Ecuador Travel Advice & Safety

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Due to the high levels of crime and homicides, the Government of Ecuador has imposed curfews in the past.

If you need to travel to or from an airport during the curfew times, you must have a copy of your flight details to show police if requested.

If you’re in a state of emergency zone, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor media for updates. Keep your passport with you at all times, and let your family or friends know where you are.

If you’re a victim of a crime, you can:

  • Call 911 or the crime emergency line 1800-DELITO (335486) for direct assistance,
  • Report the incident using Ecuador Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía General) online reporting tool (listed under ‘Denuncias online para turistas’).
  • Complain to Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism via e-mail to [email protected]

Violent crime

Violent crime and theft are common. This includes:

Female travellers are encouraged to take particular caution.

Travellers have reported serious assaults and theft in Quito at:

  • El Panecillo
  • La Mariscal
  • Guapulo
  • the old town
  • southern Quito

Outside Quito, thieves target travellers at:

  • Guayaquil’s downtown, waterfront and market areas
  • Cerro Mandango near Vilcabamba Loja
  • the Antennas of Pichincha
  • Lower Rio Napo’s jungle lodges
  • Cuyabeno National Reserve areas

Some riverboat tours have been robbed at gunpoint, with passengers left stranded.

Petty crime

Thieves target backpackers and foreigners for bag-snatching and pickpocketing, even in large tour groups. Travellers have been injured when they resist.

Petty crime is common around Quito at:

  • La Mariscal
  • La Marin
  • La Carolina and El Ejido parks

Theft also occurs:

  • after using an ATM or leaving a bank
  • through credit card fraud and card skimming

Thieves working in pairs or groups use distraction methods, such as:

  • staged fights
  • asking for help
  • pushing or shoving

To protect yourself from petty crime:

  • don’t leave your luggage, food or drinks unattended
  • be alert when using ATM and credit cards
  • don’t let your credit or debit card out of your sight

Spiking assaults

Travellers have been robbed and sexually assaulted after accepting ‘spiked’ drinks and food, as well as chewing gum and cigarettes.

Spikers use drugs, such as scopolamine, including through aerosol sprays and paper handouts, to incapacitate, rob and assault their victims.

Never accept things from strangers or people you have just met.

More information:

Road-based crime

Risk of violent crime increases when you travel alone or after dark.

Violent crime and theft occur in:

  • airports
  • city, long-distance and international buses
  • taxis
  • transport terminals
  • internet cafes
  • public markets and crowded streets

Armed criminals have boarded buses to rob passengers.

North of Quito, high risk security situations can develop quickly. Dangerous areas include Ecuador’s borders with Colombia and Peru in:

  • Sucumbios province
  • Esmeraldas province

Armed groups and other criminals engage in kidnapping and other violent criminal activity. Foreigners have been kidnapped in these regions, including in Cuyabeno wildlife reserve.

If you plan to travel there, check warnings issued by local authorities.

The official border crossing town of Tulcán in Carchi province is in a high-risk area but is usually safer than its surrounds.

To protect yourself from crime:

  • pay attention to your safety and security
  • keep doors locked and windows up, even when moving
  • secure your accommodation against intruders
  • avoid going out alone, especially at night
  • if camping, only stay at authorised campsites

Scams and fraud

Ayahuasca tourism is a growing industry in Ecuador and Peru. It involves shamans guiding visitors through psychedelic rituals, often referred to as ‘spiritual cleansing’.

It’s not illegal, but serious assaults and robbery can occur. Victims report a range of experiences, from being alert but unable to maintain control of their surroundings, to total amnesia.

Credit card fraud and debit card scams are increasing.

To reduce your risk of scams:

  • research ayahuasca tour operators before you sign up
  • avoid participating in ayahuasca rituals without a trusted friend present
  • always keep your debit and credit cards in sight

Cyber security 

You may be at risk of cyber-based threats during overseas travel to any country. Digital identity theft is a growing concern. Your devices and personal data can be compromised, especially if you’re connecting to Wi-Fi, using or connecting to shared or public computers, or to Bluetooth.

Social media can also be risky in destinations where there are social or political tensions, or laws that may seem unreasonable by Australian standards. Travellers have been arrested for things they have said on social media. Don’t comment on local or political events on your social media.

More information:

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