Ecuador’s New Immigration Law: Snowbirding Just Got Easier

Ecuador’s National Assembly voted unanimously on January 5, 2017 to pass a new immigration law called “La Ley Orgánica de Movilidad Humana.” The law (number 60 of  the 2013-2017 legislative period) has not yet been published in the official registry so we haven’t yet been able to access the full 90 page version. This post will summarize what information we have been able to gather until the law is officially published.

Ecuador National Assembly

Ecuador’s National Assembly passed the new immigration law on January 5, 2017. Photo from El Telegrafo

Some broad-sweeping points of this new law (as translated from the opening arguments from the head of the Committee who helped draft  the new law) are that it will recognize the equality of rights between Ecuadorians and foreigners and emphasizes that no human being can be qualified as illegal in Ecuador because of their migratory status. The new law largely addresses Ecuadorians living abroad, Ecuadorians returning home after living abroad, and refugees, stateless persons, and victims of trafficking.

However, there are also changes that will affect foreign residents in Ecuador, either as tourists or permanent residents.

My in-laws have been enjoying their Ecuadorian residency since 2012.

My in-laws have been enjoying their Ecuadorian residency since 2012.

A notable change that has implications for foreigners is the extension of a tourist visa from the previous 90 days to 180 days. This “tourist visa” is simply the stamp you receive in your passport upon entering the country. This extension for up to 6 months is great news for folks who want to split their time between living in Ecuador and their home country (grandparents, snowbirds, and many others will no doubt celebrate this change!). Previously, acquisition of another visa was required to extend one’s time in Ecuador beyond 90 days (for example a 12-IX visa which is fairly costly and can be time-consuming). There is apparently the option now to also obtain a special tourist visa that would be good for up to 1 year (but which will be limited to using once every 5 years).

And for foreign residents of Ecuador who are excited about exploring other regions of South America, they will now be able to do so as part of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) by only presenting their Ecuador ID card (“cédula”) instead of being required to show both their passport and cédula.

Another significant change is that proof of health care insurance will be required for tourists entering Ecuador. It will be interesting to see how this rule is actually enforced and applied; however, this change will NOT apply to foreigners who are permanent residents in Ecuador.

Once we have access to the public record of this new immigration law, we will add the link here.

Information Sources:

New Ecuador “Capital Gains Tax” Explained

The Ecuadorian government just passed a new law titled “Tax on Speculation on the Value of Land” (“El Impuesto a la Especulación sobre el Valor de las Tierras”) which takes effect now in the new year (2017).  This law has been referred to as “The New Capital Gains Tax” or the “Ley de Plusvalia”.  The concept behind the creation of this law is to prevent a future speculative bubble in real estate prices (which many of us from the US can attest might be useful).

For retirees who plan to live here for 3+ years, investors who plan to own and rent over a 3+ year period, or for those who buy land and build a home, this new law will generally save them quite a bit of money as fairly substantial gains can be realized tax-free.  Even those purchasing relatively inexpensive lots in the $39,000 range and flipping the land in less than a year can receive up to a 22% return on investment before they would have to pay a single cent of Capital Gains or Appreciation Tax under the new law.

For those planning to buy large pieces of land to flip over a short time period without making improvements… this tax is meant to make you think twice and advice from a lawyer on how best to structure your purchase and sale is recommended.  Creative short term investors will still find solutions such as buying and selling “purchase options” on a property, transferring their rights via a “promise of sale agreement”, or by creating development partnerships with project developers to be paid upon completion and final sale of the developed property.

Whether or not this new law will actually stick after the presidential elections in February remains to be seen but, not surprisingly, various interpretations of the law are being spun by different parties for their own interests.  This is especially the case as election day nears in Ecuador.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with a detailed, cut and dry summary taken directly from the government website and includes a translation of their sample calculation.  This is the scoop on the new tax law minus the sensationalism.

capital-gains

The “sensational talking point” of the new law is that sellers will be taxed 75% on their “illegitimate” capital gains. What the whaaat?!?  That was our initial response as well. But let’s take a closer look.

If you purchased your Ecuador property prior to 2017 when the law goes into effect, this new capital gains law will not apply to you when you sell.

For properties purchased in 2017 and beyond (assuming the law remains in place), here are some standards used for determining the basis for the new capital gains tax:

  1. There is a standard allowance of $8,784 of profit that is not taxable on any purchase and sale over any time frame.
  2. There is an allowance of 7.52% compounding annual appreciation that is not taxable and that appreciates on the total of your purchase value PLUS improvements.

Let’s take a look at the example provided by the government website (see our translated image below). For this example, a property is purchased for $85,000 in 2017 and sold for $135,000 in 2020.  Property tax (“Plusvalia”) due at the time of sale would only be $1,437.72, not 75% of the total difference in purchase and sale price. In fact, the capital gains tax for this example is actually less expensive than what it would have been based on the previous law ($2,975 versus $1,437).

Let’s find out the specifics for how this new capital gains tax gets calculated.

  • Purchase Price in 2017 of $85,000
  • Sum of renovations, improvement costs, etc. = $15,000
  • Initial investment ($100,000) plus interest compounded at 7.25% over 3 years = $124,299
  • Plus a set profit allowance of $8,784 brings us to a total NON-TAXABLE property value of $133,183.
  • Sales price in 2020 is $135,000
  • Difference between the sales price of $135,000 minus the non-taxable property value of $133,183 is $1,917.
  • 75% of $1,917 is $1,437.72.

plusvalia

The government provides a capital gains calculator here. It should be noted that the property value used for calculating capital gains is the amount shown on the property title (“escritura”).  In many cases, the property value on the title is the municipal value, which tends to be significantly lower than the actual purchase or sale price.  It’s worth discussing options with your accountant or lawyer prior to sale to make sure that you are making the best decision for your given situation.

So will this new law affect foreign investments in Ecuador?

capital-gain

The new law will discourage those looking to do relatively large, short-term (less than 1 year) flips with no investment in improvements and who seek to earn significantly more than the standard tax-free profit allowance of $8,784.

The new law will actually tend to benefit most others, in particular, those who own their property for any length of time.  Property value plus money spent on improvements can appreciate at a rate of 7.52%, compounded annually, tax-free.  The accumulated compounded appreciation is above and beyond the automatic $8,784 of allowable tax-free appreciation.  Based on the 7.52% compounding interest rate, the property can double in value over 10 years and the owner would pay ZERO in capital gains tax or “Plusvalia” upon sale.

The new law also does not apply to the first sale of a property. In other words,  those who build their own homes (either as individuals or companies), or develop their properties will be completely exempt from paying capital gains tax when they sell their homes.  That means that if you purchase a beachfront lot at a great price and build a home, you will pay zero capital gains tax upon the sale of that property.

In addition, there are no capital gains collected on the transfer of a property as a result of an inheritance, prize winnings, or donations. There is also a statement in the new law that foreign institutions and international organizations are exempt from paying capital gains, something warranting further investigation.

Overall, the law allows for solid tax-free gains via property appreciation and should help to limit the speculative appreciation of prices.  While this new law may temper gains from short-term, high-value property flips, it should also prevent the formation of a real estate bubble that would leave buyers underwater.

What is Your Address? About receiving mail and packages in Ecuador

We are occasionally asked for the address of property listings so that the area, etc. can be explored online using Google Earth. However, especially in the small coastal towns where we work,  there are no specific addresses. The streets do in fact have names (although you usually wouldn’t know it due to the lack of street signs) but there are no street numbers. Instead, locations are generally referenced using cross-streets and landmarks.

For instance, we are currently located along the main road in San Clemente, called Avenida Quito, two properties north of Hotel Palmazul. That’s our functional street address.

Hotel Palmazul’s address in their promotional brochure translates as: “Quito Avenue, no street number, and smaller cross street, 500 meters from the main highway. along the road towards Punta Bikini.” (Punta Bikini is one of the names for the scenic beachfront cliffs at the northern end of San Clemente).

 

And just FYI, the main road into and out of most towns is often called Avenida (or Calle) Quito, “calle” meaning street and pronounced “KAI-yay.”

When we bought a house in Crucita almost eight years ago, there was a giant, partially completed wooden fishing vessel on the beach one property in front of us. So our highly descriptive, yet totally functional address at the time translated to, “the thatched roof house behind the big boat, along the southern waterfront, below the paragliding hill(!)”

Southern end of Crucita in 2006 when the partially built fishing vessel was a Crucita landmark. The boat was finally completed at the end 2008.

 

So, without specific addresses (and no mail boxes), how does one receive mail? To be honest, we did not know the answer to this for years. All of our US bills were sent to us online and any other mail we had sent to my parent’s address in Texas–most of it junk mail anyways. For receiving packages, we often have people who are visiting bring us items that we’ve purchased online and had sent to their home address.

However, after many years of being asked this question, we FINALLY have some comprehensive answers.

 

INTERNATIONAL MAIL

There are basically four options for receiving international mail depending on your circumstances:

1.     If you plan to receive letters and packages regularly, one option is to rent a PO Box (“apartado postal”) at the post office in a nearby city. The national postal service is called Correos del Ecuador. For those of us living in San Jacinto/San Clemente we might choose either the post office in Bahia or Portoviejo. Rates for a standard sized P.O. box is $25/year.

PO Boxes are available for $25/year.

 

2.     To receive an occasional letter or package,  you can have it sent general delivery to the nearest post office where they will hold onto it until you come to claim it. The sender would address it in the following manner:

LAST NAME, First Name
Lista de Correos
Correo Central
City, ECUADOR

3.    If it’s an important document; e.g. containing powers-of-attorney, official birth certificates for getting your visa, etc. you should use an international courier service such as DHL which has offices in Manta and Portoviejo. There are no FedEx offices in this region–the closest is located in Guayaquil. These services are of course pricey (around $100 to send a couple of pages) but reliable.

4. Finally, if you live in a condo complex or a gated community, you can usually have mail sent to you directly since the location itself is a prominent landmark . The on-site guard/caretaker can receive the letter from the postman and then bring it to you. My in-laws who live in a Crucita condo have received mail on a number of occasions this way and say it typically takes 2 weeks from the US. Tom recently received a package at his parent’s address with prescription glasses and it took about a month to arrive from the time he ordered them. Mail sent in this manner would be addressed in the following way:

Recipient name
Condo number (if applicable)
Name of condo complex/gated community
Address using cross streets (and/or landmarks)
City, Province
ECUADOR

 

POSTAL CODES?

The other day I heard Tom exclaim, “Look at that! We actually have a postal code!” Sure enough, there is a website through Correos del Ecuador that enables you to look up your postal code (and actually has fairly detailed maps with street names when you zoom in). While postal codes technically exist, they don’t appear to be necessary or even used regularly. Not yet anyways.

Our location using the post office’s postal code finder. We discovered the names of the surrounding streets during this process and now know that we’re located between Streets H and I.

 

ADVANCES TO ECUADOR’S POSTAL SYSTEM

The national postal service has advanced significantly over the last several years. For example, the number of post office locations nearly doubled between 2006 and 2011 (today there are 412 offices in all 24 provinces), and now offer a variety of services including tracking, expedited mail service,  certified mail, and even Western Union.

Photos of postal delivery vehicles in 2006 (left) and in 2011 (right).

 

RELOCATION = LIFE WITHOUT AMAZON.COM?

Another service offered through the national postal service is Club Correos which  simplifies the process of receiving online purchases while living in Ecuador. In other words, you can still shop online from Ecuador.

Club Correos is an inexpensive service that handles your online purchases so that you can receive them in Ecuador with minimal hassle.

 

When you sign up for Club Correos, you are assigned a Miami-based mailing address that you use for your shipping address. Club Correos receives your online purchases at this address in Miami, takes care of any customs forms, and then ships your package to your Ecuador address (most reliably to a P.O. Box). As long as your package is valued at less than $400 and weighs less than 4 kg (8.8 lbs), they are duty free. There are some restrictions, now including all cell phones.  

The fee to join Club Correos is 11.20 per year. The website has a shipping calculator to determine your shipping price based on weight and value. For example, a 4 lb package valued at $100 would cost $23.21 in shipping.  In our experience thus far, it takes around 2 weeks to receive your purchases from the time they arrive to Miami.

Logistical Note: When you sign up for Club Correos they request a 10 digit identification number (US passports are 9 digits). Just add a zero and then enter your passport number.

Another note: I learned the hard way that it’s important to have all of your items shipped in a single package. Amazon often ships things separately so they arrive quicker. Instead of paying around $36 for my three items as I had expected, I paid almost $100 because each item was mailed separately. Ouch.

Here is nice summary about mail in Ecuador which also discusses sending mail (with some specifics pertaining to Quito). The ins and outs of sending and receiving domestic mail is a topic in and of itself that I’ll have to save for another time.

 

Expat insights: What might go missing from your Ecuadorian pantry

A couple of years ago, a friend of ours here formed a weekly ladies get-together for the other 3 to 4 other “gringas” living here full-time in Crucita. Our group has grown in leaps in bounds as more expats continue to move into the area and has recently had women attending from the Manta area, San Jacinto and Canoa.  We now meet on the last Saturday of each month.  We eat lots of terrific food and do a white elephant gift exchange.

A roomful of great women at the most recent ladies get-together in Crucita

 

One of the many benefits of these get-togethers is learning from one another’s experiences as we all continually adapt to daily life as an expat here. One topic of conversion that often comes up is “if I had know I couldn’t find [xyz], then I would have stocked up and brought lots of [xyz] with me!”

Here's an example: Bring DMSO with you if you rely on it for joint pain.

 

I happened to host November’s get-together and thought since we had so many different expat women in the same room, it would be a great opportunity to come up with a list of regular household things that we “missed” here, either because they are unavailable or hard to find. Of course, if you are living in either Guayaquil or Quito you are less likely to miss as many of these items since there are far more shopping options to choose from. In our case though we provide here a spectrum of common household items not readily found in our area which is between Manta and Canoa.

Bring lots of baking soda if you're used to using it for cooking and cleaning!

 

We compiled these items into a list so that I can share them with YOU so that you’ll have the benefit of our collective experience and come better prepared! Of course, not all these items are shippable (e.g. “good ice cream”!) but at least you’ll come better prepared mentally 🙂

Don't expect to find many decaf options (for coffee, tea, AND soda)

 

Ok, here’s our master list:

  • Baking soda (only available in little bitty packets at pharmacies so don’t even bother looking in the baking aisle of a major grocery store). Baking powder, however, is available.
  • Horseradish (you can find wasabi in a paste or powder in Supermaxi, the big grocery chain). One expat slyly admitted to smuggling horseradish root in her luggage and it’s actually growing successfully in her garden. She promised us clippings at one of the future get-togethers!
  • Peter Pan peanut butter (it, along with [I think] Jiffy brand can be found intermittently but brace yourself to pay $6 or more. All natural peanut butter is thankfully available)
  • Tumeric
  • Dry mustard
  • Curry paste (a generic red curry powder is available)
  • Thai flavors
  • Dry mustard
  • Chili powder (you CAN occasionally find crushed chili pepper flakes in a large container)
  • Worcestershire sauce can sometimes be hard to find but we learned it is under the guise of “Salsa Iglesa”
  • Apple cider vinegar (the REAL kind that contains the “mother”)
  • Organic coconut oil for cooking and coconut aminos (surprising given the vast abundance of coconuts. Note: This might be a good business niche for someone!).
  • Decaf green tea (all teas it seems, with the exception of herbal teas, are caffeinated).
  • Decaf coffee, ESPECIALLY if you want whole beans. A note about coffee: don’t be surprised if you order coffee and you get instant. It is more commonly consumed here than brewed.
  • Good Earth brand tea.
  • “Stiff” yogurt (the yogurt here is runnier and is often consumed more like a beverage). I also have never seen any organic yogurt.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese (sure, they sell cheddar at the big groceries but it definitely lacks the satisfying bite you’re probably expecting).
  • Blue cheese (chicken wings just aren’t the same without it)
  • Cottage cheese (another bummer)
  • Whole cranberries (the canned variety are intermittently available and VERY expensive).
  • Quick cooking rice in one of those bags you just toss into your pot of boiling water (although as you might imagine, regular white rice runs rampant and is a staple for just about every dish. Brown rice is available at major groceries)
  • Wild rice (it’s available but is VERY expensive, something like $5 for a small box)
  • Canned peaches in water, rather than syrup (used to be commonly available but can’t be found the last few months)
  • Canned albacore (quite the paradox given that Manta is the “tuna capital of the world”)
  • Canned salmon
  • Sunflower seeds in the shell
  • Canned pumpkin (Never seen it here. A couple of ladies mentioned they have visitors bringing some to them for the holidays. There is a variety of the pumpkin here called “zapallo” but it’s not quite the same but can work for a pie in a pinch).
  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • “Good” ice cream in general – most ice cream seems to be more ice than cream 🙁
  • Chocolate chips can be hard to find and/or more recently became available. A friend who sells cookies here for a living used to buy blocks of chocolate and chop them into chips herself!
  • Graham crackers (no such thing as far as we can tell)
  • Pure cocoa powder without sugar (although we were told  there is one brand now at Supermaxi – Organic Pacari)
  • Twizzlers and Reese’s peanut butter cups are sadly nowhere to be found
  • M&Ms are expensive and often hard to find (there is a knock-off version that is unsatisfying compared to the real thing. Peanut M&Ms are even more elusive)
  • Hot fudge sauce (chocolate syrup doesn’t count)

Wow-my mouth is watering seeing this image...I really miss these!

And here are other [non-pantry type] items that warrant our mentioning:

  • A set of Corelle dishware will cost you $75 and up (compared to less than $30 at Target or Walmart)
  • Pots and pans are expensive and of substandard quality. If you love to cook, it’s worth finding a way to bring your cookware! (BTW, Bar Keeper’s Friend is usually available at Boyaca in Manta)
  • Cast iron skillet (You probably won’t find them here anywhere.  I know of a couple ladies who slogged theirs down and are the envy of many)
  • Another thing worth bringing if you can is bed linens. High thread count sheets are super duper expensive. A scratchy set of king sheets will likely cost you $80 and upwards.
  • Lamps are more expensive than you would have imagined
  • DMSO for joint pain
  • Bio Tear for contacts
  • Eyeglass cleaner
  • Reading glasses (although we were told that the Fybeca pharmcy chain now carries them)
  • Exfoliating facial wipes
  • Boric acid powder
  • Good, long-lasting scented candles

Bring your own cookware if you can--you won't regret it!

 

Whew! There you have it! There are undoubtedly other household items that weren’t mentioned here but this is a handy starting point!

Another useful observation we’ve all made while living here is that if you find a product that you like, STOCK UP! The store may not have it in stock again for months (or ever, in some cases!).

VIDEO – Intro to obtaining your Ecuador resident visa by Dr. Miguel Andrade

We recently sat down with Dr. Miguel Andrade to discuss our options and the services he offers for obtaining a resident visa in Ecuador.  He was nice enough to let us record his explanation so that we can share it with you.  Please take a look at his video and his website http://www.lawyerecuador.com and http://www.baclaw.ec to learn more about his law firm.

Saturday in the parks of Quito, Ecuador

We’re spending a lot of time in Quito these days as we await the arrival of our new baby boy!  We’ve decided to stay in Quito so we have excellent access to a progressive natural birthing center in Cumbaya, a valley just outside the main city center of Quito.

Yesterday, we took some time off from our work to move around and explore the parks of Quito.  We went to Itchimbia, Parque La Alameda and Parque El Ejido and had a nice $3 lunch at our favorite authentic chinese restaurant (looks a bit rough on the outside but the food tastes great).

Check out some video we took from our wanderings around the park:

We’re working on the Video Guide discounts for our upcoming Quito video and we already have 25% off your first car rental (chauffer is optional) and package deals for airport pickups and hotel stays for those just passing through. Stay tuned.

Something New: Ecuador Video Discount Guides!

We have put together our first Video Discount Guide package and it is ready for you to download at:

http://www.ecuadorbeachfrontproperty.com/Videos.html


Ecuador Videos

We have traveled the central coast of Ecuador (Manta to Canoa), negotiated special deals with hotels, restaurants, tour companies, shot hours of footage, and put together an essential resource guide.

We’ve condensed all this great information into one, instantly-downloadable Video Discount Guide Package so you can Get To Know Ecuador faster and more efficiently than anywhere else!

The downloadable coupons are serious:

  • $75 off a woman’s yoga and surf camp in Canoa
  • $150 off a personalized charter fishing package in Manta
  • 10-20% discounts on exclusive hotels
  • 10-20% off at excellent seafood restaurants and bars… to name just a few.

Check our webpage now to get the special $10 off intro price.

http://www.ecuadorbeachfrontproperty.com/Videos.html

Download the Intro Video: Get To Know Ecuador Video Guide

or watch it right here:

Average Temperatures of Coastal Ecuador

Brrr…it sure gets cold on the coast in Ecuador. Just kidding.

The coldest month is August with an average low temperature of 67 degrees F and a high of 77 degrees F. The warmest month is March with a low of 72 and a high of 82. Not bad.

To look at average temperature trends for the city of Manta you can follow this link:

http://www.wunderground.com/NORMS/DisplayIntlNORMS.asp?CityCode=84117&Units=english

Escape the cold and head to Ecuador!

Visit Bahia and Stay at CasaGrande

Bahia de Caraquez is a charming place to visit while you are on the Ecuador coast. Known as Ecuador’s “Eco-City,” Bahia (pronounced “Bah-EE-ah”) is the closest major city to Canoa (the location of our beautiful Lots 8 and 9).
Bahia sits on a narrow peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and a large estuarine bay

What to Do in Bahia


Bahia has many diverse attractions, including the city museum containing well-displayed Pre-Incan artifacts that were discovered locally. Museum guides offer tours in both Spanish and English.
Be sure to visit the “Cross”, literally a cross-shaped structure with a staircase inside that leads to a fantastic viewing platform offering a 360 degree view of Bahia, the bay, and surrounding landscapes.

Another must-visit is Chirije, an impressive Eco-Lodge and Archaelogical Museum that is set in a breathtaking and tranquil oceanfront location (lots more, including photos on visiting Chirije in the next blog to come).

There are also tours of the nearby mangrove island Isla Corazon that serves as the nesting grounds for thousands of magnificent frigatebirds amongst other charismatic bird species. A must for bird and nature lovers, Tours are guided by knowledgeable local fishermen who practice sustainable fishing techniques that support the long-term survival of this endangered and vital ecosystem.

Male magnificent frigatebird attempting to attract the lady birds with his red neck pouch


There are also 1-3 day tours of the wonderful Rio Muchacho organic farm where you discover how to prepare your own coffee and chocolate straight from the plants! Visit: http://www.riomuchacho.com for more information.

Where to Stay in Bahia


So while you are checking out all that the Bahia area has to offer, we highly recommend you consider staying at CasaGrande. English-speaking Patricio Tamariz and his mother Flor Maria (who incidentally own the Chirije eco-lodge mentioned above and also created the first organic shrimp farm in Ecuador) offer superb accommodations at their lovely little ocean view guest house.
CasaGrande offers six accomodations that vary in cost between $61 and $98 for 2 people (price includes tax). Additional guests cost $20 each. Amenities include pool, private bath with hot water (sometimes hard to find in hotels along the coast!), air-conditioning, Wi-Fi internet, cable t.v., and breakfast. The suite accommodation comes equipped with a jacuzzi.
Beautiful ocean views from CasaGrande


Looking towards the pool at CasaGrande


One of the rooms at CasaGrande

One of the bathrooms at CasaGrande

CasaGrande can help you arrange your Bahia activities:
  • Tour to Isla Corazon (~$20/person)
  • Day viisit to Chirije Eco-Lodge and Archaeological Museum, including lunch (~$30/person)
  • Surf lessons with a bilingual instructor (~$20/person)
  • Hiking in the Cerro Seco dry forest
For more information and photos, visit CasaGrande online: http://www.casagrandebahia.com/
For reservations and questions, please contact Patricio: tamariz at gmail dot com

Be sure to tell Patricio that you heard about CasaGrande from Ecuador Beachfront Property to receive a 5% discount.

Smaller than Nevada but that’s a good thing

Ecuador is just slightly smaller than the state of Nevada in the US.

This geographic factoid becomes increasingly difficult to believe once you begin to explore the incredible diversity that Ecuador has to offer.
The spectacular Andes mountains run north to south and roughly divide the country into thirds.
In the central Andean region, you will observe towering volcanoes (many still active) and snow and glacier-covered peaks. In the surrounding valleys and foothills are attractive colonial cities, colorful indigenous markets, high elevation lakes and hot springs, and historic haciendas.
On a clear day in Quito, ride up 3,600 feet to a final elevation of over 13,000 ft on the “teleferico” (gondola). From there you will see the vast extent of the highlands, including three very impressive volcanoes (Antisana 18,700 ft; Cayambe 18,725; and Cotopaxi 19,347 ft). If you are an outdoor enthusiast, there are endless activities to keep you busy!

Tom approaching the summit of Cotopaxi
Lynn biking in the Andean foothills
Donkey we befriended along the bike ride
In the eastern third of the country, the “Oriente,” you find yourself in the headwaters of the Amazon Basin. This is the land of cloudforests and rainforests teeming with waterfalls and abundant life including jaguar, monkeys, tapir, and dazzling tropical birds. Tom and I actually saw 8 species of monkey in 2 days near Ecuador’s border with Peru! Here in these remote areas exist an impressive diversity of indigenous groups, many of whom still maintain their traditional ways of life. There are jungle lodges to visit, white-water rafting trips to take, and more hot springs to soak in.

El Jardin in Puyo

Rafting on the upper Pastaza
Rainforest at Tashapi (near Puyo)
Then of course, heading west you will drop down to the Pacific Ocean. We enjoy travel to the Andes and the Oriente but for living purposes, we absolutely love the coast!

Tom’s mom, JoAnn, enjoying a book and a good “hammocking” session at our house in Crucita

Tom, Eduardo, Paola and Red (who purchased a beachfront lot from us last March) making sushi rolls from fresh tuna
The beach in Crucita where we live
The icing on Ecuador’s cake of course is the Galapagos Islands, 300 miles off the coast.
Young sea lion
Blue-footed boobie with baby
While Ecuador is not a big country, we hope you’re beginning to recognize that there are so many amazing places to visit and explore!
And being small definitely has its benefits! A flight from Quito to Manta is a mere 30 minutes!
So imagine leaving your home on a cold wintry morning in the US, landing in Quito around 4pm and then arriving to the coast in time to enjoy your seafood dinner at sunset! Yes, this can and does happen! We invite you to give it try!