Safety, Does and Dont’s
– By Johanna, Kai and Lisa
«The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.»
Ecuador is a country of breathtaking diversity, divided into the regions: Sierra, Oriente, Costa and the Galápagos Islands. This country seems to have it all: Amazonian rainforest, indigenous markets, colonial towns, sun- kissed beaches, Andean peaks and not to mention a huge biodiversity of plants and animals. In comparison to South America Ecuador is a rather small country. But out of that reason it is easy to see many places and visit all of the regions in a short time.
The Costa (coast) is the western part of Ecuador with caribbean like endless beaches. A trip along the coast means relaxed travel. You will find many beautiful places along the so-called «Ruta del Spondylus» which runs from south to north along the E-15 road and crosses the towns that make up the provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabí, Santa Elena, Guayas and El Oro.
The climate on the coast is hot to pleasantly warm all year round. Water temperatures rarely drop below 24 degrees. There are also several islands that can be reached by boat. Because of the high sun exposure it is recommended to protect yourself with sunscreen and long, bright clothes.
- Recommendations: Montañita, Olón, Puerto López, Playa de los Frailes, Nationalpark Machalilla, Canoa, Ayampe, Isla de la Plata.
The Sierra of Ecuador is the region of the highlands. The central mountainous part of the country includes the Andean region with the volcanoes. There is a day-climate where it is very cold in the night and hot in the day. Furthermore it is a very rainy region, but on the other hand a very green area where it is ideal to grow food for the agriculture. This region in ideal for hikes.
- Recommendations: Mindo, Cuenca, Otavalo, Laguna Quilotoa, Papallacta, Baños, Pichincha
In the east of the country, the Oriente, lies the rainforests of the Amazon basin. All the rivers of the Oriente are tributaries of the Amazon and the most important of them are the Napo and the Coca river. Furthermore, in this region you can find an incredible amount of different plant species as well as colorful flowering plants. Numerous colorful attractive bird species, such as hummingbirds, and toucans can be found here. Butterflies, frogs and reptiles find their habitat in the mountain cloud forest. Adding to that there are many lagoons and waterfalls in remote places.
- Recommendations: Tena (El gran Canión), el Coca, Puyo, Misahualli, Cuyabeno
Located about 1000 km from the mainland in the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands, which form the fourth geographical zone of Ecuador. the islands are geologically very young (between 700,000 and 3 million years) and of oceanic volcanic origin. In their history they have never had contact with the mainland.
Here you can find many species of animals that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. On these islands you can appreciate one of the few places left on the planet where the human footprint is kept to a minimum.
The public transportation system in Ecuador is very efficient and you can find a bus terminal or an office, where you can buy your bus tickets, in almost every city from where you can go to further destinations. In almost every town there are buses to Quito and from the terminals in Quito, such as Quitumbe and Carcelén, there are many more destinations that can be reached by long distance buses. Bus tickets are comparatively cheap and you can travel a long distance for just a few dollars. We would always recommend to take a direct bus, for your own safety. Especially at bus terminals there are always a lot of people on the road and it can get a little chaotic.
If you want to visit national parks or go hiking in the mountains, there are usually buses or trucks from small villages that take you as close as possible to the starting point of your adventure. It is always helpful to ask locals because they know the best ways to get to a place and they like to help you.
Regarding safety in Ecuador, it is important not to generalize. One should be especially careful in the big Ecuadorian cities like Quito and Cuenca in order not to become a victim of robberies.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended not to carry valuables such as cameras and cell phones, jewelery and watches openly on the body or, at best, to leave them in the accommodation. This is especially important in the evening and at night. It is also better to go out in a group, especially in the evening, because in general it is much more dangerous at night than during the day. So avoid going out very late or take an Uber or a taxi to your destination.
In any case, it is not advisable to resist robberies because of the violent nature of the perpetrators.
It is always recommended to put a little money in your shoe or Bra, if you identify as a girl, to create a safe space near to your body. If you are getting robbed you have money to get you somewhere safe. Furthermore give your friends all the phone numbers of your closest persons to get in touch quickly again.
If you take a cab, it should only be the yellow cabs with orange license plates and registration number of the car on the side, because they are authorised. Also, Uber or other companies are a safe choice as they will pick you up at a place and take you exactly where you want to go.
When you are on the road, you can also send your friends your location or the license plate of the cab or Uber. Generally, the same is good to be done for buses.
You can also adapt with your style to the people around you so conspicuous as an foreigner.
Tips and recommendations:
- Travel with friends or in groups of people
- Cellphone: You should always have a working cell phone with you when traveling, as well as a power bank to charge your phone in case of emergency, also your phone should always have enough mobile data
- Departure and arriving time: Whether you are staying in a hostel or you go camping, you should always start your trip and arrive at your destination in the daylight, as it is much less safe at night and you will not be able to fully perceive your surrounding
- Money: Always be sure to have enough cash available. We also recommend that you always have an «emergency 20 bill» in a hidden place on your body. In addition, we made the experience that it is always good to have a credit card to withdraw money. However, this is up to the individual as it is of course a risk to have it with you
- Hiking: If you decide to hike, carry only the necessary things in your backpack and always have a rain jacket and rain pants with you as the weather can change very quickly from one second to the other. If you plan a long hike, you should leave early enough (7-8 am) to firstly hike in good weather and secondly not arrive in the dark
- Plan your trip with time; do research on how to get there and ask locals for their help and advice
- Maps: There are several apps that allow you to download offline maps, because you often have no connection in the mountains
- Sunscreen: always have a bottle with you no matter the region and especially have enough with you when traveling to the beach.
- Always lock doors in hostels or Airbnb, take a lock with you to close the zipper when camping.
- Booking: It is best to book or reserve the hostel/hotel/Airbnb before your arrival, because especially during holidays a lot is booked out and the prices are usually very different on the spot from those on the internet.
- Always let someone, for example your host family, know where you are and if you arrived at your destination.