A beautiful, green country with one of the greatest treasures on Earth, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are a must see for your bucket list. The country is pretty poor which makes it a cheap travel destination, but can be a bit challenging for English, food, water, and general safety. The country itself seems steeped in nature, although I spent the majority of my visit on the offshore islands.
1. Galapagos Islands
Highlights: Islands, wildlife, lava fields, snorkeling, scuba, boating, hiking
Suggest Staying: 5-12 days
Stay Around: Santa Cruz, Boat
Highlights: City, mountains
Suggest Staying: 1-2 days
Stay Around: Old Town (La Rosario)
- Flights: $768 (Cuzco => Quito)
- Lodging: $222 (AirBnB post tour)
- Transportation: $40 (taxi)
- Activities: $185 (scuba)
- Food: $270 (estimated $30/day self, $150 allowance tour)
- Tour: $2,769
While a yellow fever vaccine is not required to enter the country, it may be required to leave, depending on your destination after Ecuador. Because there is a very small part of Ecuador that is part of the Amazon Rainforest, which is susceptible to Yellow Fever, some countries will not let you enter without this vaccine. Be aware that you may experience signs of a fever after a few days of getting the vaccine, so ask a doctor about how it works and what you should expect.
After our time in the Galapagos Islands, my friend and I headed to the airport. He was flying back to the U.S. and I was on my way to Costa Rica. While my friend had no issues, I was stopped at the counter during checkin because I could not produce the “yellow card” that proves administration of the vaccine. After finally figuring out what they were even talking about and explaining that since they didn’t know I wasn’t in the Amazon, I had to delay my flight a day, pay the change fee, and head back to Quito to get the vaccine. Although it was a royal pain in the ass, the medical center I went to was great. It was clean, the vaccine was only around $35, and the lady who administered was super nice. This was a very important lesson learned that luckily didn’t cost me too much, but certainly could have.