ABOUT Ecuador is located on the Equator in the northwest of South America. It borders Colombia and Peru to the north, Peru to the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is the eighth largest country in South America, and the geography of its four regions is very diverse: Andes, Amazon, Pacific Coast and Galapagos. Ecuador is a wonderful and lively country with plenty to offer visitors, for instance the traditional Ecuadorian important monuments, the renaissance fashion and beauty metropolis cities. Citizens of any nationality may enter Ecuador without a visa and stay for a period of ninety days. Arriving by plane you will land at Quito's airport shared by all the airlines with drinks, snacks, and seating areas. Another port of entry is Guayaquil, which has a modern airport that includes the typical amenities such as restaurants and duty-free shopping. The airport is located north from downtown. The Galapagos Islands are one of the Ecuadorian provinces and have two airports, one of which is on Baltra and the other is on San Cristobal. Aerogal is the name of the airline which flies to Galapagos. All the flights are through the mainland. The Quito airport charges an international departure tax of $40.80. The tax is $26 from Guayaquil. This tax is already included in the cost of the flight since February 2011. Travelling by bus the Intercity buses travel to almost everywhere in Ecuador. All the intercity bus routes and schedules are available online. Many cities have a central bus terminal, known as the terminal terrestre, where it is possible to buy tickets from the various bus lines that serve the city. Long-distance buses typically cost from $1 to $2 per hour, depending on the distance and the type of service; groups may be able to negotiate discounts. Buses are frequent along major routes. It is not advisable to drive as the roads are pretty bad and the law even worse. Taxis are widely available. Taxis are generally yellow and have the taxi license number prominently displayed. Taxis in Quito have meters (fares under $1 are rounded up to the minimum fare of $1). Agree upon a price before getting in or ask the driver to use the meter (often cheaper than a negotiated rate); short trips generally don't cost more than $1 or $2, and you generally shouldn't end up paying more than $10 per hour, if that, for longer trips. Evening rates are often double. As with any country in Latin America, don't ride in an unlicensed taxi. It's a great way to get kidnapped.

CLIMATE In order to understand why there are so many different types of climates in Ecuador, you need to consider the altitude of each area of the country. Climatic variations depends more on altitude than on the time of year. Further, as a result of Ecuador's "center of the world" location, the typical four seasons are non-existent. The mainland coastal areas and the Galápagos Islands are both influenced by ocean currents and are hot and rainy between January and April with strong and bright sunshine in the morning hours. If you hit the beaches between May and December, it rarely rains and the temperature is a few degrees cooler. In the highlands, the dry season is between June and September and around Christmas, but even the mountains' wet season isn't particularly wet. The central valley is generally spring-like all year, with temperatures no higher than 24°C. The Oriente experiences rain year round, July and August are the wettest months, September through December the driest. It's usually as hot here as it is on the coast.

BEWARE Foreigners are advised to carry their identity documents at all times. If driving, always ensure that you have your driving licence, vehicle insurance papers and registration card (matricula). Cases of armed robbery are on the increase, and muggings and pick pocketing are common. In Quito, be particularly wary in ‘La Carolina’ and ‘El Ejido’ parks, and in ‘La Mariscal’, 'La Floresta' and ‘La Marin’ districts, as well as in the old town, including the central bus station and “El Panecillo” hill if not travelling with a tour company. Do not attempt to walk to this point by yourself. In Guayaquil, be particularly cautious in the Kennedy, Alborada, Urdesa and Malecon Simon Bolivar districts. Do not wear expensive jewellery when walking in the streets and travelling on public transport. Wear your rucksack on the front of your body and avoid storing anything under your seat or in overhead luggage space. Since October and November 2011 there has been a significant increase of robberies in interstate transport and bus stations, especially in Baños town. Keep a close watch on your bags and belongings when in restaurants or cafes as thieves are constantly on the lookout to make a ‘grab and run’. Criminals will squirt liquids (ketchup, mustard, water, etc.) onto you and then steal your bag whilst ‘helping’ to clean you up. This technique is used across Ecuador.