Useful Information about Quito, Ecuador
We are happy to provide you with all the assistance you need to prepare your adventure in Ecuador. Here are a few tips and information about Quito that will help you to organize your trip and get the most out of your stay.
Passport, visas and important documents
This is probably the most relevant information about Quito to have in mind. When traveling anywhere in Latin America, you should always carry your passport or a copy of it on you. It is also a good idea to bring photocopies of other essential documents (airline tickets, important prescriptions, etc.) stored in a separate place.
Always call the Embassy or Consulate of Ecuador in your country and double check on entry requirements, since they change frequently.
Getting to Quito, Ecuador
Quito is the capital of Ecuador and thus offers the best travel connections to anywhere within the country. A half-hour flight to the East takes you to the Amazon Basin, a two-and-a-half hour flight to the Galapagos Islands, the site of Darwin’s inspiration. Less than two hours to the north is Otavalo, South America’s largest and most famous Indian market. Follow the Pan American Highway south, the former Royal Road of the Incas, and you get straight to Cotopaxi National Park, site of the world’s highest active volcano.
There are many airlines flying directly to Quito. The most used by our students are:
1) Delta Airlines
2) American Airlines
6) Continental Airlines
Airport pick up
If you wish, your host family will pick you up from the airport at an extra fee of $ 20. Every Monday at the school students are welcomed by the administration staff (Patty, Sandra, Diego, Gaby, Santiago and Leo), who provide general information about our program, the country, etc. You receive a map of Quito and class materials. All students take the placement test and oral proficiency interview with the Director of Studies before meeting your teacher for the week.
Climate in Quito
The weather in Quito is surprisingly moderate year-round. Quito’s weather is most famous for its unpredictability. It is important to bring layers of clothing, such as a turtleneck, sweater and jacket as none of the buildings have a heater or air-conditioning. The climate in Ecuador is dictated by the altitude. Remember, you are on the equator. From tropical beaches to snow-capped volcanoes, Ecuador features every climatic zone known on earth.
As you are all probably aware, the official currency of Ecuador is now the US dollar. Consequently we recommend that students do not bring travelers’ checks as these can only be changed at Casas de Cambio. Instead it is much more convenient to bring dollars in cash and debit or credit cards from your bank at home. All the major banks in Ecuador are connected to the various different international financial networks such as, Cirrus, Maestro and ATM.
Although all major expenses are included in the total cost of the program, you are responsible for your own personal expenses. Some basic costs to keep in mind are items such as textbooks, papers and pens, postage stamps, envelopes, telephone calls (expensive if international), birthday gifts (or other special occasions), snacks, entertainment, personal items (toiletries), clothing, souvenirs, and personal travel. You are responsible for your own public transportation costs.
Important: You can get a cash advance on a credit card……but you must know your PIN. Most people don’t know their credit card PIN. You may also get cash out of ATMs, but many banks have limits on the amount that can be withdrawn daily and that limit can be different than in your home country. Make sure you know your bank terms and conditions.
Standard fare for public transportation is $ 0.25. Ecological and electric buses running from the airport to all across the city along the 6 de Diciembre Avenue or 10 de Agosto Avenue cost $ 0.25. All tickets are bought on the bus and we recommend not carrying valuables. For taxis, the standard fare in the city is $ 1 to 3 and not more than double at night. There is no extra charge for extra passengers. Taxis have meters and are required by law to use them. Drivers sometimes say the meters are out of order, but insist on the meter being used. If a taxi has no meter, it is imperative to agree on the fare beforehand.
Airport pickup: Upon request your host family will pick you up from the airport. Extra fee: $ 20.
One of the most fun days will be going to Otavalo Indian market where you can buy fabulous hand-knit sweaters…perfect for a cold winter. They are gorgeous and bulky. There is leather, jewelry, paintings, ceramics, blankets, scarves, jackets, weavings, etc., so plan suitcase space appropriately. Even if you hate to shop with a passion, a trip to Otavalo will drive you nuts……don’t say you weren’t warned