National parks and reserves are generally safe. By following a few basic precautions, you can enjoy Ecuador's outdoor areas without risking bodily harm.
One of the more serious health concerns when visiting a national park in the Sierra is altitude. Altitude sickness is unpleasant, so take a few days to acclimatize before heading out on a hike in the Andes. While hiking, be sure to drink plenty of water, eat lots of carbohydrates, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Hypothermia is also a risk when hiking at high elevations. Be prepared with raingear and layers for your head, hands, and body.
There have been robberies along trails in the backcountry in Ecuador, but this is not common practice. Even so, it's a good idea to hike in a group with a guide and to avoid deserted areas after dark.
Poisonous snakes exist in Ecuador, but are rarely encountered. Scorpions, black widows, and brown recluse spiders also live here, so remain alert when sitting on rocks and pay special attention to any bites that you receive.
In the Galápagos National Park, be weary of male sea lions, which can be dangerous. Stingrays and Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish should also be avoided in coastal areas.
Insects can transmit diseases, but by taking a few simple precautions you can greatly reduce your chance of contracting an illness. Wear insect repellent with DEET and clothing (including long-sleeve shirts and long pants) with permethrin.
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