shaped by different indigenous tribes and Criollos, as well as geographical differences. Fight your way through a land that will capture you with the most intense colors, smells, tastes and sounds. Ecuador is not a popular immigration country for nothing. You will have to fight your way through a total of four regions on your journey if you want to explore the country completely.
These include the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, the Pacific Coast, the Andes region and the Amazon jungle. As you can see, every geographical spectrum is offered here. Of course, this also means that you can experience any adventure sport. Even skiing on the Cayambe is said to be possible to a limited extent.
Ecuador inspires with its unique flora and fauna. Equatorial Ecuador, which has so many different climate zones, is one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world.
It is estimated that 1,640 bird species live in Ecuador alone. In addition, there are more than 4,500 butterfly species. If you want to see reptiles, you can choose from more than 340 species. Nearly 360 amphibians are resident, as are around 260 mammal species. To bring the whole to a common denominator: Ecuador is considered the country with the greatest biodiversity in the world. In 26 protected areas you can discover the diversity of species. And to get to know all this, you don’t necessarily have to dig deep into your pockets.
Ecuador isn’t the cheapest travel destination in South America, that’s Bolivia, but you can make ends meet with a fairly small budget. Even if you want to stay on the Galapagos islands. For 8 Euro you already get a good bed in a dorm. Of course it’s also a bit cheaper. You can camp in Ecuador as well as in a 5 star hotel. However, there are not too many of them. What there are in masses is a concentrated load of nature on a small patch of earth. You can beat your way through a dense Amazon jungle or bask in the sun on lonely long white beaches. Discover gigantic craters in the Sierra Negra or hike to remote lagoons like El Junco, where you can expect a life rich in species. You will be pampered by a warm climate.
Experience culture in Ecuador
Whether you want to visit an exciting museum or a national park, taste delicious drinks or local delicacies, stay with remote indigenous tribes, or look for fascinating handicrafts, Ecuador has something for everyone. Did you know, for example, that in Ecuador one of the world’s best chocolates is made from organic cocoa beans from the Kichawa tribe? The Super Chocolate is called Kallari, by the way. When we are with the indigenous people. There are 15 different indigenous nationalities living in Ecuador. And they all have their own customs and traditions. However, much has merged over time. The Carnaval de Chimborazo is such a mix of Christian and indigenous origins.
Ecuador is pure culture. Whether above or below, on your journey through the country you will meet a multitude of indigenous tribes who have all retained their cultural roots. In the Sierras, in the Andes or in the lowlands indigenous tribes like the Otavalo, Salasaca or the Saraguro await you. The famous Awá live in the north of the country. On the Pacific coast you can visit the Chachi and Huancavilca. And the Huaorani, the Achuar, the Shuar and the Siona-Secoya have settled in the Amazon. In the cities you will find a mix of black, white, red, yellow and mixed.
A total of 14 indigenous peoples live in Ecuador under independent administration. In the surrounding cities or in the villages of the indigenous people you can stock up with original handicrafts. Throughout the year you can take part in numerous indigenous and national festivals in Ecuador. Famous among others are the Carnival of Guaranda, the Easter Week of Alangasí, the Fiesta de San Pablo y San Pedro in Manabí, and the celebration of the Virgin of the Swan in Loja.
Although the country is one of the smallest on the South American continent in terms of area, it is one of the most varied. Whether you are in the Andes or want to explore the plains and coasts, or whether you want to discover the Amazon, Ecuador has interesting spots to offer in every region of the country in masses. If you just want to see the most important highlights of the country, do the classic tour. You can visit Ecuador like so many others in a short time and only visit the most important points.
Better you take your time and take a few weeks for the country at the equator. You’ll meet cities like Quito, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or you’ll discover the fantastic wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, the biodiversity of the evergreen Amazon rainforest. But also the mystic mountain cloud forests with their species-rich bird world or the bizarre peaks of the Andes with their snow-covered and partly still active volcanic giants have their charm.
The classic Ecuador tour 14 days
- 5 Days Galapagos Islands
- 3 days Amazon jungle experience
- 2 days Cotopaxi National Park
- 2 Days Colonial City Cuenca
- 3 days Quito
- 2 days Mindo cloud forest
Ecuador 4 weeks intensive
- 1 day Chimborazo
- 1 day train ride to Teufelsnase
- 1 day Ruins of Ingapirca
- 1 day Quilotoa Crater Lake
- 1 day Indian market Saquisili
- 3 days Antisana Nature Reserve
- One week Galapagos Islands
- 3 days Amazon jungle experience
- 2 days Cotopaxi National Park
- 2 Days Colonial City Cuenca
- 3 days Quito
- 2 days Mindo cloud forest
The range can be expanded at will. Visit the market in Pujilí, then a side trip to Lasso and you can visit the handicraft market in Otavalo. The thermal baths of Papallacta are still on your agenda and a visit to the waterfall Pailón del Diablo is worthwhile.
Travel times in Ecuador
As you can easily imagine with these geographical differences, the climate is very diverse. Because of the different altitudes (zero to over 6,000 m) you have to expect huge temperature differences. Also it can rain here more and there less. Because of the proximity to the equator, however, it is always pleasantly warm. In the north of Quito it is much warmer and drier than in the south of the country. In the heights of the Andes it rains constantly. At the coasts in the north there is a rainy season that lasts from January to May.
Ecuador is not the cheapest country in South America but also not the most expensive. The Americans like to settle in Ecuador and where they are, nothing is cheap anymore. Especially in the climatically pleasant Cuenca many foreigners have settled. A trip to the Galapagos Islands is not for a tight budget – not to say it is very expensive to make a trip there. Otherwise, however, the travel is quite inexpensive.
You can calculate so close Pi times thumb that an hour trip with the bus costs something over a dollar. Using the local buses does not cost more than a quarter of that. You have to deal with the taxi drivers. However, you should beware of the taxis piratas – private people who offer taxi services with their private cars. You’ll soon be fooled. Only take the official yellow taxis and look for a registration number or the name of the taxi company on the vehicle. For a short distance you have to put down one dollar.
Daily budget in Ecuador
As always, the question of the average daily budget cannot be answered in a blanket way, as the demands are individual and the wallets are full to different degrees. With about 20 Euro and less you can get through per day – all inclusive. This includes a bed in a hostal for 5 to 10 euros. Buying groceries in the supermarket 2-3 euros and small trips with bus trips. Here a few price examples according to numbeo.com.
- Food in a priced restaurant 2 Euro
- Combo Meal in McDonalds or comparable 3,7 Euro
- Local beer 0,5 0,7 Euro
- Import beer (0.33) 2 Euro
- Cappuccino 1,3 Euro
- Coke/Pepsi (0.33) 0.5 Euro
- Water (0.33) 0,2 Euro
The Galapagos Trip
No moss, no Galapagos. If you want to get there, you have to bridge 1000 kilometres. Nobody gets that for free. In addition, the authorities are attaching more and more importance to the fact that only financially strong customers come. Unfortunately, they have to, because there are entry restrictions. Of course, you want to get as much out of the para that are allowed to come as possible. The divers just spend more than the backpackers – that should be clear as a rule.
What do you have to calculate on the Galapagos Islands?
A taxi from the airport to the city costs 20 dollars, then a boat to the respective island. This can cost another 20 to 30 dollars. Day trips to the islands Bartolomé, Santiago or Floreana cost around 50 dollars. Other islands can only be booked with multi-day trips on special cruise ships. You can also eat for as little as $2 in a local pub. The overnight stay can be estimated cheaply with 10 to 15 dollars. The flight, however, is a breeze again. You’ll have to calculate about 300 dollars for the return flight. LAN, Aerogal or Tame fly regularly.
Domestic flights Ecuador except Galapagos Islands
It is worthwhile to take a domestic flight, because they are not that expensive. Here are a few examples. Of course, it always depends on the season and the flexibility.
Flight Quito – Guayaquil
with LAN 48 Euro
Domestic flight from Quito – Cuenca
140 Euro return – all inclusive
Otherwise check the homepages of Aerogal, Icaro and Tame and Lan Ecuador for the latest offers.
In Ecuador you can count on all kinds of accommodation. You can rent a simple or luxurious apartment in the city of Quito or stay in a 3 or 4 or 5 star hotel in Cuenca depending on your budget. Today you sleep in a feudal patio hotel in the center of Quito or Cuenca, the next day you lie down in a simple hut with indigenous people in the box. You’ll also find rustic jungle lodges where the oil lamps burn romantically. There are simple hostels with simple standards everywhere in Ecuador. At Hostelworld you will find the average price in the different cities for an overnight stay in a dorm of a hostel.
Prices on average for a bed in a Hostel Dorm
- 8 Euro Quito
- 12 Euro Guayaquil
- 7 Euro Banos
- 8 Euro Cuenca
- 11 Euro Montanita
- 10 Euro Otavalo
- 7 Euro Mindo
- 12 Euro Puerto Lopez
- 8 Euro Tena
Ecuador is not cheap, but you have plenty of choice. The further away you are from the cities, the more you have to do without luxury. In contrast to comfort, you will get a courteous hospitality, especially in the indigenous villages. You will also be spoiled with food that is not available everywhere. And where can you spend the night in very simple lodges in the middle of the jungle, where you can listen to the jungle sounds for a few euros?
Of course, there are also better accommodations for the wealthier clientele. Such rooms have their own bathroom and usually have air conditioning. If you are not into rooms and overcrowded Dorms, then you can camp in Ecuador also well. There are websites where you can find the best campsites in Ecuador (solocampings.com or fromatob.org).
The usual destinations in Ecuador, which everyone takes with them, can be found at the Backpacker Routes. But there are also so many less known travel highlights in Ecuador to discover that here only the best are presented roughly. Those who want to discover the horny, partly virgin beaches of the country with picturesque fishing villages, the so-called 740 km long Ruta del Spondylus, which is also called Ruta del Sol, Troncal del Pacífico, Vía del Pacífico, departs from above in Esmeraldas in the north down to the Peruvian border. You will also be able to visit some of the best archaeological spots in the country along the way.
Ecuador is also a good country from which you can plunge into great adventures. Besides the Galapagos Islands you can also dive into the Amazones. If you want to try it out first, you can get a taste of the first Amazon air in Mindo. For the fact that Ecuador is a relatively small country, it has a lot to offer.
Waterfalls and lots of greenery
Another great route is the Ruta del Agua, which takes you through the country’s Amazon region. Dense jungle, incredible biodiversity, amazing waterfalls and crystal clear streams and rivers await you on this trip through the provinces of Sucumbíos, Orellana, Napo, Pastaza, Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe.
Train travel in Ecuador – the special adventure
Only a few countries in South America still have a good and above all worthwhile railway network. Ecuador is one of them. Best you take the so-called Tren Ecuador. It will take you from the coast to the Sierras. At 8 o’clock in the morning it starts and at 16 o’clock you are there. You can choose from five different routes. The journey from Quito to Guayaquil is about 450 kilometres. More about this on the train’s homepage.
Visit artisan markets in Ecuador
The diversity of the indigenous tribes has been pointed out in the Culture section. All these indigenous people produce great handicrafts that you can buy at the markets. There are many of these markets, but the best are in Otavalo and Quisapincha.
The best National Parks in Ecuador
An impressive 17% of the total area of the country is under some form of state protection. There are 44 protected parks and regions. The most exciting national parks in Ecuador are:
- Nationalpark Cajas
- Nationalpark Cayambe Coca
- Nationalpark Cotopaxi
- Nationalpark Galápagos
- Nationalpark LLanganates
- Nationalpark Machalilla
- Nationalpark Podocarpus
- Nationalpark Sangay
- Nationalpark Sumaco
- Nationalpark YacuríIn allen könnt ihr euch so richtig in die Büsche schlagen.
Whale watching in Ecuador
You shouldn’t miss the spectacle of whale watching. The whales only give birth to their young here. They don’t eat for months, because there’s nothing for them. That also means a few tons of weight loss. Later on, they fill up the Wampen again with krill in the cold waters.
Holiday with the locals
Anyone who wants to spend some time with the indigenous people can do so in Ecuador. Visit the region Sinchi Pura, which is about twenty kilometers from Tena in the province of Napo. Besides a lot of adventure sports and expeditions you can also visit the ethnological museum of the Kichwa. Something similar, however, awaits you in Puerto López, in the province of Manabí, in a completely different environment, namely by the sea. There you can participate in the life of the Salang.
Another location of this kind can be found in Quilotoa in the Andes region of Cotopaxi. There you can also try a delicious cheese from the Quesera (cheese dairy) de Quilotoa.
With this geographical diversity, there is no shortage of a huge selection of liquid and solid delicacies to discover. Also in Ecuador there is the delicious Ceviche based on raw fish. Also famous are el bollo and the fanesca. The latter is a kind of corn soup, which is also often richly decorated during the holidays.
Especially in the Pacific region and especially in the capital Quito, some chefs have made an international name for themselves with a new Ecuadorian cuisine. Which has not least led to the fact that the metropolis Quito has developed into a real gourmet temple that attracts gourmets from all over the world. Of course, you can also make a name out of this in the street kitchens.
Finally, some of the chefs have copied the apparently so simple cooking kitchen in the streets and refined it with a know-how. In Ecuador you get the most tasty dishes served, if it’s any wonder, with this geographical diversity. Jungle fruits are processed as well as jungle animals. Something very special is the chuchuca. It is a corn soup and tortillas that are cooked on hot stones. This dish dates back to pre-colonial times.
The indigenous people fed on it for centuries. What you get at a ridiculous price on every street corner is churrasco. It is a tasty dish made of rice with meat and baked eggs. Those who like McDonalds, KFC, BurgerKing and Pizza Hut will also find them in all the bigger cities in the food courts of the shopping centres. Oh yes, and you can also get the roasted guinea pigs.
If you see the following dishes on a map, then hit it.
Coast and Galapagos Islands
- tortilla de maíz
- tortilla de verde
- enrollado de atun
- cuy asado
- sopa de quinua
- tortilla de Yuca con Queso
- sopa de cachama
Drinks in Ecuador
Quemado, pájaro azul and la chicha are delicious alcoholic beverages. Of course there is also beer. As in most cases in South and Central America you shouldn’t necessarily use the local beers because of the possibly less headache. Or make sure that they are produced artesanal. Artesanal beers are mostly produced in small breweries according to the German purity law in small quantities.
According to the entry regulations for German citizens of the Federal Foreign Office, the following rules apply to travel documents and a visit to Ecuador. Entry is possible for German citizens with the following documents:
- Passport: Yes
- Provisional passport: Yes
- Identity card: No
- Temporary identity card: No
- Children’s passport: Yes
A child ID card according to the old model: Yes. However, there have been problems when leaving the country, so it is not advisable to use a child ID. All travel documents must be valid for at least six months upon entry. For tourist stays in Ecuador up to 90 days per year you do not have to obtain a visa before starting your journey. Make sure that you do not enter Ecuador with damaged passports, as this can lead to rejection by the border police.
Vaccination against yellow fever
A valid vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travellers older than 12 months of age entering from a yellow feverendemic area. Dengue fever, malaria, leishmaniasis and leptospirosis are also common.