Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

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Theseus
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Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by Theseus » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:45 pm

I am thinking of going on a 8 day hike/trek with my college freshman daughter in January. She is not the type that would rough it out into a tent. So I have narrowed down to two guided treks that are reasonably priced that each has hotel stay so she has access to her bathroom and bed :-).

Our first choice is Ecuador that has this amazing 8 day trek called The Avenue of Volcanos. It goes from QUITO CITY, ISINLIVI, THE TOACHI CANYON & CHUGCHILAN, QUILOTOA, QUILOTOA CRATER LAKE,CHIMBORAZO VOLCANO AND VICUÑAS.

For those who have first hand and recent knowledge safety in Ecuador can you share your personal experiences . In May I did Machu-Picchu trek and I found Peru to be extremely safe. How different is Ecuador?

Our second choice is Island of La Palma in Spain - but due to fewer hours of sunlight in January that is my second choice,

I'd appreciate any recent experience of Ecuador related to safety.

wmackey
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by wmackey » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:53 pm

Went to Quito a few years ago. Stayed in a local hotel (not us chain) and wandered out well in to the night. Never felt uncomfortable. People were warm and friendly.

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Pacific
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by Pacific » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:42 am

"Notice: All visits to Cotopaxi National Park have been suspended until further notice due to Cotopaxi Volcano's high level of volcanic activity. All itineraries that include Cotopaxi will have alternative options."

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blaugranamd
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by blaugranamd » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:54 am

Haven't been there personally but always check the state department info if you haven't

https://travel.state.gov/content/passpo ... uador.html
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:33 am

We were there a decade ago, so keep that in mind. When we went out at night, we thought it was safe, but on reflection it did seem a bit dicey. Someone at our "hotel" (it was a boutique/student kind of place) apparently had a misadventure the night before, but they might have been pushing their luck with unsavory companions :D

Before dark, it was absolutely safe. After dark, pick your spots.

Btw, interesting fact: they use USD as currency, but they are seemed really reluctant to accept USD bills that weren't fresh. I don't know why that is, but I would take some cash that is straight from the ATM. Don't use torn up bills.

Cheyenne
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by Cheyenne » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:25 am

Our friend is a retired school teacher who lives in Ecuador several months every year and has been doing that for more than ten years. She travels all over the country and owns a house in the mountains where she teaches poor children. She has interacted with Ecuadorians from all walks of life including government and military officials, police, middle class citizens and the poor. She has never mentioned experiencing any problems with personal safety. She says the Ecuadorian people are delightful. However, I do recall that her friend had some expensive camera equipment stolen from a car several years ago so theft can be a problem like it is anywhere else.

surveyor
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by surveyor » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:51 am

My mother took my son (8) 15 months ago with a group led by Gate1. They never had any issues. I imagine that being with a guided tour will avoid unsavory areas or situations. They absolutely loved Ecuador.

jrmillions
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by jrmillions » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:14 am

I went to Ecuador in 2009. Flew into Guayaquil at night. The airport inside is modern and clean. Scetchie looking people outside the airport but left with Ecuadorian friend so felt safe. Stayed overnight in Guayaquil overnight in a so-so neighborhood. Would not feel safe walking around at night. Left in the morning for the Andes mountains. Went through a bunch of poor towns. Stayed with friends in Central Ecuador. Felt safe. Went to Mt Chimbrazo and nearby Riobamba. Felt safe there. Before flying out of Guayaquil, took in some sights and shopped. We did get stopped by police for no reason. My Ecuadorian friend talked to them and gave $3 to them. No other problems with police but they will stop "gringos" for no reason and get a few bucks.
I was a good experience and would go back.

Theseus
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by Theseus » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:06 pm

Thank you all. I think we will go to Ecuador with a guided tour.

frequentT
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by frequentT » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:59 pm

We visited Ecuador in 2016 and felt safe everywhere we traveled. My wife, sister and mother-in-law went on a guided tour to the Amazon and also were well treated and felt safe; also we did several self-guided day and overnight trips from Quito w/o any incidents. We traveled independently in the Galapagos without any drama at all. We can't wait to return.

chessknt
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by chessknt » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:03 pm

Generally safe. I can echo the police commemt-people I was travelling with had copies of their passports instead or the real thing and were.detained for several hours in a police station. Not a shakedown since once someone brought their real passports they were free to go but still seemed a bit aggressive.

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kramer
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by kramer » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:45 pm

I spent a couple of weeks in Ecuador attending Spanish school (mostly Quito) in 2005. Quito was definitely NOT safe at night. Many of the other students were targeted for theft, even during the daytime. There were some violent incidents in the evening against folks who had been there over a series of months. I wish I could be more optimistic. During a weekend in Cuenca, we walked a local American woman home in the evening, she didn't feel safe walking home by herself. At that time in Ecuador, you really needed small change. One restaurant owner cursed at me for buying a $2.50 meal with a 10 dollar bill. My 20 dollar bills were so useless that I had to go to the bank to exchange them for 5's and 1's.

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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by LadyGeek » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:11 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (travel).
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IMO
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by IMO » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:12 pm

blaugranamd wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:54 am
Haven't been there personally but always check the state department info if you haven't

https://travel.state.gov/content/passpo ... uador.html
Out of curiosity, looked at the link and here's what is reported:


"Safety and Security

Exercise caution when traveling to northern Ecuador, especially the provinces of Carchi, northern Esmeraldas, and Sucumbíos. U.S. government personnel may travel to the northern bank of the Napo River in Sucumbíos, where tourist lodges are located, an area approximately four miles wide. All other U.S. government travel to the northern border area is prohibited without prior permission. This region has a high rate of ransom kidnappings. U.S. citizens are not targeted, but have been kidnapped there in the past.

Crime: Crime is a widespread problem in Ecuador.
Pick-pocketing, robbery, and hotel room theft are the most common crimes. Tourists have been robbed at gunpoint on beaches and along hiking trails. Passengers arriving at the Quito and Guayaquil airports have also been targets of armed robberies.
Use hotel safes if available, avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry or clothing, and carry only the cash or credit cards that you need. Stay alert in crowds and on public transportation. Be aware that thieves might create distractions to target you.
Be alert for express kidnappings, in which criminals enter a taxi and force victims to withdraw money from ATMs. Some victims have been beaten or raped. Avoid hailing taxis on the street. Order taxis by phone or use a service affiliated with major hotels. Avoid withdrawing large amounts of cash at one time. Use ATMs in well-protected indoor areas.
To avoid carjacking or theft from your car while you are stopped at intersections, drive with your doors locked and windows rolled up. Do not leave valuables in plain view.
Sexual assaults and rapes can occur, even in tourist areas. Travel in groups, do not leave food or drinks unattended, and never allow a stranger to give you a drink.
Do not let your credit card out of your sight in order to avoid credit card “skimming.”
Incapacitating drugs, such as rohypnol and scopolamine, have been used to facilitate violent robberies and sexual assaults."


I suppose this can be said of many US cities, but then again, I'd have more confidence in our 911 emergency system . . .

I'd give more credence to the US State Department as they are likely much more aware of crime issues than any particular individual's personal experience. FWIW

northernrun
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by northernrun » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:45 pm

I would echo others that Ecuador may feel safe , but it is not. The Ecuadorean people are wonderful, just realized that there are also some very bad people ( to include gangs)sprinkled among them. I live there for about a year total 2003-04 in Manta and traveled through Quito.
I was in the military so there was an added level of protection. Locals bad guys liked to spike drinks to incapacitate people while they stole wallets.
A local loved Ecuadorean doctor was accidentally killed this way at a local bar.
How remote is the hike? Would your reputable guide be able to thwart off a bad encounter?
That being said, I loved the experience, but I would not risk my daughter.

AnimalSpirits
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by AnimalSpirits » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:46 pm

Unlike America's diversity, there are only Ecuadorians in Ecuador, and gringos stick out like a half-naked tribal covered in war paint walking in Seattle.

Basically you should act if your valuables are out of sight, they're gone. Pick pocketing is constant, and armed theft is basically guaranteed past 8pm.
Do not walk in unlit areas, do not go to the Columbian border. Do you speak spanish? No one speaks english there, and if they do they're very shy about it. Generally very warm people, extremely social and friendly compared to common Americans, family is everything. They hold little civic, legal, or good samaritan ideals.

Medical care is basic and or incompetent comparatively.

I've never been to Peru but I have a feeling Machu pichu is very curated and protected by the government. I would say only Galapagos would have similar treatment in Ecuador.

InMyDreams
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by InMyDreams » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:06 am

Our guide told us that the Galapagos were quite safe.

In contrast:
One woman in our tour group had her iPhone stolen in the first few hours we were in Quito. There was a parallel tour group to ours: one person had her purse stolen (including passport!) in the first few hours. When we walked in the city tour, we had a guide talking in the front - and a guide bringing up the rear, keeping a close eye on his flock.

And the Travel Clinic had all kinds of interesting advice about which taxis to take in Quito - which I didn't take notes on, since I was in a group and traveled by tour bus.

The Travel Clinic was great - not just which immunizations to get, but prescriptions for travel meds, advice about crime (and taxis!) and more. Well worth the fee.

DarthSage
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by DarthSage » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:01 am

I haven't been there personally, but my oldest daughter spent a semester in Quito last year--she's a bilingual education teacher. She was a student at the time (age 21). She reported that she felt very safe generally. She never had anything stolen, but a couple friends did. She lived in Quito, and used public transportation, etc.

While there, the students (college students, not the students she was teaching) went on several side trips. They visited a biology outpost on the Amazon, hiked several mountains and volcanoes, visited the Galapagos Islands. She went zip-lining through a rainforest. She went "bridging"--kind of like bungee-jumping, but with a regular rope, not elastic. She posted the video on Facebook with the header, "Mom! Don't look!" She also sent me a video of her falling off a zipline--because she thought I'd think it was funny! (WTH? Yeah, it's a laugh riot, kiddo!). She had an absolute blast, and she felt very safe the entire time.

The only thing we, her parents objected to (and refused to fund) was, she wanted to take a side trip to Colombia. We felt this was too unsafe. She grumbled, but didn't go. At the time, Colombia was #6 on the 10 worst places for Americans to travel.

Bottom line, I think you'll have a great time--plenty to see and do, the culture is different, but there are familiar tones, as well.

If you have any specific questions, I can try to answer them.

obgraham
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by obgraham » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:51 pm

If you enjoyed your trip in Peru, I've no doubt you will enjoy another in Ecuador.

I think the "danger" in such places is overblown. These are poor countries by our standards, and so your more valuable "stuff" is attractive to those who have little or nothing. So the precautions you should take are different than here in USA. I think the risk of serious crime is not a lot higher than here, though the risk of getting your stuff swiped might be more.

To avoid all these risks, best to just stay put in your own house. Not for me -- I'd rather be out seeing the world. Peru is just about mny favorite country to visit, and my two times in Ecuador I didn't find it much different. Except that I had a harder time breathing in Quito!

fulanodetal
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by fulanodetal » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:29 pm

I lived in Ecuador for a year where I worked as a volunteer. It's a wonderful place full of friendly people and many natural wonders. In my experience if you do a guided trek with a reputable company, you will be very safe.

I second the advice from above about checking the State Department website. I would add that there is a high risk of malaria (in addition to yellow fever) in certain areas. Here is a on the subject: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook ... ry/ecuador.

I second what TomatoTomahto said about currency:
Btw, interesting fact: they use USD as currency, but they are seemed really reluctant to accept USD bills that weren't fresh. I don't know why that is, but I would take some cash that is straight from the ATM. Don't use torn up bills.
This is because there is rampant counterfeiting of bills. If you are given bills as change that seem off or tattered, you should ask for different ones. Along those lines, keep in mind that it can be very hard to spend larger bills as the merchant will claim that they don't have change (they usually do). Smaller bills ($1, $5) are called "sueltos" and can be very difficult to come by. A good strategy is to break larger bills at large establishments so that you have them when you want to buy something from a smaller vendor.

Be judicious about taxi travel. There are many "unofficial" taxis (cars that are painted yellow but are not licensed). Avoid those, as they are not safe. Ideally, have someone from your hotel or the tour company call the taxi for you. They should tell you the medallion number and you can confirm that it matches.

Stay away from the border area with Columbia. It is not safe and Americans are a target there. Finally, in terms of safety, just use common sense. The larger cities such as Quito and Guayaquil can be dangerous at night if you are not judicious. Walk around in groups, don't flash a lot of money, and you'll be fine.

Based on my experience in the bar scene in Quito: If I was traveling with my college freshman daughter, and she asked me if she could go out to a nightclub in Quito, I would not allow her. A gringa on her own will be seen as a target. But if she were to make a connection with some locals that you trust (e.g. tour guides) then I think it would be safe.

gogleheads.orb
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by gogleheads.orb » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:03 pm

DarthSage wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:01 am
I haven't been there personally, but my oldest daughter spent a semester in Quito last year--she's a bilingual education teacher. She was a student at the time (age 21). She reported that she felt very safe generally. She never had anything stolen, but a couple friends did. She lived in Quito, and used public transportation, etc.

While there, the students (college students, not the students she was teaching) went on several side trips. They visited a biology outpost on the Amazon, hiked several mountains and volcanoes, visited the Galapagos Islands. She went zip-lining through a rainforest. She went "bridging"--kind of like bungee-jumping, but with a regular rope, not elastic. She posted the video on Facebook with the header, "Mom! Don't look!" She also sent me a video of her falling off a zipline--because she thought I'd think it was funny! (WTH? Yeah, it's a laugh riot, kiddo!). She had an absolute blast, and she felt very safe the entire time.

The only thing we, her parents objected to (and refused to fund) was, she wanted to take a side trip to Colombia. We felt this was too unsafe. She grumbled, but didn't go. At the time, Colombia was #6 on the 10 worst places for Americans to travel.

Bottom line, I think you'll have a great time--plenty to see and do, the culture is different, but there are familiar tones, as well.

If you have any specific questions, I can try to answer them.
I went to the Carribean coast of Colombia in 2016. It was quite safe. Lot's of European tourists all over the place. I've never been to Quito, but I imagine that large parts of Colombia are safer than Quito.

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raidman
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Re: Ecuador safe to travel and hike?

Post by raidman » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:14 pm

Go on the trip - the mountains are beautiful and the itinerary seems impressive.

There ARE safety issues in Ecuador that you just need to control for. Mainly 2...
1) Pickpocketing is rampant
2) traffic safety.

I was there in 2016, mainly in Quito but we did travel around cotopaxi and to the west of the Andes. The professionalism, pervasiveness, and effectiveness of the pickpocketers was breath-taking. The methods they use are almost unpreventable - I am still in disbelief that they could have pulled off how they pick-pocketed me. They are out in force around most tourist locales (ie, historic churches, markets). I had my phone stolen, and a LOCAL friend of mine also had a wallet stolen in the same week. There is actually a local mall near the historic district (Centro Comercial Montufar) that is well known as the black market for stolen goods. The police have raided this before, but it is generally tolerated by the govt at this point.
Action items: They will find a way - they are professionals - the only way to foolproof this is to carry the minimum amount of valuables. In touristy areas, don't leave the house with anything you can't lose. I would use an old cellphone or buy a cheap alternate for use in Ecuador. When you go out, keep small amounts of spending money in discreet locations that you only access in private (ie, a bathroom) before paying. You can keep other essentials like an ID in extremely hard to access places (ie, your shoe, or a traveler belt that you strap around your groin/thigh, NOT around your waist. The non-touristy areas were less of a concern.

There are plenty of of other typical travel dangers that normal common sense will reduce. Request legitimate taxis, buckle up, use extra caution crossing streets, don't walk alone at night, etc etc etc. Traffic danger is a big one, as in most foreign countries. Alot of this you've already thought about. The pick-pocketers were the one thing that went above and beyond normal travel sense. You might not be thinking extra hard about them right now. But they're practicing right now how to victimize you!

Overall though it's a very pretty country and I don't mean to scare you off from it. It would make an excellent destination for the trip you described.

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