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Travel Tips for Specific Groups

Women Travelers

Machismo is alive and well in Ecuador. Ecuadorian men endlessly call out to women in public. Ignore the comments and they won't go any further.

Ecuadorian women usually travel with family or friends. A lone female traveler is an odd sight. Use the time-honored ploys, if you don’t want to attract advances: Wear a wedding ring, and a cross or Star of David necklace. Carry a picture of your “husband” and if asked, say he is nearby. Dress conservatively.

Women travelers interested in meeting men will run into more complications, however. Gringueros, or Ecuadorian men who habitually prowl the tourist scene, have quite a reputation throughout the country. Be careful and don’t expect to be friends with an Ecuadorian man. There will almost always be ulterior motives.

In general, women should have no problems with safety, even if traveling alone throughout the country. Be smart, though: take cabs after dark and don't go to a club or bar alone. See our section on safety in Ecuador for more information.

Gay and Lesbian Travelers

Ecuador, like most Latin American countries, has well-defined, stereotypical roles for men and women: Men like to be seen as strong, macho figures and the women as dependent homemakers. That is not always practiced, and the younger generation is rapidly changing that image. However, the image does not lend to open acceptance of homosexuality.

Politically, Ecuador is fairly accepting of homosexual citizens. Before the 1998 constitutional reforms, which protected citizens from discrimination against sexual orientation, citizens could be arrested for any action which offended "public morality," for example, patronizing a gay bar. The new Constitution of 2008 went one step further, by legalizing same-gender civil unions.

In practice, Ecuador has a long way to go on the road to acceptance. The coast tends to be more liberal. Guayaquil has a fairly active gay scene. Quito and Cuenca also host growing gay scenes, but is still fighting the very conservative Catholic culture of the sierra. There is widespread bias against homosexuality. Maricón—a negative term for gay man—is a common insult for a man acting at all effeminate.

Gay and lesbian travelers will be surprised on New Year's and other holidays like Latacunga's Mama Negra festival in September, when men cross-dress as women to ask for money, join in parades and act generally goofy. Unfortunately, this is seen more as a joke than a widespread acceptance of sexual alternatives.

See and for guides to the gay scene and general information about gay and lesbian travel in Ecuador.

Disabled Travelers

Unfortunately, Ecuador has extremely undeveloped infrastructure for disabled travelers, especially those on a tight budget. The internationally-owned hotels in Quito and Guayaquil are recommended for disabled travelers, but still not perfect. Sidewalks are often cobblestone with a generous helping of potholes and cracks. Much of the activity for travelers in Ecuador is active-- hiking, biking and the like—and is not open to wheelchairs. Even the Galápagos, which is the most developed tourist destination in Ecuador, requires a certain level of agility to get on and off the boat and to explore each different island. Disabled persons qualify for discounts on transportation and entry fees to museums, parks and other attractions.

Senior Travelers

Active, adventurous senior travelers will be pleasantly surprised with the level of respect and consideration they will be greeted with. Older citizens are greatly respected in Ecuador. Most live with their children. Nursing homes and care facilities are all but nonexistent and considered a shameful and embarrassing “gringo” practice.

Many travelers wait a lifetime to visit the world’s most diverse cageless zoo: the Galápagos Islands. As a result, many of the travelers to the Galápagos Islands are active senior citizens. The activities in the Galapagos do require someone with a certain level of stamina and agility—many of the hikes require wet landings where you wade onto the beach and climb around rocks on your walks. However, a number of tour operators and cruise boats cater their itinerary to your specific needs, so be sure to ask before booking your cruise.

Travelers over 65 are eligible to discounts throughout the country on buses, planes and tourist attractions like museums and national parks, so be sure to ask.

Travelers with Children

Children under 12 will often get discounts on buses, planes and hotels when traveling throughout Ecuador, so do ask before paying full price. On Quito city buses and trolleys, children up to age 16 pay only $0.12. Ecuadorian children are generally treated with extra special attention, and travelers with children will be greeted with friendly care and interest.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: Spotted Eagle Ray, Ecotourism In Ecuador, Galapágos Penguin, Land Iguana, Flightless Cormorant, Valdivia and San José, Long-term Accommodation in Quito, Parque Nacional Machalilla , Mammals - Galapagos and Getting To and Away From Riobamba.

05 Sep 2012

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