Photography, South America, Travel

Who the Hell Goes to Quito, Ecuador?!


We made our way back to Quito, Ecuador from Montanita due to a skatepark Shaun wanted to cover on his Boarderless skateboarding blog.

Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled to visit. After hearing about several thefts of camera gear from multiple people, I was a bit concerned about running around with all the gear that we do.

It started out a rocky relationship. We arrived at 5am, no hostel booked. Hell, we’ve been following rainy season/low season since we left Mexico 8 months prior and we were used to the who Latin American way of handling things. Show up, figure out what you’re going to do, win. It has made my life simple. No planning. No work. Depend on serendipity of sorts.

How AWESOME is the basilica!?

Yeah, well, unfortunately hostel owners don’t really care if you’re out on the streets with no where to go. We showed up at one place and they basically laughed at us. Stupid gringos – don’t you know it is high season right now? Every place is booked.

Gargoyles in Quito
I mean, the GARGOYLES are Galapagos animals! (Click on the pic and view larger in flickr)

The door hit us on the ass on the way out.

We were on the streets of Quito, in the wee hours of the morning, with nowhere to go, and scary people walking about. Even taxi cab drivers didn’t want to take us around to find a place to sleep. After pointing to the hostel on the map in Lonely Planet, they drove off not really caring what happened.

We finally found one cabbie willing to search for a mysterious 24 hour coffee shop somewhere nearby. When we arrived, we graciously thanked him and in a serious tone he said, “Be careful around here. It is super dangerous. Stay here until the sun comes up.”

And a few hours later we were on our way to find a place to lay our heads.


We could reserve a place in a hostel with wifi tomorrow. Everything was booked. Shaun scoured every place and we ended up finding a dodgy place – but hell, it is only one night ya know?

The rest of our time there wasn’t bad. We were dealing with weather much like Bogota’s but I’m trying to get over how much I hate it. Hell, we’re supposed to be in the Andes for the next few months. I should embrace it.


And you know what? Quito did grow on me. I did take out my camera. It is a beautiful city in its gritty, crumbling, ancient looking way. I stuck it in my ratty old bag from Mexico. I don’t even think thieves want to look at it. They may contract some weird disease it looks so nasty.

Altitude sickness has been killing us. I’m a bit scared about Cuzco… but we should take it as it comes right?


23 thoughts on “Who the Hell Goes to Quito, Ecuador?!”

  1. I heard the same things and headed out to Mindo instead – it did mean a 5am bus to get back in time for my flight mind! Be careful if you go to Riobamba – it was the scariest place I’ve been in the last 9 months!

    If you head to Mindo, check the Yellow House (or something like that), the owners are lovely with it’s Humming Birds on the porch and the ladies serve the best coffee I had in South America!

  2. It’s the “booking a place when you turn up” thing that intimidates me O:-) I’m glad you guys have each other when situations like this happen — and good cab drivers to come to the rescue.

    I haven’t checked out Shaun’s blog since you introduced it, so I’m gonna go see his updates!

    1. @Heather: It used to freak me out but then I realized that it is how the whole of Latin America works and I became okay with it. It was SO WEIRD.

  3. We were surprised by how much we liked Quito and ended up staying there a couple of weeks as we had some work do to pre- and post- Galapagos trip. We stayed in the new part of town, but really thought the old town was beautiful. We had also heard lots of stories of theft and locals kept telling us to put our camera away, but fortunately we didn’t have any troubles.

    Quito also kicked our butt at first with altitude, but eventually we adjusted. You’ll be fine in Cusco – just give yourself a few days to get used to it.

    1. @Audrey: We ended up staying in New Town as well and got some work done. I’m not sure I could have stayed a few weeks though. There is something unsettling about Quito at night for me.

  4. Reading this sort of thing makes me realise how comfortable I’ve become in SE Asia, I never think about crime or anything getting stolen. I’ve gone too far the other way I think…

    Glad the place grew on you and nothing bad happened!

    1. @Poi: lol! I don’t ever think of things like that when I’m home in Austin but GOOD LORD. There are so many signs over every hostel about how people get robbed daily.

    1. @C&C: The thing is that most people here are awesome and do like to help you. It just sucks that the select few ruin it for everyone else.

    1. Stfu dumb bitch! You dumb ass white people don’t know the true beauty of Ecuador. U Americans have nothing beautiful

      1. HAHAHAHA! …except I’m not white? And if you actually read the post you would see that I thought it was awesome. I’ll make sure your trolling post stays on here FOREVER!

      2. Your comment is so stupid! I would suggest you to read well, or at least to try understand the post before writing bullshit. I know this was almost two years ago, but I guess it’s not too late to apology, as an Ecuadorian, for this senseless comment.
        It’s for this lack of hospitality of some (fortunately few) people that Quito, and South America in general, may seem unwelcoming for tourists.

        What I could say to you Erica, is that I hope you had a good time in my hometown after all! 🙂

        Regards from the UK

  5. Recently I’ve been hearing/reading so much about Quito being dangerous. We visited a few years ago and loved the city, never felt unsafe and have actually been thinking about going back for an extended stay. I wonder if it’s changed since we were last there…maybe we’ll have to rethink our plans. In terms of altitude sickness, La Paz was the absolute worst for me, I remember waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. Didn’t have any trouble in Cusco though. 🙂

    1. @Laura: I think if you’re smart about when and where you are, it should be fine. After talking to Talon from 1 dad 1 kid, it does seem that Quito has changed over the past few years for the worst.

      As for La Paz, I remember us chatting about it. I’m not looking forward to that. So far 12,000 feet hasn’t been too bad.

  6. I love Quito!! I’m sorry about your bad experience. My husband is from there and I can tell you that most people that I know love it. Not just ecuadorians but foreign travelers. I think that most of south America is amazing BUT you can’t pretend that hostels are the same as European hostels. I really think that doing south America on a budget is asking for trouble. It is more dangerous than other places and you have to be ready for that. By Walking at night or not planning your stay, you are putting yourself in a situation that is calling for unwanted attention. This is probably the number one rule in any poor country. Try to blend in, don’t pretend that it’s safe. Most people that get robbed is because they were careless. I’m Colombian and I would not go backpacking in south America because I’d not safe. Maybe it is but I wouldn’t take the risk. Rule of thumb: stay in the most expensive area of town instead of close to downtown.

    1. @Catalina: We’ve actually never been to a European hostel lol. 😛 I have no problems blending in, it is when I walk with my white hubby with a mohawk do we start gaining attention. 😛

      As for the danger aspect, I’ve felt relatively safe in most locations, especially Colombia.

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