After traveling to 50+ countries solo as a female traveler, including almost all of Latin America, one country stands out to me as a great destination for solo female travelers: Ecuador.
Although Ecuador is not typically at the top of the list of popular solo female travel destinations, this South American country is actually a great place for solo female travelers to visit.
Ecuador is full of natural beauty, from the biodiverse Galapagos Islands to Cotopaxi Volcano. Part of the Amazon rainforest is in Ecuador, while its Pacific Coast is known for its great surfing beaches.
Here’s what makes Ecuador perfect for women traveling alone:
1. Ecuador Is Safe
Safety is a top concern for solo female travelers.
And overall, Ecuador is a very safe country to visit as long as you take standard precautions.
Unfortunately, it’s true that Ecuador’s crime rate has increased in recent years. However, most of this is limited to the far northern border with Colombia and the southern city of Guayaquil.
Tourists in popular destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Baños, Cuenca, or even Quito do not need to worry as long as they avoid these risky areas. Personally, I felt very safe the entire time I was in Ecuador.
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2. Group Travel Opportunities
First-time solo travelers might feel apprehensive and overwhelmed about traveling completely independently. Planning a solo trip and dealing with all the logistics on your own can be a lot!
Fortunately, Ecuador is a great destination for group travel. In particular, there are tons of tours to the Galapagos Islands, ranging from budget-friendly excursions to luxury cruises. This is an excellent way to see one of Ecuador’s most popular destinations while traveling with a group.
3. Easy To Meet Other Travelers And Locals
Ecuador is a good place for meeting other travelers and locals.
There are lots of backpackers and solo travelers in Ecuador, and staying at a hostel is one of the best ways to meet other travelers. Many hostels in Ecuador have a very social atmosphere with planned activities, tours, and events where you can meet new travel buddies.
I also found the Ecuadorian people to be very friendly and open, so you can meet some local friends too (although you may want to brush up on your Spanish first as English is not widely spoken outside of tourism and hospitality.)
4. Not A Huge Culture Barrier
One surprising and underrated benefit to Ecuador is that there’s not a huge cultural barrier, especially for American travelers.
What do I mean by this? Take Japan, for example.
Japan is often listed as one of the best destinations for solo female travelers, and while it’s true that the country is very safe and developed, there’s also a huge cultural barrier that is often not mentioned. It can be disorienting to travel around a country where you can’t even read the language, not to mention many other major differences.
Ecuador, on the other hand, is in the same time zone as the United States. The official currency is the U.S. Dollar. Even little things like electrical outlets are the same as in the United States. And while speaking some Spanish is helpful, you can get by in English.
5. It’s Very Affordable
Finally, Ecuador is an extremely affordable destination, making it ideal for solo travelers who are on a budget.
When traveling alone, you don’t have anyone to split expenses like hotels or taxis with. But Ecuador has a variety of affordable accommodation options, and transportation is very cheap. An Uber in Quito is typically $2-3, while an inter-city bus is under $10.
Food is also very affordable, with great local meals for $3-5.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com