FAQs Ecuador

Visa Information

Ecuador welcomes tourists and travelers from every country. For citizens of the United States, Canada and most European countries, traveling to Ecuador for tourism, business or study does not require a Visa unless these visitors expect to stay in Ecuador for more than 90 days in one calendar year (that is, 90 days adding every entry in one year), or if they are receiving income from an Ecuadorian source. Our volunteers should obtain a tourist visa as it is very expensive to arrange working visa. Please call the Ecuadorian embassy and ask for more information and an application form.

New Hope Volunteer suggests that ALL volunteers acquire the appropriate visa in their home country BEFORE arriving in-country to avoid any unnecessary hassles at the airport.

Who manages the volunteer projects in Ecuador ?

New Hope Volunteer's In-Country Coordinator in Ecuador is responsible for researching appropriate volunteer projects as per the qualifications and skills of the applicants.

What are the daily schedules of the projects?

Project schedules vary for each project in Ecuador . Most volunteers participate in their respective/assigned projects from Monday to Friday for 4-6 hours a day. The Mini-Venture, of course, follows a different and abbreviated schedule. Most volunteers have the weekends to themselves where they can see the local sights and explore Ecuador on their own.

Where are the projects located?

New Hope Volunteer's volunteer projects in Ecuador are located in the following towns/cities:

Quito is the capital of Ecuador , and one of the oldest known locations of pre-Hispanic buildings in South America . The ancient city was invaded by the Incans and later destroyed to keep it from the Spanish, who rebuilt it in its current form. Nestled into the slopes of an active volcano, the city rests on a ring of several volcanos, which are all under constant monitoring. The surrounding slopes create majestic vistas into the city, where about 1.5 million people currently live. Enjoying a cool and dry climate compared with other regions of Ecuador , Quito could be defined as the political and social heart of the country, due to its long and turbulent history as a site of political rebellions and cultural events.

The phrase 'small is beautiful' could have been coined specifically with Ecuador in mind. By South American standards it is tiny (only half the size of France ) and is dwarfed by its neighbors. But it is this relative compactness which is one of its main attractions. If you've only got a few weeks in which to explore a place, you really don't want to spend half your time in an aircraft or on a bus. Here, you can watch dawn break over the jungle canopy, have lunch high in the Andes, then watch the sun slip into the Pacific Ocean, all in the same day. And Ecuador is the gateway to the fabulous Galápagos Islands .

What is the language spoken in Ecuador ?

Spanish is the official language of Ecuador .

When are the Ecuador-based projects available?

Literally, the projects are open year-round and volunteers are encouraged to apply anytime at their convenience.

How long can I volunteer in Ecuador ?

We normally suggest participants volunteer from 2-12 weeks.

Who will arrange my flight to Ecuador ?

Airfare is the responsibility of the volunteer.

Which airport should I book my flight into?

Volunteers should arrive at Quito international airport.

When should I arrive in Ecuador ?

Volunteers should arrive in Ecuador the day before their projects start, which is usually on a Sunday. If arriving earlier to Ecuador , you will need to arrange a place to stay and a return to the airport on Sunday to be picked up.

Will someone pick me from the airport? If so, how do I know about the person?

You will be picked up at the airport, but you must send your travel itinerary to our Ecuador in-country Coordinator and to us at New Hope Volunteer before your arrival in Ecuador (we'll pass it on to the Coordinator). You will be picked up by a staff member or our in-country coordinator who will be holding a sign with your name written on it, awaiting your arrival outside of the airport. In case no one is there, you can call our in-country coordinator, who can help with the picking-up or arrange the accommodations immediately. You will be supplied with all contact information in-case of the rare instance that you are not picked up. Make sure you look carefully for your pick-up, as it will be extremely busy outside of the airport.

What should I do if my flight is delayed?

  • Try to call our Ecuador in-country Coordinator from the airport and inform him of the possibly-delayed arrival time.
  • Check your placement instructions pertaining to details of hotels that have been recommended for late arrival if your flight is to arrive after midnight;
  • Call/email our Ecuador in-country Coordinator once you arrive so that he can help with a pick-up accordingly.

How can I get to the hotel from the airport if I did not see New Hope Volunteer's local representative in the airport?

In the event that your arrival time is changed/delayed, requiring you to stay overnight in a hotel (or if you failed to meet New Hope Volunteer's representative at the airport), you should hire a taxi at the airport who will take you to a hotel designated in your placement details/pre-departure information (and do remember to request a receipt from the driver).
ALSO: make sure that you call New Hope Volunteer's In-Country Coordinator BEFORE boarding the taxi. Participants are advised to contact New Hope Volunteer's Ecuador In-Country Coordinator the next day and let him/her know their whereabouts.

What do I need prior to departure from my home country?

  • Please make sure that you pack all your necessary documents – Passport, copy of passport, and at least one other form of ID.
  • Prepare financially, in advance, to cover various expenses up to $100 USD/week for extra expenses and travel to your project each day.
  • Get your mind and spirit ready for the duration you have committed to. Culture shock affects everyone and may be so strong that you want to quit the week after arrival.

If I want to arrive earlier than when the program begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations?

You can arrive several days earlier or even up to a week early for your project, however, it will be at your own expense. Please carefully coordinate early arrivals with GC and our in-country coordinator.

When should I depart from Ecuador ?

We ask participants to depart from Ecuador on the Sunday after their project is completed. Obviously, if you'd like to explore the country or the rest of South America , you should! Note that New Hope Volunteer accommodations and food end that Sunday.

Which airport will I fly out of?

All volunteers will depart from Quito international airport.

Who will drop me off at the airport?

New Hope Volunteer does not offer airport drop service. You will need to arrange a taxi or bus ride to the airport after your project is finished. This is an easy process and our in-country coordinator in Ecuador or the staff at the family house will be more than happy to assist you with this.

Can I store my luggage if I arrive earlier than my program starts?

Yes, you may, but please note that this service is usually charged and/or calculated on an hourly basis. So, do not leave your luggage at the airport for an extended amount of time.

Who will arrange my accommodations and what are they?

Your accommodations will be arranged by our in-country coordinator in Ecuador . The living conditions of the placement will all depend on the area to which you are assigned. Although a beautiful, friendly place, you should not expect luxurious accommodations in Ecuador . You will be placed within a welcoming family setting, and you will have your own room. Or if you prefer, you can be placed in a hostel or guest house. Our host families are mostly educated, well-respected people, who have experience with international students. In addition, some members of host families may speak English.

Are singles rooms available?

Most of the time you will be assigned a private room, however a private room is NOT guaranteed and you may share a room with another volunteer.

If I arrive with my friend, or girlfriend/boyfriend, can we stay together?

Yes, but you need to inform our Ecuador in-country Coordinator of this so that he can help prepare accommodations.

Will there be other foreign volunteers/interns at my placement?

This usually depends on the exact placement (i.e. date, project) and your preference in this issue.

What are the bathroom facilities?

Most bathrooms will have a Western style toilet rather than a squat style. A shower with hot & cold water is usually installed in the bathroom. In most cases, volunteers share bathroom/toilet with host family

What are the laundry arrangements?

Laundry can be done at a number of very good dry cleaning businesses or your host family may provide laundry services for a fee.

What are the local cuisines? Who manages food?

New Hope Volunteer manages food from the very first day to the last day of the program in collaboration with the local host families involved. New Hope Volunteer arranges for local Ecuadorian foods three times a day.

The food in Ecuador is very diverse, varying with altitude as do the agricultural conditions. Pork, chicken, meat or “cuy” ( guinea pig ) are popular in the mountain regions served with an immense variety of cereals, potatoes or rice. A street food in mountain regions of Ecuador is potatoes served with roasted pig (hornado). Fanesca is also a dish that has been made famous in Ecuador , it is a soup made during the time of Lent and is made with 12 types of bean (i.e. green beans, lima beans, lupini beans, fava beans, etc.) and milk and is usually served with codfish. According to many, beef jerky was invented in Ecuador.

There is a great variety of fresh fruit available, particularly at lower altitudes. Seafood is popular at the coast, particularly prawns . Shrimp and lobster are key parts of the coastal diet as well. Plantain and peanut based dishes and foods are the basis of most coastal meals, which in general are served in two courses: a "caldo", or soup , which may be "aguado" (a thin soup, usually with meat), or "caldo de leche", a cream vegetable soup. The second course might typically include rice, some meat or fish in a "menestra" (stew), and salad or vegetables. Patacones are popular side dishes with most coastal meals.

Some of the typical dishes in the coastal region are: ceviche , pan de almidón , corviche , guatita , encebollado and empanadas ; in the mountain region: hornado , fritada , humitas, tamales , llapingachos , lomo saltado , churrasco , etc.
In the rainforest, a dietary staple is the yuca, a root (elsewhere called cassava ). The starchy root is peeled and boiled, fried, or used in a variety of other dishes. Many fruits are also available in this region. Source: wikipedia.org

Can you supply special diets?

New Hope Volunteer can provide both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. Occasionally, in the event that you require a special diet, you are responsible for your own meals. Participants are strongly urged to inform New Hope Volunteer of any special dietary need prior to arrival in-country.

Is the running tap water safe for drink?

In most places in Ecuador tap water is not drinkable. We recommend that you purchase bottled water for your consumption. You can request that your host family boil water for you each day to consume.

Are there hot and cold water facilities available?

Specifics pertaining to availability of hot water will be included in participants' placement details.

Will bottled water be provided?

No, if participants require bottled water, they are responsible for obtaining it themselves.

How safe is Ecuador ?

Tourists should use common sense to ensure their safety. Most tourists who avoid flashing large amounts of money, visiting areas near the Colombian border, civil disturbances, side streets in big cities at night and that sort of thing report few problems. Probably the biggest threat in most places is simple thievery: Belongings should not be left unguarded on the beach, for example, and pickpockets can be found in some of the more crowded areas, especially the Trolébus (Metro) in Quito , in bus terminals and on the busses themselves. Busses allow peddlers to board briefly and attempt to sell their wares; however, they are often thieves themselves, so keep a close eye out for them. Hotel personnel are generally good sources of information about places that should be avoided.

Ecuador offers great opportunities for hiking and climbing, unfortunately, some travelers have been attacked and robbed in remote sections of well known climbs . Travelers are urged to avoid solo hikes and to go in a large group for safety reasons.
Source: wikitravel.org

Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to Tropical South America. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • Hepatitis B , especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including some cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug. For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see Malaria Information for Travelers to Tropical South America .
  • Rabies , if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
  • Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors.
  • Yellow fever , a viral disease that occurs primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America , is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The virus is also present in Panama and Trinidad and Tobago . Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to endemic areas and may be required to cross certain international borders (For country specific requirements, see Yellow Fever Vaccine Requirements and Information on Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis, by Country.). Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10 year intervals if there is on-going risk.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.

Required Vaccinations

Yellow fever is present in this region and vaccination is recommended if you travel to the endemic zones of some South American countries. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into Ecuador if you have visited an endemic area. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements . Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine cente. Source: Center for Disease Control

What health precautions should I be aware of and tend to?

Ecuador is widely considered to be a developing country and health hazards are a significant issue. Of the most significant are food borne illnesses, though they can easily be treated with digestive drugs such as antacids or antidiarrheals.
Bottled water is the key in Ecuador if you don't want to get sick. This doesn't only apply to foreigners who don't have the stomach for Ecuadorian food but also Ecuadorians who know that if they don't boil their water or drink it from the bottle that they can get very sick. As a result, it can be purchased almost everywhere (even in the most remote places) for well under $.025-.50. Water bottles are sometimes provided by hostels and hotels, which can be used for brushing teeth.
Outside the major cities and tourist areas, malaria can be a problem along the coast during the rainy season. Source: wikitravel.org

Do I need health insurance?

New Hope Volunteer takes out comprehensive medical insurance for its volunteers. Western and traditional Ecuadorian medicines are widely available in most urban areas in Ecuador . So, your health insurance is crucial. It is suggested that you pay up-front costs and then file an insurance claim to get reimbursed back home after medical expenses such as doctor's visits, medicines, etc. For some larger expenses, the insurance company may be able to arrange direct payment to the hospital or medical provider, but this is rare.

Who do I contact in case of a health-related emergency?

East or west, home is the best. There is no place better than home when you are ill. But if you do get ill, don't panic. Participants can obtain information pertaining to medical assistance through a number of channels:

  • New Hope Volunteer's In-Country Coordinator;
  • Assigned host-family;
  • Your country's embassy in Ecuador – participants are greatly encouraged to obtain and maintain contact information for their respective embassy; keeping it on their person for easy access.

Is the food safe if I buy it from a street vendor?

Probably not. While you are in Ecuador , food safety should be the major factor in your decision to abstain. You can hardly resist the tempting novelty of street vendors and their food variety. Our suggestion is to avoid eating on the streets until you get familiar with the general situation. The food will likely taste quite different than anything you have had before. Food safety problems can range from chemicals and contaminants, to bacteria as well as some other diseases. In Ecuador , poor food cooking, preparation, and storage, as well as improper cleaning and disinfecting of cooking supplies is very common among street vendors. So, we do not suggest buying food from street vendors.

What are the sanitary conditions in Ecuador ?

  • Be prepared and never expect a clean toilet 100% of the time. Carry some tissue in-case you need to use the public toilet.
  • Ecuadorian toilets generally do not do well when flushing large amounts of items or feminine hygiene products (i.e. tampons) so do not flush them. Rather, throw them away in the trash.
  • In some areas/restaurants, toilet systems are old and have very narrow plumbing and get blocked easily. In these cases a small basket is usually placed beside the toilet (for your used toilet paper).
  • Use hotel lobby toilets; these are everywhere and are always clean. Still, they may not always have toilet paper. It depends on the class of hotel that you are using.

What vaccinations are required?

New Hope Volunteer STRONGLY suggests volunteers follow the Center for Disease Control's travel advice ( www.cdc.gov ). You can also find this information in the question above about health precautions.

Are ATMs easily available? If yes, which debit and credit cards are accepted?

Credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, JCB, Master and Visa are accepted at the local large hotels or tourist stores. You also can withdraw cash from most international banks and credit cards from ATM machines, but $2-4 USD surcharges apply for each transaction.

What is the local currency and how do I know the exchange rate?

Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency. It has its own coins, which are basically the same size as American coins.

Where do I exchange my money and how much?

You can cash your traveler's checks or exchange your coins at banks, some tourist hotels, and sometimes even at stores. You should never carry too much cash for safety reasons.

How much money should I bring with me?

Ecuador remains well within the reach of the budget traveler and is even among the better deals in South America . It is still very much a bargain by international standards. A very basic daily travel budget is currently about US$15 per person, based on two people traveling together as cheaply as possible. For US$40 a day, you can have a good deal of comfort and even a little elegance, while US$100 is getting up into the luxury range.

Is it safe to carry cash with me?

Carrying cash is not safe – therefore, don't carry a large surplus of cash with you.

How do I make contact with New Hope Volunteer's local representative?

Details contact of our Ecuador in-country Coordinator will be given in final placement sheet. You can contact him by email or telephone; we suggest all volunteers talk with country coordinator before they arrive.

How do I contact my family once I arrive in Ecuador ?

International Direct Dialing from Ecuador is available in the cities. Phone cards are widely available and calls can be made from post offices, hotels and phone booths on the streets. In hotels, local calls are generally charged at a nominal fee. Internet cafes are available in most towns, although they can sometimes be noisy as they are a popular spot for the youth to play online games. You can use any type of communication to call back home.

Are internet services easily available?

There exist facilities of email, post office, and telephone in most of small cities in Ecuador . So you can expect these facilities with in 10-20 miles of distance.

How can my family members contact me?

Once you settle down at the host family, you will want to use your calling card to contact your family if you have not already done so when you arrived in Ecuador at the airport.

Can I bring my telephone from my home country?

No, your cell phone will most likely not work in Ecuador . You can check with your service provider to make sure, since every corporation's policies differ.

Is there a special dress code that I should follow while staying in Ecuador ?

Volunteers should dress conservatively when at their projects. Jeans and a t-shirt are acceptable. No high shorts and tank tops please.

What should I know about Ecuadorian religious conduct?

Ecuador respects different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, and moral concepts. You may practice on your own accord.

How do I respect the Ecuadorian people?

Be more inclusive and show respect of other cultures. Ecuadorian culture is rich in customs and traditions. The Ecuadorian people enjoy sharing their customs and traditions with foreigners so feel free to take part with them. You may even be asked to join your host family at their local church for services, this is up to you and you do not have to attend the services if you do not wish.

In Ecuador , like all countries, there are a few details that you should remember to maintain cultural sensitivity. For example, never gesture at someone with your palm facing outward. Likewise, if you're demonstrating how tall someone is, always turn your palm sideways instead of facing down.

What is weather like in Ecuador?

Due to geographic differences in altitude, longitude and latitude, and the climatic effects of the Pacific Ocean, the Amazon, and the Andes, the various regions and sub regions of Ecuador have very different climates and microclimates. The Pacific coast has a rainy season between December and May and a dry one from June to November. The temperature oscillates between 23 and 26 degrees centigrade. The Highlands , on the other hand, has a rainy, cold climate from November to April and a dry one from May to October. The temperature here is between 13 and 18 degrees centigrade. In the Amazon, the climate is rainy and humid between January and September, with temperatures between 23 and 36 degrees centigrade, and it is dry between October and December. The Galapagos has a temperate climate with temperatures ranging between 22 and 32 degrees centigrade. Source: vivecuador.com

Required Clothing

Lightweight clothing and rainwear is recommended as well as warmer clothing for the evenings (light jacket and/or light sweaters). Depending on your placement, you may need to bring winter cloths (it can be very cold in Quito in the winter). A solid pair of walking shoes is highly recommended for trekking.

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