Incidents like the massive unrest, kidnapping, armed robbery and significantly increased drug trafficking and related crimes have made the question of, ‘Is Ecuador safe to visit?‘ a budding question on the lips of many.
Ecuador is located in the western part of the South American continent. It shares borders with Colombia and Peru, north and south, respectively. The country got its name from the word; Equator, where it lies geographically.
The country is a paradise because of its several tourist attractions. From the most active volcano, Cotopaxi, in the Andes Mountains to the Galapagos Islands, littered with fantastic flora and fauna, the adventure in Ecuador is endless.
There have been several garnering heats since 2019 up to this moment in the country regarding its safety for travel and tour experience.
Why is Ecuador a Hotspot for Tourists?
One of the first striking things about Ecuador is its enormous size. The country is large enough to take about 50 minutes flight in every direction. The Amazonian even waits for whoever drives for long hours on the mainland. Even though Ecuador chunks a small part of the Amazon Forest, that little is so diverse and inhabited by all kinds of fantastic flora and fauna.
Some even claim that billions of dollars of oil are untapped under this luxuriant forest. The best time to visit the Amazon Forest is popularly agreed to be around June to September (dry season). Still, several experiences relate that it rains all year and could be pretty humid.
It’s interesting to note that Ecuador has five heritage sites under the protection of UNESCO. Yes, five heritage sites that spell culture and nature.
There is more to Ecuador than those above the big five. Ecuador also boasts of the rarest cacao beans in the world, an active ingredient used to make its luxury chocolate that sells for about $35-$450.
The country has a rich history and excellence in cacao cultivation and thus sets it as the bedrock of the finest chocolate ever made in the world.
What Made Ecuador Unsafe?
One of the eight parties running for the scheduled election by August 20, in the person of Fernando Villavicencio, was killed shortly after leaving the presidential rally as of August 9, 2023.
The incident was followed by the news of the arrest of six nationals of Colombian origin in connection to the incident. The presidential candidate vehemently spoke against corruption and the drug cartels, and some people claim that it’s a possible reason he was assassinated and sent death threats on three occasions.
The incident above is one of the top stories you are likely to find when you need to know if Ecuador is safe or just a check on recent events in the country.
Ecuador has since been stained ever since the coastal ports were used as a passageway for drug trafficking, one of the wicked problems still ravaging the country, with the brutal inclusion of young children in the evil act.
The United States even issued a Level 2 travel advisory alert against the country to its citizen concerning the recent armed robbery, kidnapping, and other heinous crimes and a Level 4 alert on about six concerns to avoid as tourists.
The country is still suffering from the relics of the social order disruption of 2022, in which a massive protest due to an increase in food and fuel prices dotted most parts of the country.
Although the heinous crimes which are recently reported are targeted towards locals, lately, there are significant reports of these crime perpetrators’ interest in targeting foreign nationals. These, among many incidents, are problematic.
In my opinion, a significant percentage of unrest is still likely to happen in popular tour areas. The assassination of the maimed presidential candidate happened in Quito, the country’s capital city and the host of one of the country’s heritage sites.
What is the Current Crime Rate in Ecuador?
There are main issues of concern as regards the crime rate in Ecuador that begs the question of the country being safe to travel. Firstly, there are now approximately 26 homicides per 100,000 (2022) inhabitants, according to Statista.
The highest ever recorded in the country since 2014. It is an increase in the homicide rate if you compare the previous year with a value of 25.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Since 2021, there have also been significant killings of detainees of about 400 counts in Ecuador prisons due to increased gang violence, overcrowding and the deteriorating strength of control by the state.
Fifty-three femicides—murders of women that were thought to be connected to gender—were reported by the Attorney General’s Office between January and August. According to civil society organisations, over 200 women have been killed as of September, an increase from the prior years.
Between January 2014 and April 2022, the Ministry of Education of Ecuador received over 14,000 allegations of sexual assault, with about 30 per cent of those incidents occurring in educational settings. Only a small portion of instances have been publicly reported.
Is Ecuador safe to visit for tourist in 2023? There are a few recommendations based on my analysis and other travel advice;
- Avoid mass gatherings or demonstrations as previously shown to consist of unnecessary violence and unreasonable abuse of rights by peacekeepers- the military and police.
- Constantly check on travel advisory on the status of any city in Ecuador before backpacking.
- Grab a great deal on travel insurance for extra safety while exploring Ecuador’s exuberant and rich culture.
There are confirmed summaries of the Galapagos Islands being safe for tourists and missing in action from the unrest in the main cities.
So, why not explore this living museum and stay safe from the unrest on the mainland? Same for the Amazonian forest too.
Lastly, for those considering an unusually extended stay than a tourist timeline, it is best to lodge in safe places based on verified information, keep a low profile and stay safe always.
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