- Reviewed: 30 October 2019, 11:10 NZDT
- Still current at: 23 November 2019
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Do not travel
Do not travel within 20 kilometres of the border with Colombia, except for the official crossing town of Tulcan in the province of Carchi, due to the threat from kidnapping and organised and drug-related crime.
Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to the northern province of Sucumbios due to the threat from kidnapping and organised and drug-related crime.
Exercise increased caution
Exercise increased caution elsewhere in Ecuador due to crime and civil unrest.View Larger Map Close/Open map
Protests and demonstrations are common in Ecuador, particularly in major cities, and have on occasion resulted in violence.
There were nationwide demonstrations in early October 2019, which caused extensive disruption and road blockades across the country. In major cities these demonstrations became violent and resulted in a number of deaths. In response, the Government of Ecuador declared a State of Emergency which remains in effect until 3 November 2019. Demonstrations have now finished while the Ecuadorean government undertakes a dialogue process, but tensions remain high and there is a risk of further protests.
Local laws expressly prohibit political activity by foreigners and participation in such action may result in arrest. New Zealanders in Ecuador are advised to avoid all demonstrations and protests as even those intended as peaceful have the potential to result in violence.
You should keep up to date with developments via local media and official sources such as ECU 911 emergency services and comply with any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities.
Violent crime, including assault and armed robbery is common in Ecuador, particularly in the major cities, such as Quito and Guayaquil. There have been reports of violent crime, sometimes involving firearms and other weapons, in tourist areas such as jungle lodges and nature reserves. In Quito, serious assaults have been reported in El Panecillo, La Carolina and El Ejido parks, La Mariscal, Guapulo, the old town and South Quito. Thieves target tourists in areas outside of Quito, including in the downtown, waterfront and market areas of Guayaquil, Cerro Mandango near Vilcabamba Loja and the Antennas of Pichincha as well as in jungle lodges in the Lower Rio Napo and Cuyabeno National Reserve areas.
Petty crime including pickpocketing, bag-snatching and distraction theft is also common in transport hubs, markets and other public areas.
We advise all New Zealanders travelling in Ecuador to be security conscious at all times and avoid travelling alone or at night. You should guard your belongings carefully. No resistance should be given if you are the victim of an armed robbery as this could lead to an escalation in violence.
Violent crime is known to occur on public transport and intercity buses. When travelling by bus, do not store anything under your seat or in the overhead compartments. Avoid travel at night and taking intercity buses with a reputation for making stops along the route as criminals have been known to board buses to rob passengers.
There has been an increase in reports of “express kidnappings” in Ecuador, where criminals abduct a victim for a short period of time and force them to withdraw funds from ATMs to secure their release. To reduce the risk of this occurring we recommend you use ATMs located inside banks during daylight hours.
Express kidnappings, and other forms of robbery and assault, have been known to occur when using unlicensed taxis. We recommend you only use authorised taxis that display their orange license plates and orange and white registration number on the side of the car and on the windshield, and preferably booked through a radio dispatch service or hotel.
There has been an increase in incidents of sexual assault against foreigners in Ecuador, particularly in the city of Montañita. Visitors, particularly women, should take care, travel in groups and ensure you have reputable accommodation with good security.
Some tourists have had their drinks or food spiked with drugs and have subsequently been sexually assaulted or robbed. We recommend you take care not to leave your food or drinks unattended and be wary of strangers who offer you food, drink, chewing gum or cigarettes.
While Ecuador does not have a history of terrorism, it is worthwhile noting that in 2018 there have been a number of bomb explosions and kidnappings in the northern province of Esmeraldas, bordering Colombia.
New Zealanders in Ecuador are advised to keep themselves informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring the media and other local information sources. We recommend following any instructions issued by local authorities and exercising vigilance in public places.
There are unexploded landmines in the Cordillera del Condor region near the Peruvian border. We recommend you remain on well-used roads and paths south of Cuenca, including in the provinces of Zamora-Chinchipe, Morona-Santiago and El Oro.
Ecuador is located in an active seismic zone, and is prone to earthquakes with the potential threat of volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. There are several active volcanoes on Ecuador’s mainland, including near Quito, and on the Galapagos Islands. New Zealanders are advised to monitor local information sources and adhere to any restrictions and instructions issued by local authorities relating to earthquake or volcano safety.
General Travel Advice
It is a legal requirement in Ecuador to carry identification at all times.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Ecuador should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.
Serious medical cases in the Galapagos Islands will likely require medical evacuation to the Ecuadorian mainland for treatment. Surgical and cardiac services are extremely limited. As there are no air ambulance services based on the islands, the wait time to be evacuated can be 48 hours or more, depending on weather conditions.
New Zealanders in Ecuador are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The New Zealand Embassy Bogotá, Colombia is accredited to Ecuador
Street Address Embajada de Nueva Zelandia, Carrera 9, no. 76-49, Bogotá, Colombia Telephone +57 1 439 1666 Fax Email email@example.com
See our regional advice for Central/South America