Language: The first language is Spanish; however, most of the indigenous population speaks Quichua. There are 18 different languages among native communities.
Government: Democratic. The current president is Rafael Correa.
Electricity: Voltage in Ecuador is the same as in the United States at 110V with 60 cycles AC. The plug accepts two flat prongs, like those of the US.
Weights and Measures: Ecuador uses the metric system. A meter is 1.1 yards, a kilogram is 2.2 pounds, a liter is 1.1 quarts and a kilometer is .6 miles. They also use the Celsius as opposed to Fahrenheit temperature system. An easy way to convert C degrees is to approximate: F degrees is 2C + 30.
Currency: Dollar. The Ecuadorian government has also produced a series of local coins that have the same value as the US coins (which are also accepted). In Quito and most other cities, ATMs are available to withdraw money from a US checking account. Credit cards are widely used in Quito and the main tourist cities.
Weather and Climate: Ecuador has two seasons: wet and dry, which have much to do with the part of the country you are in. Generally speaking, the temperature is dictated by altitude. Quito and the Andes enjoy spring-like weather year-round, with highs of around 20-25° C (68-77°F) and lows of about 8-10°C (45-50°F). Weather in the Galapagos varies between misty and cool, and steamy and sunny. The Amazon region is generally either hot and humid, or hot and rainy.
The wet season, or invierno (winter), in the highlands is from October until April, and the dry season, verano (summer), lasts from June until September. However, no matter what season it is said to be, the weather is ultimately unpredictable. Warm sunny mornings can often lead to bone-chilling, rainy afternoons, hence the sierra’s adage “four seasons in one day.” It is good to remember that the only predictable thing about the weather in the Andes is that it is unpredictable!
Adjusting to Altitude:
During the first few days after arrival, adjustment from sea level to the altitude of Quito is sometimes difficult. Drink lots of water! It takes time for the body to adjust. Exercise and activities should be limited.
Do’s and Don’ts:
Do wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
Do drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated drinks.
Do eat only thoroughly cooked food, or fruits and vegetables that you have washed and peeled.
Don’t eat food from street vendors.
Do bring plenty of sunscreen – over 40 SPF is recommended.
Remember the sun is nearer and more dangerous at high altitudes. Protect against sun exposure. Wear SUNSCREEN and EYE PROTECTION every day!
Visas and Parent/Guardian Permission Forms:
Please check exit requirements for leaving your country of origin. If you a minor traveling without parents, you normally need to obtain permission through a notary for you to travel without guardians. Every country is different, so please check this ahead of time before booking your travel to Ecuador.
Citizens of most countries do not require a visa to enter Ecuador for up to 90 days, with some notable exceptions. Please check Ecuador visa requirements before making travel plans. You can do this by consulting with the nearest Ecuador consulate or Embassy.