frequently asked questions
Where do I start?
After looking at the different services I offer here on my website you pick what's best for you! There's links that either allow you to email me directly with your selection or forms that guide you through letting me know exactly what you want to customize!
Standard Tour Packages / Services
If you chose a standard tour package, I will email you confirming the exact locations / activities we'll be doing. Once we agree, I'll send you an invoice. Once the invoice is paid, I'll send you an itinerary. Itineraries are always subject to change based on weather and unforeseen events, therefore two weeks before our trip I'll send you a confirmed/finalized itinerary. Then I'll see you here in Ecuador!
Customized Tour Packages
If you choose to customized a tour package, I will send you an invoice for a $100 deposit to create various travel packages for you. Your $100 deposit will go towards the final price of your package should you choose to move forward with one of the travel summaries that I proposed. Based on your survey results, I'll craft itineraries that I think will fit your vision as closely as possible. Once you pick a travel package that sounds good to you, I'll send you an invoice for the full amount of the package. This is to be paid in advance. After you've paid the invoice, I'll send you our agreed upon itinerary that can be tweaked as many times as you'd like! Two weeks before our trip I'll send you a confirmed and finalized itinerary. Then I'll see you here in Ecuador!
Specialized Group Tours
If you're the tour leader, I'll be in contact with you via email! Normally, these tours start out with a vision, a set of dates, and a group size lower and upper limit. From there, we'll talk about marketing strategies that may include specialized videos, a dedicated website, and zoom informational meetings among other strategies. It's best to start planning these tours at least a year in advance as to when you want the tour to run.
pricing & payment
What are "All Inclusive Packages"?
My tour packages cover you from the agreed upon dates within Ecuador. Because all lodging, transportation, meals, and activities are covered, you do not have to spend a penny in country unless you'd like to spend it on extras like souvenirs and laundry services.
All meals & potable water
Hotels & Lodging
Tips for appropriate staff & guides
Credit card, banking, & processing fees
What's *NOT* Included
Extra baggage fees
Traveler's insurance (recommended)
How much do Tour packages cost?
Generally tour packages cost between $350-600 per person per day. Different areas of Ecuador are generally fall into the upper limit of this range. A good example is the cloud forest where land is privately owned by lodges and lodging is more expensive than in other areas. Transportation also affects the cost greatly. The distance in which the vehicle travels in addition to the vehicle size and road conditions all affects transportation. Accessing remote national parks can also elevate the pricing. If you want an additional specialized or private guide (such as a bird guide in the mornings) this will also elevate the price.
Please note that I do not offer camping or backpacking tours. If you're interested in these kinds of services I can recommend other travel agencies and guides.
Who is a good fit for SciBugs Tours?
SciBugs tours are for clients who want to go outside and get dirty looking for bugs and other biodiversity, but come back at the end of a busy day to a good meal, soft bed, private bedroom, and a hot shower.
SciBugs tours are on the upper end of comfortable. I do not offer high end luxury tours, but we will be in comfortable. soft beds, private rooms with private bathrooms, meals catered to your dietary restrictions, private transportation, and hot shower water in most places. My private Ecuador tours are not the cheapest, but rest assured all my attention will be on you, you'll be safe, taken care of, and have the best guides available to you. By that token, I also do not offer backpacking tours. If you're on a budget, an overnight tour might be a good fit for you, or you can check back to see if I have any group tours or promotions going on!
Do you offer Galapagos Tours?
I am not yet offering Galapagos tours however that may change in the future with specialized group tours.
I currently work with a great travel agency that can help you get our perfect Galapagos tour! Just reach out to me and I'll get you set up!
Do you offer discounts for kids?
I do not have discounts for kids as my basic pricing is a per diam. However, many lodges and activities do offer discount pricing for kids that would be applied in the tour packages automatically. The cut off for applicable kids discounts is age is 11 years of age.
What payment types do you accept?
I accept credit card and electronic payment through PayPal, Venmo, and Square. I also accept direct deposits into my Bank of America account. I will always send you a formal invoice before requesting any form of payment.
What currency does Ecuador use?
Ecuador has been using the US dollar since 2000. Many things in Ecuador are cash only therefore it's recommended to bring cash. $100 and $50 USD bills are generally not accepted. Small bill in $5 and $10 are recommended. You'll find that you'll receive many $1 coins in change.
How fit should I be coming to Ecuador?
It really depends what you're looking to do! Many of SciBugs group tours require general fitness of being able to walk a couple miles in uneven footing. However if you're looking for something a bit more relaxing and chill, just let me know in our conversations and I can accommodate your needs. Depending on your age and fitness level you may find yourself getting more out of breath and tired more quickly at altitude.
When is the best time to come to Ecuador?
It really depends what you're looking for and where you want to go! Ecuador's weather patterns are opposite on each side of the mountain so you can essentially come any time you'd like and we can chase the weather you're looking for. The best time for you to come is whenever you're available!
Generally, the dry seasons are good to find butterflies, grasshoppers, katydids, mantises, snakes. The rainy season is great for finding large moths, beetles, frogs, and many mammals in the Amazon come out after rainstorms.
Whale watching season in Ecuador is June-August on the coast. It's the rainy season for the majority of the coast during this season.
Surfing season in Ecuador is May-September in Montanita and around December in Northern Ecuador (Mompiche - Atacames).
April/May and October/November is during the transition season on both sides of the mountains. In my experience, this is the best time if you're looking for biodiversity.
Busy season in Ecuador is December and June-August. During this time lodging can be more expensive, plane tickets are more expensive, and places may be more crowded. April/May is a good time to visit the Galapagos because you can get last minute deals cheaper, the weather is decent, and it's during the off season.
What should I pack?
I've developed a packing list that works well for my tours specifically. Feel free to check it out to get an idea of the kinds of things you should bring =)
What if I need to cancel?
I will provide you with a cancellation policy. Depending on the number of people and where we go this may vary. Generally, within a month of cancellations (except for group tours) I can refund a significant portion of your deposit.
I highly recommend coming to Ecuador with traveler's insurance! Cancel for any reason is the best type travel insurance plan.
Covid-19 in Ecuador
As of October 2022, the president of Ecuador declared that the pandemic is officially over in Ecuador. All vaccination and masking requirements have been federally lifted. Some private establishments may ask that a mask is worn or to see proof of vaccination.
I require all participants of SciBugs tours to be vaccinated for Covid-19.
Tropical Diseases in Ecuador
The Highlands (Paramo):
The Andean mountains in the "Sierra" region are devoid of insect vectored diseases. Right now - above 7,000 ft (2,100 m) is completely safe.
The Cloud Forest:
Sitting between 4,000 - 6,000 ft (1,200 m - 1,800 m) the cloud forest is relatively safe. There have NOT been reported cases of malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever, or Chagas. Rumored cases of leishmaniasis have been mentioned but nothing yet confirmed. Black flies definitely like your ankles - so rubber boots are recommended.
Outbreaks of chikungunya and dengue fever have been reported however it is not a common occurrence.
Malaria: In the area of the Amazon in which I conduct my tours, the Cuyabeno reserve, - cases of Malaria have not been reported in the past seven years.
Yellow Fever: Recent cases of yellow fever have not been reported. You can be vaccinated against yellow fever. If you are visiting other countries (ex. Costa Rica) after Ecuador you may be required to show proof of your vaccination against Yellow Fever. This vaccination is not required to enter Ecuador.
Zika: Only a handful of cases have been reported in Ecuador.
Chiggers: The larval stage of mites. They do not carry any diseases, but having had them myself, are definitely no fun and EASILY preventable. When you get back from the field, take your clothes off and take a shower BEFORE lying in your bed.
It's always recommended to be cautious!
Visit your doctor to see the latest CDC recommendations. Be up to date on all of your vaccines. Wear protective clothing (long sleeves / long pants) and insect repellent.
Ecuador no longer requires vaccinations to be allowed to enter.
It is always recommended to follow the CDC recommendations and to listen to the advice of your travel doctor. Typical vaccinations are Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid Fever, and routine vaccinations.
I require all participants of SciBugs tours to have been vaccinated for Covid-19.
Quito sits right about 9,000 ft (2,800 m). It's not uncommon for you to feel more tired than usual and you might find a flight of stairs takes your breath away. This is normal - so don't worry! Just take it easy and drink a lot of water!
If you are concerned, please speak to your travel doctor about possible strategies / medications you can use while you are in Ecuador.
Normal Symptoms of Altitude
Shortness of breath
Waking up in the middle of the night
Getting dehydrated quickly
Tingly fingers / lips.
Please note that alcohol may affect you differently at altitude.
Always communicate how you're feeling with your guide. If you need to take a breather just say so!
While Ecuador is on the equator - only certain parts are warm! Dressing in layers in key. Always bring a jacket with you no matter how sunny it is outside! Weather can change here in an instant.
The Highlands (Paramo):
In the highlands, like Quito and Otavalo, nightly temperatures can drop below 45°F (7°C) and many hotels have neither heating nor air conditioning. During the day, average temperatures are around 70°F (23°C) but the sun is strong! Wear sunscreen even if you normally don't. (take it from someone who's been burned a few too many times) Some mountains like Cotopaxi have snow! If you're planning on going up even some of the smaller volcanoes like Pichincha - it's best to bring gloves, scarf, and a hat.
The Cloud Forest:
Halfway between here and there - the cloud forest is temperate but muggy. At night it can still get cool and the humidity makes it feel colder than it is. During the day it gets up to around and at night it can fall to 50°F (10°C) but rise to 80°F (27°C). The cloud forest sits between 4,000ft (1,200m) and 9,000ft (2,800) so the temperature can vary depending on your altitude. At lower altitudes it'll be warmer and at higher altitudes it'll be colder. At one of the lodges sitting at 9,000ft (2,800), they give you a hot water bottle to sleep with at night!
The Amazon / The Coast:
When we're in the boats/beaches in the Amazon/coastal lowlands you'll want sandals, shorts, and a t-shirt. When walking around in the jungle you'll want long pants as a preventative against insect bites. We'll be provided rain ponchos for our inevitable showers in the rainforest in the Amazon. Temperatures are a bit warmer in the Amazon and coastal lowlands ranging from about 70°F (23°C). at night and 90°F (32°C) during the day.
Ecuador has opposing weather patterns on opposite sides of the mountains.
Rainy on the Eastern side of the Andes and on the Coast from Mompiche and south. Sunny through the Andes, western cloud forest, and most of the Esmeraldas province.
December - March
Sunny on the Eastern side of the Andes and on the coast from Mompiche south. Rainy through the Andes, western cloud forest, and most of the Esmeraldas province.
April / May & October / November
The transition between the rainy and dry seasons throughout Ecuador.