When we planned our first trip to the Galapagos, we weren’t sure what to expect about safety. We didn’t know if we would be able to travel without a guide, or how safe it would be at night. We had been living in Cuenca, Ecuador for more than two years and we were comfortable with the level of safety in Ecuador. But our visit to the Galapagos really surprised us.
In terms of safety, Galapagos is like small town Canada. People are friendly and crime is virtually non-existent. But in terms of everything else, Galapagos is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
The front desk staff even encouraged us to walk into town after dinner. Another employee told us that you can leave your wallet out in the open and no one will take it. Just like small town’s across Canada or the United States. Crime just isn’t a concern there.
While visiting again a few months ago, we were walking through Puerto Ayora – the main town on Santa Cruz Island. It was about 8 pm and we were taking in the sights. The pier is beautiful in the evening and there are lots of people out – mostly tourists but many locals as well. We were all taking photos and it wasn’t until I saw the two police officers that the issue of safety even entered my mind. I had my dSLR camera around my neck, shooting videos and photos for the blog.
I stopped to speak to the two officers and what they said surprised me. I told them that we lived in Cuenca – they were both from Ecuador’s mainland as well. One was from near Quito (in the northern Andes) and the other officer was from the coast (Manabi Province). They get assigned to the Galapagos on a rotation (not a bad assignment!). I asked them what the crime was like in Puerto Ayora. They both kind of laughed and said: “There isn’t any”. What about the other islands? “Tampoco” they say, meaning: “None there either.”
I asked them about the large camera that was hanging around my neck – is it safe to have it out at night? “Tranquilo,” they said “no pasa nada”. Which means: “Relax, nothing’s going to happen”.
“Now, on the mainland – you need to be careful” they said. This is obvious. Big cities can be dangerous anywhere. Walking around any large city (in any country) at night with a large, expensive camera probably isn’t ever a good idea. From our experience, Ecuador is a safe during the day – just use some common sense. From our travels to the Galapagos we’ve learned that you can even forget your common sense and not have any problems.