After the Earthquakes-Why you Should Travel to Ecuador Right Now.
As you may already know the evening of April 16 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Ecuador with over 135 aftershocks in the following days. Coastal cities of Manta, Guyaquil, Pedernales and many smaller communities were devastated with over 500 confirmed dead and over 2,500 injured. I was in Quito the day of the earthquake, my first time in Ecuador and my first visit to South America.
I was in my hotel, a renovated townhome in Quito’s Old Town, the evening the large earthquake struck. At first the shutters and doors of our third floor room shook just a little, which I initially thought was the result of someone knocking on the door of the room beneath us. Within seconds it was clear that wasn’t the case. My husband and I hunkered in our bathroom doorway as stronger tremors shook Quito for about a minute. Once the shaking ceased we left our room just as the hotel owner was running upstairs to check on us. With everyone in the hotel safe and no visible damage outside we went to bed. The next morning we woke up to reports of the destruction that occurred along the coast and the news that Quito, home to over 2.6 million, was thankfully left largely untouched.
Quito’s mayor Mauricio Rodas has put out a press release saying “That the best way to help Ecuador is to visit Ecuador”. Major tourist destinations such as the Galapagos, Andean Highlands, the Amazon and Quito have not been affected by the earthquake; in these areas airports, hotels, restaurants and tour operators are currently operating normally.Tourism is a vital part of the Ecuadorean economy. For every foreign visitor, up to seven jobs are created. Now, more than ever, we need to open our doors, lay out a welcome mat, and enthusiastically promote all Ecuador has to offer.If you were considering a trip to the Amazon, the Andes or the Galapagos, we want you to visit. As the gateway to Ecuador, we welcome you with open arms. We NEED you to visit. The best way to help Ecuador is to visit Ecuador.” says Rodas.
As I spent the week following the earthquake traveling throughout Ecuador, I can wholeheartedly vouch that outside of the affected communities Ecuador remains as vibrant and welcoming as ever. From exploring the colonial charms of Quito’s Old Town to experiencing the unique ecosystem and wildlife of Ecuador’s cloud forest, and even reaching the summit of a dormant volcano in the Andean Highlands Ecuador left me inspired, in awe and exhilarated. Add to that some of the most welcoming and genuinely nice people I have met anywhere makes Ecuador one of my most memorable destinations.
If you currently have booked a trip or looking to travel to Ecuador you may be wondering if it’s safe to travel. I urge you not to cancel your plans. The people of Ecuador are ready and eager to welcome visitors and whether you experience the one-of-a-kind wildlife of the Galapagos, explore the spectacular natural diversity of the Amazon or take in the sweeping vistas and dramatic peaks of the Andes you will find adventures and memories that will stay with you for life. While the country’s slogan may be “All you need is Ecuador” right now what Ecuador really needs is you.
To help the communities in Ecuador affected by the earthquakes please consider making a donation to the Ecuadorian Red Cross, UNICEF or CARE.