Quito and Cuenca Safety Tips

You are about to start a wonderful time at our school in Quito or Cuenca. Please read this information carefully, so you can be aware of how to have a very safe trip:

Safety in Ecuador

Ecuador is considered one of the safer countries in the Andean Region; however, it is always a good idea to be cautious during your visit. Ecuador's urban centers, especially Quito and Guayaquil, are generally more dangerous than other cities or towns.

The best way to prevent this is to use your common sense and reduce the likelihood of being robbed by following a few basic precautions, as you would do in any other big city.

Safety in the City

Food & Drinks

One of the most common problems for travelers is the effects of new food and water. Could be because food may not be prepared with a good hygiene (food vendors, popular markets, restaurants that may not seem clean) or because the foreign immune systems are not accustomed to some bacteria or parasites (fruit, vegetables, ice, and tap water). While in Ecuador, 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, and avoid ice in drinks.

Drinking tap water is not advisable anywhere in Ecuador, so drink only bottled or boiled water. In case of a long trip to a place where you can't buy bottled water, you should buy water-purifier pills. Water-purifiers can be found in most camping/outdoor supply stores.

Currency: US Dollar

Notes are in denominations of US $100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of US $1 and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents. Some coins are the same US cents and some are Ecuadorean centavos. They have the same size and value. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and at casas de cambio (exchange houses), the latter generally being the best option. In Ecuador is better to always carry small denominations since it's not so easy to get change in shops.

TIPPING: 10% service charge is usually added to the bill in hotels and restaurants.

CREDIT / DEBIT CARDS and ATMs: The best known credit/debit cards are accepted in most businesses (Visa, Mastercard, Diners, Amex) Please consider that there are extra charges when using your credit card, between 3% and 5%. ATMs are easy to find around the city.

Telephone

You need to contact our 2 main mobile companies to find out if your cell phone can work in Ecuador. One provider is named Claro (red logo) and the other is Movistar (blue logo). Also you can ask in the office for German he can help you to rent a cell phone and charge minutes.

Transportation

Buses: Price: 25 cents.

In Quito, the Trole, Ecovia and Metrovia (also 25 cents) are bus lines that have only fixed stops along the north- south lines. There are other buses that run in other routes with not-so fixed stops, normally they stop when you raise your hand to get on or if you need to get off at some point. School is located in La Mariscal Area, the tourist area. The colonial center is to the south of La Mariscal, about 15 minutes far from school by bus. To travel to other cities and towns, you should get to the 2 main bus stations: La Ofelia, in the north of the city, and Quitumbe, way to the south of the city, depending on your destination.

In Cuenca, buses always have fixed stops. School is located in the colonial center, just 3 blocks far from the beautiful cathedral in Parque Calderón. To travel to other towns or cities, the bus station (Terminal Terrestre) is near from the airport.

Taxi cabs: Legal taxis are yellow and have a red sticker with a number at the front and at the side door. Taxis in Quito have working meters; make sure that the meter is running when you hire one, it should start at 0.55 cents and minimum ride is $ 1.45. At night, rates increase to a 40% more of normal prices.

Weather, Altitude Sickness and Clothing

Quito and Cuenca have an average temperature similar to spring time. Usually it's warm in the morning, rainy in the afternoon and pretty chilly at night. The best idea is to dress in layers. Ecuador's weather is characterized for being very variable. In some places you can experience strong changes in temperature in a single day. High factor sunscreen, sunglasses, as well as warm clothes are recommended.

Altitude sickness usually manifests itself as insomnia, headaches, and/or nausea. To prevent altitude sickness, or to at least ward off some of its effects, avoid extreme physical efforts for the first two or three days (e.g.: running, lifting heavy objects, practicing sports). In the event that you do experience symptoms of altitude sickness, in most cases, they can be remedied by drinking a lot of water, getting lots of rest, and taking aspirin.

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