Have any of you boarders been to Ecuador? I'm going in about three weeks and I'll be traveling the coast. Up until now, I've been pretty excited, but I read some U.S. travel warnings, and it's got me a bit paranoid. I can't tell how much of it is paranoia on the government's part, and how much of it is that it's just a more rough/wild place than where I'm used to going (e.g., Ambergris Caye). Has anybody been along the coastal area? Did you have any problems with crime, malaria, yellow fever or anything else?
I spent 3 weeks in coastal Ecuador and the islands in '03. It was absolutely beautiful and I found the people warm and welcoming. There were travel warnings at that time too, however I had no issues. Shots were recommended but not mandatory then, I got them and didn't get sick. If you are going to dive you won't be disappointed!
I was in Ecuador for about three weeks last spring and stayed in the mountains.
I did meet someone who had been in Ecuador for about four months and during that time she and her boyfriend were robbed twice together. One time they were on the beach and some young guys walked up to them with knives and asked for their money. Another time they paid someone to take them to a mountain. About half way there the "guide" stopped the car and demanded all their money and then dropped them off to find their way back to where they came from.
I did meet several people who told me a lot of people are robbed in Quito. So it is best to take a taxi everywhere you go when you are out on the town at night.
I especially liked the valley of longevity (Villcabamba), Banos with the hot springs, and a certain section of Quito that had some action going on in the evening.
BL: have never been, but my dad was mugged there years ago and so was my friend who went there last year. Watch out for the diversion tactic of one person spraying you with some sticky substance and another trying to help clean it off you (all the while swiping your wallet in the process). Apparently, it happens so fast, one doesn't have a chance to realize the scam.
There was a skydive boogie held there a few years ago and again last September.
A few jumpers went SCUBA diving when the promised aircraft didn't show for jumping. They were left out in the water off Galapagos with the instructor for 8 hours until they were rescued by a passing cargo ship. The ship captain lost them on a drift dive and he went back to port for a few beers at the local pub. He was arrested. It's an amazing tale of survival from the group.
Other than that incident the 150+ participants all had a good, safe time.
I have two skydive friends that are the nicest human beings in the World that are from Ecuador.
Have fun, be safe...5% of the people give the other 95% a bad name!