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29 Best Books About Ecuador: Travel, Expat, Maps, History

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As we planned our move 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).

Books about Ecuador
Thinking about Ecuador retirement? Check out the list of the top books about retirement in Ecuador at the end of the post.

Table of Contents

Best Books About Ecuador Travel and Life

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.

Here are the ones we bought specifically about Ecuador. Looking for more on the Galapagos? Check out our new post: Top 17 Galapagos Books

We hope you’ll share your comments below!

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 center, 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

4. Lonely Planet Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

This best-selling book by Lonely Planet covers the best advice on what to see – and what to skip.

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Includes details about the Otavalo Market, Quito attractions, Galapagos travel, and more.
Read more about Ecuador travel.

5. Wildlife of the Galapagos (Pocket Guide)

If you’re planning a trip to the Galapagos, you should pick up this book!
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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.

Ecuador Living Books

6. Becoming an Expat: Moving Abroad to Your Richer Life in Ecuador

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.

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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.

7. Living and Retiring in Cuenca: 101 Questions Answered

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:

  1. It is highly rated by other expats
  2. it is inexpensive, delivers fast, and covers a wide variety of topics.

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If you have read this book, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to have your input on this book.

8. The Complete Guide to Retiring in and Around Cotacachi, Ecuador

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.

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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).
Best books about Ecuador

Books on Culture and Language

9. Ecuador: Culture Smart (The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

This top-selling book on Ecuador culture comes well-reviewed.

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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

10. Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish Phrasebook and Dictionary

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.” 

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Maps of Ecuador: Country, Quito, Galapagos

I know, maps are not that exciting. But what’s interesting is that good maps are not easy to find here in Ecuador. Especially English ones.

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.

When we moved, we had maps of the three major regions that we could find maps for: of the whole 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.

11. Map of Ecuador (Waterproof)

Map of Ecuador: This map of Ecuador is an excellent rendering of Ecuador’s road network and physical features.

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Distances between communities are shown, as well as gas stations outside of major towns.

National parks and points of interest are also shown. An inset map of Quito is also shown.

12. Map of Quito Ecuador

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.

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13. Galapagos Islands Map (Waterproof)

Waterproof Galapagos Islands Map: Show all the islands and major developments. Volcano and elevation data are helpful in exploration.

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Also, information on specific animals and where to find them are clearly displayed.

The map is printed on thin plastic that keeps it from ripping and makes it waterproof.

best ecuador travel books

Ecuador Retirement Books

Are you thinking about an Ecuador retirement? Over the past five years, we’ve written a lot about Ecuador living. But it’s always good to get another perspective.

ecuador retirement
In the past couple of years, many Ecuador expats have discovered Kindle books. This has lead to an explosion of first-person accounts.

Of course, some of them are not all that good. But many are extremely helpful. In this post, we have included all the best Ecuador retirement books – according to reader ratings.

You can enjoy all these titles on the free Kindle Reading app: available on Apple, Android, and Windows mobile devices.
L

et’s get started!

This list is primarily Kindle-only books – meaning that most are not available in print. And while there are a couple of Ecuador travel books, the majority are all about retirement in Ecuador – written by expats actually living here.

Here are the details of each of these top Ecuador retirement books. Have you read one of these? I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comment section below!

14. Living and Retiring in Cuenca: 101 Questions Answered

This book is one of the highest rated Kindle books about Ecuador. The reviews rate the book as a “must read” for expats planning a move to Cuenca.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 285 pages

The book covers: Our Story, Great Expectations and Altitude Adjustment, Culturally Speaking, 101 Questions Answered, Conclusion and Resources.

15. Becoming an Expat in Cuenca, Ecuador

A light read, this is the shortest of the books in the list.

Written by David Campbell, the book address things that he learned as a new expat in Cuenca. He covers what they did right and wrong.

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  • Pages: 53 pages

Readers commented that the book gives an insider’s view of Cuenca, Ecuador that would be helpful for anyone planning to move there. Another reader commented that this book confirmed what he already knew about Cuenca.

16. Expats in Ecuador: Life in Cuenca Second Edition

Written by longtime Cuenca expats Deke Castleman and David Morrill, this book covers the essentials of living in Cuenca as a gringo expat.

They address common issues for new expats and recommend an open mind when arriving in Cuenca.

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  • Pages: 182 pages

This title replaces an older and more popular first edition Expats in Ecuador: Life In Cuenca

17. A Golden Girl’s Guide to Retirement in Cuenca:

Everything you need to know before & after you move to Cuenca, Ecuador!

Christine A. Collins writes for expat woman arriving in Cuenca. She discusses visas, medical care, cost of living, dating, and recommended doctors and dentists.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 155 pages

A number of men have reviewed the book, praising it for its quality information.

18. Expats in Cuenca, Ecuador: The Magic & the Madness

Author and expat Susan Schenck breaks down life in Cuenca for new and current expats. Some readers commented that they have benefited from the book although they already live here.

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  • Pages: 196 pages

Readers of this book express themselves very strongly about the value provided. Susan is also the author of the Quilotoa Loop. 

19. Finding Joy in Ecuador: Our Crazy Overseas Retirement Plan

Author Lollie Hoxie is from Connecticut and lives between her home state and Ecuador. While here in Ecuador, they live in the small city of Gualaceo – just a short distance from Cuenca.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 176 pages

Like many Americans, Lollie and Cliff were suffering financially. They had lost their business and were faced with the possibility of bankruptcy and foreclosure. The solution: rent their home and retire in Ecuador.

Written as a memoir, Lollie shares her experiences of an Ecuador retirement: living in a small town, dealing with immigration officials, taking bus trips around the country, and a side trip to Peru.

20. Expat Interviews Ecuador: Interviews with Residents and Former Residents

Nicholas Crowder interviews dozens of expats who have researched, moved to, and (in some cases) left Ecuador.

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  • Pages: 310 pages

Something that seems bizarre to me is that he doesn’t identify the expats he interviews. He says it is “to insure that you receive frank and open answers as to life in Ecuador”.

I disagree.

When people can comment (judge) without repercussions I think they tend to be more offensive and uncontrolled. One of the questions he asks in the book is: “What do you like about Ecuadorians? What did you dislike about Ecuadorians?”

The question is flawed from the beginning and creates an automatic us-vs-them comparison.

21. Why Ecuador for me

Gary Sisk moved to Cuenca as a single 63 year old man. In his book he explains the reasons he decided to retire in Ecuador. And the details of getting setup, becoming a resident and making a new circle of friends.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 229 pages

Read Gary’s expat profile published here on GringosAbroad. It is one of the most highly commented profiles on our site.

22. 100 Points to Consider Before Moving or Retiring in Ecuador

Nicholas Crowder has published many books about living in Ecuador.

While he does a good job of not sugarcoating life in Ecuador, there is a fine line between being candid and offensive. I think this book is offensive to Ecuadorians in general.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 268 pages

He does make some good points but his approach only foments the bizarre idea that gringos are superior to Ecuadorians in every way. For example, to prove his point that emergency room service is bad, he cites four extreme examples. This could be done for any country to make them sound incompetent.

The book has good information but it includes too much biased opinion and not enough facts.

23. The Complete Guide to Retiring in and Around Cotacachi, Ecuador

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.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 190 pages

The books seems to focus on the 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.

24. Our Ecuador Retirement…The First 8 Months

Don and Diane Murray were like many Americans nearing retirement. A combination of health problems and the loss of their savings and home equity, they decided to retire to Ecuador.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 97 pages

This is the story of their first eight months of life in Ecuador.

Donald has published a second book – about why they decided not to stay in Ecuador. See the next book in the list.

25. Our Ecuador Retirement…Part 2: The Second Year and Why We Didn’t Stay

This book, Don continues where he left off in his first book. He shares the details of their second year here in Ecuador.

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  • Pages: 115 pages

While initially content with their move, they later change their direction and relocate to Mexico.

This book will help expats know some of the challenges of retiring in Ecuador.

Reviews for the book say that it will be helpful retirees looking to move abroad to any country.

26. Expats in Ecuador: Cuenca’s Top Ten Attractions

Some of the attractions listed in the book include Parque Calderon, El Cajas National Park, open markets and the double-decker bus tour.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 70 pages

For a quick reference guide, check out this book. It offers a brief overview of the top attractions in the Cuenca area. Once you identify the destination you can research it in more depth online.

The results in the list are based on surveying actual expats and travels about their favorite places around the city of Cuenca.

27. Becoming an Expat: Ecuador

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.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 285 pages

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.

28. The Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador’s Hidden Treasure

Written by expat Susan Schenck. The Quilotoa Lake is the water-filled caldera of a volcano in the Western Andes of Ecuador. It is located southwest of Quito.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 65 pages

The book is packed with great photos and gives a real glimpse into what the area and the trip is really like. Susan provides a packing list – items that are a good idea for travel in any part of the Andes.

29. Cañar: A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador

Judy Blankenship and her husband have been traveling to Cañar province for the past 25 years from their home in Portland, Oregon.

Check it out on Amazon

  • Pages: 223 pages

They have integrated into the local society and have documented the culture and lifestyle in this region. Get a glimpse into the ways of the Cañari.

Popular Inca ruins Ingapirca is located in Cañar province.

retire in ecuador

Your Turn

So these are the books, maps and products we purchased as we were planning our relocation to Ecuador.
Have you read any of these books? Which ones did I miss? Please share your comments, reviews and suggestions in the comment section below.

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