Table of Contents
Safety in Ecuador
Travelbloggerin Sacha Rodrigues says: "Go for it! Ecuadorians are usually very helpful and open, and even more so when they see women traveling alone. I’ve had countless free lifts, meals and good pieces of advice, and not one bad experience to recount. Maybe I’ve just been very lucky so far, but my advice would be avoid the tourist traps, don’t let yourself be disheartened by scary stories, and above all listen very carefully to what your instincts are telling you." Source
Although, the website of UK Government writes: Incidents of attacks and serious sexual assault against foreign women have increased in the city of Montañita (Santa Elena province in the east of Ecuador). All visitors, particularly women, should take extra care to find reputable and secure accommodation whether traveling alone or as a group. Avoid traveling after dark and be alert to the use of date rape and other drugs in drinks. If you feel unwell, seek urgent help from people you know. Source
Muggings and pick pocketing are very common. In Quito and Guayaquil, take particular care. Don’t wear expensive jewellery when walking around and watch your bags on public transport. Wear your rucksack on the front of your body. Where possible, don’t store anything under your seat or in the overhead storage on buses.
There has been an increase in robberies on interstate transport and at bus stations, especially Quito, Riobamba and Baños tourist towns. Most incidents took place at night. Where possible you should avoid traveling by road after dark.
The use of unregistered taxis significantly increases the risk of becoming a victim of crime, including armed robbery and express kidnapping. Try to book a taxi through your hotel or by calling a known radio taxi service.
There is a 20 km exclusion zone along the entire northern-border with Colombia under army control. The FCO advise against all travel to this area except the official border crossing town of Tulcan in Carchi province. Guerrilla groups, drug traffickers and criminal gangs are active and there is a risk of kidnapping and a high risk of crime. Foreigners, including oil workers, are potential targets. Source
Citizens of most countries do not require a visa to enter Ecuador for up to 90 days, with some notable exceptions including France. This "automatic" tourist visa is knows as the 12-X. . Source
Stay longer, up to 180 days
How to spend more time in Ecuador: here
What to See
There are few places in the world which offer wildlife spotting opportunities as good as those on the Galapagos Islands. The islands lie 1,000km from the coast of Ecuador and are the most popular attraction in the country. pictures of the Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador’s capital is beautiful, historic, and energetic. Head to the city’s Old Town to see its historic colonial past. The churches and old buildings are beautiful, and the Plaza Grande is sure to instill a feeling of patriotism in all visitors. The city’s largest and oldest church, Monasterio de San Francisco, is also pretty great.
Otavalo is Ecuador’s most famous indigenous market. Handicrafts, jewelry, necklaces, musical instruments, and clothing are just a few of the things you can buy at this expansive market.
This small town lies high in the Andes and on the hillside of Ecuador’s most active volcano, Tungurahua. Besides the fantastic volcano treks, visitors also flock to Baños to experience the healing powers of its hot springs and to give thanks for miracles performed at the Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water. It’s also the country’s adventure capital, with lots of biking, bungee jumping, ATV rentals, and a circuit of beautiful waterfalls to visit.
Cotopaxi is Ecuador’s second highest mountain and was the world’s highest volcano for years until the Chilean volcano Tupungato erupted in 1986. This 12,500-foot tall snow-capped monster lies just 55km from Quito and is popular with hikers and mountain bikers.
Approximately half of Ecuador is covered in Amazonian rainforest and a tour is a great way to get to grips with what is possibly the world’s most bio-diverse area. Over 1,000 species of animals can be found in the forests and lagoons of the Ecuadorian Amazon, for example, tapirs, monkeys, jaguars, and ocelots.
Ingapirca is Ecuador’s premier Inca site and is located in the Canar Province, near the country’s Pacific coast. The crowning glory of the site is the Temple of the Sun, which is a circular building made of intricately carved stones so as to fit together without mortar. There is also a burial site and a series of low walls which are ruins from various other buildings on the site.
Cuenca is Ecuador’s third-largest city. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cuenca has colonial buildings, churches, and cathedrals that are beautiful - and extremely photogenic. The city is also thought to be Ecuador’s intellectual capital and has been dubbed the “Athens of the Andes.”
Go Whale Watching in Puerto Lopez – One of the many tourist towns that lay along the coast is Puerto Lopez. Not so much of a surfing spot, it’s known instead for its great whale watching season. Come and witness the humpback whales in action, and then check out the blue footed boobies (a very rare bird species) at La Plata island.
Explore the lava tubes
North of Puerto Ayora, there are tons of underground tunnels that have been formed from molten-lava. It’s pretty freaky being in these huge lava tops but pretty amazing too.
These family-run guesthouses are all over the country and have rooms for just a few dollars per night. They are very affordable accommodation options.
Eat at the markets
This is the place to do your food shopping. Buying 20 bananas and a kilo of apples works out to under 3 USD! You can find meals for just a few dollars, making this the best way to eat cheaply in the country!
Many restaurants have almuerzos, cheap lunches from a set menu. These are usually just a couple of dollars and even include a drink!
Carry small change
Forget about carrying any bills over 20 USD as you’ll have trouble changing them — even $20s can be difficult to break in small towns.
Book last minute tours
Galapagos Island cruises are can expensive. By booking your tour in Quito last minute, you can save up to 40% off the cost of the trip. You can also just fly there and see what is around too! If you’re flexible in when you go and can wait around for a spot to open, this is the cheapest option.
As the national language here, Spanish is everywhere you go. There are hundreds of places to take a language course in this country. If you are going to visit for a prolonged period of time, it might be a good idea to take a couple lessons.
The NGO Map of Ecuador
Where to Volunteer
Mission of Ceiba Foundation
The nonprofit organization is dedicated to the preservation and rehabilitation of tropical habitats, and the conservation of their plants and animals. Our mission is to sponsor scientific research, provide public education and support community-based actions that promote the conservation of ecosystem integrity and biodiversity.
Habitat conservation, environmental education, community development, reforestation, and scientific research.
Conservation (Tarqui near Puyo)
Mission of Zoorefugio Tarqui
Animal welfare and environmental education. Preserve wildlife in the rain forest of Ecuador, which is threatened today by anthropogenic activities. Meaning human impact on the environment or anthropogenic impact on the environment. Including impacts on biophysical environments, biodiversity, and other resources.
Be a volunteer in there ZOO, to preserve the Amazonian wildlife. Like various big cats including Jaguars, Ocelots and our Puma family. Capuchin, spider and woolly monkeys, macaws, peccaries, capybaras, tapirs and more.
Andean Bear Foundation
Conservation (Papallacta, near Quito)
Mission of Andean Bear Foundation
The Nonprofit organization is part of the Andean Bear Foundation. Developing in the Cayambe Coca National Park and in the Ecological Reserve Antisana. Our goal is to save the Andean bear from extinction through scientific studies in the field and reintroduction of captive bears, environmental education activities and community development.
You can be part of community education workshops, biologists, technicians and of the Andean Bear Project. Communities to get involved in our project to help us save the Andean bear from extinction.
Sustainable Tourism (3 places)
Mission of CarpeDM
CarpeDM Adventures will be valued for its expertise in responsible tourism and its ability to positively impact the local community that it serves. Innovative programs that enhance the delivery of quality adventure travel. Three Volunteer location; Galapagos, Amazon (Puyo) and the Andean (Quito).
Take care of the animals in cages, special diet and medications, including cleaning. Hiking and walking paths, collecting fruits, construction projects for the animals, administrative work.
Un Poco del Choco
Conservation (Ayapi near Mindo)
Mission of Un Poco del Choco
The private conservation with 15 hectares nature reserve, contributes the conservation of the endangered Chocó-habitat, the biological station promotes education and research. Up to ten students, volunteers or visitors can be lodged at the station house. The food is mostly vegetarian and typical Ecuadorian food.
Volunteers mainly help us with the daily tasks. Like taking care of plants, cooking, animals and to keep it clean. Outside will be; garden, trail and carpentry work.
Conservation (Las Tolas near Quito)
Mission of Las Tolas
The Ecuadorian Cloud Forest boasts one of the most biodiversed ecosystems in the world and Las Tolas is no exception. In this culturally, archaeologically and naturally rich community, volunteers learn about traditional Yumbo culture in an environment of incredible harmony and awe-inspiring beauty.
Conservation and community development projects. Milking cows, living in a sustainable community organic farming, community and eco-tourism infrastructure, creating crafts, teaching English.
Eco Tourism (Napo near Tena)
Mission of Selva Viva
A rainforest preservation project aiming to save still existing areas of primary forest which otherwise would be in acute danger of deforestation. They also running a School "Sacha Yachana Wasi Christina" where the Kichwa children receive a solid basic education. They also run two loges for tourists.
As a Volunteer you will be supporting the tourismus at Selva Viva and take care of the loges and the hotel administration.
Conservation (Machalilla National Park)
Mission of Equilibro Azul
Our organization was created in light of the urgent need to obtain information to conserve Ecuador’s ecosystems and marine resources. As well, we work with public, government, and business sectors with competing interests to produce functional and collaborative solutions that bear conservation strongly in mind.
You will be involved in various projects with Turtles, Marine bird and Environmental Education.
I am Achuar
Education (Kapawi community)
Mission of I am Achuar
Achuar are indigenous people, their territory has experienced repeatedly the threat of incursion by oil companies and other external agents. With there Ecotourism they maintain the engaging of the Kapawi community, where the Achuar live. It is now possible to become a Bachelor in Ecotourism. The school can host one or two Volunteers.
Teach English to the school and the community. The name of the English program; "I am Achuar" emphasizes the importance of a collaborate nature in this project.
Teach English, Volunteer!
Mission of Teach English, Volunteer!
Teach English, Volunteer! Is a project managed by the provincial Directions of Education of Chimborazo (Ecuador), standing for the Ministry of Education at a provincial level. There goal is to provide schools, that do not have English teachers with voluntary teachers, so that when they reach high school, they will have a solid English base like many of their peers.
Teaching English in the Chimborazo province, the poorest province in Ecuador.
Education (Salasaka, Tungurahua)
Mission of Escuela Katitawa
Escuela Katitawa [kati'tawa] is a community project in the indigenous Andean village of Salasaka, Ecuador. It’s a place where the children and adults are helped and taught the basic subjects including English. Our work is possible thanks to the volunteers and the private donations from all over the world.
Update! The school has closed, however we still continue to teach English classes and help children with homework at our school and library. As the project now depends solely on volunteers, it is even more important to have long-term volunteers for 6 months or longer.
Mission of CENIT
CENIT, is a non-profit organization with educational, psychological, and medical programs. As well as job training, to working children and their families. CENIT is situated in the south of Quito, near the Camal Market, well-positioned to help families in some of the most impoverished regions of Quito.
Help pre-school children (ages 3 – 5) improve their motor skills and develop basic hygienic habits. Or reinforce that learning can be fun and assisting children with their homework. Or help with public health workshops, assist the local population in accessing necessary treatment. Give physical education classes. Sell products at local artisanal fairs, providing the public with ethical, direct-to-consumer, recycled and handmade products. Help bolster CENIT’s presence nationally and internationally or with fundraising by donors and projects.
Arte del Mundo
Mission of Fundacion Arte del Mundo
Fundacion Arte del Mundo recognizes the importance of art and literature in the lives of people, especially children. Art and art-related activities are often the only area of a child’s life where all are equal to imagine and create. Our emphasis is on sharing the love of books and appreciation of the arts with the children and adults of Baños.
We have accommodations for 12 volunteers and we ask that all volunteers live on site. This gives our volunteers the unique opportunity to build a team spirit while working with each other and the children in a meaningful way.
Working Boys' Center
Mission of Working Boys’ Center
Working Boys’ Center – A Family of Families, a Catholic institution, committed to working boys and their families, founded with the objective of creating, developing and strengthening moral values by means of changes in attitudes and behavior, helped by programs of formation and social assistance.
Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the Center’s services and play a key role in assisting the Ecuadorian staff with services to families. Day care center, accredited school education program, vocational training, small business management, and home building.
Minadores de Sueños
Mission of Minadores de Sueños
The non-profit organization promotes the integral self-development of impoverished children and teenagers. Aspire to the familial and social change, evolution and integration by following human values. The foundation strives to create a space where children can live up to their creativity and dreams.
Help children with there homework, teach children and support them with there deficiency, give English classes, Involving games and toys be part of the weekly team meetings.
Mission of CIELO AZUL
CIELO AZUL is an independent, political and denominational neutral Non-governmental organization (NGO) and works on improving the standard of life for disadvantaged children and families in the communities close to Otavalo.
Teach English in the rural schools. Additional subjects, such as music, art, and physical education, depending on the volunteers personal preferences.
Mission of COAGRO Foundation
Cooperation for Organic Agriculture and Microfinance is a non-profit organization. There aim is to support the social and economic development of the Andean communities of Northern Ecuador, particularly through the empowerment of women.
Agriculture, nutrition, management and other related fields projects. Milking, maintenance and monitoring of the pasture, office work, micro-finance organizations, and cooperatives. Volunteer assists a teacher in the classroom or teach English.
Agriculture (Los Encuentros)
Mission of PermaTree
Finca PeramTree is nonprofit Organization with the aim to live a sustainable life in harmony with nature as self-sufficient as possible. With permaculture as a practical tool for self-supporting ecosystems to build and to promote biodiversity. To understand the processes of nature and to act upon them. A community where you can come, share, learn and be inspired for a better sustainable life.
A holistic permaculture farm which focus is a sustainable lifestyle, growing and cooking their own organic foods. You will be helping by planting more fruit trees, making stairs, digging holes, harvesting other fruits, cutting grass, help in the kitchen etc.