According to the U.S. State Department, violent crime in Ecuador is commonplace and increasing. In 2009, an American citizen was kidnapped and held for ransom and at least 11 others were kidnapped during the previous 10 years. Tourists are frequently targeted for an array of crimes including rape, robbery, kidnapping and assault. Taking precautions when planning a trip to Ecuador is highly recommended, and can help make your trip a safer, more enjoyable one.
Ecuador in General
Keep a copy of your identification and proof of citizenship with you at all times. Lock up your passport and valuables in the hotel safe if available. Do not wear expensive jewelry or clothing. Always be aware of your surroundings and your belongings. Use ATMs only inside protected locations. Political demonstrations are frequent in Ecuador. Stay alert in large crowds, and avoid demonstrations in progress as well as suspicious looking packages. Do not attempt to pass a blockade set up by protesters.
Consult with your doctor before traveling to Quito, as the high altitude can adversely affect some. Be alert in the crowds of Quito and surrounding areas. U.S. Embassy employees have a nighttime curfew for the Mariscal Sucre District because of the high crime rate. Do not accept gifts or packages from other people or leave your bags unsecured, as drug traffickers often target unsuspecting tourists.
Guayaquil and Manta
Taxi robberies are very common in Guayaquil and Manta. Use only radio-dispatched taxis instead of hailing taxis on the street. A list is available on the U.S. Consulate General’s website. Avoid public buses.
Register your trip to the islands with the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil and leave an emergency contact with your hotel. Consider buying travelers insurance, as local medical care is limited. Air medical evacuations from the island are expensive and can be delayed.
Roads in Ecuador are often unmarked, lacking in safety barriers and guardrails, and are used for both vehicles and animals. The U.S. Embassy advises driving only on the most traveled highways.
Hiking Trails and Beaches
Avoid hiking trails and deserted beaches, as even tourists traveling in groups for safety are often assaulted and robbed at gunpoint.
Ecuador has 19 active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. In the case of an eruption, check local news or the Ecuadorian Geophysical Institute online for more information.
Yellow Fever only occurs in the Amazon Basin, and certification of Yellow Fever vaccination is required to enter or leave the Amazon basin. Be aware of other potential illnesses, such as malaria, dengue fever and Leishmaniasis. Taking an anti-malarial drug and protecting yourself from mosquitoes can help lower your risk of contracting these diseases.
If you are the victim of a crime in Ecuador, contact the local police as well as the U.S. Embassy in Quito, or the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil. “911” works the same way in Ecuador as it does in the U.S., but operators only speak Spanish.
U.S. Embassy Ave. Avigiras E12-170 y Ave. Eloy Alfaro Quito, Ecuador 594-2-398-5000 ecuador.usembassy.gov
U.S. Consulate General 9 de Octubre y Garcia Moreno Guayaquil, Ecuador 593-4-232-3570 guayaquil.usconsulate.gov