page we suggest some common sense what to do in Ecuador [or not do] to travel safely
and stay healthy in
Ecuador and elsewhere in the tropics. We
provide these suggestions because we want you to have a fabulous experience in Ecuador
and go home with nothing more than great memories about some of the greatest vacations
you have had in your life. Don't let these suggestions discourage you, because Ecuador
is one of the greatest tropical countries in the world to discover and explore!
The Cuyabeno Loop explores
the breathtaking scenery of lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo
Rivers and the Cuyabeno Lake. Watch the amazing birds and
wildlife. Pass 2 nights with the amazing Cofan Indians in
the Cofan Lodge and enjoy 2 nights of comfort in the famous
The Lagarto Cocha Expedition on hidden
creeks and lakes is the best Amazon journey in Ecuador!
Discover Indian tribes in Ecuador, Monkeys, Sloths,
Dolphins. No other Amazon rainforest in any of the
Amazon-Andean countries can match the wildlife viewing
of Cuyabeno and it is far better than Yasuní!
The Cuyabeno Lake Program
explores all the wild places surrounding the Cuyabeno Lake.
Bonsai-shaped Macrolobia trees with the whispering of the
mysterious prehistoric Hoatzin birds and the noisy Blue and
Yellow Macaws. Our Cuyabeno Lodge is on the best location,
because we were the first and chose the best location on a
seasonal island in the Cuyabeno Lake itself.
Our Northern Andes Tour lets you get a
taste of some of the best Andean National Parks,
visiting the highest groves in the world: the Polylepis
trees, the highest mountain in the world calculated from
the center of the Earth, the Chimborazo with Vecuñas and
Lamas, the highest active volcano in the world, the
Our National Parks Tours take you on a fantastic
journey along the best possible sample of Andean and coastal
parks. They have been designed to complement
Galapagos and/or Amazon cruises. They can start from different places, particularly Quito,
Guayaquil and Cuenca. While the full program lasts 9 days, it is possible to
make a limited selection of parks, like the 6 days' "Andes
and Coast" module.
A fabulous program for visiting the most
famous cultural highlights Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the
Sacred Valley. At the same time it serves as the Lima hub
for the Peru National Parks Tour. This module is an
extension to our National Parks Tour Ecuador and/or Galapagos National Park
and/or Amazon Cruises.
hours of the day are the early mornings, whether you are a culture or nature lover. The morning hours are always the coolest hours of the day, which in the
tropics is important. If you want to see birds and wildlife, the best hour of the
day is from 5:30 - 6:30 AM. The guides of our National Parks Tour are widely known for the knowledge about birds
as well as other wildlife and
plants. For photography in
Quito, Ambato and
Ingapirca, the best hours are from 8 - 10 AM and then again often from 5
- 6 PM.
Unload the pictures
from your camera onto your laptop or cyber space whenever you get to your hotel.
If you lose your camera, at least you will still have your pictures. Also charge
your batteries on every opportunity you get and Don't forget to take your charger
out of the outlet each time you put the battery back in its place. Always check
the outlets when you leave your hotel room (and your closets of course).
Early morning cloudless
sky over Quito. Always rise early, take your breakfast quickly and go see the town
before the clouds move in.
5 PM, the clouds move out and the city bathes in the warm colors of the late afternoon.
Always know how to
find the way back to your hotel
Always ask for a
business card of the hotel at check in and put it somewhere in your clothing where
you will have it when you leave. Nothing is more annoying than having forgotten
the name of your hotel and being stranded somewhere in an unknown city. For several
of the larger cities, free maps are available. Like anywhere else in Latin America,
English is rarely spoken, so write down your destination before entering a taxi.
Ahhh, very important!
Wherever you go, always carry some toilet paper with you as not all toilets are
adequately provided with this essential.
Quito and other cities
in the cities of Ecuador is chaotic but not as fast as compared to some other cities
in the world. But when you are in the highlands, your attention may be slightly
off because of the elevation (Quito is almost 3000m). Moreover, when you are taking
pictures in the lovely narrow streets of Quito or
Cuenca, chances are that you forget to look out and walk straight
under a car. So,is Ecuador safe?
Is Ecuador safe?
Like in any country, there are safety risks. In fact
whether or not Ecuador is
safe is such an important question, that we dedicated a full page to it,
which analysis all the potential dangers of visiting Ecuador.
I have not heard
to the contrary, and I consider taxis in Ecuador reasonably safe and they are among
the cheapest in the world. Always point at the taximeter when you hop on board or
ask for a price before you take off, or you may be surprised by a stiff foreigner
fee at the end of your ride. If you carry a beg, sit with your beg in the back seat
or keep it in your lap, so you won't forget when leaving the taxi. I left
several carry-ons and a laptop in taxis, and they never came back, even though they
had my address. Still, always label all your bags.
If you must carry
valuables, it is probably much wiser to take a taxi. Guayaquil however is building
a reputation for taxi robberies, a phenomenon that is spreading in Latin America.
So in Guayaquil, you may want to order your taxi through your hotel lobby, but of
course this is not an option if you are not at your hotel. Always only take registered
taxis with a number on the outside and a taximeter.
An increasingly popular
crime is robbing people after they leave a cash machine, Western Union or a bank.
Before you withdraw money, look around if there are suspicious people hanging around
(loitering), and if so, chose another location for withdrawing money. If possible,
prepare yourself beforehand to be able to cross the street immediately after your
withdrawal and watch out if anybody is following you, if so, run and cross the street
again. If you make yourself a difficult target, chances are that the thief will
chose a different target.
In the more expensive
intercity busses, the risk of losing stuff by theft is much less, particularly for
the ones that don't stop on the way. They cost a few dollars more, but you get to
your destination quicker and they really are more secure. The few times that I take
the bus anywhere in the world, I get off the bus when it stops at a bus stop and
I watch my luggage until the driver closes the luggage compartment again. So I guess
you can consider me a bit paranoid...........
Pickpockets are everywhere
in the world and you can become a victim anywhere. However, the colonial part of
Quito is packed with tourism police officers in uniform with a bright yellow vest.
Anywhere you walk, you see them patrolling the streets in their bright yellow vests
and I personally feel totally safe while strolling the streets. Some other areas
in Quito, however, are certainly less safe, and, always be prepared for the unexpected.
Colonial Cuenca, is much less mundane than Quito, and - for my feeling - enjoys
the provincial values of the past. Guayaquil is an international harbor, meaning
that in our feelings about safety, all the prejudices would apply, not based on
statistics, but on how we experience safety.
losing your money, is always a far greater risk than getting it stolen, let alone
being violently robbed! In fact, the only time in my life I got violently robbed,
was in the tourism Holy Grail, Costa Rica, out of all places! I personally have
a few very simple rules against petty theft:
Whenever I travel
overseas, I leave my passport in the hotel as much as possible, although it is probably
illegal to go into the street without it. However, I prefer going to the police
station apologizing for having left my passport in my hotel over having to report
that it has been stolen. After having travelled abroad for more than 5 decades to
more than 80 countries, neither has ever happened;
I leave my money,
credit cards and passport in the safety box in the hotel, while always carrying
a few 10 - 20 dollar bills lose in my pocket and just one credit card. Keep your
credit card in a different pocket from your money. Why not in a wallet? The bulge
in your pocket draws attention. Ladies: why not in your purse? That is the first
thing robbers go after. Best not taking one along when traveling to developing countries....
But you won't take that advise, will you
Never carry valuables
in your backpack but rather in one of those hidden pouches around your neck or waist.
The ones that go around your waist: always carry those in the front where you can
see people. Always have them hidden under your clothes;
When in crowded places,
particularly on a crowded bus or tram, keep your hand on your pouch all the time,
and again - as much as possible - avoid boarding public transportation with all
your money and cameras on your body. Quito's trolley busses are notorious for places
where pickpockets relieve tourists of their valuables;
Ladies, if you can
do without jewellery for a few weeks during your vacation, that is probably wise.
And gentlemen, that Rolex really gives off the wrong signal to pickpockets! Worn
clothes, old suitcases, carry-on bags and backpacks draw less attention than new
ones. In general, don't draw attention showing off as the well-to-do tourist from
North America or Europe.
Omni present tourism
police officers in Quito recognizable by their bright yellow vest.
Celebration of the
tourism police force in Quito
and Safety in Ecuador
Always be aware of
traffic. You are in a foreign country and many impressions overwhelm you. When you
take pictures, stay aware of the traffic. (I am a picture taking fanatic and I always
become oblivious of traffic when I see a great shot to take and had many narrow
Always travel with
a medical insurance that covers your medical expenses in Ecuador (or any other country).
Check with your health insurance provider if you are covered for medical expenses
overseas in general and in Ecuador in particular. Check if medical transportation
is included. If not, take a travel insurance.
I guess, - but I
don't have figures - that it is much and much safer to travel by bus, than riding
a private vehicle, as is the case in most other countries of the world. On the other
hand, the petty theft risk in public busses is considerably higher, particularly
in the (trolley) busses (Metrobus) in Quito, which have a reputation for being frequented
by pickpockets. So in city busses keep your hand in your pocket on your wallet all
the time and avoid taking the bus with valuables, lots of cash and your passport
Always be aware of your surroundings,
your luggage and valuables, but don't overdo it. Don't let your travel fun be overshadowed
by continuous fear. This is YOUR vacation, YOUR great time, don't let a petty thief
ruin your fun! ALWAYS ENJOY YOUR VACATION, even if someone succeeds in snatching
something away from you! Changes are that whatever someone steals from you is only
a fraction of what you spent on your total journey. So don't let some petty thief
ruin your vacation experience, and if it happens, - for your own peace of mind -
consider is as a part of the overall costs.
How to stay healthy
You may come across
friendly travelers and local guides who will tell you what is safe to eat and drink.
Never be fooled by the such advise from others. Having travelers diarrhea and a
fever is no fun, so don't take risks. It is not a question of how harmful or harmless
the local microflora and microfauna is, but how YOUR BODY reacts to it. So if you
are new to a country, always drink bottled water (never from the tap) and hot drinks.
Fruit juices in Ecuador are delicious but you don't know if they have been made
with bottled water (in the lodge our juices are prepared with bottled water). Raw
salads are always a bit risky and you have to ask yourself how sensitive your stomach
Wherever you go,
always carry a bottle of commercial water, which is the safest water in a place
where your body is not accustomed to the the local bacterial flora. In restaurants
always ask for bottled water.
Avoid eating raw
salads if you are new to the country. Most restaurants will simply wash the lattice
in water, which will not kill the local bacterial flora which may cause travellers
diarrhoea. Order dishes with cooked vegetables.
all fails, Imodium still seems to be the "kill or cure remedy" of choice. You may
want to check this webpage:
http://www.drwisetravel.com/td.html. For malaria we refer the
occurrence report of the World Health Organization. Consult your doctor for prophylactics.
In Ecuador, as in most developing countries, many prescription drugs are sold over
the counter in any pharmacy and they are usually much cheaper than in North America
and Europe, but be careful playing your own doctor. If you have a problem, usually
your hotel can get you a doctor consult, and most doctors will charge a reasonable
price for a consult, but always ask before requesting a consult. Consults at the
emergency rooms of hospitals are usually very reasonably priced, but you may spend
some time waiting for your turn.
the raw food risk, it should be mentioned that in general, most middle class (and
higher) restaurants in Ecuador seem reasonably clean and that food is good. There
is a great variety in choices, and reasonably priced restaurants abound. If you
prefer fast food, most large malls have food plazas with a great variety of fast
food chains, including the (in)famous international ones.
When in the Andes,
always be careful with alcohol consumption. At higher elevations, the effect is
much stronger than at sea level. Always take enough rest. You may have gone through
time changes and in many cases, you have spent a day on board of an airplane, so
you arrive tired. Don't overdo it the first days, particularly not at the higher
elevations. Some embassy websites warn for drugs put in the drink of an inattentive
bar visitor, who then later gets robbed or worse. Whether there is a real risk,
who knows, but be always watchful that nobody puts something in your drink, nor
accept a drink from someone you don't know in a bar.
At the higher elevations,
you are likely to be short of breath and you will tire rapidly. When going into
the mountains for tracking, take several days to acclimatize your body to the elevation
before you start doing some serious hiking. In general, younger people are more
sensitive to "elevation sickness" than older people. If you have a light case of
elevation sickness, sit down for a while and return to a place where you can quietly
recover, usually your hotel.
Sunshine and Bugs
be on the Equator. UV radiation is extremely high everywhere you go and you need
to protect yourself adequately, even if you are dark-skinned. Always wear a hat,
not just a baseball cap, and please, be careful with sandals or bear feet when you
come from abroad. I have seen such horribly painful feet on people who covered everything
but their feet. Your feet get the most direct sunlight as they are exposed horizontally
to the sun! So acclimatize your feet gradually by adding an hour of sunshine every
Always put on high grade sun block (don't
forget the edges of your ears). Gradually accustom your skin to the sunlight
by exposing it for no more than an hour the first day and add an hour everyday afterwards.
Don't be fooled by an overcast sky, you can still get sun burn when it is cloudy.
Be particularly aware in the high mountains and on the water, where the UV effect
is much greater. Also beware of wind, as it also tends to increase the sun burning
of your skin.
Camouflage clothing is NOT the best for
the jungle! Rather wear white or light cloths. Mosquitos ( and Tse Tse Flies in
Africa ) avoid white cloths and are attracted by dark cloths. Moreover, white reflects
heat best. It does help lightly spraying your cloths with DEED, but its effect will
wear off after a few hours.
Stay Away from Drugs
It is amazing this
still needs to be said, but every year foreigners end up in prison for the possession
of drugs. If caught with drugs, you may be in for a long time already in for-arrest.
I don't understand why this needs to be said, but stay far away from drugs. Each
year, dozens of foreigners are arrested by Ecuadorian authorities for attempting
to traffic drugs between Ecuador and North America and Europe, or between mainland
Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. The airports are pact with drug dogs! Many of those arrested claim not to have known
they were transporting drugs. Under no circumstances should you ever accept gifts,
packages, or suitcases from anyone you don't trust or know well.
More ideas and tips
on things to know about Ecuador will come over time and suggestions are always
welcome. Enjoy the beautiful country of Ecuador!
Smoking in Public
When the USA started
banning smoking in public places it was quite a surprise to me to immediately see
that Latin Americans voluntarily followed suit even before imposing legislation
on banning smoking in public places. Now smoking in public places and
restaurants is prohibited by law almost everywhere in Latin America and totally
is a thing to not do in Ecuador.
WHAT TO DO
PARKS & TRIBES Travel Agency
Street: Las Casas,
Side street: Jose Coudrin, 2 blocks above the Occidental Highway
Cantón Quito, Prov. Pichincha, Parroquia