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Transport and Safety in Ecuador

Living in Ecuador, the nation in the Andes, can be an absolutely fascinating experience for expats. The influence of Amerindian culture on contemporary Ecuador is still very tangible and makes for a unique national heritage. We brief you on all important aspects of being an expat in Ecuador.
Just like Cuenca, the Old Town of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Aggressive Driving: There's an Alternative

Driving in Ecuador is not exactly the most laid-back task. The local driving style tends to be quite aggressive and might intimidate inexperienced motorists. This, coupled with the often narrow and very curvy roads — after all, we are talking about a very mountainous country — can easily make for a stressful driving experience. Using your car in the large cities is just as much, if not more, of a strain.

Obviously, your everyday routine will dictate whether you should drive or not, but if you can, you should try to avoid it altogether. Some of the other obstacles and possible hazards on Ecuadorian roads include potholes, especially in rural regions, and occasional mudslides on mountain roads during winter. Many roads do not have common safety features such as guard rails and safety barriers. The general maintenance of roads often leaves much to be desired. If you absolutely have to drive, be cautious at all times.

Fortunately, Ecuador’s bus system is both extensive and reliable, making for a sensible alternative to driving. Traveling by bus will take just a little bit longer than driving yourself most of the time, and chances are you will reach your destination a lot less stressed.

Staying Alert and Behaving Wisely

A nationwide problem in Ecuador is criminal activity of diverse varieties. As always, this does not mean that Ecuador is an unsafe place to be for expats, just that they should be aware of certain risks and adjust their behavior and safety precautions accordingly.

Law enforcement in Ecuador is often portrayed as being inadequate, to say the least. Insufficient resources for police forces and judicial institutions have definitely had their share in this ongoing issue.

The range of crime is quite wide. Most common, however, are petty theft and robberies. Do not carry valuables such as cameras or jewelry out in the open, and try to limit the amount of cash you have on you to a minimum. Common spots for robberies and theft include ATMs, crowded public places such as markets, and restaurants. Thieves commonly use distraction tactics such as spilling liquids on their victims, and often work in teams.

There have also been reports of abductions in unlicensed taxi cabs. Always make sure to either order a taxi by phone, or, if you hail one on the street, enter only licensed taxis. These are easily identified: they are usually yellow, have matching numbers on windshields and doors, have the name of a taxi cooperative on the door, and typically feature orange license plates.

As we have stated above, there is not much to worry about in your everyday life in Ecuador and its big cities, as long as you stay alert and behave wisely.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jaromir Novy

"InterNations provided me with all the necessary information about Ecuador. It really helps to settle as expat in South America."

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"With InterNations I met other Portuguese women in Quito quickly. We even play tennis together once a week."

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