About Us
Write for Us
Media Info
Advertising Info

Ecuador travel survival guide: What to bring on a trip to Vilcabamba, Loja or Quito

Tuesday, July 06, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: Ecuador, travel, health news

Most Viewed Articles

(NaturalNews) Traveling in Ecuador can be very rewarding: It's one of the most beautiful destinations in all the Americas, and there are some truly fascinating things to explore there. I spent most of my time in Southern Ecuador, near Loja and Vilcabamba (the Valley of Longevity), but I also traveled around Quito and Guayaquil, too.

In these travels, I learned some important travel tips that I'm sharing here. If you plan to visit Ecuador, take these to heart: They'll save you all sorts of frustration once you get there.

Watch those numbers

When you buy items at local shops, it's not unusual for them to add up the purchase total on a slip of paper. (Ecuadorian merchants are much better at math than North American workers, most of whom have forgotten how to add...)

When you see the total, you might be shocked to discover that things seem more expensive than they should. Well, here's why: Ecuadorians write the number "1" to look like a "7".

Yep: What looks to you and me like a seven is actually a one in Ecuador. Their sevens have a cross-mark on them to distinguish them from ones.

So if you think your grocery bill total came to $75.70, the truth is that it's probably just $15.10.

Carry a flashlight everywhere

Ecuador doesn't have a lot of street lights. At night, it gets dark. Sometimes really dark. So always carry a flashlight with you wherever you go.

I always carried a head-worn flashlight. It was the easiest to carry and use. In a pinch, you can buy one of these in Ecuador, but they're less expensive to buy in the USA first, before you go. (I don't know the pricing in Canada, Europe or elsewhere, but it's probably cheaper to buy it first.)

I also found it handy to always carry a pocket tool with a simple knife. The best I found is the Skeletool by Leatherman. Here's a link to it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Leatherman-830850-Skel...

I've also seen these for sale at Target stores in the USA.

Learn how merchants describe prices

If something costs you two dollars and fifty cents, that's described to you as, "Dos con cincuenta." That's "two with fifty." They don't say "two dollars and fifty cents." They just say "Two with fifty."

Merchants will often not bother with demanding every single cent. If the total is $2.52, and you give them $2.50, that's usually enough. Likewise they will sometimes give you back slightly less change. If they owe you $1.03 in change, they might just give you a buck. You should be okay with that. It works both ways.

Small bills

Even in a major Ecuadorian city like Quito, it's difficult to break a $50 or $100. Outside the cities, it's impossible.

In rural areas, you'll even have trouble breaking a $20. Or if you do manage to find some merchant who will take your $20, it usually works like this: You ask them if they can break a $20 for your small purchase. They say yes, they can break it. So you hand them your $20.

Then they run out of their shop and disappear for ten minutes. What they're doing is running around the street trying to find someone who has change for your $20. A few minutes later, they finally reappear with your change. So yes, many local merchants can break a $20 for you, but only if you're willing to wait while they canvass the town looking for change.

To avoid this, always carry $5 and $1 bills. That's the real currency in Ecuador: Small bills!


Taxi drivers are some of the nicest people in Ecuador. I've spent many hours chatting with them during various trips. In Vilcabamba, go with the taxis that look like white pickup trucks. Many of those drivers speak some English, too!

It's good to tip taxi drivers a bit. If your ride is $2, give them an extra 50 cents. If you take a longer trip to a different city, and your ride is $25, it doesn't hurt to give them $28. They really appreciate the tips, and what I learned is that the next time you need a taxi, they show up right away. I generally tip from 10% - 20%.

Taxi drivers are usually fairly honest in Ecuador, except beware of taxis in Guayaquil, which is a city that has higher crime rates than anywhere else in the country. Don't just jump into any taxi you see. You might get taken for a ride there. But in Vilcabamba and Loja, taxis are almost universally safe and polite.

Keep your personal belongings safe

While most Ecuadorians are honest, hard-working people, there are a small number who make a living lifting valuable objects off foreigners. This is especially prevalent at the airports, where a friendly-looking business man in a suit might offer to help you with your luggage and then covertly walk away with your laptop (it's true; it happened to a friend of mine).

Laptop theft is so common in Ecuador now that I know an attorney in Loja who won't even carry a laptop bag anymore. He carries his laptop in an old backpack instead.

Anything that looks valuable -- a laptop bag, camera bag, and so on -- should be disguised as something else. And please don't make the mistake of putting your purse over the back of the chair you're sitting on in a local restaurant. When you finish your dinner, that purse will be history.

Also, here's another trick: If you get on a bus to travel from city to city, the bus worker loading your bags might place your bag under your seat. You think it's safe, right? But what you don't know is that your bag was purposely put under your seat so that the zipper is facing the rear of the bus. Once you fall asleep, the person behind you will quietly unzip your bag and steal anything valuable. You won't figure it out until you get to your hotel room and wonder, "Where my iPhone?"

Ecuador is actually a very safe country to visit. There's not much violent crime compared to other countries, but there is a fair amount of petty theft. So travel safely and keep your belongings hidden and close to your body.

Learn some Spanish!

The best thing you can bring to Ecuador is some Spanish language skills! Some people in Ecuador speak English, but by no means is this a common skill. You'll need some Spanish to get around and enjoy yourself.

If you're an audio learner, I recommend the Pimsleur Spanish courses.

If you're a visual learner, I recommend Rosetta Stone. I've used both courses, and they both taught me a lot.

Please try not to pronounce your Spanish like a total newbie gringo! It's better to have a small vocabulary that you pronounce well than a huge vocabulary that nobody else can understand.

Remember: If you aren't rolling your R's and softening your D's, you aren't pronouncing Spanish correctly. In Ecuador, the letter "V" is pronounced almost like a "B."

Enjoy your visit to Ecuador!

Learn more about Ecuador

Check out my related articles:

Loja and Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Destinations for health-conscious people

Top ten things to love about Vilcabamba Ecuador, the Valley of Longevity

Adventure to Podocarpus National Forest near Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Amazing photos from Podocarpus

Photos of the ranch where I built a food forest

Homes and land in Ecuador

Vilcabamba Real Estate Company

Hacienda San Joaquin - The high-end gated community of homes near Vilcabamba

Or email us at [email protected] if you have questions about land or homes. We can help point you in the right direction.

Receive Our Free Email Newsletter

Get independent news alerts on natural cures, food lab tests, cannabis medicine, science, robotics, drones, privacy and more.

About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

comments powered by Disqus

Natural News Wire (Sponsored Content)

Science News & Studies
Medicine News and Information
Food News & Studies
Health News & Studies
Herbs News & Information
Pollution News & Studies
Cancer News & Studies
Climate News & Studies
Survival News & Information
Gear News & Information
News covering technology, stocks, hackers, and more