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Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

Level Contributor
21 posts
Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

I'm really looking forward to spending about a week in Quito soon starting the first week in July. I'm American and wondering what type of clothes to pack? I was thinking casual tshirts and leggings with maybe a few pairs of jeans. Also, sneakers and a light jacket/scarf. Won't be wearing jewelry or dressing up although I might bring one semi dressy outfit for a nice dinner.

May seem like a silly question but are blacks seen or treated a certain way in Quito? I've been a few places where I was a bit "rare" and got stared at, special treatment, no treatment, asked to take pictures with...you name it. Just wondering what I should expect there (hoping it's pretty chill).

Any advice in terms of things to avoid wearing at all? Or things I shouldn't forget to pack to wear? I hear clothes from retailers in the US can be very expensive to buy there so I don't want to forget anything. Also, any tips on places to avoid going or safety tips are greatly appreciated. I'll be sure to brush up on my Spanish soon before going! :)

7 replies to this topic
Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
891 posts
52 reviews
1. Re: Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

Your packing list sounds fine. Casual dress in Quito is usually jeans and t-shirt or shirt and sneakers. It's rare to see adults wearing shorts, even when it's hot. You should probably also pack a rain jacket, and maybe a hoodie or something for the evenings. It feels like the weather has turned this week and it's been pretty warm, but it could easily relapse into cool nights again. You also need a hat, preferably with a brim, and sunglasses. The altitude makes the temperature deceptive. The sun is off-the-scale scorching most days, even if it doesn't immediately feel like it.

You won't be a rarity. It's tall, blonde women that really stand out here. There is racism, as there is everywhere, but your elevated status as a foreign tourist will usually override that.

Safety is largely common sense. Don't wear expensive jewelry or flash cash about. Costume jewelry barely exists here. Beads, etc are fine, but if it looks like gold or silver, people will assume it's real. A new iPhone costs more than 3 times the minimum wage. Treat it accordingly. Don't get staggering drunk and wander down dark alleys on your own in Mariscal. Don't accept drinks (or anything else) from complete strangers.

Don't get freaked out if people (especially taxi drivers) start asking personal questions about boyfriend/ husband/ kids. They aren't necessarily trying to hit on you, that's what passes for casual conversation here. You might find it easier to just shut the conversation down with a (real or imaginary) husband and couple of kids, and then turn it back around with 'y tu?'

If you don't have kids, don't make the mistake I did of trying to explain away my unfathomable child-free status with infertility. Trust me, instead of shaming them into silence, it just gets a whole lot more personal.

There are several apps for taxis now, EasyTaxi and UniTaxi call registered yellow cabs, Cabify and Uber call private cars. Personally, I'd avoid taking a taxi off the street in Mariscal late at night (actually, I mostly just avoid Mariscal as much as possible). The rest of the time I just take taxis off the street and I don't really worry about it. It should go without saying that you never get into an unregistered car with a random 'taxi' sign, unless you've called it yourself.

The pickpockets are good, really good. Don't take anything expensive, including a smartphone or your passport, onto crowded public transport, and keep a very close eye on your stuff at all times. I guess the short version is 'the less stuff you have the better'.

On the plus side, random violent crime is relatively rare. Even if someone is unlucky enough to be robbed at knife or gun point, give them some money and they'll usually take it and run. Crime is largely driven by desperate poverty rather than to feed a drink or drug habit, which usually makes things more predictable (though of course bad things can and do happen anywhere and to anyone).

Overall, I wouldn't describe Quito as chill. It's the capital. Everyone is busy, late and in a hurry to get somewhere they should have been 20 minutes ago. But if you can get past that, and get people in their downtime, they are friendly and welcoming. For the most part, Ecuadorians love their country, and they love it when tourists visit anywhere outside of Galapagos.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
1,498 posts
35 reviews
2. Re: Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

Go with jeans, always jeans yes even when it’s hot. Ecuadorian women take great pride in the way they dress, always perfect hair and makeup and they aren’t afraid to have cleavage etc so you don’t really need to worry about being overly modest, I’m so jealous of their beautiful skin lol. Definitely blondes will stand out more, I kinda look latina so I blend in until I speak so can’t really help you out with being African American. We didn’t go to Quito this time but it had been 9 years since our last Ecuador visit and there was massive improvements! Much cleaner and much safer with noticibly less weapons. Have a great time.

3. Re: Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

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El Paso, Texas
Level Contributor
347 posts
228 reviews
4. Re: Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

There are black Ecuadorians. Unfortunately, due to the same history as in the US. So, race is not a problem.

Personally, I would not pack jeans - heavy, hot, difficult to wash. Also, never leggings. There are no pockets for your valuables. I always pack quick dry clothes that I can rinse out in the hotel. Never cotton. I travel light with only about 3-4 change of clothes depending on the length of the trip. You don't have to dress up to go into the restaurants. It's pretty casual. Bring what is comfortable and practical for you. It doesn't matter what Ecuadorian women are wearing. People will know you're a tourist.

Quito temperature is pretty consistent. Cool in the morning and warmer as the day goes. Sunrise around 6:00 am and sunset around 6:00 pm. July is dry season. Don't bother with a rain jacket. Maybe a light jacket if you go up into the mountains.

The area around Carolina Park is nicer and safer than Old Town. You don't need to stay in Old Town to get to know Quito. Just spend half a day there and it will be enough. Be aware that July is peak tourist season for school groups from the States. Our tour guide said he had to wait at San Francisco Church because there were 3 groups ahead of his.

Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
891 posts
52 reviews
5. Re: Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

I wouldn't bank on July being dry. We are still getting frequent heavy afternoon rain, so it's likely there will still at least be showers in July. It's also still cool, sometimes even cold, in the evenings. The seasons are not as predictable as they used to be.

Safety is relative. You are more likely to be pick-pocketed in centro historico, you are more likely to be mugged around Carolina. If you keep your street smarts about you, you are unlikely to experience either.

Tacoma, Washington
Level Contributor
64 posts
37 reviews
6. Re: Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

Agree with no Jean's. I wore capri pants,light weight pants and a few skirts. Shoes are another story..the streets are often cobblestone. With lots of hills, narrow sidewalks. I found a pair of Tom's were perfect and went with all. Hate to argue with the poster who talked about tall blondes be noticed..try traveling with 2 other red heads.

Toronto, Canada
1 post
7. Re: Black female traveling solo to Quito soon

I'm thinking about going to Quito in October and as a solo black female traveller, I have the same concerns/ questions as you! I'd love to know how your trip goes.

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