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This message shares ideas on  how to save on Ecuador Hotels and Ecuador airfares.

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Our Inn Land of the Sun

See new Ecuador Hotel discounts below.

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Hotel Victoria in Cuenca Ecuador

Many readers who travel in Ecuador do so looking for opportunity.   One idea they miss is Ecuador publishing opportunity combined with Ecuador exports.

A delegate on our last export tour sent this note.

Hello Gary: Thank you for the fantastic Import/Export tour Sunday!  The information was invaluable, the hospitality and buys were top shelf, and the people, both along the tour route and on the bus, were great.  It will be much appreciated if you would forward any information on having suits made and ordering roses in Ecuador.  Again, many thanks,

See more on self publishing and Ecuador export opportunity here.

Another loss that many readers experience is from paying too much for their Ecuador hotel rooms. This is why we continue to add the number of hotels that provide our premium subscribers with substantial discounts.   See new hotel discounts here.

An Ecuador Living subscriber recently sent this note about Ecuador travel and Ecuador hotel discounts..

Merri and Gary,  This thank you is long past due. I joined your January Andes tour and had a fantastic time. The entire staff at Mason de Flores were great and Bonnie Keough was a terrific leader for the tour. I saw a couple of wonderful homes in the Cotacachi area and met some fun and interesting people who were also on the tour.

I left the tour in Manta, rented a car from Avis ($394.80 for 15 days), and headed south along the Ruta Del Sol. The road is surprisingly good and as long as one looks out for speed bumps coming into and leaving each village is quite safe to drive. The government is widening and repaving with concrete this highway all the way to Salinas. When complete, the drive will be a chinch.  Along  the route I visited Puerto Cayo, Puerto Lopez and Olon.

Of all the places I visited on this three week trip my favorite was Hostoria Mandala, an exquisite small resort set in a tropical garden on a wonderful beach in Puerto Lopez.

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View from Hostoria Mandala

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Hosteria Mandala Entrance

I spent a couple of nights in Salinas and looked at several condos.  However, I found Salinas too big and too busy for my taste.

From Salinas I headed east to Cuenca. The highway to Guayaquil is excellent.

From Guayaquil go to Duran, then Pto Inca,then Naranjal, then up through the Andes into Parque El Cajas and down to Cuenca. This is the absolute best route to take and total driving time was about five and a half or six hours.  The road is good all the way and parts of the road in the Andes is being repaved with concrete.

Cuenca was everything I had hoped for; a beautiful colonial city. I booked into the Villa Nova Inn and the staff there was great. However, after two days of climbing the 85 steps from the river up to the town several times a day the altitude got the best of me and I decided to find a hotel in the city.

Right at the top of the steps on Calle Larga I walked into Hotel VIctoria, an elegant old home that has been converted into a 23 room hotel. It was perfect and the ambiance was just what I wanted for my stay in Cuenca.

My room had one wall of glass looking out over the gardens and the Tomebamba river. My rate seemed reasonable and included a full breakfast in their “El Jardin” restaurant. The hotel also has free secure parking for anyone with a car.

I was fortunate to meet the owner of the hotel, Daniel Duran, who invited me to join him for a trip to their sister hotel, Posada Ingapirca. Posada Ingapirca, is a charming old country house, about a hour and a half drive into the country from Cuenca and only 500 yards from the most important archaeological complex in Ecuador; the Inca and Canaris ruins.

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Posada Ingapirca

The Posada has 21 rooms and my lunch in their dining room was a special treat.  Sincerely,  Dennis Griffin

We have now arranged for Ecuador Living subscribers to enjoy discounts at the Hotel Victoria in Cuenca as well as at  Posada Ingapirca

Learn here how to subscribe to Ecuador Living’s premium service and enjoy discounts at the following Ecuador hotels.

Inn Land of the Sun (formerly MESON DE LAS FLORES) in Cotacachi.

La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa in Cotacachi.

Radisson Hotel in Quito.

Mansion del Angel in Quito

Steubel Suites & Cafe

Palmazul on the Pacific

In Cuenca two hotels offer discounts to our readers.  Villa Nova Inn and Hotel El Dorado

Monricrist-Manta Hotel

La Selva Jungle Lodge in the Amazon.

Learn here how to subscribe to Ecuador Living’s premium service and enjoy discounts at the following Ecuador hotels.

Here is how we find low Ecuador fares on tickets to Quito and Guayaquil Ecuador.

Buying Tickets To Ecuador

There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… miles of sunny empty beach is one.

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When I took my first flight to Hong Kong 41 years ago, I was 21 years old and few on a cheap ticket that was called a student fare.

While in Hong Kong I met a travel agent. Charlie Kwok was his name and he had an office in the Miramar Hotel, Kowloon, not far from the Star Ferry. Charlie was the master of the low cost air fare and over the next half decade he amazed me with some of his great deals…. Especially for people under age  27.

Next decade in London, John Dragonas, a Greek travel agent continued showing the way to get deals. Back then they had VUSA (Visit USA) where prices were really low.

By then Merri and I had met and she became the maven of amazing air fare deals.

In short I have always enjoy incredibly low costs air fares.  However Merri added another dimension because not all low cost air fares are great.

I recall one flight Honk Kong to Portland Oregon that Charlie Kwok arranged… really cheap, because it was a charter with two empty seats and otherwise full of doctors returning from Thailand. What Charlie forgot to mention was that the actual fare went Hong Kong, Seattle, Minneapolis, San Francisco and then I had a connection back to Portland… adding about 24 hours to the flight!

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There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… such as the high Andean lakes.

John in London ignored the human part of travel to get the cost down once as well… a special VUSA fare. Merri and I wanted to fly London, Miami, Chicago, Portland, London.

To get the lowest fare, the actual flight turned out to be London -Denver, Miami- Denver, Chicago-Denver, Portland-Denver, London…or something like that… low fare but not a great deal.

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There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… including wonderful colonial architecture.

It was about then that Merri took over finding our fares and she is good…  Let me be humble and say she may be the best. Recently our son visited us from London, Charlotte, London for $17.  That is correct, seventeen dollars.

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There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… big cities and…

ecuador-air tickets quaint villages like… Cotacachi shown here.

Recently one of our articles Ecuador Air Fare Update mentioned a $316 Miami Quito fare that Merri found and explained that readers should visit www.farecompare.com

So many readers asked for help on how to get this fare that I asked Merri to prepare an article on how she does it.

Here it is:

Buying Air Tickets

Gary often asks me to write about how I buy airline tickets and especially those to Ecuador…so this is the first in a series of hints including safety, price, ease…

Well, first of all…it’s a tricky business for sure. And to top it all off, it rarely is quick and easy.  I start out with that in mind and sometimes days later I’m still at it!  But there is a pattern that I always use that helps me sort from the beginning the good, bad and the ugly.

Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, “The Outliers, The Story of Success” clearly states that most people are really good at something, really successful after about 10,000 hours.  Well, for sure I have my 10,000 hours in on travel and tickets.  For over 4 years, Gary and I crossed the Atlantic commuting from our home in London to our home in Naples, Fl every three weeks.  It was always different, always a surprise and very often extremely challenging to buy tickets for Gary’s mom, our 5 children to all our destinations all over the world ON A REGULAR BASIS.  We had homes in London, Gloustershire, Naples, North Carolina, the north coast of the Dominican Republic and…oh, it makes my head spin just thinking about it!

Needless to say, just by the sheer act of plotting, planning and finally buying, I’ve learned a lot…earned my 10,000 hours over the last 25 + years of international traveling.

However, all the rules have now changed…it’s often hard to know which way to jump…some people book for instance a conference and tell me to confirm quickly so they can buy “that cheap ticket” that is 6 months out!  Whoa, I reply…that’s pretty risky…sometimes you can now buy a ticket at a week out for the same price or better than a month out.

Airlines are constantly shifting and changing and hedging their bets…so let’s look at a few things that we can count on.

#1. The internet makes it a lot easier than we’ve had it before.  There is plenty of data and solid information that we can gather from 100s of sources instantly.

#2.  The internet also makes it a lot harder than we’ve ever had it before BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY CHOICES!  We have more information so it is essential that we use this information wisely.

Here are a few ground rules that I am currently using that are working now.

1.    Don’t buy months out.

2.    Sit down with those who are traveling and have a general chat on days/possibilities/flexibilities that might be possible.  Right now, for instance, I am buying for Ecuador.  Gary and I will get a month’s calendar, list our IDEAL flight days and then see which ways we COULD be flexible.

3.    For the past year, it is cheaper (yes, cheaper) in most cases to fly from an outlying airport than direct.  I know a lot of people for instance who drive from let’s say Birmingham, Ala to Atlanta and then fly direct from Atlanta to everywhere.  Don’t do this.  CHECK YOUR POSSIBILITIES.

For example, Gary and I fly mainly from NC to Portland, NC to Quito, NC to London and NC to Copenhagen.  Well, we can fly from Charlotte, Greensboro (Triad) or from a nearby TRI Cities TN tiny airport.  I check out each of these easily and quickly to get a handle on the whole picture.  I don’t just assume that one is cheaper or more expensive, etc.

For instance for years, Charlotte has been very expensive to fly into our area than all the others, and suddenly last fall, it all shifted…now it’s the cheapest.  Well, it could be the aggressiveness of USAir after its near collapse that has caused them to price the lowest since it is their hub and therefore Delta, etc. have followed suit.

When flying from Florida, I look at Tampa (our favorite), Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.  Takes only a second and sometimes you can really find an el cheapo winner!

4.    Decide whether you are a frequent flyer who needs to accumulate miles or if you are just an occasional flyer.  We for instance are frequent flyers and use Atlanta as our hub to go to our common destinations…Portland, London, Quito, Copenhagen are our patterns.  Sometimes we fly from NC and sometimes from FL (according to the season)…but ALL of these flights are non-stop from Atlanta via Delta.  So, instead of looking at all airlines/all flights, I really just watch Delta.  We accumulate a lot of miles, use them for free tickets for our children and/or for upgrades.  My advice for frequent flyers is pick an airline and stick with it!  This gets the most bang for your buck…although sometimes I pay more for this, in the long run it works out well and suits us.

If you are lucky enough to be an infrequent flyer, then just look for the best deal!

5.    Frequent flyers can gain a lot from loyalty…although not everything as recently we found out on an emergency trip to Portland!  But usually, we can get what WE determine is important. (not that this might be your choice in the line of fire.)

What is important to us is not just the price but the Duration of the Flight…very, very important you might say!  I’ll pay a bit more to fly a total of 7 hours instead of a lot less to fly the same route with a totally of 11 hours or maybe 23 hours!

Another thing that is important to us is that we can upgrade.  We have logged so many miles and usually have to get off an airplane and go straight to work that over the years we have decided that if we can go first or business class (more or that later) we should.  We feel better if we are not cramped in and let’s face it (although we don’t drink alcohol and don’t eat on planes) there are some good perks.  Very important to us is that there is simply more oxygen up front than there is in the back…so we arrive in better shape than if we were tucked in on the last row.

Other things important to us is that we have a place where we can be quiet and not listen to a dozen cell phone conversations and 7 different TV stations.  We aren’t used to this type of confusion and noise and so we want to have the use of special rooms that airlines provide (Delta’s Crown Rooms) that allow quiet areas.  Often we travel with our service dog, and she too is allowed in these rooms.  We just rest and wait there.  IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

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Merri even makes sure that we have seats so we see the sunset at night and sunrise in the morning.

But on the other hand, we don’t want to pay for this privilege which can cost big change.

How do we achieve this?  Well, each airline has its own gimmicks, but Delta allows a cardholder of AMEX Sky Miles Reserve (which can cost anywhere from $295 up) to have free access with his/her companions to all Sky Mile Crown rooms at no cost.  You can now have a simple Gold AMEX Sky Miles card (sometimes without a fee) that allows more or less the same privileges.  We find excellent light food (that is fresh) and peace and quiet there.  We also find their quiet desk of agents that will do just about anything to make life pleasant (changing flights/redoing tickets/finding lost luggage, etc.). They will even wake you if you fall asleep in your comfy chair.  That same card allows us to have a free Concierge booking service (that means they will REALLY try everything to help you) as well as double miles for most of our travel…and (and this is a big one) the right to Pay with Miles.

And what is Pay with Miles?  Well, let’s discuss that under Award Ticketing later in this series.

Part Two

There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… the colorful happy people is one.

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Here is what one reader wrote about yesterday’s article:

“Good Morning, Gary,  Bravo to Merri for her excellent article on finding low airfares. I have part-time employment with American Airlines as an international reservations agent (for the flight benefits, of course) and she is spot on with her suggestions. Can’t wait to read the next installment. Thank you”

There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… including access to good organic food.  Many Ecuador farmers use chemicals but most do not.  The farmer of this land near Cotacachi has let it grow fallow

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so the milk from these cows is organic.

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Nearby are more organic cows that produce milk for this organic Swiss cheese served at our seminars.

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There is also an organic vineyard about ten minutes from our hotel.

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We serve their wine.  Here are delegates at our recent real estate tour visiting a nearby indigenous organic garden sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture and Peace Corp.

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Organic herbs, spices and medicinals from here.

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There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… good health is an important one.  Visitors report feeling better and losing weight when they visit in part because there are may wonderful inducements to exercise… like great places to ride bikes and…

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horses. Here I am with friend Joe Cox above Cotacachi.

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Hiking is great as well. Here I am hiking Lake Quicocha with friends .

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Here we continue Merri’s explanation of how to get tickets to Ecuador.

Tickets to Ecuador Part 2

1.    OK, now that we know whether we are a loyal frequent flyer or if we are a just looking for a great deal…then let’s look at an easy system.

I’ve used a lot of systems over the years and am hooked on www.kayak.com. It is simple, easy and fast.  It gives you the whole picture of flights for an entire month (in case you are flexible) AND all the patterns that there are to choose WITH (and this is all important to us) the Duration of the Flight.  This is instant and easy to read.  Often it lists flights that the airline itself isn’t listing and also it gives you the total WITH TAXES INCLUDED.

Gosh, do I hate it when I have a great flight, great schedule and then find out that whoa…here comes the taxes.  Kayak is consistent!

So, I pull up their website and I use it in the following ways.  First, of all I advise you to sign in…(even though you’re probably like me and don’t want to take this step because of what it might lead to…)

Signing in allows you to look at a calendar of the month and see how much that ticket is each day…that is instantly. You can get a lot of information to compare fast and easy.

They show deals from 100+ airlines in seconds.

There are a lot of other systems but kayak for me does it all…it shows me prices from the airline from Hotwire, Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, etc.

I sign in and then fill out the form…airports are easy…if you don’t know the call signs of your airport, just type in part of the name & the list pops up.  Check “Include other airports” just to see what might happen.  Click on “Flexible Departure” if this is the case…sometimes a fare can vary hundreds of dollars from just a day’s difference!

In this case, the fare varied $90 per person from day to day.  Well, then I hit in the top left hand corner “Modify or Start Search Over” and clicked on Charlotte to Quito…wow, a savings of $295 per person!  Same schedule, same #of hours…but this was with AA…which we don’t accumulate miles, etc.

Then I clicked on “Modify or Start Search Over” and clicked on “Include Nearby Airports”…and guess what?  I found a price of $302 less per person on DELTA! And this was from Raleigh Durham…now just ask yourself, how can a flight be $300 cheaper from a further distance on the SAME airline…well, of course it is a mini airfare war…RDU (Raleigh Durham, NC is AA’s hub!).

Now, if I were to say to Gary…”hey, how’d you like to save an extra $600 to go to Ecuador next month?”….he’d reply “is it on Delta?”…I’d say yes, then he’d say “is it from Tri Cities?”  And I’d say “No”…and he’d say, “buy the higher priced ticket from Tri Cities”.

Why?  Well, we are sort of tired out road warriors.  We can go (except in the winter when the pass is closed) over the top of Mt. Rogers and drop down to tiny tiny Tri Cities and find ourselves able to double park (yep!) and walk our bags and weary bodies in.  (Last month, the lone policemen there even helped us!) Everyone there knows us.  They jump to help us…and we can sanely walk through security even with our dog with everyone helping us…and then walk down to the one of only 4 gates and sit in the sun.  We can board, take a 25 minute flight to Atlanta and walk (we always walk through all the airports not ride when possible) to the Crown Room…or go directly to Gate E for the International flight.

Well, this is where you have to choose…what do you want?  We want peace and quiet and a very easy entrance to the world and also a very very cheap daily rate at the airport for our car. We like quiet, non events as opposed to people shouting at us to hurry and clear security, etc.

We’ve left our car, checked in at a gate with 4 people manning the desks and maybe two other passengers there, cleared security and are at the gate in less than 15 minutes or maybe 10…with no stress.

All top importance to us, but maybe not to you…this is why I mention to pick the airport where you begin for its appeal to you…that’s why we are loyal to Tri Cities and Tampa (in the winter).

OK…so all it takes is a few minutes to click on Kayak figure out ALL your possibilities and all your data.

My advice is to once again choose what is important to you…and that is whether you value money or time.  I scroll down a number of times and watch these rates for a few days or weeks (if I have the time) and pick THE BEST RATE FOR US WITH THE LOWEST DURATION OF HOURS.  These are equally important to us.  Kayak lets you click on “Details” for the stops in between and other information and then once you decide which flight pattern (sometimes they offer 5 or 6 pages of these all in price order) then click on that.  Kayak then sends you directly to the listing agent. You don’t have to figure out a single thing but the flight you like.

If you are trying to stick with just one airline, then click on the list at your left and it will eliminate the others.

We don’t usually like to fly to one country through stops in other countries and that prevents us from using Taca, Lacsa and Copa…who stop and change flights in Panama and Costa Rica.  We find this heightens the chance of lost luggage and further wears us out.

We do like LAN Ecuador, which we have flown from Miami many, many times.  A great airline (parent is LAN Chile with a very good safety record) with courteous, gentle service (Ecuadorian!) and a non hassle check in!  That’s a winning combination for sure!  This helps.

We now have a choice of  Aero Galapagos, which is a regional Ecuadorian Airline that is flying from Miami to Ecuador.  We respect its young female CEO and our only complaint for this is that it is non stop to Guayaquil with an overnight then go up to Quito.  However, she has applied for rights to fly non stop Miami/Manta!  That should be a winner for sure.  So, let’s watch out for this application to be approved…but of course immigration and customs must be added to the excellent Manta Airport first.

Right now, there are 19 pages of 15 schedules each (that’s 285 flights!) from Miami to Quito.  This could be bewildering.  Let Kayak do your work by sorting them out and presenting them in just seconds to you!

The tips above can be used to get great airplane ticket deals anywhere.  Tomorrow’s message “Tickets to Ecuador Part 3”  looks at some suggestions for Ecuador.

Merri

Join us at an upcoming Ecuador or North Carolina conference or tour.

Ecuador-Tickets

There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… like the wonderful shopping in places like the leather district of Cotacachi.

Merri


We use www.vayama.com

www.Bookingbuddy.com

www.farecompare.com

www.kayak.com

Each has a special low fare alert service that you can subscribe.

Here is Kayak’s:

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Vayama’s

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Fare Compare:

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BookingBuddy:

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Give these sites your email address… your departure airport (or use Miami, New York, Atlanta or Houston-the Ecuador Gateways) and show Quito (or Guayaquil if you are travelling there).

Each site will then alert you when specials come up.

Here is an example of an alert that came to Merri the day this was written Jan. 7 2010… $341 Miami Quito… good for travel in Feb. 2010.

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Another was even lower, $267… on Avianca, but was not non stop.

When you see a really good fare that will take you where and when you want to go… act!  These specials  usually do not last long.

There is an Ecuador exit tax yo should also be aware of.  An Ecuador Living subscriber asked this question about the Ecuador air ticket tax.

Ecuador Exit Tax Question:

Hi Merri & Gary, I wonder if you can explain in one of your elines what the Ecuador ticket fee is when you are exiting Ecuador.  Generally, we don’t worry about the amount of cash in our pockets as long as the credit card is there.  Fortunately, I still had cash in my pocket when we were going home in February and was surprised to be asked for some Ecuador ticket exit fee.  Also, a debit card was not a usual card we carried; in fact I only got one for our trip to Ecuador and amusingly enough, the guard at the bank always had to help me with the transaction!  Easy to love Ecuadorians…Take care.  Thanks.

All  tickets to Ecuador or anywhere have all types of taxes included in the fare.

The typical US tax includes  7.5% U.S. government excise tax, Security Fee of $2.50 per U.S. enplanement, Airport passenger facility charges (PFCs) of up to $18 roundtrip, U.S. government excise tax of $3.50 on each flight segment, defined as one takeoff and one landing.

Plus or Hawaii and Alaska, a U.S. government excise tax of $7.70 is added plus for international travel including Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands there can be other government taxes and fees (including U.S. government excise tax) of up to $180 based on destination.

If there is a fuel surhare then there is tax on the surcharge as well. Here is an estimate of the components of a $400 domestic fare.

The following shows how that $400 pie is divvied up:

$240 — Roundtrip Airfare
$93.02 — Fuel Surcharge
$18 — Passenger Facility Charge — Airport Improvements
$14 — Federal Flight Segment Tax — FAA projects
$10 — Sept. 11 Security Fee — TSA
$18 — Federal Sales Tax (7.5 percent) on Airfare
$6.98 — Federal Sales Tax (7.5 percent) on Fuel Surcharge

Merri noted in here recent article Ecuador Tickets

Here’s what I found…Award Ticket round trip from London to Charlotte:

Mileage required 50,000 and up to 70,000.

Award available on most days, plenty of seats, etc.

Sounds good…right?  A free ticket!  Great for kids as there is no tax advantage and it’s there and red hot!

However, let’s look closer, the requirement for taxes was $316.23!!  Other flights, taxes were $375.10.  Wow!”

There are taxes everywhere we travel… but normally they are just added onto the price of the ticket.  This is not so in Ecuador

The international departure tax in Ecuador is currently (May 2009) USD $44.30 per person.   This is payable in cash (dollars or Euro).  Credit cards are not accepted.

All international travelers must pay the departure fee, so be sure to save some cash for the airport.

For domestic flights (including the Galapagos), the departure tax is included in the ticket price – no additional payments are needed at the airport.

Gary

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