Solo Female Travel in Ecuador – A Guide
Solo female travel in Ecuador is more common than you might think. Ecuador is where I met many fellow solo female travelers who were backpacking not just through Ecuador, but through South America. Ecuador makes a great option for solo travelers as it’s a small country that is easy to navigate and it has activities for every type of traveler! There are cities like Quito and Cuenca for those keen on learning about city life. For those seeking an adventure, Mindo and Baños are full of adventure activities. And for wildlife enthusiasts the Amazon is there ready to explore and, of course, so are the Galapagos islands. Plus, I can’t forget about the fact that the coast of Ecuador is home to lively beach towns.
Before we dive into the destinations, below are a few things to consider before traveling solo to Ecuador.
Know Before You Go
Located in between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is on the natural overland route when traveling north or south through South America. Living in Quito for two months, I met numerous travelers passing through on their way to Colombia or Peru. Due to its location on the Equator, every day the sun rises around 6:00 am and sets around 6:00 pm. Its equatorial location also means the sun is quite strong, especially on cloudy days. Always wear sunscreen!
Weather & Best Time to Visit Ecuador
Depending on where you plan to visit in Ecuador you may encounter different weather. I lived in Quito from January to March, the rainy season, and found the weather to be fairly consistent day to day. Sunny in the mornings, clouds rolling in the evenings. My visit to the Galapagos in January, it didn’t rain once and is actually the best time of year to go as the temperatures are warmer. Of course, if you’re heading to the Amazon I’d expect humid conditions throughout the year. Obviously, I’m no weatherwoman, so for more in-depth information visit this site!
Quito, Ecuador is the second highest capital city in the world which means you should prepare for how to handle the altitude. Upon arrival take your time. Try not to rush all around the city and see it all. I’d also recommend waiting at least three days before attempting any hiking to ensure that you’ve acclimatized. Stay hydrated and eat well. Altitude sickness can begin by feeling like your hungover, and incidentally, drinking alcohol makes the symptoms much worse. So, I’d also recommend waiting a few days before partying at altitude! For more information on altitude sickness, check out this resource!
Ecuador’s currency is the USD, so depending on your own currency this could make Ecuador a cheap, or not so cheap, place to travel. For instance, I met Canadians who found Ecuador to be more expensive than I found it because of the conversion to the dollar.
Hostels are abundant in Ecuador and offer dorm accommodations for an average night stay of $10/night. Many hostels also offer breakfast and dinner, for an additional fee.
A lunch can cost anywhere from $5 to $20 depending on your taste. I found the $5 lunches to be just fine as it came with soup, a plate of rice with meat, and juice! There are plenty of markets as well to pick up your own ingredients for a hostel cooked meal.
Getting to Ecuador
Most people arrive in Ecuador by air or land. The two main airports people will arrive at are Quito and Guayaquil. Additionally, there are two airports on the Galapagos Islands, one on Santa Cruz and one on San Cristobal.
Buses are the other main entry point.
Getting Around Ecuador
Buses are a very cost-effective way to move about Ecuador. They can get you just about everywhere you’d want to go in Ecuador.
Solo Female Travel Safety
Theft is the main safety concern when traveling throughout Ecuador. When walking through cities be sure to keep your cell phone out of sight and your valuables secured in a zippable, and lockable, backpack. Quito’s old town does have a number of thefts so stay aware of your surroundings. I don’t recommend walking in Quito by yourself at night. When getting money from ATMs, make sure to go to an ATM that is not on the street and has some sort of vestibule. Ensure that you take only marked cabs and that they turn the meter on. Uber is also a great option for transportation and what I used when going somewhere alone.
Safety on Buses
It is so simple, and cheap to travel through Ecuador on public buses. However, this is where many tourists have issues with theft. Do not put your backpack on the floor, even if it’s in between your feet, even if it’s locked. Don’t do it. I don’t know how, but thieves know how to get under the seat, slash open your bag, and take your valuables while you sleep. Or are awake. Keep your backpack on your lap, wrapped in your arms, zipped, and locked. Don’t place anything, even a jacket, overhead. I never had an issue on buses in Ecuador and I just followed that recommendation. Keep some cash in your pocket, zipped, because people will get on to sell treats that are so tasty!
Where to Go
Ecuador is known for the Galapagos, but there is so much more that this small country has to offer. I highly recommend expanding your itinerary to explore a bit more of what Ecuador has to offer beyond the Galapagos. That being said, the Galapagos Islands are a magical place and should not be left off of your itinerary!
The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are such a bucket list destination for many that go unrealized due to cost. But there is a way to visit that doesn’t break the bank!
For an overview of what to expect from the Galapagos islands, check out my practical tips!
And of course, packing for the Galapagos is as unique as the islands themselves.
Two of the best tours I’ve ever taken were on the Galapagos islands. The first was on Isla Isabela and involved snorkeling with sharks, two of which put on quite the show.
The second tour was from San Cristobal island where I saw two hammerhead sharks…while snorkeling!
And if the photos in the above posts weren’t enough inspiration for you, I’ve compiled by 20 favorite photos from the Galapagos islands.
The islands are amazing, but there is so much more to Ecuador! After living in Quito for two months I did my best to get out and explore all that the city, and its surrounds, had to offer. Here’s what I found!
If you only have a few days in Quito, these are some epic things to fill your time!
And if you’re looking for some great viewpoints, which the city has lots of, here are my favorite places!
After two months of living in Quito, I learned that there are a few ways to escape the chaos of the city. These day trips should do the trick!
Quito is surrounded by volcanoes and without even leaving the city limits, you can hike to a still active volcano!
Another picture perfect volcano, just outside of Quito, is Cotopaxi. It’s possible to hike and mountain bike Cotopaxi on a simple day trip from Quito and is the perfect activity for an adventure.
Mindo Cloud Forest
A weekend in the Mindo Cloudforest chasing waterfalls, tasting chocolate, and relax in a hammock is a great way to escape the noise of Quito.
Banños is a great town for adventure and thrill seekers! It’s a short bus trip from Quito and a must do if you’ve got a few extra days in your itinerary.
The Three-Day Quilotoa Loop
This three-day trek was my first ever multiple day hiking experience! It’s a difficult trek, especially with the altitude, but when you cross over the crest of the volcano to witness the turquoise blue waters of Quilotoa crater lake, it’s so worth it.
For those on the fence about the trek, the first post is for you.
And for those of you with your heart set on it, check out the complete guide below!
Unfortunately, I did not have time to go to the Amazon, the coast, or Cuenca. Three places that are still very much on my list to do whenever I return to Ecuador!