Health & Safety
During any climbing expedition the golden rule in acclimatization is to climb high and to sleep low. Acclimatizing takes time and there are no safe shortcuts. All our expedition itineraries have been carefully planned in order to avoid altitude problems, although we need to mention that every person reacts in a different way to altitude. We therefore strongly advise you to arrive in Quito two or three days before the start of your program.
Acclimatization is very important, especially during the initial phase of the trip. Over the years we have found that some of our clients ignore how important it is to be well acclimatized, it determines a big part of the enjoyment of the trip. Acclimatization has nothing to do with fitness, age or gender.
When travelling in the Ecuadorian Andes / highlands it is important to rest the first day and drink lots of fluids (water please!). Two good rules are the following: climb high sleep low; and plan on interval gains of altitude never more than 1.000 m / 3,000 ft per 24 hours.
Acute Mountain Sickness
Altitude illness is primarily a result of a decreased oxygen concentration in the blood caused by the lower atmospheric pressure at high altitude. Medical problems associated with it include normally a number of uncomfortable symptoms like headaches and nausea, which can be described as mild AMS.
However, in some cases mild AMS may develop into severe AMS. There are two forms of severe AMS and they can occur separately or together: HIGH ALTITUDE CEREBRAL EDEMA (HACE), and HIGH ALTITUDE PULMONARY EDEMA (HAPE). Both can be fatal if not recognized and treated in time. Every person who suffers from SEVERE AMS should be taken to a lower altitude immediately. People who rush the acclimatization process are more vulnerable to AMS (see below acclimatization).
Several specialists in high altitude medicine, recommend the use of Acetazolamide (commercially known as Diamox), taken as a prophylactic.
The consumption of Diamox is a personal decision; please talk to your own doctor before taking it.
Safety in Ecuador
Ecuador, in general is a safe country, but we should mention some tips of advice.
One of Ecuador's attractions is the many active volcanoes found throughout the country; but their natural beauty could hide some dangers. Andeanface only operates in the authorized volcanoes.
For further information about the state of the volcanoes in Ecuador see the website of the National Ecuadorian Geophysics Institute.
f travelling in areas of erupting volcanoes, you should follow media reports and the advice or instructions of the local authorities. Some volcanoes such as Cotopaxi, Guagua Pichincha, and Cayambe are considered active but not currently dangerous. Their activity is closely monitored by the Ecuadorian authorities.
Safety and Crime in Quito
An important tip of advice, applicable to any city large city in Latin America, is not to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. While in Quito, we strongly recommend not to walk alone in the Mariscal (tourist) area late at night, neither in the El Ejido Park, nor walk up the hill called Panecillo in the Old Town. If you need to go somewhere during the night, please take a taxi. The standard rate is one dollar within the area.
Whenever you walk in the Old Town of Quito, please leave all your valuables, including your passport, in the hotel. There have recently been a few cases of pick pocketing.
While staying in mountain refuges, remember that these are public places. Please keep all your belongings in one place. Valuables can be placed in a locker.
Your first step in preparing your trip is to make sure you have all your travel documents in order. Your passport needs to be valid for 6 months beyond the date you plan to enter Ecuador. Normally, you do not need a visa for a tourist stay up to 90 days (this generally applies to citizens of the USA and European countries).
Colombians travelling between Colombia and Ecuador with National Identify Cards and International Embarkation Disembarkation cards;
Passport holders from China, Cuba, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam need to obtain a visa for travel to Ecuador.
If you are planning a visit of more than 90 days, travelling on business, or have other visa questions, please consult the Ecuador Consulate Page or your local consulate for the latest information and visa requirements: www.ecuador.org.
Andeanface advises you to make and retain copies of all your important travel documents including your passport and airline tickets. Keep copies of your credit card numbers separate from your purse or wallet.
If any of the original items become lost or stolen, having this copied information will make it far easier.