For the majority of visitors to Ecuador, there are no security problems. However, visitors should be aware that the risk of crime and violence is significantly higher than in Germany. There is an increased risk especially in the metropolises of Guayaquil and Quito and Cuenca, on the coast and in the border region with Colombia. For tourists, this includes the risk of falling victim to theft or, in some cases, armed robbery. Resistance to robberies is in any case not advisable due to the perpetrators’ willingness to use violence. Adequate medical treatment and subsequent criminal prosecution of the perpetrators are not always guaranteed.
Travel over land
Ecuador has a very high accident rate. Basic safety precautions are often not observed. The driving style does not correspond to the usual standards in Central Europe. Buses in particular are very often involved in serious accidents. Driving at night in particular is associated with an increased risk. This should be taken into account when choosing the means of transport.
In general, the security situation in the border area with Colombia, especially in the province of Sucumbíos, is being affected by kidnappings and activities by armed groups. The Federal Foreign Office recommends clarifying the current security situation with the tour operator before starting your journey (e.g. Amazon region). Due to the increased risk of robberies, greater caution is required when driving overland in the provinces of Esmeraldas, Orellana, Napo and the coastal area in and around the city of Esmeraldas, as well as when visiting the city of Santo Domingo.
Thefts and robberies are occurring to a considerable and increasing extent not only in larger cities, at tourist focal points (e.g. Mariscal Sucre nightlife district in Quito) and in public transport. The perpetrators use the following tricks, among others:
- various diversionary maneuvers, e.g. B. with fake mishaps and mishaps or the dumping of all kinds of liquids, including feces
- Credit card fraud,
- “Fine” extortion using false uniforms,
- Robbery after administration of mind-reducing drugs in the form of powder in food, beverages or on brochures or leaflets that are distributed like advertising material,
- Ambushes by taxi drivers in unregistered taxis actively targeting potential customers.
In principle, travelers should take care of their luggage and, if possible, not wear any jewelry; Clocks, cameras and cell phones should not be conspicuous and should not be used carelessly on the street, even when calling. Drinks from strangers should not be accepted in bars and your own drink should be constantly monitored. In the dark, a registered taxi from door to door should also be used for shorter distances.
On hiking routes to popular tourist destinations (e.g. the San Pablo lagoon and El Peguche waterfall near Otavalo, the Pichincha volcano via the Cruz Loma mountain station and in the vicinity of Vilcabamba) there have been multiple attacks and violent crimes in the past. Particular attention should be paid to local references.
In Montañita (Sta. Elena province on the coast) there have been several cases of rape of foreign women in recent months after the victims were given consciousness-reducing drugs.
Individual travelers are particularly at risk. When choosing local travel companies, appropriate safety precautions should be taken or asked for.
In the event of rape, a report must be filed in any case. It is recommended to get a so-called post exposure kit immediately. In emergencies, this is also available from the German Embassy. If necessary, psychologists mediated by the police are sometimes available.
Police and law enforcement agencies
The police are available 24/7 in Spanish on 911 in an emergency.
In Quito, criminal complaints can be filed at the municipal tourist police office, which is on the corner of Reina Victoria and Vicente Roca streets on the third floor and is open around the clock, and at the “Policía Judicial” on the corner of Juan León Mera and streets Vicente Roca, with either your passport or a copy of it, and the officials will have multilingual forms ready.
In the greater Quito area, minor attacks can also be reported electronically (external link, opens in new window www.fiscalia.gob.ec). The system is still in the testing phase. Victims of a crime should also inform the German embassy in Quito.
The prosecution of crimes by the police and the public prosecutor – especially in cases of general crime – is not always guaranteed.
Natural Disasters and Volcanic Activity
Ecuador is located in an earthquake zone and has several active volcanoes. Since the severe earthquake in the coastal region between Esmeraldas and Manta on April 16, 2016, with more than 663 fatalities, this region in particular has been repeatedly affected by aftershocks. Many are barely noticeable, but some have exceeded the strengths of 5 or 6 on the Richter scale and have led to direct or indirect personal injury or damage to buildings and infrastructure. In recent years there have been eruptions (mainly ash rain) of various volcanoes. In particular, the Tungurahua (tourist area Baños), Sangay and Reventador volcanoes are currently increasingly active; the Cotopaxi volcano is under intense observation. For possible evacuations and obstructions to travel (possibly
Travelers should therefore always inform themselves promptly about the current situation in the affected regions. Information in Spanish on earthquakes and volcanic activities can be found on the website of the Instituto Geofísico – Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito-Ecuador: External link, opens in new windowExternal link, opens in new windowhttp: //www.igepn.edu.ec More Information under: External link, opens in new window www.bib.gfz-potsdam.de
The Tungurahua volcano is active at irregular intervals. The intensity fluctuates, the warning level “yellow” has been in effect since October 14th. When traveling to the tourist area of Baños, it is advisable to contact the local authorities to find out about current restrictions and the security situation. The same applies to the Reventador volcano, for which the “orange” warning level has been in effect since March 2014. As with the Tungurahua, for example, climbing the Reventador was strictly prohibited. The “yellow” warning level has been in effect for the Cotopaxi volcano since August 14, 2015 “, ie an eruption must be expected. The population is called upon to take appropriate precautionary measures. Since the activity of the volcano has recently calmed down somewhat since November 2015, the Cotopaxi National Park was closed on December 11th. Partially reopened in 2015 under certain conditions. However, climbing the Cotopaxi is still prohibited.
You can find more information on the website of the “Instituto Geofisico de la Politécnica Nacional” (external link, opens in a new window www.igepn.edu.ec) and on the website of the Secretariat for Risk Management external link, opens in a new windowhttp: // www.gestionderiesgos.gob.ec /. On the latter there is also a map of the areas particularly endangered by mudslides (“lahars”) along the natural drains of the Cotopaxi (especially Latacunga, Tungurahua, Sangolqui, Valle de los Chillos and Valle de Tumbaco along the Rio San Pedro) and the respective evacuation routes in the event of an outbreak.
Travelers are advised to find out more about the current situation and safety precautions before entering these areas. The warning time for these areas is only 40 to 60 minutes in the event of a strong eruption.
If the activity of the Cotopaxi increases again, an irregular discharge of ash must be expected, which depending on the wind direction and strength of the discharge can also reach Quito. The volcanic ash can lead to health problems such as eye irritation and breathing difficulties. It is therefore recommended that you protect yourself with breathing masks and protective goggles if necessary..
The coordinating Ministry for Security provides regular information on the current situation and the preventive measures taken and recommended (external link, opens in a new windowhttp: //www.seguridad.gob.ec/volcancotopaxi/, external link, opens in a new windowhttps: // www. facebook.com/SeguridadEcuador/).
In the winter months (January – April), floods and landslides often occur in the coastal region and in the high mountains due to rainfall. As a result, the traffic routes can be severely damaged, which affects travel safety. Travelers should inform themselves about the current situation and traffic situation through the local media or the tour operator and expect disruptions in travel.