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Ecuador travel guide

About Ecuador

Tiny by South American standards, Ecuador is packed with an amazing range of natural and cultural attractions; a microcosm of everything that is appealing about this fascinating continent. Tucked between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador outdoes its heavyweight neighbours because of, rather than despite, its size. In a single day you could take an early morning safari in the Amazon, drive up through a valley of active volcanoes and past verdant cloud forest before winding down to the Pacific coast in time for a seafood dinner.

Bisected by the equator (hence the name), Ecuador is divided into three distinct regions – Costa, Sierra and Oriente. The coast, or Costa, is hot and dry with sandy beaches, rolling surf and lively Afro-Ecuadorian towns. The mountainous centre, or Sierra, is a place of snow-capped Andean peaks, colonial towns and vibrant local markets. And the tropical lowland, the Oriente, which takes in parts of the Amazon, is home to innumerable species of wildlife and indigenous inhabitants. In addition, Ecuador controls the Galapagos Islands, a wildlife-rich archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution.

At the heart of all this is Quito. As well as laying claim to being the world’s second highest capital city (after La Paz in Bolivia) this lofty metropolis has the best-preserved historic centre in Latin America, not to mention an excellent culinary scene, vibrant nightlife and string of world-class cultural attractions.

However, it’s Ecuador’s natural beauty that draws in the crowds. Visitors flock from around the world to admire the wildlife, particularly on the Galapagos Islands, which is home to giant tortoises, whale sharks, sea lions and many more. For those seeking an adrenalin hit, world-renowned scuba diving, exceptional trekking and breathtaking climbing is rarely far away. Whether you explore it on two wheels or four hooves; on a raft, kayak or surfboard, Ecuador is a joy to get to know.

Key facts


283,560 sq km (109,483 sq miles).


16,385,450 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

66 per sq km.





Head of state:

President Daniel Noboa since November 2023.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice

Areas where FCDO advises against all but essential travel  

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice.  

Coastal Region

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the Coastal Region provinces of:

  • Esmeraldas
  • Manabí
  • Santa Elena
  • Guayas
  • El Oro
  • Los Ríos
  • Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas

This does not apply to airside transit within Guayaquil Airport in Guayas province, including onward or return travel to the Galapagos Islands.

Within 20km of the Ecuador-Colombia border 

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to areas within 20km of the Ecuador-Colombia border, except for these areas in Carchi province: 

  • El Ángel Ecological Reserve 
  • Rumichaca border crossing 
  • the town of Tulcán 
  • the Pan-American Highway  

Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel

State of Emergency declared

A nationwide 60 day state of emergency (SOE) was declared on 19 April due to the energy crisis in Ecuador. It will end on 18 June. This may see increased military and police presence around public buildings, including key energy infrastructure, to avoid threats or sabotage.

A separate state of emergency (SOE) was declared on 30 April due to armed violence. This covers five provinces: El Oro, Guayas, Los Ríos, Manabí and Santa Elena. It will end on 29 June. There is no curfew in place but the SOE allows the military and police to seize assets, conduct inspections and enter private properties without permission.

Before you travel 

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and see support for British nationals abroad for information about specific travel topics. 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated. 

Travel insurance 

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency. 

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel. 

The authorities in Ecuador set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Ecuadorean Embassy in the UK.

Documents required to enter via land or river border

If you wish to enter Ecuador via a land and river borders from Peru or Colombia, you must present a criminal record certificate from the country where you lived for the last 5 years. The certificate must be legalised with the Hague Apostille and translated into Spanish if issued in another language. This mandatory requirement was announced on 11 January for implementation with immediate effect.

If you do not have the correct documentation you will be denied entry via the land or river border, and you may have to change your travel plans.

The following people are exempt from the presentation of the criminal record certificate:

  • Holders of a valid Ecuadorean visa
  • Holders of diplomatic passports
  • Children and adolescents under 18
  • Victims of human trafficking or those seeking international protection under the Ecuadorean Human Mobility Law.

There are no restrictions in place for anyone flying into Ecuador.

To obtain a UK Police Criminal Record Certificate, check the ACRO website. For information about legalising the document with the Hague apostille check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Legalisation Office website site.

COVID-19 rules 

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Ecuador. 

If you have COVID-19 symptoms such as high temperature, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste or a skin rash, complete a health declaration form online or when you arrive.

Ecuadorean nationals and foreign residents must have COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Travel in Ecuador  

You may be asked to wear a face mask in some hospitals, clinics and other medical settings.  

See further information on the Ministry of Public Health Twitter account

Passport validity requirements 

Your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive. 

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.  

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen. 

Visa requirements 

You can travel to Ecuador for up to 90 days in any 12-month period without a visa.  

If you plan to stay longer, contact your nearest Ecuadorean Embassy (in Spanish) before travelling.  

If you’re already in Ecuador and want to stay longer than 90 days, you can pay to extend your stay (in Spanish) by an extra 90 days. You must apply for an extension before the first 90-day period ends or you could be fined.  

If you overstay your visa, you will get a fine when you leave. You will not be allowed to return to Ecuador unless you pay the fine before you leave the country. 

For immigration information, see Ecuador Migration

Applying for a visa 

To stay longer (to work or study, or for other reasons), contact the nearest Ecuadorean embassy (in Spanish) before you travel. The Ecuador Ministry of Foreign Affairs has visa application information (in Spanish). 

You should get an appointment before visiting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility (MFA). For general guidance contact: or

Checks at border control 

You may be asked your reason for travel and for evidence of a return or onward journey.  

Peru and Colombia land border crossings 

If you enter Ecuador via land from Peru or Colombia, you must get an official passport entry stamp showing your arrival date. Sometimes buses do not stop at the border, which can lead to foreign visitors not getting a stamp. You could get a fine or be asked to return to the border. Contact an immigration office as soon as possible. 

Galapagos Islands 

Tourists can stay in the Galapagos Islands for up to 60 days. To enter Galapagos, you must have: 

  • evidence of a hotel booking or an invitation letter from your host  
  • evidence of a return flight to the Ecuadorean mainland  
  • completed an online Galapagos transit control card at least 24 hours before your flight – you must also keep a copy 
  • travel health insurance, which is mandatory for foreign tourists

Travelling with children 

Leaving Ecuador  

Some British children aged 17 and under must have a notarised consent letter (in Spanish) to leave Ecuador, if they are travelling alone or with one parent or legal guardian.

British children must have a notarised letter from parents or guardians not travelling with them if they were born in Ecuador, even if they’re travelling on a British passport, or live in Ecuador.

If they are tourists, British children (or British-Ecuadorean dual nationals) do not need a consent letter. 

If one parent is deceased, the other parent must submit the death certificate to an Ecuadorean public notary to get an indefinite notarial permit to travel with the child. 

In more complex situations, such as legal disputes, a child will need judicial written permission (‘Autorización de Viaje Judicial’) issued by an Ecuadorian judge (‘Juzgado de la Niñez y Adolescencia’).  

Entering Ecuador  

Children entering Ecuador with someone other than a parent or legal guardian do not need a consent letter. 

Vaccination requirements  

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Ecuador guide

Depending on your circumstances, these may include a yellow fever certificate.

Customs rules 

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Ecuador via air and via land. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. 

Taking money out of Ecuador  

You must declare cash you’re carrying when you leave Ecuador. You will have to pay tax on amounts over 1,350 US dollars. 

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and regional risks advice


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times. 

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Ecuador  

Terrorist attacks in Ecuador cannot be ruled out. 

Political situation  

Exercise caution around large gatherings. Street demonstrations, protests and strikes are common. While most are peaceful, they can turn violent. You should: 

  • stay alert and monitor local media  
  • avoid large gatherings 
  • follow updates from the ECU 911 emergency services 
  • be wary of unverified information 
  • allow extra time to reach your destination  
  • check road conditions (in Spanish) on the Ecuadorean government website 

Even peaceful protests can lead to travel disruption.

Energy rationing

On 15 April the government announced plans for energy rationing across the country. For more information on power cut times in your location, please check your local power provider’s official website or social media channels.


Protecting yourself and your belongings  

Mugging and pickpocketing are common. The methods criminals use include: 

  • distraction techniques (for example, requests for assistance, squirting liquids on to you, staged fights and pushing or shoving) 
  • bag snatching at knife or gunpoint by a passenger on a motorbike  

To reduce your risk: 

  • stay alert in public places  
  • avoid walking alone in quiet areas or at night 
  • do not wear expensive jewellery in public 
  • carry only the money you need for the day 
  • take care of your credit cards 
  • watch your bags on public transport and wear your rucksack on the front of your body 
  • carry a colour copy of your passport, including the visa entry stamp page – keep the original safe 

Violent crime and armed robbery 

Armed robbery is a risk throughout Ecuador. Crimes with the threat of violence, such as gunpoint robbery and home invasion, have occurred throughout Ecuador.  

Take particular care in Esmeraldas and Guayas provinces and get local advice on where to visit. Armed thieves have stopped vehicles and threatened passengers.  

Most violent crime is gang-related, but tourists can be affected. The murder rate in Guayaquil is very high, but is mainly gang-related. You should be particularly cautious in Guayaquil city centre, southern parts of the city and port areas.  

Since March 2023, organised crime gangs have caused small explosions and made false bomb threats in Quito and Guayaquil. If you’re near an incident, follow the instructions of police and local authorities. 

Get local advice about the area you’re visiting and travel in a group when possible. 

ATM and bank customer robbery 

Take care when withdrawing money from a bank or ATM. There have been violent robberies outside banks. The Ecuadorean national police offers a free escort service if you are withdrawing or depositing large quantities of cash. To request this service, call 911. Only take out as much money as you need. 

Transport robbery 

There is a risk of robbery and pickpocketing on interstate transport and at bus stations, including on routes commonly used by tourists. To reduce your risk: 

  • avoid road travel after dark 
  • keep valuables safe in a money belt or inside pocket 
  • do not store bags in overhead luggage spaces or under your seat 

Criminals pose as bus inspectors in some Quito bus stations. They might insist you place your luggage overhead so an accomplice can steal it later. You do not have to place belongings overhead. 

If you’re robbed, do not resist attackers or do anything that puts you at greater risk. Report the incident to police as soon as possible.  

Sexual assault 

Serious sexual assaults and attacks against foreign women have happened in Ecuador, in particular in the tourist beach town of Montañita in Santa Elena Province. Check reviews of your accommodation to make sure it is reputable and secure, even if you’re travelling in a group. Avoid travel after dark and be alert to the use of date rape and other drugs in drinks. If you feel unwell, seek urgent help from the police or nearest health centre. Call 911 for the emergency services. 

See information for victims of rape and sexual assault in Ecuador

You can report gender-based violence to the Prosecutor Office (‘Fiscalía’) online.  

Criminal kidnappings  

There is a risk of express kidnappings. Victims of this type of kidnapping are usually taken to ATMs to withdraw as much cash as possible before they’re released. They can be targeted or selected at random. It can happen in registered and illegal taxis. If this happens, follow the kidnapper’s instructions.

Business people or visitors perceived to be wealthy may be targeted by kidnappers in search of payouts.

Drug-assisted robbery 

Criminals may drug victims to rob them. Homemade versions of the drug scopolamine subdue victims and cause amnesia. Scopolamine is absorbed through the skin and can be rubbed onto your hand, face or body without you realising. Be wary if a stranger approaches your offering you something (for example, food, drinks, leaflets and perfume samples), even they’re friendly or well-dressed.

Laws and cultural differences  

Personal ID 

By law you must carry ID. Always carry a copy of your passport, including the pages with your photograph and Ecuadorean entry stamp. 

Illegal drugs and prison sentences 

The penalties for drug trafficking or drug use are harsh, and prison conditions are very basic.  

‘Spiritual cleansing’ hallucinogens 

People use traditional hallucinogens, such as Ayahuasca or San Pedro, in Ecuador. These substances are marketed to tourists for ‘spiritual cleansing’ rituals. They often contain dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a strong hallucinogen that is illegal in the UK.  

There are many risks when taking these substances including: 

  • serious illness and death 
  • assault and robbery while intoxicated 
  • lack of nearby medical help as these ceremonies often take place in remote locations  

Consumption of traditional hallucinogens is unregulated. 

LGBT+ travellers 

Same-sex relations are legal in Ecuador. However, local attitudes towards the LGBT+ community can be conservative and there is still societal discrimination. People may be less tolerant of same-sex couples showing affection in public than they are in the UK. Showing affection may attract negative attention, especially in small towns. Transgender people in particular could face unwanted attention. 

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers


US dollars and 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos coins minted in Ecuador are the only legal currencies. Credit cards and travellers cheques are generally accepted in cities but not elsewhere in the country.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism  

Volunteer and adventure activities 

If you join a volunteer or adventure expedition programme, make sure the UK organisation responsible for travel has an official agent in Ecuador able to handle an emergency. Be wary of unauthorised intermediaries (‘enganchadores’) trying to offer you cheap hotels or tour deals. 

British nationals have died while rafting, kayaking and on canopy walks and zip-lines. Make sure you’re fit enough for these activities and others like bungee jumping and quad biking. For water adventure sports, make sure the weather conditions and river currents are safe. 

You should: 

  • only use reputable tour operators with a specific licence to provide these services 
  • be aware equipment may not meet UK safety and insurance standards 
  • check the company uses the most up-to-date equipment and safety features 
  • check the company is properly insured 
  • make sure your insurance covers all your activities 

Swimming safety 

There is a risk of drowning caused by strong, rapidly changing ocean currents. Beaches do not always have swimming safety warning flags. Seek local advice on tidal activity. 

See water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society.

Hiking and mountaineering 

If you’re hiking in Ecuador, prepare for high altitude and unpredictable climates. Many rural areas of Ecuador, including Galapagos Islands, do not have a good mobile phone signal, so you may not be able to phone in an emergency. 

You should: 

  • climb at a moderate rate so your body can adjust 
  • stay well hydrated 
  • keep to established paths or use an experienced guide 
  • make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you plan to return 
  • avoid walking alone 

For more information on climbing or mountaineering, see the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism and Chimborazo Local Government

Pichincha volcano  

Tourists take day trips to Pichincha volcano on the cable car (‘teleférico’) from Quito. There have been accidents on the route to one of the peaks, Rucu Pichincha, including deaths from hypothermia. You should: 

  • be aware of the risk of altitude sickness  
  • take warm, waterproof clothing and high-factor sunblock 
  • go with an accredited specialised guide who knows the route 
  • start early to reduce risks from unexpected heavy mist or storms 

Lightning has killed tourists climbing Pichincha. Watch the weather and reconsider your plans if conditions look bad. 

Cayambe Volcano

Due to an avalanche on the 5 April, high mountaineering activities and access to the glacier are suspended until further notice. For updates, see the Ecuadorean Ministry of Environment X channel.

Chimborazo Reserve  

To visit Chimborazo Reserve, you must email at least 5 days in advance to register on the Sistema de Información de Biodiversidad. The reserve is only open for tour operators and accredited mountaineering clubs after an avalanche killed 3 climbers in 2021. The authorities can restrict mountaineering at short notice. 

Cotopaxi National Park 

High mountaineering in Cotopaxi National Park is restricted. For information, see the Ecuadorean Ministry of Environment

If you’re visiting Cotopaxi National Park, carry: 

  • a mask, sunglasses and hat 
  • clothing that covers your skin 
  • enough water and food 
  • an emergency kit 

For more information, check the Ecuadorean Ministry of Tourism

Climbing mountains with glaciers  

It is illegal to climb a glaciated mountain without an official accredited guide.

Transport risks  

Road travel  

If you are planning to drive in Ecuador, see information on driving abroad

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Ecuador for the first 6 months after you arrive. After that period, you can take an Ecuadorian driving test to be able to continue to drive on your UK licence. If you still have a paper UK driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well.  

Always carry your passport, driving licence and vehicle registration with you in the vehicle.  

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as 6 months of driving experience since your license was issued, 18 year old minimum age and holding an IDP

Some cities do not allow vehicles with Ecuadorian plates to drive on certain days or at peak times based on the last digits of their car’s registration plate. Check for restrictions before you drive. You could be fined if you do not follow the rules.  

Driving conditions 

Ecuador has one of the highest rates of road accidents in Latin America due to careless driving, speeding and badly maintained vehicles. There have been many deaths, including British nationals.  

In Ecuador: 

  • road conditions vary 
  • heavy rains and mudslides often cause roads to be closed or wash away  
  • driving can be erratic – be prepared to stop unexpectedly  
  • vehicles may move slowly, change lanes without indicating or jump red lights 
  • many drivers are uninsured 
  • drivers often ignore zebra crossings 

Always wear a seat belt. If you’re a passenger in a speeding vehicle, ask the driver to slow down. 


Book taxis through your hotel or by calling a known radio-dispatched taxi service. Travel in a group if possible. Using unregistered taxis significantly increases your risk of becoming a crime victim.  

Ride sharing services are available in larger cities. While they do provide the driver’s details, the services themselves are unregulated. 

If you’re using a yellow registered taxi in Quito and Guayaquil, make sure it has:  

  • a municipality registration number sticker on the windscreen and doors 
  • orange licence plates or the new white plates with an orange strip on the top 
  • video cameras inside 

There are authorised taxi booths at Quito and Guayaquil international airports. 

If you’re using a yellow registered taxi in Quito, make sure the driver resets the meter. In Guayaquil and other cities, taxis use fixed prices rather than meters. In these places, or if you or your hotel calls a taxi in Quito, agree a price before you get in. 

Sea travel 

There has been piracy and armed robbery against ships in and around Ecuador’s waters. Sailors should stay alert and take appropriate precautions. 

There have been several serious accidents in the Galapagos Islands involving tour company boats and smaller vessels transporting people between islands. Some of the smaller boats do not follow safety measures, such as holding the right licence, respecting maximum capacity for passengers, checking their motor or fuel and providing enough life vests. Use reputable boat operators and ask about safety features before you book, even for short trips. Check they provide life vests and lifeboats (if appropriate) before boarding.

Extreme weather and natural disasters 

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.  


Landslides are common in Ecuador and can have a serious impact on travel. Heavy rains can lead to landslides, which frequently lead to road closures. Check the weather forecast if you are travelling by road.  


There is a high risk of earthquakes across Ecuador, particularly in the province of Esmeraldas on the north-western coast. Earthquakes and aftershocks can cause landslides, which block roads.  

Familiarise yourself with safety procedures and any instructions in your hotel. If there is an earthquake, follow instructions from the authorities and keep essential belongings, such as your passport and money, with you.  

Get information (in Spanish) following an earthquake from the: 

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake

You can also get earthquake alerts with an Android phone


There is a high risk of tsunamis along the coast and in the Galapagos Islands. If there is a tsunami alert, sirens will sound in Esmeraldas, El Oro, Guayas, Santa Elena, Manabí and Galapagos. See evacuation route maps and follow the advice of the authorities. 

Rainy season 

The rainy season usually runs from October to May but can last until June. 

Ecuador is facing a severe El Niño and La Niña in 2023 and 2024. This climatic phenomenon occurs every few years. There can be heavy rains, widespread flooding and a hotter climate across Ecuador. The risk of landslides, which can cut off roads, is higher with heavy rainfall.  

During heavy rainy seasons: 

  • monitor local media 
  • check your itinerary with your tour operator to avoid disruption 
  • avoid river crossings due to potential strong currents  
  • take care in affected areas 

The weather can change quickly. Check weather forecasts. Get local advice on tides if you’re near the coast. 

If you’re climbing or mountaineering, get official advice from the authorities and tour operators.  

Forest fires 

Forest fires happen in many areas, especially in Pichincha province, due to high temperatures, strong winds, dry conditions and arson. Call 911 if you see a fire. 

Volcanic eruptions 

There are many volcanoes in the highlands of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Some are currently erupting, active or potentially active. Check the current volcano alerts (in Spanish). Follow instructions issued by the local authorities. 

Ashfall from volcanoes can disrupt flights and close airports at short notice. Before going to the airport, check with your airline and on the airport website. Ash is also a health hazard, especially for travellers with respiratory problems. 

There is a high risk from mixed flows of water, mud, lava and debris (‘lahars’) around glaciated volcanoes, including Cotopaxi. These flows can be very destructive. The towns of Latacunga and Salcedo and low-lying areas in the valley to the east of Quito (Los Chillos and Rumiñahui) are particularly vulnerable. 

Access to the Reventador volcano (Napo province) is currently restricted.

This section has safety advice for regions of Ecuador. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.  

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice.  

Coastal regions

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the Coastal Region provinces of:

  • Esmeraldas
  • Manabi
  • Santa Elena
  • El Oro
  • Los Ríos
  • Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas

This is due to a high level of gang-related violence linked to the presence of organised crime relating to the production and trafficking of illegal drugs.

Tourists are not usually targeted, however, you could be a victim of violence due to mistaken identity or caught up in a security incident involving others.


FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the Coastal Region province of Guayas, except:

  • airside transit within Guayaquil Airport in Guayas province, including onward or return travel to the Galapagos Islands

This is due to a high level of gang-related violence linked to the presence of organised crime relating to the production and trafficking of illegal drugs.

There have been several security incidents in and around the city of Guayaquil in Guayas province in 2023, including an increase in murders and small explosions. There have also been fatal armed attacks against the police and prosecutors.

There are Instances of express kidnapping, where individuals have been kidnapped for a short period of time, and are often driven to an ATM to withdraw money and then abandoned.

Tourists are not usually targeted, however, you could be a victim of violence due to mistaken identity or caught up in a security incident involving others.

Within 20km of the Ecuador-Colombia border 

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to areas within 20km of the Ecuador-Colombia border, except for these areas in Carchi province: 

  • El Ángel Ecological Reserve  
  • Rumichaca border crossing 
  • the town of Tulcán 
  • the Pan-American Highway  

This is due to the presence of organised crime linked to the production and trafficking of drugs. 

The security situation can change quickly in areas outside the 20km border zone, including Esmeraldas, Carchi and Sucumbíos provinces. There are illegal armed groups and criminal gangs in these areas. If you are travelling to these areas, including Cuyabeno, the Napo River, and the El Ángel Ecological Reserve, where there are ecolodges, you should: 

  • stay alert and take local advice 
  • pay close attention to warnings issued by the Ecuadorean authorities  
  • travel during daylight hours with a reputable, official guide 
  • have an emergency plan and good communication systems in place 
  • be aware some lodges are far from a major hospital  

If you cross the northern border at Tulcán (Rumichaca official land border point), enter and exit the town on the Pan-American Highway.  

Lago Agrio (also known as Nueva Loja) the main town in Sucumbíos province, and San Lorenzo, in Esmeraldas province, are both within the 20km border zone where FCDO advises against all but essential travel. 

Before you travel check that: 

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need 
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation 

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant. 

Emergency medical number 

Call 911 and ask for an ambulance. 

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

You can get emergency assistance and register medical issues using the ECU 911 smartphone application

Vaccinations and health risks 

At least 8 weeks before your trip check: 

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Ecuador. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro

UV radiation  

UV radiation has increased significantly across Ecuador. To avoid exposure use a high-factor sunblock, wear long-sleeved clothing and stay hydrated. 

Drinking water 

To avoid getting sick, drink boiled, filtered or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.  


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.  

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad

Pharmacies in Ecuador may accept some UK prescriptions. They will accept antimicrobial prescriptions up to 3 days old and narcotic or psychotropic prescriptions up to 5 days old. 

Healthcare facilities in Ecuador  

The Ecuadorean public healthcare system provides the same level of care to locals and foreigners at no cost. However, a high standard of healthcare and specialised medical treatment may not always be available outside main cities. Private treatment can be very expensive, and private hospitals require a credit card guarantee for admission. 

FCDO has a list of English-speaking medical providers in Ecuador. See hospitalisation information pack for further details on healthcare in Ecuador, including a list of hospitals

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Ecuador

Healthcare in the Galapagos Islands 

There are limited medical facilities in the Galapagos Islands. Make sure your insurance includes evacuation by air ambulance. If you travel to the Galapagos Islands by boat, you may be asked to supply information such as your blood group and emergency contacts when you board. 

San Cristóbal Island has a well-equipped public hospital. Santa Cruz Island has a basic hospital. Isabela Island has a very small and extremely basic health centre.  

Travel and mental health 

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel. 

Emergency services in Ecuador  

Telephone: 911 (ambulance, fire, police) 

Tourism police  

Quito has a tourism police unit with branches in the north, old town, airport and at bus terminals. There are also tourism police units in the cities of Guayaquil and Cuenca, and in Santa Elena and Imbabura provinces. Ask a police officer to direct you to their offices.   

Reporting robbery and theft online 

You can report robbery and theft online in English to the Ecuador Attorney General’s Office (‘Fiscalía General’). 

Complaining about tourism services 

To complain about tourism services, email the Ministry of Tourism: denuncias@turismo.gob.eca

Contact your travel provider and insurer 

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do. 

Refunds and changes to travel 

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first. 

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including: 

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider 
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim 

Support from FCDO 

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including: 

Contacting FCDO 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated. 

You can also contact FCDO online.  

Help abroad in an emergency 

If you’re in Ecuador and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Quito or your nearest consulate. 

FCDO in London 

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad. 

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours) 

Find out about call charges 

Risk information for British companies  

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks. 

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