Ecuador

Ecuador, or officially known as Republic of Ecuador, is located in northwestern South America, and it shares borders with Colombia and Peru, as well as with the Pacific Ocean. The Galapagos Islands, the birth place of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are also part of Ecuador. The country is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries world-wide, and it has the most biodiversity of any nation; therefor, its protection is a national priority. If you are a nature lover, then you can explore The Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve, Mindo, and San Luis de Pambil where you can see many types of Flora and Fauna. In fact, The Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve is the best place to see the Amazon Rainforest in the country. It is also a good way to immerse yourself in the culture and interact with the indigenous community. Salinas, Bahia de Caraquez, Manta, Crucita, San Jacinto and San Clemente are amazing beaches. No matter what you decide to do, it’s important that you are informed about not only fun and adventurous activities, but also about safety. Below, you’ll find more information on safety and precautions you can take, so you can enjoy your trip.

SAFETY INDEX

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Is Ecuador a Safe or Dangerous Country?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released a map (below) with zones that should be avoided or travel with precaution. There’s a high rate of petty crime and robberies, especially in Quito. Be particularly alert in La Carolina and El Ejido parks, as well as in the districts of La Mariscal, La Floresta, and La Marin, at bus terminals and downtown, including the main square and El Panecillo hill. We recommend that you use one of the tour companies or reliable transport instead. If you are in Guayaquil, be particularly careful in the Kennedy, Alborada, Urdesa and the Malecon Simon Bolivar districts and at bus terminals.

Crime and Scams

Most of the crimes and scams against foreigners are crimes of opportunity. These semi-professional thieves target unaware travelers in tourist areas and restaurants. Bag snatching is common, so make sure you carry your bag facing away from the street and preferably always close to you. Bus terminals are common places where thieves take advantage of distracted travelers and use their pickpocketing skills. “Accidental” spills are a way to distract you and pickpocket you, so always be vigilant. “Express kidnappings” can occur. Victims are grabbed and force to take out as much money as possible from ATMs. The criminals can also contact the victim’s family or friends and ask them to bring all the cash they have in a couple of hours. Once the ransom is paid, the victim is usually released unharmed. There is a higher risk of crime in southern parts of Sucumbios province, including Coca.

Transportation Safety

There have been robberies reports, especially in Quito, Riobamba, and Baños. Most incidents take place at night and on interstate buses and at bus stations. Traveling within the city is easier by taxi. However, there are unlicensed taxis in Ecuador, so make sure you pre-arrange a ride or use radio taxis from places like a hotel when possible. Official taxis have orange license plates or white plates with an orange strip on the top and video cameras inside. If you take one in Quito and/or Guayaquil, make sure the vehicle has the municipality registration number sticker displayed on the windscreen and doors.  

Natural Dangers

Ecuador is located in a seismic zone, so there is a high risk of earthquakes, especially in the province of Esmeraldas due to its proximity to the merging of the Nazca and South American plates. Tsunamis and volcanic eruptions are also possible risks, particularly in the Galapagos Archipelago. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the authorities. Rainy season runs from December to May.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Taking normal safety precautions are recommended in Ecuador. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behaviour as you would in any other country. Watch out for pickpockets in tourist areas and protect your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

Pickpocket and bag and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation, especially on the Trolébus (Metro) in Quito. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : HIGH

There have been reports of muggings throughout the country, but especially in Quito, Guayaquil, and in remote areas. Though most victims are not physically injured, criminals usually do not hesitate to use force if the target does not cooperate; in case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables. Avoid walking alone after dark. Although kidnapping is not common, express kidnapping involving tourists have occurred in Ecuador. Victims are abducted for a few hours and forced to withdraw money from ATMs in order to be released.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Bag snatching is common, so make sure you carry your bag facing away from the street and preferably always close to you.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : HIGH

There has been an increase in robberies on public transportation, especially in Quito, Riobamba, and Baños. Most incidents take place at night and on interstate buses. There are unlicensed taxis in Ecuador, so make sure you pre-arrange a ride or use radio taxis from places like a hotel when possible. Official taxis have orange license plates or white plates with an orange strip on the top and video cameras inside. If you take one in Quito and/or Guayaquil, make sure the vehicle has the municipality registration number sticker displayed on the windscreen and doors.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Expect earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Rainy season runs from December to May.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Terrorist attacks are unlikely in Ecuador. However, they cannot be ruled out. Remain vigilant and take advice from authorities, hotels and tour operators.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Many women travel safely without any issues. However, if you are traveling alone, it is important to exercise particular care in crowds, on public transportation, in rural areas, and in isolated sections. Avoid traveling alone after dark. Women may get some unwanted attention from men. There has been an increase of attacks and serious sexual assault in the city of Montañita.

Carte

Useful Information

Most countries may not need a visa to enter Ecuador for short stays (less than 90 days). Visitors from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia are required to obtain a visa in advance. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your arrival date. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar (USD). ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are accepted in main cities, but be careful of possible scamming and never leave your card out of sight.
The weather in Ecuador varies, and it is determined by altitude. In the mountain valleys, the weather tends to be mild year-round, while the coastal areas have a humid subtropical climate. You’ll find a tropical climate in the Pacific coast, and a temperate and dry climate in the Andean highlands.
The Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito and the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil are Ecuador’s major airports. If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page