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Safety & Health

SAFETY
 
Entry Requirements
Food and Water Saftey
Personal Security
Entry Requirements
Ecuador requires a valid passport from all travelers, as well as proof of return to your home country or onward journey, I wouldn´t expect to be checked, but just in case. At this time no yellow fever vaccination is required, but always highly reccommended.

Visas
Citizens of most nations can stay in Ecuador for up to 180 days per year. Immigration officials will give you either 60 or 90 days in your passport when you enter. If you know you need more than 60 days, be sure to tell them before they stamp your passport. If you want to stay longer than 90 days you will have to get an extension or obtain a visa. To get more specific information see our Visa section. 


Passports

Always carry your passport while travelling on a bus to another city in Ecuador, as military and police check points are semi-frequent and sometimes there could be trouble if you are caught without your documents. However, if you are staying in Quito, Guayaquil or another large city for an extended period, it is reccommended that you carry only a copy of your passport. For a reasonable fee most foreign embassies provide their citizens with an "official" copy of their passport that is recognized by Ecuadorian law. Check with your embassy or consulate for details. Also, report lost or stolen passports immediately to your embassy or consulate.


Food and Water Saftey
It's a well known fact by every traveler and any health department or organization that food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers worldwide. This is equally true for travelers in Ecuador. Knowledge is the best weapon against illness and prevention is the best medicine. Relatively mild stomach and intestinal tract problems (diarrhea and occasionally vomiting) due to eating or drinking food contaminated with bacteria or parasites, that foreign immune systems are not accustomed to, are the most common problems but travelers may contract other, more serious, diseases as well. Some stomach irritation can be expected while visiting developing countries, but if symptoms are extreme or last more than a few days, consult a doctor. Educate yourself and follow these precautions to stay healthy on the road.

While in Ecuador, especially during your first 2 weeks, eat only well cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself, do not eat un-pasteurized dairy products, refrain from eating food sold by street vendors, eat only in restaurants that seem clean, and avoid ice in drinks. It's also a pretty bad idea to try the seafood, although really tempting, as it is one of the most common cause of food poisoning. That includes river shimp and fish from the rainforest. Drinking tap water is not advisable anywhere in Ecuador, so drink only bottled or boiled water or softdrinks. Remember also that water should be boild about twice as long in the Andes because of the altilute (it's boiling but it's not as hot as you think). If you are unable to find bottled drinks or to boil water, you can make water safer by both using a water-purifier that removes both bacteria and viruses and adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. Water-purifiers can be found in most camping/outdoor supply stores. Before you buy a purifier make sure it removes both viruses and bacteria. If it does not, your water may look clean but there will be enough little critters swimming in there to make you sick.


Personal Security

While most travelers to the coastal regions of Ecuador don't have problems, it should be kept in mind that the high levels of unemployment, particularly around the more populated areas, like San Lorenzo, Esmeraldas, Manta and Guayaquil have led to an increase in crime. Travelers would be well advised to take nothing with them that is of high cash or personal value. Things like airline tickets are really hard to replace and so are better left in Quito if you are to return there. Try not to travel to heavily weighed-down by backpacks and luggage, and make sure you insure those belongings you take.
The regions of the Andes, the Jungle and especially the Galapagos Islands are significantly less dangerous as far as crime goes. But, keep in mind, that doesn't mean that you can frolic in the streets of Quito care-free. There are still people who will want your wallet there, so take all the precautions you would anywhere else, maybe more. Here are some tips to keep you, and your wallet a little safer:

1. Travel with trustworthy companions. The good old "safety in numbers" is worth more than you mat think.

2. When passing shady characters, walk confidently with your head up. Never stare at the ground, it makes you look nervous and weak.

3. When you feel unsafe it's not paranoia, they're instincts that developed for a reason. If you get that feeling grab a taxi or go into a place with lots of people.

4. Find out where the unsafe sectors are and avoid them.

5. Be cautious with people who are become very friendly too quickly, or that offer to show you around without knowing you.

6. Keep all important documents in a secure place, such as an inner pocket or a pouch that is hidden under a layer of clothing, or even better, at the hotel or hostel if you won't need it.

7. Carry travelers checks and credit cards instead of large sums of cash. You can always get replacement checks or cancel your cards but you can't get cash back.

8. Don't wear expensive jewelry or wristwatches. They make you a target.

9. Carry shoulder-bags and purses in front of you to avoid having them snatched.

10. Keep all bags and other valuables where you can see them in restaurants, train stations, and other public places.

11. Make copies of your important documents, card numbers, etc., and give them to a trusted companion. It's also a good idea to leave copies of important documents and numbers with a relative at home, or store them on password protected email account, such as Yahoo or Hotmail, that you can access from anywhere.

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