You might have heard that visiting South America can be a little dangerous. That is not surprising because the news from South America are mostly about crime, civil unrest or natural disasters. Thanks to the media, this beautiful continent has earned a reputation of being unsafe. But if you have friends that have traveled around this unique part of the world you may hear a more positive story. Like anywhere else in the world there are areas where you have to be careful to avoid pickpockets, and this is mainly in big cities.
We have many safe areas in Ecuador where crime rates are extremely low and this is true for the majority of the popular places to see in the country. Small villages and towns where you find friendly communities are particularly welcoming to tourists and thanks to the role that tourism plays in their economy they have worked hard to be great hosts and make their home towns safe and enjoyable. Some of the towns that are great examples of this are: Otavalo, Cotacachi, Baños, Vilcabamba, and the towns in the Galapagos Islands.
Also, since the tourism industry in Ecuador has been growing in the past 20 years, the government has increased its police force to protect tourists in the most visited sites like the historic part of Quito and Cuenca, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For example the city of Quito has the “Tourism Police” unit which focuses in protecting our foreign visitors from thieves.
Believe me, after 13 years of leading trips in Ecuador I can honestly tell you that it’s a safe country to travel around. The biggest threat for visitors is probably pickpockets, but taking the necessary precautions will make a difference.
- Use the safe in the hotels where you are staying. It’s the best way to keep your valuables and passport safe.
- As a general rule avoid carrying around large sums of money, so take only the cash that you will need or take your credit card.
- Carry an ID with you, it could be a driver’s licence or a photocopy of your passport. In this way you can leave your passport in the safe of your hotel.
- When walking in crowded areas like the old town of Quito keep an eye on your belongings. Place your handbag, backpack or camera in the front part of your body so you can always see it.
- If you need to use public transportation it’s better to take a safe taxi. That means calling a taxi company to arrange a ride rather than taking a taxi on the street.
- Avoid walking at night on empty streets. If you are going out for dinner it’s better to take a safe taxi. The staff from hotels and restaurants will always be happy to call a taxi for you.
- Arrange tours with official tour operators to avoid scammers.
- When traveling to other provinces it’s safer to arrange private transportation. Public transport is cheap but unreliable.
So here you go dear friends, it’s all about common sense and being a little careful. Now you are ready to enjoy the trip of a lifetime in Ecuador without worries! There is no reason to miss out in seeing the wonders of South America just because someone told you that it’s “dangerous”.
I’d love to read your comments below. Remember that I’ll be happy to help you plan a safe trip and show you around when you visit Ecuador 😉