Travel Tips for Southern Ecuador Route
Spanish is spoken throughout. If you are traveling alone you will want to have a smattering of useful phrases at a minimum. Most tourist facilities normally have one or more staff members who speak English, including the airlines, larger hotels, and car rental agencies.
Weather and Clothing
You may well encounter a wide variety of weather during this trip. Rain gear (including rubber boots or the equivalent), as well as T-shirts are suggested. One warm fleece type sweater is also worth having. Layer!
Expect food to be basic but good. Unless indicated otherwise by an experienced guide, stick to cooked foods and avoid water and ice.
If you are traveling independently, we suggest that you hire a car or small van. Some side trips may require 4WD. Bus transport is available, but not recommended unless you are a hardened backpacker potentially willing to wait for long periods in isolated areas. Road works are common e.g. to repair landslides, so allow plenty of time especially when returning to the airport in Guayaquil.
There is a good field guide to the birds of Ecuador by Bob Ridgely and Paul Greenfield published by Cornell. The field guide is volume II of a two volume set. The other book covers distribution and taxonomy. Where to Watch Birds in South America by Nigel Wheatley has a good summary of this region. Waterproof binoculars are suggested, as well as at least one telescope per group, but not necessarily per individual. Bird recordings should be used sparingly and can be obtained from the Xeno Canto web site (though be sure to test the files before you leave, as we have found that some may temporarily jam your iPod). There is a full list of Ecuadorian birds on Wikipedia, though the format is not field friendly.
List of birds of Ecuador
Extra flash cards may be available in Guayaquil, but the general rule is to take everything you need. British birders may require electrical adapters for battery recharge. Most areas have sockets that are compatible with regular U.S. electrical plugs, but you may want to pick up an adapter anyway – just to be 100% sure.
Passports and Visas
U.S. and British travelers do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days in Ecuador. A passport valid for at least six months past the date of entry is required however. Nationals of other countries should check with their Ecuadorian Embassy or consulate regarding visa requirements.
Problems can usually be avoided if you stick with cooked food and do not drink non-bottled water. Check with your doctor for inoculations that might be needed. Malaria is not typically prevalent in this region. Chiggers are not dangerous, but are common in grassy areas, itch intensely, and can last for several days so avoid wandering into grass!
The area is generally safe, but use the usual level of caution in crowds, or on isolated roads.