As we planned our moved to Ecuador we bought a lot of books. Not just books to learn Spanish or books about becoming expats. Once we decided on Ecuador, we were hungry for information about what was actually there (here).
Thinking about Ecuador retirement? Check out this list of the top books about retirement in Ecuador.
We wanted to know not just about Cuenca, but also the other cities and towns in this new country of ours.
We looked into the many travel and expat blogs, but found it hard to sort out the information we wanted. Many blogs are just stories of who-had-lunch-with-who. Others are primarily complaining about “how things are” living in Ecuador. Certainly personal blogs have a place – especially when you know the person writing – but it wasn’t what we needed.
Both Dena and I are big on details. We wanted as much real info as we could find. And with multiple sources, we could kind of get a balanced view of what it was really like here.
As we planned our trip, we spent a lot of time at Chapters – Canada’s version of Barnes and Noble. Armed with a Starbucks coffee, we spent hours (and hours) over many months reading and buying books. We easily read more than 20 books on Ecuador and becoming expats.
14 Ecuador Books about Travel & Relocation
Here are the ones we bought specifically on Ecuador. Looking for more on the Galapagos? Check out our new post: Top 17 Galapagos Books
Note: the product links in this post are affiliate links to Amazon. If you click and purchase one of these titles, we may make a small commission.
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5 Ecuador Travel Books
1) The Rough Guide to Ecuador
“The Rough Guide to Ecuador” is the essential travel guide with clear maps and coverage of Ecuador’s unforgettable attractions.
Whether exploring the magnificence of Quito’s colonial centre, haggling in its highland markets of Zumbahua or navigating the rivers of the Amazon rainforest, the “Rough Guide” steers you to the best hotels, restaurants, stylish bars, cafes, nightlife and shopping in Ecuador across every price range.
You’ll find detailed coverage on staying safe in Ecuador, practical advice on where to learn Spanish and how to climb Cotopaxi, as well as expert discussions for Ecuador’s history, culture and environmental issues.
2) Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands (Moon Handbooks)
I’m a fan of second opinions, and so we decided to purchase a number of travel books about Ecuador to get the full picture. In the Moon handbook for Ecuador, there’s a section that most travelers will appreciate. There’s a set of recommended tours (that you build yourself) including:
- the 30-day best of Ecuador tour
- the two-week best of Ecuador tour
- culture and history tour
- outdoor adventure tour, among others
We found that in each of the books there were specific facts and details that were unique to each of them. But the majority of details, hotels and travel tips were repeated almost exactly.
3) Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)
This is my favorite of all the travel books we bought.
The whole book is in full color with excellent photographs. There is a great section at the beginning of the book called “the Best of Ecuador” that details specific highlights from across the country including:
- best wildlife watching
- only in Ecuador
- best art galleries
- best for families
- best markets
At the back of the book there is a full travel tips section covering everything from getting to Ecuador, traveling around once you are here, how to handle finances, cruises in the Galapagos, and finding good restaurants, hotels, and attractions. This is the best book that we’ve seen covering specific features and things you need to know about Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
This best selling book by Lonely Planet covers the best advise on what to see – and what to skip.
Read more about Ecuador travel.
If you’re planning a trip to the Galapagos, you should pickup this book!
It is packed with great photos – great for identifying the unique species that you will see. Covers 200+ common species and 400+ color photos, maps and drawings.
See our full set of Galapagos books
4 Ecuador Living Books
Written by travel writer Shannon Enete, this title is her second in the “Becoming an Expat” series. She has also covered Thailand and Costa Rica.
She covers topics such as immigration, healthcare, moving as a family, how to live rent free and more.
One reader commented that she learned more by reading the book than visiting Ecuador.
This is the only book on the list that we have not both purchased and read. I feel compelled to include this in the list for two reasons:
- it is highly rated both on Amazon.com and by other expats
- it is inexpensive, delivers fast, and covers a wide variety of topics.
If you have read this book, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to have your input on this book.
With more than four years of living in Cotacachi, Larry Smith shares all the specifics of what it is really like to live in this Andean town.
The books seems to focus on cost of living sharing everything from the cost of bananas, bus fare, and 3 course lunches to the range of rent prices ($100 to $450/month).
Read an another expat profile from Cotacachi.
9) 17 Books about Ecuador Retirement
In this post, I include the top 17 books about retiring in Ecuador – written by expats in Ecuador.
Check out the full set: Ecuador retirement books
2 Books on Culture and Language
This top selling book on Ecuador culture comes well reviewed.
In this book, you’ll learn about
- local customs and traditions
- impact of history, religion and politics
- Ecuadorians at home, work and play
- food and drink
- dos, don’ts and taboos
- business practices
This book comes highly recommended by Chris Hoyt of LanguaTravel.
He says: “the best book for learning Spanish, is the *one you’ll actually use.* It needs to be accurate, well organized and accessible.”
Check out the full post: 8 Travelers Share the 12 Best Books to Learn Spanish
3 Maps of Ecuador
While I felt like I was getting a little carried away, ordering maps before we made the move, I am happy that I did. Every city and region have small tourist maps but they are not good quality, and certainly don’t have very many street names on them.
The maps that we purchased on Amazon.com while we were planning a move came in handy even before we left for Ecuador. We were able to get a mental picture of where Cuenca was located in relation to the major cities (and their international airports), how far we were from the coast, the jungle, and other points of interest near Cuenca.country of Ecuador, of the city of Quito, and the Galapagos Islands. We still don’t have a quality map of Cuenca, although we’ve seen them here in the center of the city.
After more than three years in Cuenca I don’t feel that a city map would be as useful for us as when we first arrived. It’s true that there are good maps online that can be accessed via mobile devices and computers, but sometimes it’s nice to have a paper map in hand and see the large view of the area that you are researching.
13) City of Quito, Ecuador: A road map of Ecuador on both sides : one side shows a map of North Ecuador (from Guayaquil to Colombia) and on the other side is a detailed street plan of downtown Quito. The legend is in English and in Spanish.
14) Waterproof Galapagos Islands Map: Show all the islands and major developments. Volcano and elevation data are helpful in exploration. Also, information on specific animals and where to find them are clearly displayed.
Best Books for Ecuador Travel & Life Overview
|1. Quito & Ecuador North Travel Reference Map 1:12,500/660,000 (International Travel Maps)||$10.95|
|Becoming an Expat Ecuador: 2nd Edition (Volume 6)||$19.99|
|Becoming an Expat: Ecuador: moving abroad to your richer life in Ecuador||$17.99|
|Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)||$22.90|
|Ecuador - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture||$9.20|
|Ecuador 1:660,000 Travel Reference Map (International Travel Maps)||$12.93|
|Ecuador and Galapagos Islands (National Geographic Adventure Map)||$6.67|
|Galapagos Islands Adventure Set||$17.95|
|Living and Retiring in Cuenca: 101 Questions Answered -- Second Edition||--|
|Lonely Planet Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands (Travel Guide)||$16.59|
|Lonely Planet South America on a shoestring (Travel Guide)||--|
|Moon Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands (Moon Handbooks)||$18.80|
|The Complete Guide to Retiring in and Around Cotacachi, Ecuador||--|
|The Rough Guide to Ecuador||--|
|Wildlife of the Galápagos: Second Edition (Princeton Pocket Guides)||$16.00|
(Update October 5, 2016) Since I first published this post, a number of my favorites have been discontinued. As a result, I’ve updated the above list with currently available titles.
- Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands (Frommer’s) Discontinued
- The Family Sabbatical Handbook Discontinued
- Healthy Travel: Central & South America Discontinued
- The Rough Guide to Travel with Babies and Young Children Discontinued
- Cultureshock Ecuador Discontinued
- Cuenca DVD: Live or Retire in Cuenca Ecuador Discontinued
So these are the books, maps and products we purchased as we were planning our relocation to Ecuador. Is there one I’ve missed? Please include your recommended research product in the comments below. Thanks!