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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 ancient times

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).

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 main hotels.

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 film.

AIRPORT TAX: There is a $25 tax fee for anyone leaving the country from Quito or Guayaquil.

Tourist Visa: Visitors can stay up to 90 days without a tourist visa.

Taxi rates: approximately 3 to 4 dollars per ride from the airport to the city. These rates vary among the main cities.


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.

Railroad Adventure
Train 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 engine.
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, though!
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.

Riobamba-Nariz del Diablo-Riobamba
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!

Actually only "Autoferro" service is available (-->ironcar)

Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
at 7:00am

The autoferro is getting back to Alausí at approximately 12:30am
The fare Riobamba - Devil's Nose - Alausi is $14.00.

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Camara de Turismo de PichinchaMinisterio de Turismo del EcuadorMinisterio del AmbienteCamara Turismo Imbabura---Petit FuteRough Guides

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