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Ecuador

If you’re travelling to Ecuador our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

On Saturday 16th April, a powerful earthquake struck Ecuador causing widespread damage and fatalities. The earthquake was concentrated off the north coast, close to the cities of Esmeraldas and Manta. A state of emergency has been declared in 6 coastal provinces and there are widespread blackouts in many parts of the country. Anyone with concerns for Irish citizens can call our Consular line in Dublin on 01 408 2000. Any citizens in Ecuador at this time should closely follow the instructions of local authorities and can access information on the earthquake at the websites of the Ecuadorean National Risk Control Agency and the Seismic Monitoring Agency.

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

Latest travel alerts

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Irish Citizens are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Ecuador before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Ecuador, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency series in Ecuador by dialling (911).

There is no Irish Embassy in this country, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Quito, Ecuador or the Irish Embassy in Buenos Aires in Argentina.

If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

Other EU embassies

You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Crime

Crime can be an issue in Ecuador and you should take sensible precautions.

There is a continuing risk of violent crimes against foreign nationals with reports of European nationals being attacked, robbed and sexually assaulted.

You should remain extremely vigilant and cautious about your surroundings whilst travelling around Ecuador, especially on arrival in the country. 

Crime by unregistered taxi drivers is also on the rise. If you require a taxi, please ensure that you only hail an authorised radio taxi (yellow cab); these taxis display their taxi registration sticker on the windscreen and doors and have licence plates.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Ecuador, you should be extremely careful. If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Illegal Drugs

Drug trafficking is a serious problem in Ecuador. Do not handle illicit drugs, and do not transport packages in your luggage back to Ireland for anyone, even if they are well known to you. Arrests for drug trafficking are common and conviction leads to severe penalties, including up to two years being held on remand prior to sentencing and lengthy prison sentences in harsh and dangerous conditions in Ecuadorian prisons.

Natural disasters and climate

Please be aware that Ecuador is in an earthquake zone and is also subject to volcanic eruptions. Travelers should check the website of the National Ecuadorian Geophysics Institute for the latest information.

Climate

The country has a very wide-ranging climate. The four main regions of the country are La Sierra (Highlands), La Costa (Coastal Lowlands), El Oriente (Amazon region) and the Galapagos Islands and each of them has different temperatures, climates and seasons.

La Sierra (Highlands) has cooler weather and temperatures change with altitude. In the Andes, the climate changes according to the elevation and the period of the year. The temperature in Quito at night is 7ºC, 26ºC at midday; the average temperature is around 16ºC. La Costa's (Coastal lowlands) climate is normally very warm with an average temperature of 25ºC to 31ºC throughout the year. The rainy season is from December to May which is warm and very humid. The dry season is slightly humid. The climate in Piedra Blanca (settled between the upland and lowlands) is very pleasant. El Oriente (Amazon region) usually has a warm, rainy and humid climate. Average daylight temperature varies from 23ºC to 25ºC. The Galapagos Islands experience warm and dry climate which continue throughout the year, 28º C is the average temperature.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure of the entry requirements for this country, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the country’s nearest Embassy or Consulate.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling (8 weeks)to see if you need any vaccinations for Ecuador.

Dengue Fever

Ecuador is a risk country for dengue fever transmission. Take precautions against being bitten by dengue-carrying mosquitoes, which are active throughout the day.

Malaria

Malaria risk is present throughout most of the country. You should discuss anti-malarial treatment with your doctor before you travel, and take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness can also present problems, especially in Quito which is located 2800 metres above sea level. You should seek medical advice on the risks of altitude sickness before traveling to Ecuador.