You’ve no doubt heard of Ecuador, but you may be surprised to learn the country uses the US dollar rather than adopting its own currency. It has used a variety of currencies over the years as you will soon see, but today it uses perhaps the best-known currency in the world. Here we shall find out more about it and of course about the country itself.
The US dollar is divided into 100 cents, but you probably won’t see the US cents in use in Ecuador. This is because while the country uses the US dollar, it issues its own coins. These are called centavo coins. You will find them in one, five, 10, 25 and 50 centavos. You might be surprised to find the coins are very similar to the US coins though, so it should be fairly easy to use them.
One interesting point to note is that while there is a single dollar coin in the US, it isn’t often used there. However you will see it a lot in Ecuador as they seem to rather like using it!
The banknotes are available from the smallest $1 note through the $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 dollar notes.
Ecuador has used a variety of currencies through the years. The peso and the peso fuerte were both used at different points in the 1800s. After those years the Ecuadorian sucre was in use for over a century. This entered circulation in 1884 and eventually ceased to be used in the year 2000.
This was actually the year the US dollar came into use in the country and it has been used ever since.
As you will probably guess, you can easily find the US dollar before you get to Ecuador. Just check out a range of bureaux de change and work out which one offers the best exchange rate for you. This will ensure you can get the best deal for exchanging your own currency. It’s worth asking for your money to be given to you in smaller bills. Ecuadorians (in common with some people in other countries) don’t like the idea of larger bills as they are more likely to be fake. If you can get bills issued to you as $20 or below, you should be fine.
You won’t have to worry about coins as the Ecuadorian centavo coins will be given to you in your change whenever you buy something in Ecuador. You may want to consider using as many of these as possible prior to leaving Ecuador when the time comes, as you won’t be able to exchange these back once you get home.
You can also get traveller’s cheques to take with you if you wish. There are usually quite a few places that will happily exchange these. Having said that, make sure you get some exchanged before you leave the more built-up areas. Rural places don’t tend to be as easy to exchange these in as the cities and towns are.
You can use credit cards to make payment for bills as well, or debit cards. Try and keep them associated with a popular network to increase chances of acceptance, such as Visa for example.
You’ll know how to do this if you have ever used a currency converter. By checking out one of these you can get the latest exchange rate for your own currency. Remember this will not be the same as the rate you are likely to get if you go to a bureaux de change; they will have charges applied to the transaction so you might end up getting a slightly different rate. This is why shopping around is a good idea.
Clearly if you are going to go to Ecuador you will want to learn something about the country before booking your tickets. The best way to do this – and to get the latest information about the area – is to visit the UK government page for that country. You’ll find it at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ecuador.
There are some isolated regions of the country that are not currently advisable to travel to. These are all along the border with Colombia where there is an exclusion zone. There is just one official crossing point here and that is the town of Tulcan. There is another small area to the east of the border that is not advisable to visit, but other than that you should be fine in the remainder of the country.
Most people don’t experience any issues when they go to Ecuador. However in some cases things do happen. Unfortunately this is a country where petty crime is very common indeed, so it pays to do whatever you can to minimise the chances you will be affected. It is best to read up on the latest updates at the site link above to ensure you are fully aware of the areas where greater instances of crimes do tend to occur.
You can help keep your possessions safer by never letting them out of your sight. Criminals do like an easy target so try and make sure you don’t become one. The government website recommends that if you carry a rucksack you should wear it at the front instead of at the back, where people might be more easily able to dip into it.
The usual advice regarding carrying money applies here for safety reasons. You should make sure you don’t carry excessive amounts and try to divide it into different pockets if you can. It also goes without saying that taking money out of cash machines can be a potential trouble-spot – always keep a close eye on who is around you. Never take out more than you need.
How much do you know about Ecuador? You may know it is in South America, but did you know the Galapagos Islands also fall under this country? They are a few hundred miles from Ecuador itself.
The capital of Ecuador is Quito. Its defining sight is the historic city centre. This has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Centre and rightly so. In many ways it remains just the same as it did many years ago. Elsewhere in the city you can see the cathedral and numerous assorted churches dating from various periods in history. In many ways, stepping into Quito feels like a journey through history itself.
One thing worth noting about Ecuador is its volcanoes. There are several of them, mostly concentrated in a rough line down the central mountainous part of the country. While they are not all active, some of them are. Indeed, Reventador last erupted in 2014 while Sangay erupted the year before that. Wawa Pichincha has been quiet but only since 2004. If you are considering going anywhere near a volcano do check to see whether it is advisable to do so. You wouldn’t get much notice to evacuate the area if anything happened.
One of the prime volcanoes in the country in terms of activity is Cotopaxi. You can book a tour to see the volcano if you wish, which is probably the safest way to do so. It has blown its top many times throughout history but it has been incredibly quiet over the last few decades. Does this point to something else happening soon..?
You can also look at a variety of national parks in Ecuador. The Cajas National Park is in the highland region of the country and is known as a Ramsar Wetland area. Various animals have been seen here and are known to make their homes here.
If you get a chance to visit Guayaquil you should check out the Malecon 2000 boardwalk. This allows you a nice view over the Guayas River from which the area gets its name. The boardwalk runs for a mile and a half so it’s the perfect way to walk off lunch, especially if you decide to walk back again as well!
Ecuador may not be the first place you think of when you are considering where to go on holiday. However it does have some dramatic scenery throughout the country, especially when you take into account the many volcanoes there. Even if you don’t fancy the idea of going too close to one of those, there are numerous other areas that are worth seeing.
So if you think a trip to Ecuador might be in your future, remember to check the latest travel information for that part of the world. It could be you get the chance to travel to a country you may never have gone to otherwise.