There are many reasons to visit Ecuador, but reasonable traveler should think about security risks if they’re worth.
TLTR: speaking about American continent the risks are low it’s definitely worth it. Ecuador regularly ranks 4-8th place security index (American continent) and the security situation is similar to that in the US. Let’s have a look closer.
Even though most areas in Ecuador are genuinely guarded by security forces, there might be still pickpockets and thieves around. Especially in overcrowded places like bus stations, malls or restaurants.
TIP: Sling your backpacks across the chest and keep an eye on it in these areas. Domestic people do it quite often, so you will fit…
In Ecuador you may experience two kinds of taxis. Licensed ones painted in yellow, labeled with a license number on the glass, they must have installed security cameras and taximeters and license plates are in orange color. The second type are regular cars, which honked us all over the city and offered transportation. Don’t get mislead, they are no uber drivers, but unlicensed drivers. Legal / licensed taxis might be more expensive, but much safer.
TIP: Take a picture of license plate or number before you jump in
Here it is necessary to distinguish between public transport in the city and the long-distance transport. City buses are more attracted to thieves due to huge amount of passengers. Long-distance buses have fewer passengers, also stops are less frequent and thus the probability of stealing your belongings is lower (but not zero). Unfortunately, there’s another issue with long-distance buses. Ecuadorian bus drivers love the speed and that’s not what you want to experience in steep Andes mountains. I did and it wasn’t fun. The government is taking action on this, but you can simply avoid this risk by renting a car.
TIP: Always put your valuables in the hand luggage and keep it on your eyes and also in your hands.
Political situation and unrest
Following situation in last decades I would define Ecuador as a more stable country. There is no danger of inhuman treatment by the authorities in any case. On the other hand, if the Ecuadorians are dissatisfied with the government they do not waste time sitting at cafes and go straight to strikes. So once in a while there may be protests like in 2019.
TIP: If there is any unrest in country during your stay, do not join it nor take any part. First, you do not have to understand the situation and the locals can solve these issues without us – tourists.
In case of heavy downpours during the rain season floods may occur. At the same time, Ecuador is a seismically pretty active area. Volcanic eruptions and mild earthquakes are relatively common. Approximately once in a decade, a strong earthquake is reported as in 2016. This could, in an extreme case, grow into a tsunami, which is great concern to locals living in cost.
TIP: if any natural disaster occurs, forget about instagram and run immediately to safe place
Food and water
Tap water is not drinkable in coastal tropical areas. In Andes there might be some places where water is fine for locals, but not for tourists coming from Europe or US. First you would need to spend several weeks in area to acclimate your body to accept local water. I had no problem with food in Ecuador no matter I ate in restaurants or street food. I think it was due to proper vaccination, as quite a lot of tourists had the opposite experience.
TIP: when you arrive in Ecuador avoid consumption of mixed drinks like batidos (made from ice), uncooked meals and drink only bottled water
I’ve visited many tourist spots and all of them were clean, safe and fine to visit including night walk through the center of the colonial Quito. However, as in every American city, there are areas, mostly poor neighborhoods, that are not worth visiting. It is not worth because there is nothing to admire and security is not supervised by any cop.
TIP: Always make sure the place you want to visit is safe also for tourists. Check internet, ask more than one local just to double-check.
Although the above mentioned risks may seem significant, Ecuador is one of the safest choises for those who want to experience exotic location. Just follow the basic traveler rules, common sense, stay cautious and all will be fine.
TIP: Don’t forget about travel insurance 😉