Preparing for your trip to Ecuador is an exciting time, so make sure you’re prepared with these important travel tips and information.
Documents you’ll need:
- A Passport with 6-months of validity is required for entry into Ecuador. If your passport has less than 6 months until its expiration, you will be denied entry into the country. You do not need a visa for stays less than 90 days. Always make sure to check the most recent travel requirements with your country’s embassy prior to traveling.
- Plane tickets and reservations. If you are asked for the purpose of your stay while passing through Customs at the airport in Ecuador, simply state that you are traveling on vacation. Your plane tickets indicating your departure flight and your reservations can serve as evidence to help expedite this process, but you likely won’t run into problems at the airport.
- Copies of everything! Take photos of your passports, visas, itineraries, tickets, and any other documents. Carry them on your cell phone and send them to yourself and family via email and/or upload them to a secure cloud service like Google drive, Dropbox, etc. . Carry a paper copy with you in a separate place from your originals. Always better to be safe than sorry.
- Currency: US Dollar (if you are using another currency, you can exchange it for USD at the airport in Ecuador).
- Credit/ debit cards: Ecuador’s major businesses and ATMs generally accept MasterCard, Visa, and Diner’s Club International cards. Smaller businesses and even many restaurants only accept cash. Beware of ATM fees and international service charges. Small charges can really add up!
- Cash: Always make sure that you have enough cash on your person for the day’s expenses, and plan this beforehand. You should carry smaller denominations, usually less than $10, since many places might not be able to make change for larger bills. It’s also useful to keep a coin purse as well, as many businesses will give you dollar-coins rather than bills. Street vendors and artisans, where you will likely buy the famous handcrafted souvenirs, deal exclusively in cash.It’s also a smart move to split up where you’re storing your money, credit cards and valuable documents. Ecuador is generally a very safe country for travelers and, but if you decide to venture off by yourself, pickpockets are common on public transportation and having all your valuables in one place isn’t wise- so leave them in the safe at the hotel. .
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee: There is a $100/person Park entrance fee and a $20/person transit control card which must be paid in cash upon arrival to the Galapagos Islands. If you are not traveling to the Galapagos Islands, you don’t have to worry about these expenses.
- Gratuities: Whether and how much to tip is always a personal decision. In diners, it’s fine to leave a few dollars, but in nicer restaurants, a 10-20% tip is appreciated. Many restaurants already include a service charge in the bill, in which case it isn’t necessary to leave an additional tip. If you have a private driver for a whole day, you can tip a few dollars on top of what they charge, but for individual taxi rides it is not an expectation. As for the service staff at your lodge or on your cruise, it is recommended you tip $10/ person/ day (if you are traveling with your spouse and two children, that would be $40/day or $240 total for a 6-night stay). Guides appreciate around a $10 tip per day also.
- Traveler’s Checks are generally not accepted.
The national language in Ecuador is Spanish. English is also commonly spoken as a second language in the tourism-related businesses, like hotels and tour companies, and Sacha Lodge employs a completely bilingual service staff to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Throughout the Andes and Amazon, you also might encounter other indigenous languages being spoken, the most common of which is Kichwa (a relative of the Inca Quechua language).
Food & water
Anything served at Sacha Lodge has been prepared using treated and purified water. Always make sure that you are only drinking bottled water or refilling your water bottle from the purified water coolers. Avoid eating street food and always make sure that you peel any fruit or wash it with purified water.
Using your cell phone
If you want to use your phone in the major cities where there is strong cell service, you can purchase a prepaid SIM-chip at the airport. Once you leave the major urban centers, you will likely be out of range, so unless you’re planning to use your phone as a camera, you can pack it safely away in your suitcase. You will not have internet or cell service in the Amazon.
Electricity is 110v with Western style outlets (Type A or B). If you are traveling from the United States, you will not need a power converter or plug adapters. Travelers from Europe will need a step-down converter and plug adapters.
Although many international flights allow two 50 lb suitcases and two carry-on bags, most airlines with flights to the Amazon typically only permit one 45 lb suitcase and one carry-on per person. You will probably have to pay more if you are planning to travel with more than this.
Before you leave:
- Double-check all of your reservations and tickets – from your departing flight, to your hotel in Quito or Guayaquil, transportation to Sacha Lodge, and your flight home, plus any other plans you might have for your time in Ecuador.
- Make sure you have friends/ family taking care of your house, picking up your mail, and watching your pets. Unplug all small appliances in your house for safety and saving energy. If you are traveling during the winter, set your thermostat to 60°F so that your pipes don’t freeze.
- Arrive at the airport 4 hours prior to your international flight (or more if you are traveling during a busy time or from a high-traffic airport).