Simon Calder's Helpdesk: How much do I need to worry about the scary advice on Quito in Ecuador?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Monday 20 May 2013
Q. We've booked to go to Quito in Ecuador, but the advice from the FCO is scary to say the least. Can you advise?
Mike Pennick, Hindhead, Surrey
A. I have been lucky enough to visit Ecuador twice, and can't wait for my next trip there - when I hope I will finally get to visit the Galapagos.
Quito is Ecuador's beautiful capital, set in a spectacular highland location and focused on the Spanish colonial heart. You can spend days here, and spend an amusing afternoon at the Equator monument (which is in slightly the wrong place, but still fun). Quito is also an excellent base for more extensive trips along the volcanic spine of the nation, perhaps as far as Vilcabamba - the land of eternal youth, or so it is said.
Surprisingly few visitors explore Ecuador's amazing Pacific coast, with hundreds of miles of unspoilt beaches, offering some superb surfing. The coast curls around to the nation's second city, Guayaquil, a friendly and historic port that has been greatly improved in the past couple of decades.
The latest Foreign Office advice is certainly disconcerting in parts ("cases of armed robbery are increasing"), but it lists the problematic districts in Quito and Guayaquil to avoid. It also warns "Criminals sometimes squirt liquids (ketchup, mustard, water, etc) on you and then steal your bag while 'helping' to clean you up." The vast majority of Ecuadoreans you encounter will be friendly, helpful and concerned for your welfare.
Get an up-to-date guidebook before your visit; the 9th edition of Lonely Planet's Ecuador (£16.99) was published last August, or you can download the appropriate chapter from Footprint's South American Handbook 2013 for £5.40 (bit.ly/EcInfo).
Click HERE to email Simon.
You can also tweet him your questions @SimonCalder
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
New York woman gives up $95,000 a year job to work in an ice cream parlour in the Caribbean
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The most powerful passports in the world
The 10 Best hiking boots
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...
£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...
£24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...