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ECUADOR - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Ecuador. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to high levels of crime and a high risk of natural disasters.
Regional Advisory for the areas immediately bordering Colombia
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the areas immediately bordering Colombia due to the presence of drug traffickers and criminal organizations. This includes the provinces of Carchi and Sucumbíos—except the city of Tulcán—and the town of San Lorenzo, located in the north of the province of Esmeraldas. Consult the Security tab for more information.
Regional Advisory for the area south of Cuenca
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel in the southern provinces bordering Peru (Zamora-Chinchipe, Morona-Santiago and El Oro) due to the presence of landmines and unmarked minefields in the Cordillera del Cóndor, near the Peruvian border. De-mining efforts are under way to remove landmines; the goal is to have all landmines removed by 2017.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Areas immediately bordering Colombia (see Advisory)
Travel to and within areas immediately bordering Colombia is dangerous due to the presence of drug traffickers and criminal organizations and the risk of violence, kidnappings, armed assaults and extortion. There have been reports of Canadian, American, British and Australian tourists and foreign oil workers being kidnapped in these areas. Armed robberies have also been reported at jungle lodges in the areas of Lower Rio Napo and Cuyabeno National Reserve.
Curfews and states of emergency may be declared in regions affected by civil unrest, natural disaster or other disruption. During a state of emergency, authorities have expanded powers to restore order, including suspension of some constitutional rights and expanded detention powers.
Street crimes, including purse snatching, car break-ins, thefts, pickpocketing and violent carjackings, are daily occurrences in major cities. Thieves often work in teams, in which one thief diverts the victims’ attention while the other snatches their possessions. Groups of street children who sell candy are often engaged in this type of team operation. Luggage theft is common at airports, bus terminals, on buses (city and regional) and at other transit points. Thefts of backpacks and other small bags are also very common on buses, even when the individual is being careful. Thieves can be very creative, such as cutting the purse or bag when you have it between your feet or spilling something on you in order to distract you.
In urban centres, thieves target cars stopped in traffic for break-ins. Hide your valuables and be aware of your surroundings when driving. The hotel zones in Quito are often targeted by thieves and muggers who believe tourists are affluent. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times and maintain a low profile when walking in these areas. Avoid walking alone—women especially—and avoid travelling after dark.
Carry only small amounts of money. Do not show signs of affluence and keep all valuable items and electronic equipment out of sight. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times, and carry colour photocopies of your identification documents.
Armed robberies are frequent. In case of robbery, remain calm and do not resist. Exercise caution and be attentive to your surroundings when using automated banking machines (ABMs). Use only ABMs in well-lit public areas where there are lots of people, such as malls or in banks, and do so only during daylight hours.
Sexual assaults against tourists are reported regularly throughout the country. Always exercise caution, avoid isolated areas and travel in groups.
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Incidents can occur in various locations, including buses, nightclubs and bars.
Sexual assaults and armed robberies have been reported in the area of the Pichincha volcano. Do not walk outside the limits of the Quito Teleférico or its pathway, and avoid hiking to the antennas of the volcano via Cruz Loma, west of Quito.
Robberies at gunpoint have also been reported along the hiking trail up Cerro Mandango near Vilcabamba, Loja. Those robbed, who are often foreigners, report being accosted by a group of masked, armed men while hiking along the trail. Thieves have resorted to undoing or opening articles of clothing to locate valuables and personal items to steal.
Armed assaults can occur in public parks in and around transportation terminals, especially in Guayaquil, Quito, Manta and Cuenca. In Quito, exercise caution in the areas of El Panecillo, Carolina Park, Guápulo, Old Quito, South Quito and particularly the popular tourist sector of Mariscal Sucre, where sexual assaults have occurred. Avoid walking up to the Panecillo.
In Guayaquil, remain vigilant when visiting the downtown area, the waterfront (El Malecón), the market area and the Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (statue of Jesus Christ) on Cerro del Carmen. Avoid wandering on deserted beaches, especially at night. Random attacks at gunpoint, robberies and sexual assaults involving Canadians have occurred in the Riobamba area.
Armed robberies on beaches occur throughout the country, especially in the province of Esmeraldas. Robberies have been carried out during the day and have even targeted large groups of tourists.
Kidnapping for ransom and express kidnappings, often in connection with carjackings, is a concern throughout Ecuador but is of particular concern in Guayaquil. To address the problem, the Ecuadorian government has installed cameras and panic buttons in taxis. The panic button is linked directly to 911, and as soon as you press the button, someone will be able to watch, live, what is happening in the taxi.
Express kidnappings involve the brief detention of an individual, who is released only after being forced to withdraw funds from an ABM or after arranging for family or friends to pay a ransom. Exercise caution when using taxis, as taxi drivers have reportedly carried out express kidnappings. You should always use reputable radio taxi companies, booked in advance, if possible.
Public transportation is often disrupted during demonstrations. Protesters may burn tires, throw rocks and Molotov cocktails, engage in the destruction of private and public property and detonate small improvised explosive devices during demonstrations. Police response may include the use of water cannons and tear gas. Avoid areas where demonstrations are in progress and be prepared with alternate travel arrangements. Although political demonstrations have not been directed at foreigners in the past, peaceful demonstrations can become violent with little or no warning. Foreigners are prohibited from protesting in Ecuador and may be subject to arrest for participating in any demonstration.
Strikes and disturbances by local fishermen in the Galápagos Islands sometimes affect the movement of tourists and prevent access to some sites. If you are planning to travel to the Galápagos Islands, obtain written confirmation from your travel agent or tour operator that your tour vessel is certified by the Ecuadorian navy (Armada del Ecuador) to meet the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea or SOLAS standards.
Though road conditions have improved, road travel is slow due to unmarked speed bumps, large pot holes, traffic lights on major highways, heavy traffic (especially on weekends and statutory holidays) and police and military road blocks. Heavy rain and mudslides often close or wash out roads. Heavy fog occasionally poses hazards in mountainous areas.
Driving in Ecuador is hazardous and unpredictable. There are all types of vehicles on the road that do not meet acceptable safety standards. Drivers involved in accidents causing physical injury are immediately detained. In many cases, detention lasts until responsibility for the accident has been assigned and all parties are satisfied.
Robberies and assaults continue to be reported regularly on intercity and urban Guayaquil buses, especially after dark. Bus drivers often make illegal stops to pick up passengers on express routes, especially on the routes between Guayaquil and Cuenca and between Guayaquil and Riobamba. The Ecuadorian government has installed GPS units on buses to track their routes, where they stop and for how long, in an effort to improve security. Avoid travelling after dark.
Only use registered taxis, identified by orange licence plates and an orange and white registration number on the side of the car and on the windshield. Do not hail taxis on the street.
There is a risk of attack and armed robbery against ships in Ecuadorian waters.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
If you intend to trek:
a) never trek alone;
b) always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable;
c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
d) ensure that you are in top physical condition;
e) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary;
f) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;
g) register with the Embassy of Canada in Ecuador; and
h) obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out.
Your insurance should include provision for helicopter rescue, medical evacuation and treatment for accidental injury and medical emergencies.
The emergency number for police, fire and rescue is 911. In case of robbery, assault, fraud or loss of belongings in Quito, you may contact the “tourist police”, a specially designated police unit, at (593 2) 254-3983.
The Ministry of Tourism has developed an app that can be installed on a smartphone of any traveller visiting Ecuador. It is available in English and allows you to ask for help in the case of an emergency and to be located through your phone’s GPS. To install the app visit: http://www.ecu911.gob.ec/aplicacionparacelulares/.
The Ministry of Tourism has a tourist service complaints management system e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and their toll free number is 1-800-turismo (8874766).
Seek advice from local authorities before swimming, as strong currents, undertow and underwater hazards may exist and are not always posted. Most beaches lack consistently staffed lifeguard stations.
Credit card fraud is increasing in Ecuador. Credit card magnetic strips have been duplicated, particularly at restaurants and bars where swiping your own card may not always be possible. Pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others. Scams involving debit cards also occur. Carefully inspect ABMs before using to ensure that they have not been tampered with.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Colombian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Ecuador, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Tourist visa: Not required (for stays of less than 90 days)
Business visa: Not required (for stays of less than 90 days in a year)
Student visa: Not required (for stays of less than 90 days in a year)
You must leave Ecuador before the departure date stipulated on the entry stamp you receive in your passport upon arrival. If you remain in Ecuador past this date, you may be deported and must then request a visa at the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate before re-entering the country. Your name may also be added to immigration records. Attempting to re-enter Ecuador without a visa pre-issued by Ecuadorian authorities in Canada will result in exclusion and you will be returned to your port of embarkation.
If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, visit Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility to obtain a visa before your entry permit expiries.
If you enter Ecuador by land from Colombia or Peru, you are required to register with the Ecuadorian immigration office at the border. You must provide your passport and indicate where you are going and how long you intend to remain in the country. You must ensure that you receive an entry stamp in your passport. Failure to do so may cause significant problems when trying to exit the country.
Some indigenous groups require permits to enter their territory. If you are planning on visiting the Amazon region, ensure that you have the required documentation prior to entering the area. Canadians entering or camping near indigenous communities have been murdered or threatened with violence. Exercise extreme caution in this area.
Dual citizens may enter Ecuador on an Ecuadorian passport and stay indefinitely. A dual citizen entering on a Canadian passport will be considered a tourist and only be granted a 90-day, non-extendable stay.
Children born in Ecuador to a Canadian parent must be registered with the Ecuadorian Civil Registry, obtain an Ecuadorian passport and present valid Ecuadorian and Canadian passports in order to leave the country. Ecuadorian immigration authorities do not allow children born in Ecuador to depart only on their Canadian passport.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
Unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 years who hold dual citizenship (Ecuadorian and Canadian) and are travelling with both passports, or who are landed immigrants in Ecuador, should have a letter of consent from both parents, preferably legally certified and translated into Spanish, authorizing the travel and stipulating the destination and duration of the intended trip. This document should be notarized at the Embassy of Ecuador or a consulate in Canada. Canadian unaccompanied minors travelling as tourists with Canadian passports do not need this authorization letter.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical care is available, but it varies in quality. In Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, private hospitals offer medical services similar to those found in Canada; however, in smaller towns and in rural areas, health services are below Canadian standards. Visitors to the Galápagos Islands are advised that surgical and cardiac services are extremely limited. Serious cases must be evacuated to the Ecuadorian mainland or to Canada for treatment.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Individuals may be found guilty by association if they have criminal associates. Drivers should not accept hitchhikers, as they could be held responsible for them as well as for the content of their luggage. Monitor your luggage at all times when travelling, especially at airports, and never agree to carry items for another person.
It is a legal requirement in Ecuador to carry identification at all times.
Pedestrians should cross streets only at designated crosswalks. Jaywalking and walking off the sidewalk are punishable by a fine.
An International Driving Permit is required.
The currency is the U.S. dollar (USD). Credit cards are accepted by many businesses, and U.S. traveller’s cheques are easily changed in tourist areas and in major hotels. Canadian currency and traveller’s cheques are not accepted.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Hurricanes and heavy rains
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
Heavy rains at various times of the year trigger landslides in many areas, particularly in the Sierra (mountainous area), where road damage contributes to traffic accidents. Severe flooding occurs throughout the western provinces of Manabí, Los Rios and Guayas, particularly in Chone, Portoviejo and parts of Guayaquil. Monitor local news reports and plan accordingly. During flooding, transportation, utilities, emergency and medical care, as well as food, fuel and water supplies, may be disrupted. Water-borne and insect-borne diseases may also become a threat.
Ecuador is located in an active seismic area. Earthquakes and tremors occur regularly. There is a risk of tsunamis when earthquakes strike along the Pacific coastline. Dangerous landslides are frequent following even minor earthquakes.
There are several active and potentially active volcanoes on the mainland and on the Galapagos Islands, including around the capital Quito and the tourist communities of Banos and Riobamba. The Reventador, Tungurahua and Sanguay volcanoes have erupted recently, and federal authorities have issued alerts for other volcanoes displaying increased seismic activity. Eruptions could occur at any time and without warning. Consult the website of Ecuador’s geophysical institute Instituto Geofisico (in Spanish) for more information.
Ash fall from active volcanoes may disrupt domestic and international flights and cause the closure of major highways. Exposure to falling ash and toxic fumes can also affect people`s health. If you suffer from respiratory ailments, consult a physician or travel medicine specialist well in advance to determine associated health risks.
If you are planning to travel near active volcanoes, pay careful attention to all warnings issued, avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities. Be prepared to modify your travel arrangements or even evacuate the area on short notice. You should be familiar with local evacuation plans (available at most hotels).
Quito - Embassy of Canada
Guayaquil - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Quito and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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