General information about Ecuador
Arriving in Quito
A taxi from the new airport to anywhere in the centre of Quito costs about $25. Only use licensed taxis – these are yellow and have a registration number prominently displayed, in white numerals on an orange background. Make a note of this number in case of any problems. To get around in Quito, your hostel will usually help you to find/or call a taxi.
110-120 Volts – bring an adaptor or two, the sockets are of the type for plugs with two flat pins. As far as possible, please use rechargeable batteries. Be aware that power spikes may damage equipment.
Tipping is limited to places catering to foreigners. In these establishments, a 10% service charge and 12% IVA (value-added tax) are usually included in the bill, precluding any need to tip further.
Because of the altitude, the project area does not require you to get any vaccinations against infectious diseases. However, a vaccination against hepatitis A+B is more than recommended. You should definitely contact your local health authorities such as a vaccination center or your personal GP at least six weeks before your departure to discuss health precautions that are officially recommended for a stay in Ecuador and any other areas you intend to visit.
The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar. It is possible to get cash from cashpoints and travelers cheques in Quito. Large denomination notes are difficult to change, especially in remote rural areas, so avoid anything larger than $20 bills.
Passport and Visa
Tourists from most countries automatically receive a free 90 day tourist visa upon entry once in every 12 month period. This visa can apparently NO LONGER BE EXTENDED as it could in the past, either in Ecuador or by crossing the border. If you wish to spend more than 90 days in Ecuador in any 12 month period, you probably need to obtain a 12-IX (Actos de Comercio) visa before leaving your home country, putting “tourism” as the purpose of your visit. This is valid for up to 180 days. To be certain about requirements for your country, check with the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate in your country well before leaving.
The official language in Ecuador is Spanish. As in most of the Andes, some Quichua words are in common usage. Literally nobody speaks English in local communities and even in the bigger cities it is not common outside your hotel or tourist agencies.
The altitude in Quito is not high enough to be dangerous. However, some people suffer some mild symptoms of altitude sickness upon arrival. These may consist of headache, thirst, diarrhea, fatigue, disrupted sleep, and nightmares. The best remedy is to rest and drink lots of water. The symptoms usually only last a day or two. Papallacta has an altitude of 3300m and the walks in the bear territory will be around 4000m. At these altitudes some people suffer from altitude sickness, so come prepared and take your time to adapt!