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Catacocha not Cotacachi

I am interested in moving to the South.  I would like to be near Loja but not necessarily in the town.  I am curious if anyone lives there or near and has traveled there....difficult to find information about it.

Loja and little Catacocha offer an escape from the North American lifestyle and Gringo contacts.  You could go long periods in such places without encountering the English language.

Go down the road 45 minutes to Vilcabamba and you will find probably the largest percentage of English speakers of any town or city in Ecuador .. with plentiful Expat-oriented shops and events.

Gringos or no Gringos -- the choice is yours.

cccmedia in Quito

MegfromCT :

I am interested in moving to the South.  I would like to be near Loja but not necessarily in the town.

Use the search function off the EC forum page to locate the Loja and Vilcabamba threads.

Reconsider any plan to live outside of any town during your first year in Ecuador.  Security in such a situation is less than ideal for a gringa on her own.

cccmedia in Quito

Thank you...that helps me lots!

Safety is my number 1 concern. Anyone know the safest areas in Equador?

Most places in Ecuador are much safer than the District of Columbia!  :)

Are you a mountain person, or a beach person?  Hot weather OK, or cooler preferred?

megandmsm :

Safety is my number 1 concern. Anyone know the safest areas in Equador?

Welcome to the Ecuador forum, Meg.

For a woman on her own moving to Ecuador, Cuenca is my recommendation.  Cuenca, in-town.

Historically, Cuenca has been safe for Expats .. which is one key reason that Cuenca has become one of the world’s top retirement destinations.  Another reason is the large and active Expat community.  Expat connections make you part of a community, adding a safety factor in your favor.

Cuenca is also distant from the Ring of Fire and its coastal earthquake zones.


Fun fact:  there is no ‘q’ in Ecuador. :cool:

cccmedia in Quito

OsageArcher :

Most places in Ecuador are much safer than the District of Columbia!  :)

So let’s list some of the least safe spots....

  -- Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city

  -- Much of South Quito, south of Centro Histórico

  -- Lago Agrio aka Nueva Loja and its oil-production-devastated areas and red light district

  -- According to the U.S. State Department’s website, Colombian border areas are to be avoided and State Department personnel may travel there only on official business and with expressed authorization.

Since the death of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar a generation ago in Medellín, Colombia’s government dismantled the Escobar cartel:  law enforcement agencies and the military forced the traficantes out of the metro-areas where the cartels had operated.  Survivors of the old drug wars re-located to the border areas near Ecuador -- sometimes crossing into EC, through mostly uninhabited swamp areas in some cases. 

cccmedia in Quito

Meg -Cuenca and Loja are not far apart.  I am looking into what is called the Sacred Valley might like Machala as is beach area.  I want to be where no AC is necessary and humidity is low.  I am looking at the Loja area.


I live 40 kms south of Loja, outside of Vilcabamba.  There is a world of difference between Loja and the Vilcabamba area.  You need to know if you are a city mouse or a country mouse at heart, to know where you could be happy.

Loja is great for going there to buy something, if you live in the country, but i prefer mountains.  You may need the bustle of the city itself.

I live in a suburb of NYC on the water now in CT.  I love having the city close by but I like to see lots of green.  I hate humidity and do not want to have to use AC.  I have friend seriously interested in Machala, but I fear the sea scene and its issue.  I live on the Long Island Sound.  Our town has a beach but it is private here so no sand and stuff everywhere, we are New England...more rocks.  I like being 30 minutes outside of the city.  Can go in when I want so excitement but quiet life of a village at home.  Cuenca seems way to city for my tastes.  Nice for a weekend trip perhaps. I want moderate temps but not necessarily the sun of the beach scene.  You tell me is the Sacred Valley a good place?

MegfromCT :

I like being 30 minutes outside of the city.  Can go in when I want so excitement but quiet life of a village at home.  Cuenca seems way to city for my tastes.  Nice for a weekend trip perhaps. I want moderate temps.

You may be ruling out metro Cuenca too soon.

There are Azuay-province towns nearby that might be fine for your tastes.  Folks’ ideas of what constitutes “moderate temps” vary.  To my mind, Cuenca has ‘em, although it is a few degrees cooler than lower-altitude places in southern EC.

Consider a visit.  You may be flying into Cuenca anyway if you are going to see Loja or Vilca.

cccmedia in Quito -- former resident of Fairfield County and Old Stonington, Connecticut

thank you so are so very helpful

Beach person!!!! 🌞🏊. Thanks for your advice and information.

Thanks and lol....Ecuador it is.


Cuenca is so very beautiful, in terms of its heritage architecture and its beautiful parks, that for about 30 seconds I considered living there.  At the moment some of the historic district is torn up for street facility upgrades, seems to be mainly around one street.  The pollution from the diesel buses is not good for my asthma.  I only visited for 4 days, to get cêdula and see my ceramics supplier, but had a great time in museums.  Cuenca also seemed to be, for those 4 days warmer than everyone talks about.  People always say that Cuenca is cold.  I did wear a sports jacket, but at times in the day it was downright hot, who knew^?

wHEREAS near Vilcabamba, in the Valle Sagrado of Cuxibamba, the weather has been unexpectedly breezier and thus cooler than normal.  The windy season seems to have started extremely early but it is quite pleasant.  Temps are still of course warmer than Cuenca, but nowhere approaching the steaming humidity of Machala at 36 Celcius.    You have got to love the humidity and heat to be in Machala, been there twice and that was too much for me.  The Valle Sagrado can get quite hot - people here say that the temp is 5 degrees warmer than normal and has been for 2 years.  Cambio del climat, I guess.


With regards to safety I’d like to add my two cents. Before we moved here, like most of you, I researched extensively and read many expat blogs. Some stated that women don’t go out alone, or jog alone, etc,. In retrospect that was blatant non-sense. My wife goes out alone, my son’s Ecuadorean girlfriend (teenager) walks more than 10 blocks to get to our place. My kids go out alone walking and on their bikes, and my main concern is traffic. We cannot live in fear or paranoia.

I shared our experiences and they are justified by statistics which clearly demonstrate that most cities in Ecuador are much safer than most American cities in some of the most hideous crimes statistics including murder and rape. Ecuador as a whole is closer to Seattle in murder rate per 100,000 and safer than almost all major American cities in rape, statistically. (Wikipedia crime US cities/Nationmaster)

I do however believe that foreigners are vulnerable if they don’t know at least some Spanish as there are some opportunistic people who will deem the foreigner naïve or stupid which can lead to potential problems. There are also foreigners who are simply careless because there are neighborhoods and then there are neighborhoods that a fresh foreigner has no business being in. When going out to a new area or shady area look at google maps before going, and dress accordingly. In our neighborhood and nice establishments outside our neighborhood we dress as we like. We’re not the only ones as everyone in this area does so and people who go to nice places do so also. When going to mercados, north and south, it’s plain jeans, sweatshirt, and looking appropriate for the area. Additionally in cities, avoid renting in the cheapest neighborhood, at the very least aim for working middle class.

Megandmsm,  the beach person;
One of the best beach areas in Ecuador is the Santa Elena Peninsula.  This includes Chipipe, Salinas, La Libertad, Santa Elena, Ballenita, Punta Barandoas and Punta Blanca.  On the other side, Mar Bravo, Punta Carnero, Anconcito and Ancon.  All are very safe areas with a high percentage of expats in Salinas especially.  Been here over three years.  Worst thing that has happened is a stolen towel left overnite on my fence.

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