Getting to Ecuador
The easiest way for most travelers to get to Ecuador is by air. Entering Ecuador is usually quick and easy, especially in airports.
To enter Ecuador, travelers will need a passport that’s valid for at least six months after the date of arrival. Tourists are officially required to provide proof of both onward travel and sufficient funds for travel — border officials, however, do not usually request this. Travelers are also sometimes asked to provide proof of yellow fever vaccination if they’re coming from an area where the disease is endemic.
Because Ecuador is so close to the equator, "the "best time to visit Ecuador" is almost year round. However the most popular time tends to be mid-June to early September (when children tend to be on vacation from school), and late December (the holiday season when people usually tend to have extended breaks).
There are several airports scattered throughout Ecuador. The two international airports, located near Quito and Guayaquil, are the entry points into Ecuador. For those connecting on to the Galápagos, two smaller island airports await. In recent years Ecuador’s airports have undergone considerable renovations, and provide a high standard of convenience and service to anyone arriving to them.
Quito’s airport is the Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre (UIO). This is one of the busiest airports in Latin America, and connects travelers to many other parts of Ecuador, including the Galápagos. This airport lies roughly 23 miles (37 km) outside the city, which translates into a 45-minute drive.
Guayaquil’s is José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE). Located conveniently near the city, this airport was recently remodeled and significantly expanded. The airport caters a variety of international flights, and sees many domestic flights as well. Travelers who are planning to immediately visit the Galápagos should fly into Guayaquil, as most flights to the islands depart from here.
To get the best deal, book in advance and compare prices with different airlines. Flights to Ecuador are most expensive during the high tourist season, which lasts from June until September, and from December through mid-January.
Some flights make stops in Panama or Costa Rica, while others are direct. Miami, New York, Atlanta, and Houston are all major hubs for flights to Ecuador. A number of European and British carriers fly to Ecuador. Flights from South American countries are plentiful, but it’s usually cheaper to cross borders by bus, as international flights are subject to high taxes.
It's possible to travel to Ecuador overland. The most common way to do this is by bus from Peru. The border crossing is at Tumbes/Huaquillas. At the present moment, it's not advised to drive into Ecuador from Colombia due to the presence of drug cartels and terrorist organizations near the border.
Driving to Ecuador from North America is not possible because of the presence of Panama’s Darién Gap — this is where the Pan-American Highway comes to an abrupt halt before continuing on again in Colombia. It’s technically possible to have a shipping company in Panama City transport your car around the gap by ferry, but the process is pretty complex.
Cruises from the U.S. and Europe often make stops in the Galápagos. These cruises are usually a part of longer routes through the Americas or around the world. They also often stop in Panama, Peru, Patagonia, and Brazil.
When you arrive in Ecuador, you will have plenty of options for getting around. In fact, one of the perks is being spoiled for choice if you take an Ecuadorian cruise to the Galápagos Islands — which you certainly should! One note, road conditions and signage mean it's probably best to leave the driving to the locals. For more information, consult our "Ecuador Transport Guide: Getting Around Ecuador."