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Personal Safety      

 
 
 
 
 

is unfortunately becoming more and more an issue in Ecuador. With the economy worsening in the last years, more Ecuadorians turn to crime to make ends meet and the tourist is often their main target. The most important thing for you is to be aware that crime exits and to use common sense to avoid it. Find below some important tips.



 

Guayaquil
major port and biggest city in Ecuador with more than 2 million inhabitants.

Guayaquil has a serious crime problem with violent crimes, like assault with weapons and also rape and murder are not uncommon. There exist also lots of petty crimes, like car robbery, pick-pocketing, break and entering and so on. Because of the crime increases, a few years ago it was put under state of emergency with military checks and curfew but those measures were lifted later on without much results. Avoid the poor areas of the city like El Guasmo completely and be watchful in the rest of the city.

The same with lesser degrees also applies to other bigger towns of the coast, like Manta, Esmeraldas, Babahoyo, Santo Domingo, Machala and others
.



 

Quito 
second biggest city and capital of Ecuador.

not as bad as Guayaquil but nevertheless robbery, pick pocketing, etc and even violent crimes are on the increase.


Old Colonial Center 
is a part of the city, where poor people live. Avoid the center at night and in the daytime, watch out for pickpockets. If possible take as little as possible with you. If you take a backpack, carry it in front of you. Keep cameras in your hand and not hanging around your neck. Watch that you will not find yourself in crowds as that often is an opportunity for pickpockets. 


Modern City Center
(Mariscal area)
this area is dangerous late at night. Do not walk alone or in small groups but take a taxi if you have to get somewhere. Beware of drug dealers and do not buy from them. In the country exist harsh penalties for possession of drugs, even in small amounts (few years in crowded and not very comfortable jails). In the last years also there were violent robberies in popular bars of the area. Masked men with guns entered the nightspots and robbed customers and owners of all their belongings.


Trole Bus and Public City Transport 
especially on the Trole Bus system there are pickpockets operating. Always keep your hand on your money and other documents and do not let yourself get distracted.



 

Traveling by Long Distance Buses

When traveling long-distance, do not get the cheapest buses but pay a dollar or two more for your own personal safety. Apart from being more comfortable, the more important things are that the more expensive buses are in better mechanical conditions and the drivers are better trained in conducting. Bus accidents are common due to bad and reckless driving and to the bad mechanical condition of especially older buses (faulty brakes, etc..)

At the bus terminals, always keep an eye on your belongings. Do not let yourself get distracted by anyone as that is often a ruse to snag your bags. Make sure that your bags will be stored inside the bus compartments and not on the roof.

Inside the bus
keep an eye on your smaller belongings. Do not leave bags up on the rack or below your seats. Keep everything on your lap.



 

Special Warnings 


Armed Robbery
- Do not hike alone or in small groups in certain regions

This is one of the most unfortunate aspect of the rising crime in Ecuador as hikers sometimes get robbed at gunpoint in the middle of seemingly nowhere with even cases of rapes of women. The regions most dangerous for that are the ones around Otavalo, Lagunas Mojanda and Cuicocha and around Quito, especially the Pichincha area. There are also reports about assaults in the Chimborazo area. It is very difficult to predict what area to avoid as the criminals seem to move around and concentrate at certain regions for a period of time. So be aware that it can happen anywhere. Do not expect any help from police as in those areas there are not any
.


Kidnapping - Northern Amazon region bordering Colombia

This region is becoming now more problematic in terms of your personal safety. With the introduction of the 1.4 billion US sponsored Colombia Drug Plan, Putumayo, the Colombian province just north of Ecuador became one of the main targets of the eradication of coca plants. Putumayo is also becoming more and more a battleground between leftist FARC guerrillas, rightwing paramilitary units and regular Colombian military forces. All this has a spillover effect into Ecuador. FARC guerrillas and paramilitary fighters are using this part of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin since years as safe heavens and bases. Lago Agrio, also called Nueva Loja, the main town in the area is a major supply center for those forces. The first signs of safety problems were the kidnapping of mainly Canadian oil workers and later another 10 people, involved in the oil business got kidnapped. Some tourists followed later. Kidnapping is a huge business in Colombia and also has its hold in Ecuador. So be advised that those problems exist in this area along the Colombian border if you have the intention of visiting Lago Agrio and Cuyabeno National Park.

For a first-hand experience of a armed robbery in Cuyabeno click to forum.robbery.


Note: Those problems as described above are becoming now reality in other border areas of the country as well. Kidnapping was reported from Carchi province in the mountains and Esmeraldas on the coastal western side

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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