I'd do the same thing that I often do at home - travel in a small group. That and maintaining a general awareness of the surroundings probably deter more bad guys than anything. The simple act of appearing confident & purposeful makes you that much less appealing of a target than the next person. Most people don't really watch what's around them when they hike.
Weapons, even pepper spray, tend to have laws attached to their use & carry. I've always thought they were only as effective as the training the user's had, which is often zilch. Starting with a good mindset is a better first step I think. That's usually a main goal of a typical beginer's self-defense class, which might be a good idea to take if you can find one.
Even if it isn't legal to carry weapons, even an everyday item (like a walking stick) can be perfectly okay and useful to boot. One of my fiance's aunts once had a mugger pull a knife on her in Central Park, demanding her money; she knocked him out with her handbag. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
If traveling in the US and you know the reciprocal laws of the state to which you are traveling allow carry, you may check a weapon to be picked up on the other end, if you follow some simple requirements. It's done all the time. Rifles, shotguns, handguns.
Loc: Central Texas
Check the local firearms laws and the laws that pertain to defensive use of firearms. I don't know how Ecuadorian cops handle it, but if it were me, I would find out before getting into a shoot-out. I wouldn't want to be a guest of the state there.
If there is much banditry, you can assume they will be armed. Then you have to make an informed choice. If they usually leave victims poorer but unharmed, consider choice between writing off your stuff and getting in a gun fight with folks that probably have more practice at it than you do.
If you can carry a firearm legally and decide you need one and can use one competently when under fire, the better choice would be a repeating shotgun - the smaller and lighter the better - even a single or double-barreled shotgun. Any shotgun is intimidating - with good reason. The next choice would be a small, light rifle with a mild cartridge - anything from 9mm through 7.62X39 to 30-30. Even a pipsqueak cartridge is adequate when facing folks who want to live to rob another day. Rifles are more accurate under difficult conditions and safer for the user than pistols. A handgun is barely adequate for anything except clubbing folks at close range or saving the last bullet for yourself, but it might have some deterrant value. Again, most bandits are not going to risk their lives over whatever paultry plunder you might be hauling in a backpack. But if it comes to shooting, a shotgun would be my choice by far.
I have to agree with carrying a rifle vs.a pistol. The pistol is really only good at close range or getting someone off of you. But with a rifle, you can pick and hit your target . Say both you and the other person were equally decient shots, at 20 paces,60ft, you could each take aim and fire in a reasonably quick time. The rifle shot will hit it's mark the majority of the time. Now if you had a fully automatic weapon with a decent barrel length, you may have the advantage. But chances are if you can obtain one so can the locals. I would get the Help out myself. Doesn't sound like a great place to be. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />
I am going to be a little harsh with this answer, but I doubt you will come back and read. I hope you do though.
If you feel it is overly dangerous, don't go. As an American, you are a target. I would also see what the locals do. If they carry weapons, then carry the same weapons (be it machete or gun). If the local laws forbid guns, then you are asking for trouble. What would you rather do, be assaulted and robbed, or spend a long time in an Ecuadorian prison? What ever weapon you bring, make sure you bring a shovel as well, to bury the evidence <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
I would also recommend stealth camping to the extreme. Don't let people see you on the trails. Pick campsites that can't be found. Think of yourself as a downed pilot in enemy territory. Do what it takes to make sure no one knows where you are. Practice light discipline ( this includes packing lightweight, and not making a lot of light at night and during the day). Make sure there are no shiny things on you that reflect the sun light. Wear only subdued colors. Walk silently and make sure that your gear doesn't make noise as well.
You can always watch the new movie "Rambo" for inspiration. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />
Edited by finallyME (09/23/0809:46 AM)
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Fme Theres a new Rambo? People do not understand moving stealthfully. I call it "animal movement", that it you only move when the animal looks away like a lion, and every movement must be slow and fluid. My wife will come to the door to see an animal and jerk her hand up or spin her head and its gone. EVERY body movement must be slow and controlled, freeze when yer bein watched. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
However the whole thread may be a troll. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> Be safe stay home <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> The only way I would go down there with a gun would be with 5 other commandos with comm gear, nvg, the whole shot, including night scopes on the silenced rifles etc. Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
The only way I would go down there with a gun would be with 5 other commandos with comm gear, nvg, the whole shot, including night scopes on the silenced rifles etc. Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
Only 5? You are braver than I am. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> If you went in those conditions, then most likely, the Ecuadorian government doesn't know about it, and you will be left to die by your own government who will quickly claim no involvement. Maybe I read too much Clancy <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> .
I agree that people don't understand moving stealthily. It is an art that must be practiced. A good test would be to see if you could sneak up on a cougar. I wouldn't want to be around when you did though. A good example to watch and learn would be a cat. They have it naturally ingrained how to walk stealthily.
There is a fourth Rambo that came out. It is about a group of American humanitarians who go to Burma (I think). They get captured, and good ol' John goes in to get them. I think Stallone was feeling jealous of all these new young bucks making adventure movies, and he felt he could do better.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
I am also suspicious of this post. This is the first post by the original poster. There is a link at the bottom that goes to website about safety and security for ex-pats by a guy who says he has 10 years of law enforcement experience and is an American living in Ecuador. He goes on to say that he has lived in dangerous places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and Iraq. This sounds like the original poster. If he is so experienced, why is he asking us for input? If it isn't the same person, why doesn't the original poster ask all his questions of the expert from the linked website? I notice that the original poster has not responded to the replies in any way. I could be wrong, but this whole thread seems odd, to say the least.
Definately a troll! Too many places in this great country that I haven't been, to risk my life to hang out in some bandit infested jungle or third world prison. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> I bet the poster has never been to Equador or any other place like it. If I need that kind of thrill, I'll just go to NY city and walk thrugh a bad neighborhood.