Frequently Asked Questions:

No! Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar, so there’s no need for currency exchange.

You’ll want to bring plenty of CASH with you, including lots of small bills, as most places don’t accept credit cards. You’ll find yourself needing mostly $1s and $5s.

It’s more fun, and more personal! You’ll experience Ecuador from the perspective of a Wisconsinite (Steve) who considers Ecuador his second home, and from the inside view of a native Ecuadorian (Nixon) who has a passion for his country’s culture, food, language, and history.

This is a private, insider tour at a reasonable cost, with fun people, and experiences to last a lifetime.

Absolutely. One of the reasons Ecuador consistently ranks as one of International Living’s top retirement destinations is because it’s so safe.

Aside from not worrying about crime, you also won’t have to worry about the food or water. Quito’s tap water meets international standards, and it’s safe to brush your teeth with it. Some tourists drink it, but it’s probably advisable to stick to bottled water, available everywhere.

Same with food. Most tourists eat fruits and vegetables from the open-air markets and even food from street vendors without any problems.

You’ll get a detailed description of dos and don’ts prior to the trip.

Nope. It helps, of course, but you’ll have two people along to help. Steve is almost fluent, and our inside connection, Nixon, is a native Ecuadorian who also speaks fluent English.

Most Ecuadorians don’t speak English, however (this isn’t Mexico or Costa Rica). A little bit of Spanish is useful.

You can learn a lot from free online apps like Duolingo, Memrise, or Babbel. Programs like Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are great.

“Spanish Without Toil” by Assimil is a fantastic book if you can find it, or check out www.fluentin3months.com and the book by the same name.

As part of your Ecuador Excursion, you’ll also receive mini-lessons on “Survival Spanish” from our language master, Nixon. He is the founder of Golden Gate Academy of Languages, the best language school in the country.

Dress as if it’s mid-May in Wisconsin. Warm days but not hot, and cool evenings. Long pants, short or long sleeves, and spring jackets. Wear one pair of good shoes for walking and bring another.

Even though it’s mid-July at the equator, you’ll be at a high altitude, which makes for very comfortable weather. Daytime temps in the low to mid-70’s, and nighttime it dips down into the 50’s. No colder, no hotter.

You may want to bring one pair of shorts, a swimsuit, and sandals for the three days in Baños, but other than that, people in Ecuador don’t wear shorts. You’ll stand out like a sore thumb if you do. Best to fit in and not look like the typical Bermuda shorts and white socks tourist.

A passport, of course. Visas are not needed. Cash (see first question above). A sense of adventure! One (only one) piece of luggage with your clothes and essentials. One empty piece of luggage for bringing back things you might buy in Otavalo and other places. One small carry-on. Don’t over-pack! We’ll be in three different hotels and on the go, so too much luggage is a hassle to move around.

Check with your provider. You may have to pay an extra fee. Of course, you may not even need it while you’re gone. GringosAbroad.com has good information on cell phone usage in Ecuador.

Yes. The hotels will have wi-fi, and most cafes do, too. El Español and Juan Valdez are two that you’ll find in Quito, with a number of locations.

For sure! Steve and Emida will be staying longer, and as long as you’re already here, you might as well see a bit more. You never know when you’ll be back, right?

Let Steve know if you’re interested in extending your Ecuador Excursion. No extra charge for the flight arrangements, and we can help you with your further plans.

Most people drink bottled water, which is available everywhere and very inexpensive. Restaurants use bottled water, so you’re safe there, too.

That being said, when I’m there I drink juices from street vendors and the open market, places some would consider questionable. I’ve never been sick or had any problems.

Regarding food, same thing. I tend to eat anything and everything – street food from vendors, and fruits and vegetables and daily lunch specials from the open-air markets. I’ve had good luck and never been sick.

I’m sure some people do get sick, but you don’t hear about it like you hear about “Montezuma’s revenge” in Mexico or “Delhi belly” in India.

With fruits and vegetables, they just recommend washing them, of course. At restaurants, make sure everything looks like it’s cooked properly. Stick to bottled water.

I do brush my teeth with tap water, and that seems to be okay everywhere.

I’ve also drank straight from water flowing off the mountains in Baños, but most people don’t follow my lead there.

Overall, I’d say it’s better than most places I’ve been in Mexico, but not quite the United States or Canada. If you’re careful about drinking bottled water, you’ll be fine.

The group will be 12 people plus Steve and Emida. We purposely want to keep it small – more fun, more intimate, and easier to access everything we want to do.

You’ll get to know the other people on the tour, as well as your tour guides. You’ll also have plenty of time to yourself, too, if you want to do your own thing.

The itinerary allows for both guided group activities and time alone, or with other people on the trip.

Vaccinations aren’t necessary. On three previous trips Steve and Emida didn’t get shots, and neither did their kids. If we were going to a more tropical area like Panama or Honduras, it might be a good idea, but not for Ecuador.

No need to bring an electrical converter. Any devices or appliances will work with normal adapters and plugs. Ecuador uses 110 or 12o volt, 60 Hz electricity, the same system as the U.S.

There are very few insects (and no mosquitoes!), mainly because of the altitude. In fact, they don’t even have screens on the windows, and people leave windows open at night.

Some people choose to get traveler’s insurance on their own, either to cover the trip itself (if you weren’t able to go for any reason), or for medical emergencies while we’re there.

Since not everyone wants travel insurance, and needs options vary quite a bit, we didn’t include it in the trip or factor it into the cost.

We’ve found InsureMyTrip.com offers affordable rates, starting at around $20/person for medical and emergency coverage, more for comprehensive.

If for any reason you weren’t able to go on the trip and we were able to fill your spot, we would refund your money (less any costs associated with the airfare cancellation). You could also use it as a credit on any future Ecuador Excursion trip, which will be offered at least once a year going forward.

Altitude sickness is a slight concern. It’s never affected us, but we’ve heard of people who got a little nauseated. The first day or two you do need to acclimate, so we’ll be taking it easy that first weekend. If you had to climb five flights of stairs or something like that, you’d be winded and would definitely feel it.
Other than that, drink a lot of water and avoid alcohol the first few days and you’ll be fine.
The hiking on this trip is minimal, unless you want to do more.
The Teleferico is a tram up the mountainside, starting at about 9,500 ft and going up to 12,000 or so. From there, it’s a great observation spot, and some people choose to hike up a little further. We took a 73-year old couple up the mountain and they did just fine.
Other than that, there is some climbing of stairs at a few sites. El Panecillo is the highest point in Quito, but we can drive up instead of walking.
The light hiking can be done with regular walking shoes. No hiking boots required at all.

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