LOCATION: Ecuador is one
of the smallest countries in America. It lies
on both the northern and the southern Hemispheres,
and is divided by the Equator, which gave Ecuador
its name in the 19th Century. Ecuador borders
Colombia (North), Peru (South and East), and the
Pacific Ocean (West).
With its relatively
small territory (256.370 Km2 98.985 square
miles), Ecuador has the biggest biodiversity
per area in the world! In a study by Conservation
International, Ecuador ranked among the
17 “mega diverse” countries, alongside the
United States, China, Australia, Brazil
and Mexico. With 9.2 species per km2, it
occupies the first place in the world with
regards to species per area.
The richness of this country lies in its DIVERSITY,
both natural and cultural.
Ecuador has 4 diverse and unique regions:
the Amazon Rain forest, the Coast, the
highland Andes, and the Galapagos Archipelago.
These four regions are subdivided into
22 provinces. Besides its exuberant biodiversity,
Ecuador is home to an impressive variety
of ethnic groups, including some untouched
communities, who still preserve their
non-western or pre-Columbian values and
practice cultural manifestations from
POPULATION: approximately 13 million
LANGUAGE: Spanish. Most of the
indigenous population speaks Quichua. In many
schools English is the second language taught
as the second language. There are 18 different
languages among Ecuadorian communities.
RELIGION: 95% Catholics
CURRENCY: Dollars. The government
has produced a series of local coins of 1,5,10,25
and 50 cents that have the same value as the
American coins (which are also accepted). Banks
open from 9h00 to 17h00 and on Saturdays only
half day. Money exchange offered every day in
GOVERNMENT: Democratic. Current President is Rafael Correa.
CLIMATE: Ecuador is located in the Tropical Zone. The climate
throughout the country ranges from tropical
equatorial rain in the Amazon to perpetual snow
on the top of the mountains. Cities in the highlands
have temperatures that vary from 50 to 70 degrees
Fahrenheit, while coastal cities’ temperatures
vary from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during
the day. The wather in the jungle is constant:
rainy, humid and warm. The Galapagos Islands
are always sunny and warm, however, temperature
drops a bit during the months of June to November.
In Quito and highlands:
wear spring attire during June, July
and August. During the rest of the months, bring
warmer clothing like those you would wear during
the fall. A raincoat or jacket would be useful
at night since it gets pretty chilly.
Guayaquil and other coastal
cities: wear summer clothing all year round. During the rainy
months, December to May, the weather is still
very warm. During the months of June to November
the weather is cloudy and a little bit colder.
Bring along a light jacket.
Galapagos: wear comfortable walking shoes and casual clothing.
Shorts, t-shirts and summer clothing will be
just fine. Don’t forget a hat, a camera, sun
block, and a bathing suit. During the months
of June to November the weather is cloudy and
a bit colder. Bring along a light jacket.
Amazon or Jungle: wear clothing adequate for a rain. If you can get yourself
a raincoat (poncho), take it with you, as well
as several sets of light pants and long sleeve
shirts. Shorts are less useful because of the
insects and abundant vegetation you will walk
through on your excursions. A hat, rubber boots
and insect repellents are also a must. If you
plan to take pictures, you will need high-speed
TAX: There is a $25 tax fee
for anyone leaving the country from Quito or
Tourist Visa: Visitors can stay up to 90 days without a tourist visa.
rates: approximately 3 to 4 dollars per ride from the airport
to the city. These rates vary among the main
Main cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca) have local airports serviced
by the local airlines Tame, Aerogal and Icaro,
besides international airlines. Bus lines offer
Land transportation where you can just jump
on the next bus leaving to your destination.
Each city has its own terminal, with frequent
departure to each one of the different provinces
of our country.
journeys in Ecuador can be slow and uncomfortable,
but they are a sure adventure! The Trans-Andean
Railroad is a spectacular tourist attraction for
the variety of climates and the fantastic natural
and cultural scenery along the journeys. Moreover,
the trains themselves are a colorful part of the
landscape. The old steam trains and peculiar "autoferros"
(iron cars) that travel along the Andes are almost
a relic. The autoferro is actually an antiquated
bus complete with brakes that feed on sand, mounted
on a train’s chassis and fitted with a diesel
Foreigners are always surprised by the fact that
one is allowed to climb to the trains’ roofs.
We recommend that you wear a hat, sun block, and
a jacket, and climb on the roof; it ensures the
best view! Watch out for the branches and tunnels,
Train travel in Ecuador began in 1910, when the
Quito-Guayaquil line was opened. In 1895, President
Eloy Alfaro contacted an American company interested
in building the "most difficult railway in
the world", as it was called at the time.
The construction began in 1899. It reduced a nine-day
trek along a path that was impassable during the
rainy season, to a two-day journey. Soon, it was
acclaimed as one of the "great railway journeys
of the world".
A great deal of the Quito-Guayaquil railway was
destroyed by landslides during the devastating
El Niño floods of 1982-83, but some sections
have since been repaired.
The autoferro leaves from the station at the
city of Riobamba, passes through Cajabamba and
the Colta lagoons, and the small Guamote village.
It climbs to a little picturesque town in the
highlands called Alausí. Then comes the
most exhilarating part of the journey, said
to be one of the most spectacular in the world.
The train zigzags up and down 45-degree gradient
called "Nariz del Diablo" (Devil’s
Nose) in a breathtaking experience. The train
goes backwards on the way down, and after 30
minutes it goes back to Alausí. The town
of Alausí has beautiful cobblestone streets,
colonial houses, and a colorful food market
that is definitely worth visiting!
only "Autoferro" service is available
Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
autoferro is getting back to Alausí at
The fare Riobamba - Devil's Nose - Alausi is
|2011-03-07||Cuyabeno 4 or 5 Day Tour |