Ecuador is a real shopping paradise for the majority. It offers a wide range of handicraft especially in textiles and leather ware. Arts and crafts of Ecuador are promoted by the Government. Popular souvenirs are carpets or other textiles, blankets, hand-knitted clothes, ceramics, panama hats and jewellery. In Otavalo, located in the north of Quito, you should visit the famous Indigenous Market. It is popular for its local handicraft, jewellery, Alpaca etc. Furthermore you find not far away from Otavalo another small village called Cotacachi with many high qualitative and reasonable-priced leather wares. In addition, handmade carpets, panama hats, wood carved products, ceramic, gold, silver, and baskets are popular products made in Ecuador.
Due to the country´s rich geographic diversity, the Ecuadorian cuisine is multi-faceted. A wide range of exotic fruits, fresh seafood and traditional dishes can be found. Basic food ingredients, especially in the highlands are corn and potatoes. Fish, seafood and rice are favourites on the coast. Meat comes from cattle, pigs, goats, mutton or chicken. A typical dessert is the “Torta de maqueño”, a banana cake. If you love spicy food you can always find some “ají” (chilly) on the table of nearly every restaurant to spice up your food. Also experimental gourmets will benefit from travelling in Ecuador: cuy (guinea pig) is just one example of Ecuador´s specialties. Homemade fruit juices and beer are cheap alternatives to quench your thirst.
Due to different climate regions in Ecuador you should pack summer clothing as well as winter clothing. Be aware that the nights can get really cold. Those intending to stay in the Amazon Jungle or on the Galapagos islands should pack light comfortable clothes, hat, swimsuit, long sleeve shirts, knickers, raincoat, sunglasses and suntan lotion, binoculars and a torch. Additionally you should know that the Ecuadorians like to dress nicely when going out for dinner.
Ecuador has four areas for climatic conditions. Subtropical or even tropical climate is significant for the western slopes of the Andeans. The rainy season is between January and May and the dry season lasts from June to December. The average temperature amounts to 25-30°C. The climate of the mountain valleys of the Sierra is temperate and it mostly rains heavily in the afternoon and it is cold in the nights – e.g. Quito has an average temperature of 8-21°C. The eastern slopes and the jungle are humid and warm. The average temperature of the Galapagos Islands is between 25 and 30° with high humidity and sometimes heavy rain falls. The most favourable weather conditions for swimming is from November until April. For those who love hiking in the highlands should travel during the time from June to November. The best time to travel to regions nearby the Amazon is between August and May.
Opening hours for shops are Mon-Fri 9:00am – 1:00pm and 3:00pm -7:00pm; Sat 9:00am – 1:00pm. Most supermarkets do not close before 8:00pm and are also open on Sundays. Banks open from Mon-Fri 9:00am – 3:00pm.
Usually Ecuador has a voltage of 110V alternating current. Some major hotels may also have double voltage, bring your own multi adapter and or converter.
Ecuadorians speak Spanish with differences in vocabulary from the Spanish spoken in Spain. However accents and differences in notation exist throughout the country. Quechua language can still be heard in the countryside. It is a colloquial language and is a collection for people belonging to indigenous ethic groups. English is spoken in the tourism areas.
The currency of Ecuador is the US-dollar (US$) since 2000. Internationally known credit cards are accepted at most large establishments. Banks, hotel cashiers and money exchange shops exchange Euros and other major currencies. It is not recommended to exchange money in streets or non-authorized money exchange shops as there is a high risk of fraud. In the bigger cities you can find cash machines which accept international debit and credit cards.
Australian Nationals don’t require a visa to enter Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for stays of less than 90 days for tourism purposes. USD$100 per person (Paid locally) National Park fee applies for people going to the Galapagos Island and a USD$20 per person (paid locally) Transit Card fee applies at the Airport for passengers going to the Galapagos Island