Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

“I’ve travelled to 136 countries, and at the top of my list of travel experiences, my visit to the Galapagos Islands would take first and second place by a wide margin. I travelled there at least ten years ago, visiting six or seven of the islands by boat. It seems that since then the ecological situation has worsened considerably, so I’d recommend travelling there as soon as possible, while the wildlife still exists.” (aji, 2015)

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“Cheap, manageable in size, and lacking only metropolises and world-famous ruins, from many angles Ecuador is the ideal South American travel destination. Brazil, Argentina and even Peru are all countries impossible to explore in the sort of vacation period your boss is likely to agree to, but a couple of weeks in Ecuador would be enough time to really get to know the place. What’s more, if can fit in a trip to the Galapagos Islands, you’ll be visiting arguably one of the most remarkable destinations in the world.”

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“Ecuador is one of the most authentic South American countries I’ve visited – full of pearls which have yet to be discovered by mainstream mass tourism. Quito is one, as is Cuenca, a wonderful but less well-known city, in the process of being discovered by North American retirees. (2018)”

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“Ecuador has changed and developed a lot over the past ten years. Roads, schools and hospitals have been built, and many historical monuments have been restored or renovated.

The high season for tourists more or less coincides with the dry season, between June and September, but many also visit during the Christmas holidays. In most of the places we visited we saw few tourists (the exceptions were the capital, Quito, and the Devil’s Nose railway journey), but it would be worth visiting Ecuador at any time of year. The national parks are free, and many museums likewise don’t charge an entry fee.” (r.k. 2020)

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“The great things:
•    Nature here is breathtakingly beautiful, unique and diverse
•    The locals are friendly and happy to help – tourists are popular here
•    The local cuisine is delicious. I love their soups, and they put avocado in everything.
•    The fruit – in my whole life I’ve never seen so many different kinds of fruit
•    Because the country is on the equator, roses grow straight up on perfectly straight stems


The things you have to get used to
•    The overwhelming majority of Ecuadorians are devout Catholics, so in many places life essentially stops on Sundays. In Cuenca alone there are 52 Catholic churches, one for every week of the year.
•    Punctuality is not their specialty – 8 sharp means something like 8:05-8:20
•    In most places it’s forbidden to flush toilet paper down the toilet
•    Tap water is only drinkable in Cuenca. Elsewhere you have to either buy bottled water, which is sold everywhere, and there are also large balloons you can fill your own bottle up from.” (r.k. 2020)

Practicals

Food

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Ecuador - dish

Public safety

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Ecuador - policewoman

Health

Altitude sickness – that’s what I was most worried about. I went to my doctor, who specifically advised against taking pills for altitude sickness, as these have a lot of side effects. One of these is that they lower blood pressure, so for those who already suffer from low blood pressure, taking them isn’t recommended.

The best thing is to acclimatize slowly, to drink a lot of water and eat a lot of chocolate (we very diligent about the chocolate). Hot cocoa is not drunk by locals, but is sold to tourists at high altitudes. As we only had nine days, and didn’t want to spend our time acclimatizing, we decided to reverse our route, which would have gone from Quito to Guayaquil, so that instead we arrived in Guayaquil – a city which is essentially at sea level.

By the time we reached the volcano of Cotopaxi on day seven, at an altitude of 4,600m, we had no problems. Over the course of our journey our bodies had more or less adjusted to the higher altitude (Cuenca is at 2500m, and Ingapirca is at 3200m), and our only issues concerned sleep.

It’s important to take altitude sickness seriously – the guides say that at least one person a month dies of it. People with, for instance, heart conditions are forbidden from hiking around Cotopaxi during the day, since it puts a strain on the heart, and can lead to a heart attack later in the evening. The other big mistake which many tourists make is, from lack of time, going to the top of a high Ecuadorian peak on the first or second day. In Quito, the cable car or Teleferico ascends to an altitude of 4100m, and we saw someone being given oxygen. When we visited Cotopaxi, we saw many buses full of people who couldn’t even get out because they felt so bad. (r.k., 2020)


Others

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Ecuador - Alausi - shoeshiners - v.g. photo

Ecuador - Ingapirca - lama owner - v.g. photo

Ecuador - on the road - c.f. photo

Background

Ecuador - national flag

Destination in brief

Ecuador is in the northwestern part of South America. Neighbors: Colombia (north), Peru (east, south). Ecuador has a coast along the Pacific Ocean. 

Size: 283 560 km²  (109 483 mi²)

Capital city: Quito

Population (in 2020): 17.6 million - 72% Mestizos (descendants of Spanish colonists and indigenous people), 12% Whites, 7% Amerindians, 7% Blacks

Language: Spanishis the official language

Religions: 75% Roman Catholic, 10% Evangelical

Political system: republic, multi-party democracy

Currency: USD

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 500 USD

Most common surname: Garcia

Geography

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Ecuador - Equator

Attractions

Quito

Quito - city view - v.g. photo

Ecuador - Quito - The Church of the Society of Jesus (la Compañía), a Jesuit church - v.g. photo

Galapagos

“All the way home I kept wondering to myself how the whole Galapagos myth could ever have been established in the first place. Or was I just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Maybe if I’d taken a five-day cruise around the islands I’d have seen more. At length I managed to placate myself with the thought that a long boat trip would have been much more expensive, and if the experience had been similar to what I went through, I’d have felt even worse about it.” (2017)

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“Visiting the Galapagos Islands is a dream for many. I did everything I could to see them, because I have a feeling that before long access to the islands where Darwin first formulated the Theory of Evolution will be restricted to just a few scientists and researchers.

I spent five days on the islands, on a small boat which carried a few passengers. Those few days completely changed my perspective on the world. The first animal I saw, which stood facing me and didn’t move for a long time,




Galapagos - Marine iguana - a species of iguana found only on the Galápagos Islands. - v.g. photo

Galapagos - giant tortoise - v.g. photo

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