Ecuador And Galapagos Information - Travel Safety
A few tips to keep you sane and safe. You should read them all before embarking on your journey through Ecuador.
Electric appliances operate on an alternating current, the same as the United States - 110 volts, 60 cycles (Hertz) AC. This means that European travelers need to bring an adapter for laptops, cameras, hair dryers, etc., that they bring with them.
Eastern Standard on GMT-5 (same as New York, except during daylight savings months when Ecuador is one hour behind). The Galapagos are one hour ahead of the mainland.
Ecuador requires a valid passport from all travelers, as well as proof of return to your home country or onward journey, though this is rarely checked. At this time no yellow fever vaccination is required.
Citizens of most nations can stay in Ecuador for up to 180 days per year. Immigration officials will stamp either 60 or 90 days in your passport when you enter. If you know you need more than 60 days, be sure to tell them before they stamp your passport. Also, if you want to stay longer than 90 days you will have to get an extension or obtain a visa. To learn more about visas, see our immigration section and/or check with your local Ecuadorian consulate or your embassy in Ecuador for details pertaining to your citizenship.
Tourist Visa Extensions
Tourists from most countries may get monthly extensions up to 180 days. Tourist visas are extended on the last valid day. In Quito they are obtained at the immigration office on Isla Seymour 1152, between Río Coca and Tomás de Berlanga. Take a bus north on Avenida Amazonas or Avenida de Los Shyris past Parque Carolina until you arrive at Río Coca. Previously, the main immigration office on Amazonas across the street from the El Jardin mall also provided extensions. They no longer extend visas but many people will still direct you to the "old" office. In Guayaquil go to the immigration office on Avenida Pichincha and Aguirre.
Always carry your passport (or an official copy, see below) while traveling in Ecuador, as military and police checks are semi-frequent and not pretty if you are caught without your documents. However, if you are staying in Quito, Guayaquil or another large city for an extended period, it is advisable that you carry only a copy of your passport. For a reasonable fee most foreign embassies provide their citizens with an "official" copy of their passport that is recognized by Ecuadorian law. Check with your embassy or consulate for details. Also, report lost or stolen passports immediately to your embassy or consulate.
Airport Departure Tax
USD 25 dollars is charged upon leaving Ecuador via an international flight.
Permission to Leave
If you overstay your tourist visa you must obtain a stamp on your passport before you may leave. These are referred to as "Salidas", and are obtained in Quito at the immigration office on Isla Seymour 1152, between Río Coca and Tomás de Berlanga, and in Guayaquil at the immigration office on Avenida Pichincha and Aguirre.
No vaccinations are required for entry but getting vaccinated before you arrive is extremely important. See our health section for more information.
Ecuador is considered one of the safer countries in the Andean Region, though its recent economic woes have caused crime to increase significantly. Ecuador's urban centers, especially Quito and Guayaquil, are generally more dangerous than the countryside. You can drastically reduce the likelihood of being a crime victim by following a few basic precautions:
Travel with trustworthy companions. The old maxim "safety in numbers" is worth more than you know.
Walk confidently with your head up. Never stare at the ground, it makes you look nervous and weak.
When you feel unsafe it's not paranoia, they're instincts that developed for a reason. If you get that feeling grab a taxi or go into a place with lots of people.
Find out where the unsafe sectors are and avoid them.
Be wary of people who are too friendly too quickly, or that offer to show you around. Use your judgement and don't worry about appearing rude.
Keep all important documents in a secure place, such as an inner pocket or a pouch that is hidden under a layer of clothing.
Carry travelers checks and credit cards instead of large sums of cash. You can always get replacement checks or cancel your cards but you can't get hard currency back.
Don't wear expensive jewelry or wristwatches. They make you a target.
Carry shoulder-bags and purses in front of you to avoid having them snatched.
Buy a cover for your backpack so that thieves cannot easily slash it open.
Keep all bags and other valuables where you can see them in restaurants, train stations, and other public places.
Make copies of your important documents, card numbers, etc., and give them to a trusted companion. It's also a good idea to leave copies of important documents and numbers with a relative at home, or store them on password protected email account, such as Yahoo or Hotmail, that you can access from anywhere.