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Time Zone:

Ecuador is located at GMT -5 (Eastern Standard Time zone). The Galapagos Islands are one hour behind mainland Ecuador, although vessels Galapagos Legend and Corals I & II all run on mainland time.



Ecuador has a population of about 13.5 million people. Spanish is the country’s official language, while Quechua is widely spoken amongst many indigenous groups.


Religion: 95% Roman Catholic.

Currency: U.S. Dollar.

Capital: Quito.

Government: Democracy.


Business Hours:

In Quito and Guayaquil, most stores, banks, businesses, and foreign exchange offices are open from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., Monday through Friday. On Saturday, many stores and some businesses are open from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. Shopping malls, however, are open every day, including weekends, from 10:00 A. M. to 8:00 P.M. and have bank branch offices, ATMs and foreign exchange facilities.



January 1 New Year’s Day

February or March Mardi Gras (Carnival)

March or April Holy Week (Good Friday)

May 1 Labor Day

May 24 Battle of Pichincha

July 25 Foundation of Guayaquil (local)

August 10 National Independence Day

October 9 Independence Day of Guayaquil

November 2 All Souls Day

November 3 Independence Day of Cuenca

December 6 Foundation of Quito, celebrated in Quito the first week of December with bullfights, parades and street dancers.

December 25 Christmas



Although December 31st is not a holiday, there is a special end-of-year celebration with the burning of life-size effigies throughout the city on New Year’s Eve (young people disguised as widows grieving for the dying year stop people in the streets and beg for money).

Sometimes holidays are shifted to the following Friday so a long weekend can be enjoyed.


Main Indigenous Market Days:


Saturday: Otavalo, Latacunga, Zumbahua, Pelileo, Guaranda, Riobamba, Cotacachi, Guano, Azogues, Loja.


Sunday: Chordeleg, Guano, Machachi, Malacatos, Loja, Pujilí, Machachi, Peguche, Cuenca, Salcedo, Tulcán, Saraguro, Misahuallí, Lago Agrio, Penipe, Sangolquí, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Salasaca.


Monday: Ambato.


Tuesday: Latacunga, Riobamba, Guano.


Wednesday: Pujilí, Cotacachi, Peguche, Otavalo.


Thursday: Saquisilí, Cuenca, Guamote, Tulcán.


Friday: Ibarra, Ingapirca.



Government taxes such as the Galapagos National Park tax, the Galapagos National Institute Migration Control Card and International Airport taxes are not included in the tours and need to be paid in cash by every passenger. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are NOT accepted.


Government taxes are subject to change without prior notice:


Galapagos National Park fee: US$100.00

Galapagos National Institute Migration Control Card: US$10.00


International Airport Departure Taxes:


Quito: US$ 40.80

Guayaquil: US$ 28.27



Tipping is optional and personal. If you feel you have been given excellent service, you may acknowledge it by tipping as suggested below:

Restaurants and coffee shops 10% of the bill

Hotel/airport portage / suitcase US$ 1 / suitcase

Guides on mainland Ecuador US$10 / day, / person

Driver on mainland Ecuador US$ 8 / day / person


Domestic Flights & Luggage Allowance:

There is a 20-kg luggage allowance and your carry-on bag mustn’t exceed 7-kg per passenger for all DOMESTIC flights, including the Galapagos Islands. Check-in time at the counter is usually AT LEAST one hour before departure for all domestic flights, EXCEPT for flights to GALAPAGOS which require all passengers to be at the counter TWO HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE.


Emergency Numbers:





Business hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-18:00.

From overseas, please dial (593-9) 945-6205.

For emergencies dial 911

Police 101

Firefighters 102

Red Cross 258 2482 / 295 6004

Medical Service: 911


There are very good hospitals and medical services both in Quito and Guayaquil. Almost all hotels have a doctor on call for emergencies. There are also pharmacies and drugstores open 24 hours a day. Please contact the front desk of your hotel for assistance.


Pharmacy: “Fybeca” is the most established chain. Branches open 24 hours are:


Quito: Ave. Amazonas N42-72 & Tomás de Berlanga, Phone: 245-9082.

Guayaquil: Ave. 9 de Octubre 827 & Rumichaca, Phone: 253-0290.

Cuenca: Ave. Huaynacapac 6-15 & Juan Jaramillo, Phone: 284-4501.


Postal Service:

Air mail to the US and Europe usually takes 8 to 15days. To the rest of the world you should expect a few more days. Hotel receptionists can help you mail your postcards.



Area Codes:

Quito 02

Guayaquil 04

Cuenca 07

Cell phones: 09 and then the seven-digit number.

To call another country, dial 00 + country code + area code + phone number.



We suggest you drink bottled water throughout your trip instead of tap water.



Hotels in mainland Ecuador: 110 volts.

Galápagos Vessels: 110 & 220 volts.


ATM Networks:

Ecuador has a well-developed network of ATMs. Almost every bank in the country features ATMs, especially in major cities, towns, and tourist destinations.



Pickpockets are a problem in all large cities. But if you keep an eye on your belongings at all times, you should be fine. Never put anything valuable in your backpack.

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