For its size, Ecuador packs a big punch.
The capital city, Quito, is home to one of the best preserved historic centres in Latin America. Wander through the UNESCO World Heritage site revelling at the architectural variance of several famous churches, or simply stare at the horizon and consider the mighty looming Pichincha, a still-active volcano.
The Central Andes mountain range runs through the heart of Ecuador, creating a landscape of volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, which may be hard to believe given the country’s position on the equator. The belt of elevation provides travellers plenty of notable hiking routes, and greatly moderates the South American country’s climate. Just miles away is the deep basin of the Amazon Rainforest.
Or perhaps you’re dreaming of Charles Darwin and plan to travel far off the coast of Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands to see where the famous biologist first conceived of his theory of evolution.
Whatever suits your fancy, Ecuador is not to be skipped during South American journeys.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recommends travellers meet with a travel medicine specialist at least six weeks pre-departure to discuss the following vaccinations and health considerations:
- Yellow Fever– Mosquitoes infected with the yellow fever virus are found in Ecuador, and a proof of vaccination certificate is required if you’re travelling from regions where the virus occurs. Even if you’re coming directly from Canada, vaccination may be recommended based on your itinerary.
- Hepatitis A– Travellers have reported contracting this liver disease while in Ecuador. It is caused by consuming contaminated food and water, but can almost always be prevented through vaccination.
- Hepatitis B– Travellers may be at risk of contracting this disease if they’re having unprotected sex or coming into contact with unclean piercing tools and tattoo needles.
- Typhoid Fever– Vaccination against this intestinal infection may be recommended, especially for children, those staying in rural regions, or travellers spending an extended period of time in the country.
- Measles: The last case of measles in Ecuador was in 1996, but it is still recommended that travellers consider this routine vaccination.
Insects in Ecuador can carry a variety of diseases you should be aware of, including Dengue fever, Chagas disease, West Nile virus, and others. Protect yourself against insect bites by packing long, loose fitting clothing, avoid wearing sandals in wet and rainforested areas, and by using bug spray with a high DEET content. There is also a malaria risk in all regions 1,500 metres or lower, with the exception of Quito, Guayaquil, and the Galapagos Islands. Talk to a travel medicine specialist at least six weeks prior to travelling to see if an antimalarial medication is recommended. In 2015 the PHA issued a warning to all travellers about the Zika virus, a tropical malady spread through infected mosquitoes.
While mosquito-borne diseases can be scary, they are avoidable through vaccination, repellents and other prevention methods. Schedule an appointment with your International Health Passport specialist by calling +39 392 0056499 or booking online and our nurses will help guide you through what you can do to stay healthy.
Travellers to Ecuador can experience dramatic climatic changes and weather conditions depending on their itinerary. Here’s what to expect in a few key destinations:
Quito: The capital city has a unique climate due to its proximity to the equator and its relatively high elevation. Temperatures are cool and comfortable, with the average daily temperature clocking in at 14° Celsius. Nighttime lows dip into the single digits. October through May is rainy, with the remaining four months being the dry season.
Guayaquil: Ecuador’s most populous city experiences two distinct climatic periods. January to April is hot with large amounts of rainfall, especially during El Niño years like 2016. There is substantially less rainfall during the other months. The average temperature throughout the year rests in the early 20’s and humidity levels are moderate regardless of the month.
Andes Mountains region: This is a difficult region to predict, as weather conditions fluctuate based on your elevation and location along the mountain chain. In Ecuador the snowline starts at around 4,500 metres, despite the proximity to the equator. Cotopaxi, one of the highest peaks in Ecuador, is snow-packed year round, though there are tropical rainforest conditions found mere kilometres away. You should always check the conditions before heading out, and know the altitude you’ll be reaching.
Galapagos Islands: January to May is the most pleasant time to visit the Galapagos. Precipitation and temperatures vary based on altitude, but the average temperature is 25° Celsius.
The Italian Goverment has issued regional safety advisories for Ecuador. The area bordering Colombia carries the most risk, with an increased likelihood of drug trafficking, kidnapping, and other violence. Italians and other travellers have been involved in kidnappings, and travel to this area is not recommended.
Petty crime occurs on a daily basis in major cities. The best thing to do is take preventative measures to avoid or mitigate the loss that can occur during a theft. Look out for groups of people (including children) who may work in teams to distract you before stealing or pickpocketing. Carry only small amounts of money and conceal any signs of affluence, including taking out your smartphone or camera in public. There is the perception that all tourists are wealthy, which can lead to an increase in robberies. If you are held up for your belongings, do not resist giving them up. Assaults are most likely to happen around public transit stations and in parks.
Always carry colour photocopies of your passport, but never the original.
You should also be aware of your surroundings outside the city. Armed robberies have been reported along hiking trails, with thieves going as far as to undo clothing to retrieve items of value.
Travelling by road can be hazardous. To reduce the risk of taxi kidnappings, the Ecuadorian government installed panic buttons and cameras in taxis. Book your taxi in advance, using a service your hotel has recommended. Licensed taxis have orange plates and an orange and white registration number on the side of the car. Bus travel is more dangerous at night, particularly inter-city routes. Robberies and assaults are frequently reported.
Ecuador is a diverse country, and there are certainly specialty items you should consider if you plan to venture to locations such as the Galapagos Islands or into the Amazon Rainforest. In the meantime, here are some essentials that will be useful across Ecuador:
- Low denominations of American currency: Ecuador has used the U.S. Dollar as its official currency since 2000. Be sure to carry small bills as larger denomination notes may not be accepted or you may have a hard time getting change.
- Toilet paper: Not only is toilet paper a rare commodity in public bathrooms across Ecuador, but you will likely not even be able to find a roll for purchase outside of major cities. Pack a few rolls wrapped in plastic. Tip: pop out the centre cardboard tube and flatten the roll to make it more travel friendly.
- All-weather clothing: Ecuador’s conditions can fluctuate greatly in one day, especially if you’re travelling in the Andes. Ensure you have warm clothing for the evenings, and rain gear for if the sky decides to open.
- A cheap pair of rubber boots: Though they may be clunky, rubber boots are essential if trekking through the mud or the rainforest. You can buy rubber boots in Ecuador, but note that this task will become more difficult the larger your foot size. Rubber boots will also protect your feet from leeches.
- Extra batteries: Though it is possible to buy batteries in Ecuador, they will likely be of cheaper quality and will not last as long as ones you can get at home. Extra batteries are ideal for headlamps, UV water pens, and other electronics.
All Italians visiting Ecuador should register with the Embassy in Ecuador before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
The Embassy of Italy in Ecuador
La Isla N26-25 y Humberto Albornoz,
Tel. +593-2-3211322 / 3211647
Visit the Embassy website prior to your departure.
A tourist visa is not required for Italians travelling to Ecuador for less than 90 days. Travellers must have a Italian passport valid for six months beyond the intended departure date from the country.
When arriving in the country by air, ensure you get an entry stamp in your passport. The stamp will indicate your intended departure date, and you must leave the country before that time, or risk deportation. If you are arriving from Peru or Colombia over land, you must enter Ecuador at a legitimate border crossing to get an entry stamp from immigration.
Italians can stay in Ecuador for longer, so long as they apply to the immigration office prior to their 90-day stamp expiring.
Some Indigenous territories, particularly in the Amazon Region, require entry permits. Make sure these permits are arranged with your tour company before embarking on your trip. Failure to have proper documentation can put you in dangerous situations.
If you have any questions about travelling to Ecuador or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your International Health Passport Specialist today or call +39 392 0056499.