Picturesque market of Saquisilí - Ecuador
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Ecuador: Getting There

From North America

While departure cities are limited in the US to Miami, New York, Houston and Los Angeles, it is possible to pick up connecting flights from all major US cities to these departure points easily. Several airlines offer daily direct flights from the departure cities listed above into Quito or Guayaquil.

There are no direct flights from Canada to Ecuador, so you'll need to catch a flight into Miami where you can connect with a plane to Ecuador. High season runs from mid-June to the end of July and again from mid-December until the end of the year.

From the US, Avianca Airlines, Colombia's national airline, flies out of New York, Miami and Los Angeles daily via Bogota to Quito. American Airlines flies daily from Miami direct to Quito or Guayaquil, while Ecuadoriana, the Ecuadorian national airline flies direct from JFK to Quito or Guayaquil. Continental flies to Ecuador through Houston and Panama. LanChile, the Chilean national airline, flies from Miami to Guayaquil three times a week. Lacsa the Costa Rican national airline fly from JFK to Quito via Costa Rica five times a week.

Approximate flying times from the US to Quito are: from Miami 4 hours; from New York approximately seven hours. As for fares, expect to pay around US$650 in low season and US$750 in high season from JFK; $650/750 from Miami; and $1300/1400 from Los Angeles.

From Canada, Canadian Airlines offers daily flights from all major Canadian cities to Miami, connecting with another airline, such as American Airlines, for the flight on to Quito. From Toronto, for example, fares are around CAN$1220 in low season and CAN$1280 in high season. From Toronto, flying time is approximately seven and a half hours.

Barring special promotional sales, the cheapest of the airlines' published fares is usually an APEX ticket, although this carries certain restrictions, which you should be clear on before purchasing - for example, you may have to purchase the ticket up to 21 days before departure and spend a set number of days abroad. You can also cut costs by going through a consolidator or discount agent.

While Ecuador is somewhat isolated in the Round The World (RTW) market, there are three fairly regular options: Los Angeles-Rarotonga (Cook Islands)-Nadi-Auckland-Papeete-Tahiti- Easter Island-Santiago-Quito-Panama City-Los Angeles (US$ 2995 plus tax); Miami-Guayaquil- Caracas-Lisbon-Madrid-Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur-Honolulu-Miami (US$2495 plus tax); and New York-London-Cape Town-Buenos Aires- Quito-New York City (US$1995 plus tax). LanChile also offers Pacific Circle fares.

A number of specialist tour operators organize trips to Ecuador, including flights, transfers, accommodation and excursions (though before booking, check whether domestic flights are included in the cost). This works out as more expensive than doing everything independently, but it does cut down on potential hitches and delays. Options often involve traveling with an escorted group, combining rainforest, highland and Galápagos trips with visits to haciendas, taking an overland tour, and special-interest trekking, bird-watching and mountain-biking tours.

From Britain and Ireland

It takes around fifteen hours to fly from the UK to Ecuador, with regular services on a variety of airlines and routes. Most flights include the option of a stopover either in North or South America, while airpasses and open-jaw tickets offer potentially useful options if you are including Ecuador as part of a longer trip.

There are no direct flights to Ecuador from Australia or New Zealand, but Air New Zealand and Qantas team up with LanChile to fly to Guayaquil via Papeete, Easter Island and a stopover in Santiago, while American Airlines fly to Quito via Los Angeles and Miami.

From Australia and New-Zealand

In general, fares depend on the duration of stay, rather than seasons, although prices soar during Christmas and the New Year period: if you are flying via the Pacific, cut-off points are, 35 days, 45 days, 90 days, 6 months and 1 year; if you are coming via the US, they are 21 days, 45 days and 180 days. All the fares quoted for regular flights below are for 45 days.

From Australia, most flights leave from Sydney, though there's also a couple a week out of Brisbane and Melbourne. There are no real bargains, and routes are reasonably complicated. The least so is with American Airlines via LA and Miami to Quito for around A$2650, while LanChile, teamed up with either Qantas or Air New Zealand, offer the lowest fares to the coastal city of Guayaquil via Auckland, Papeete, Easter Island and overnight stop in Santiago for around A$2250.

From New Zealand, you can also go to Guayaquil via Papeete, Easter Island and Santiago with Air New Zealand or LanChile, both from NZ$2499, or with American Airlines to Quito via Los Angeles and Miami, from NZ$2595.

If you plan to do a fair amount of traveling to other South American countries, Round the World tickets are worth considering, though the combination of limited choice and the fact that most fares are mileage based tends to make routes via South America more expensive than other RTW options. Possible itineraries include starting from either Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane, flying to Auckland, Papeete, Santiago, taking a side-trip to Guayaquil or Quito, Lima, Miami, London, Rome, Bangkok or Hong Kong then back home; fares start at A/NZ$2700 for 29,000 miles and rise to A/NZ$3700 for 39,000 miles.

A better option if you want to go only to South America is Air New Zealand/Aerolineas' ninety-day Circle America fare for around A/NZ$2993, which allows four free stopovers (extras cost US$100 each) in Los Angeles, Miami, Caracas, Rio, Sao Paulo, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Lima, Santiago and Quito. Note that you cannot reverse the direction of your route, however.

Whatever kind of ticket you are after, first call should be one of the discount flight agents we've listed, who can fill you in on all the latest fares and any special offers. If you are a student or under 26, you may be able to undercut some of the prices given here; STA is a good place to start.

Source: TravelNow Destination Guides

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