ECUADOR -LAGOONS & VOLCANOES-
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP
There are only a few weeks left for our great photography expedition in Ecuador.
We recommend you to read in detail the following information and follow our advice to make this trip a success. Take notes if necessary or save this page where you can easily access it. As always, we are available to answer any questions you might have, via phone or email.
It is easy to assume that it is not necessary to know many details as there will always be someone telling you everything when you are part of a tour. However, despite having everything covered, including itinerary, locations, transportation, schedules, it is very important to know certain information about the regions or the country you are visiting. The better informed you are, the better your experience may be.
Therefore, read as much as you can about Ecuador, see videos and buy a travel guidebook if possible.
Do not forget that this is a trip designed 100% with photography in mind and for that reason, we will have to sacrifice some comforts if we want to be in the indicated locations, at the right time to catch the best light.
Some of you have already travelled with us and know what it means to ‘catch the light’. Those minutes of golden light in the morning, blue hour and sunsets are our favourite time of the day for photography. That means getting up early in the morning and often travelling long distances to visit our chosen locations. Surely we will end up exhausted, but very happy to have seen a lot in the days that we will be in Ecuador.
-Make a list of everything. Every time you remember a detail that you should keep in mind, write it down. Whether it is something that must be packed, a procedure to be carried out, pending calls before travelling, etc.
-Make sure your passport has at least 6 months validity and at least 2 free pages to stamp your visa.
-British, the USA and European Union nationals are not required to obtain an Ecuadorean visa to visit Ecuador as tourists for short stays (90 days)
-Print at least 3 copies of your passport. One to produce at immigration at the airport in Quito and the rest in case you lose it.
– Do you need transit visas for the countries you travel through before arriving in Ecuador? Be sure to find out and, and apply with plenty of time.
-Take a mobile phone with enough memory. Download photos and files you do not need before you travel. A good phone is useful to record small videos, time-lapses, record audio or those BTS moments. Nothing worse than running out of memory.
-If you do not usually make an automatic backup of your contacts, it is also important that you do it regularly (not only when you travel)
-Please write down in a NOTEPAD or notebook, those telephone numbers you may need, including the hotel in Quito, your family and ours (once we have a local number in Ecuador we will send it out to the group) A notebook is useful in case your phone runs out of battery or you lose it.
-Delegate tasks in your office and home from now. Who is in charge of paying your bills? Who will take care of your plants, pets?
– Leave a copy of the itinerary as well as the flight schedule, reservation codes and hotel name with a someone you trust (hotels and itinerary details will be sent soon)
– Think that you will be disconnected from your routine, outside of your comfort zone. Try to leave everything arranged beforehand.
– Bringing dollars in cash is always a very good option in case of emergency. It is a currency that works in any country (and the currency adopted by Ecuador at the moment). It does not need to be too much, but enough to get you covered in case you need it.
-Please take the time to clean your equipment very well, if you have not used it for a long time, charge the batteries and test them, they fail just like memory cards do. By experience in all trips, there is always someone who does not have enough batteries or memories.
-If music helps you to make long flights or road trips more bearable, download the music you like in advance. If you’re worried about your phone’s battery, bring a music player like this one
-Empty your memory cards before travelling and make sure you have enough capacity on your computer or external hard disk. If you plan to use software such as Photoshop or Lightroom during your trip, download it and make sure it is properly installed.
-Need to clean your camera sensor? This is something that must be done by a professional. Get advice in the area where you live.
-Tell your doctor about your travelling plans. He may recommend special medicines that you can take with you, depending on your health condition and the country you are travelling to.
Do you take regular medication? Bring enough for the whole expedition, it is difficult to find some medicines in Ecuador.
A first aid kit is vital. We recommend carrying the following, apart from the basics:
Thermometer, medicine for headache, flu, gastritis, constipation, migraines, analgesics for pain, muscle relaxants, antibiotics, antidiarrheals, antiallergic or antihistamines, rehydrating salt sachets.
Do you suffer from asthma? Don’t forget your inhalers.
WARNING: These are only recommendations, but it is very important that you discuss with your GP what medicines you CAN AND WHAT YOU CAN’T TAKE.
John Quintero, John Quintero Photography or any of its affiliates/work team is not responsible for any health problems caused by your medical condition and/or the medicines you take. For the same reason, we are not able to offer you ANY medicine during the expedition. If medical attention is required, you will be referred to the nearest hospital or health centre.
Routine vaccines that everyone should have (not only for this trip:
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, chicken pox, polio, and your annual flu shot. Make sure you are up to date with the reinforcements for these vaccines.
CDC recommends this vaccine for adults who are travelling to areas of active cholera transmission. Cholera is assumed to be present in Ecuador. Cholera is rare in travellers but can be severe.
We are not travelling to areas with a risk of getting bitten by the mosquitoes responsible for the transmission of Malaria.
Yellow fever is a risk in certain parts of Ecuador but we will not travel to those areas. Please bear in mind you might be asked for a yellow fever vaccine certificate at the airport if you are coming from a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission.
* CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Get covered for the whole duration of the expedition and don’t forget to leave a copy of your policy with a relative and also take a copy with you.
PHOTOCOPIES AND PHOTOS OF YOUR EQUIPMENT
Do not forget to take photocopies of your passport and your flight’s itinerary. Put them in your luggage and carry-on bag. It is also advisable to scan or photograph those documents and send them to your own email.
For insurance purposes, do not forget to write down the serial numbers of all your electronics and to take photos of them as well as your luggage.
WHAT TO PACK
-Please take only ONE suitcase/backpack with you, apart from the camera bag and a foldable small backpack, in your suitcase, Ideal for 1 or 2 days trips.
-Do you like to buy souvenirs and presents? Remember to make space for them in your suitcase.
-Check your baggage allowance with the airline.
– Pack your suitcase in a way you can access everything easily. Nothing worse than packing in a rush at the airport security check.
-Avoid problems and do not carry in your hand luggage, aerosols, liquids that exceed 100 ml, nail clippers, knives, scissors or lighters.
-Have an easy-access pocket reserved for your tickets, passport and documents you need during your flight. Or better yet, carry a very small bag or waist pack for documents, bank cards, money, a pen, a notebook, a phone charger and your glasses.
We are travelling during the dry season and temperatures will be low in most of the areas we are visiting.
Remember that Quito altitude is 2850 metres and this is the lowest we will be, it is cold most of the time everywhere and in some areas like the Cotopaxi National Park, it could read O °C at night with strong wind. The same applies to other areas in the north.
When deciding what to pack, we recommend you to be practical and creative. Wear easy-drying clothes (leave your jeans at home) and remember that we are not going on any business or fashion trip. It’s about being comfortable even if that means constantly repeating the same outfit. Technical clothing is perfect.
-Hat. Those with a neck flap are perfect.
-Winter woolly hat and gloves! It gets really cold especially at night
-A headwear or bandana, which also serves to protect you from dust and the sun.
-Lightweight but resistant poncho NO raincoat. A raincoat is tight on your body and you can’t put your camera under. A poncho can protect you and your camera in case you want to take photos under the rain too. This is a garment that should always be in your camera bag.
-For men and women, a shawl or a big scarf. This cloth is very light to carry and essential to protect you from the sun, dust and wind or protect your camera from an sporadic drizzle.
-A waterproof winter jacket with a hood. Light but good enough to protect you against the cold, wind, and the rain. Brands such as North Face, Columbia, Quechua, Mammut and many others have very good ones.
-Long sleeve shirts.
-Long sleeve tops.
–Long-sleeved pants or those that can be turned into shorts. Having long pants for men and women is essential for Ecuador’s weather.
-Technical underwear that dries overnight
-Socks for every day.
-Flip flops or sandals for hotels.
–Walking shoes or boots, that are comfortable. There are many brands, but make sure they are light, waterproof, and ideally, that cover your ankles.
-A pair of lightweight trainers for short walks. New Balance or Under Armor have some very light and comfortable.
–Leggins to wear on cold nights, for both men and women.
-Sunblock SPF50 at least
-Lip balm (very important!)
-Shampoo with conditioner
-Hands and face moisturizer cream
-For women, sanitary pads or tampons
-Antibacterial microfiber travel towel. They are not bulky and dry easily.
-Locks for each suitcase/bag. Remember that our luggage will stay at hotels almost all the time. The locks must be approved by the TSA, otherwise, the airport security may destroy them.
-Good quality tags for your suitcases with your phone number and email written on them.
– A sim-free mobile phone that works with any operator in case you want to buy a SIM card in Ecuador.
– Protein bars (optional)
– Sun and reading glasses
– Extra contact lenses (if you wear them)
-A pair of extra glasses in your travel bag can save it in case you lose the main
-Sewing kit, like those from the hotels
-Pens in your suitcase and hand luggage
–Flashlight. A headlight is ideal. We recommend Petzl brand. They are light and batteries last for a long time.
-A sleep mask is essential for long flights or for well-lit hotel rooms
-Ziplock bags for clothes. Ideal for dirty or wet clothes. There are some that require a vacuum cleaner and are not recommended, as no one is going to carry a vacuum cleaner in Ecuador.
–Money belt. Practical to keep your valuables safe.
-Electricity adaptors. A universal type is perfect for all your trips. Electricity in Ecuador is 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, same as the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travellers will not typically need a converter or adapter.
-Carry in separate bags cables, chargers, connectors, etc. So you don’t have to search through the entire suitcase to find a cable. The same applies to underwear and toiletries. A set like this does not take up much space.
Always carry several large black rubbish bags in your camera bag. They serve to block unwanted reflections when taking pictures through windows, protect your equipment, lie on the floor or pack something. Put them in your suitcase also.
Please take only what you think you will need. Carrying heavy equipment is not fun when you are travelling for so many days.
Remember this bag will become your eternal companion every day, so choose one that is comfortable and strong.
The ideal for us is this type of backpack, which have enough space for 2 camera bodies, several lenses and your laptop.
Designate pockets for everything, so you can easily find batteries, memories, earphones, filters, money, pen, etc.
If you do not have a waterproof protector for your camera bag, please try to get one.
They are great to protect your equipment from the elements and pickpocketers. Don’t forget a lock.
Any camera is fine but full-frame is ideal, especially to avoid noise in low light conditions.
I have not had any problem flying drones in Ecuador but I lost one due to the strong wind! Bring it on your own risk.
Like a GoPro, if you want to record behind the scenes videos.
Think about what lenses you normally use and do not carry those that rarely come out of your camera bag. Our recommendation is a set of 3 lenses that cover the range of 14mm to 200mm and a 50mm 1.4 for low light conditions.
A wide-angle lens is useful for landscape and especially for astrophotography or in small spaces.
Take enough extra batteries with you. Cold weather drains batteries fast.
-Enough memory cards (Seriously, many!) –
-External hard drive to download your photos every night
– Laptop (optional if you have enough memory cards
-A flash head or LED light with a rechargeable battery
-Lightweight but sturdy travel tripod
– Cleaning kit for the equipment. We recommend disposable wet wipes. The fabric ones get dusty and greasy.
-Be sure to pack all the cables and chargers you need. It will not be easy to get them in remote areas in Ecuador.
FOR THOSE WITH ANALOG CAMERAS
-Take plenty of film rolls with you, from ISO 100 to 1600.
-Buy small stickers to label your films, especially if you have to force the ISO, this will help you during the developing process.
– A black sleeve to reload the film without exposing it to light can be useful in case of an accident when loading the film.
-Use some filters, this link could be helpful.
WHAT NOT TO PACK
-Mini skirts, high heels. We do not recommend jeans or heavy clothes, but we leave this to personal criteria
-Don’t bring big bottles of shampoo or moisturizer, pack only the essentials that you think you will use. Use only plastic bottles
-Sweets to give to children
-Camping equipment, sleeping bags
-Lighting equipment other than LED light or a pair of flashes with radios (optional)
Taking things ‘just in case’ will only serve to add weight to your luggage. Think about what you really need.
-Check your flight itinerary, the local times you arrive and the waiting time at the connecting airports.
-Use the online check-in service and you won’t waste time at airports. Choose a seat on the aisle if you do not want to disturb anyone or withstand the trips to the bathroom.
-Ask the airline if your checked baggage is going directly to Quito or if you need to reclaim it at your connecting airport.
– Ask at the airline counter for all your boarding passes if you have connecting flights. If not, consider the time you need to obtain it at the airport where you connect.
-Speed up the security process at the airport and put keys, coins, glasses and documents in your handbag.
– Always carry all your photographic equipment in the cabin, excluding the tripod that can be protected with the clothes in the suitcase.
–Transport of batteries: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. For safety reasons, in many countries, batteries should NOT be carried in the checked baggage. These batteries must be carried in your cabin luggage. In some countries, batteries are removed from your luggage and you will only find out when you unpack your suitcase at the hotel. Can you imagine without batteries for your camera in Ecuador?
The same applies to power banks. Be sure to pack it in your carry-on bag.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE TRIP
DANGERS & ANNOYANCES
Like in many countries around the world though, and especially in the larger cities, pick-pocketing can be a problem, so we would advise you to take care of your valuable possessions and not to carry them in plain sight.
The same applies to your photographic equipment. We recommend not to go out alone with your photographic equipment, remember that someone from our team will always be with you.
Quito has its share of robberies and petty crime, but the dangers can be minimized by taking a few precautions.
Use ATMs in the daytime, choose locations with other people about (shopping malls, banks, etc) and stay alert upon exiting.
With regard to how much money you bring to Ecuador, it all depends on how much you want to spend. We have everything covered and you will surely only have to pay for tips for photos, tips for guides and drinks or meals that are outside the stipulated ones.
Are you planning to buy handicrafts? Surely the things you can get in markets like Otavalo you will not see anywhere in the world.
We recommend around 1000 Dollars minimum as extra money, although you probably will not spend it all.
The currency of Ecuador is the US Dollars. In some of the areas we are travelling to, there are ATMs, but if you want to buy handicrafts or pay for extra meals or drinks, it is vital that you have US Dollars.
Cell (mobile) numbers are preceded by 09. Bring your phone and purchase a SIM card (called a ‘chip’, costing $5 to $10) from a local network. Add credit at convenience stores and supermarkets.
Ecuador Time (GMT/UTC minus five hours)
The above is just a guide to what we consider essential for our trip to Ecuador, however, you are the one who decides what to pack. Remember that the lighter and smaller your luggage, the easier to carry around.
If for some reason you forget something essential like medicine or toiletries, it is better to get them in Quito where you can get most of the well-known brands available in your country.
Finally, it is worth remembering that only you are responsible for what you carry and we will not have anyone to help you with your luggage. Therefore carry only what you can carry yourself.
Questions? Do not hesitate to contact us, our duty is to keep you informed.