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 & The 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 in Ecuador
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.
Men will catcall you here. They will honk and yell things at you on the street. In my opinion, the best reaction is no reaction.
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 in Ecuador
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 that if you’re going to Ecuador, you 100% should go to the Galapagos.
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!
Mindo is a small town 2 hours north of Quito. It’s easy to reach via multiple daily buses. Mindo is a perfect place to escape into nature through waterfall hikes and visiting the butterfly farm. For those adrenaline seekers you can partake in zip lines and water rafting.
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.
Everything you need to know about the 3 day trek to Quilotoa. This trek starts in Latacunga and ends at the crater lake. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this trek.
If you’re on the fence about hiking the Quilotoa loop, this post will give you a breakdown of everything you need to know before you lace up your hiking boots.
Where to in Ecuador Next?
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! Is there anywhere else I should add to the list?