Welcome to Riobamba, Ecuador

We hope your stay here will be exciting and memorable. In order to assist you with navigating the city and making the most of the Cachamsi, we are providing this guide with details on safety and health advice, a packing list, options for activities, entertainment and weekend trips, local transportation and of course some of our most frequently asked questions.


Safety

Ecuador is considered one of the safest countries in the Andean region. That being said, it is always a good idea to be cautious during your visit. Here are a few tips to keep you safe:

  • Keep an eye on your carry-ons, shoulder bags, and purses. Hold items in front of you when in crowded places. Pickpockets see backpacks as easy targets.

  • Carry travelers checks and credit cards instead of large sums of cash.

  • When you feel unsafe grab a taxi or go find a place with many people.

  • Be wary of people who are too friendly too quickly.

  • Don't wear expensive jewelry, wristwatches, or other valuable items, keep them inside your bag or out of sight.

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Health

Ecuador is considered a tropical area because of its equatorial location.  However its climate is very diverse. The highlands, which run north to south, extend throughout the entire country.  Riobamba sits on the geographical center of the Andean corridor.  It lies at an altitude surpassing 2,800 meters above sea level. Its ambient temperature is usually cool to cold, therefore mosquitoes are seldom if ever found in Riobamba .  When traveling to the East or West one will find hot and humid climates.  In these areas, one must exercise caution and use appropriate clothing, repellants, and if indicated by their family physician, malarial prophylaxis. Cachamsi recommends the following steps: 
 

1. Consult your family physician at least six weeks before your departure date.  If you take prescription medications, make sure you have an adequate supply of medicines for your stay.  

2. Malaria, yellow fever, and other tropical diseases are rarely found in the highlands of Ecuador .  If you are traveling to the jungle or even the coastal regions, consider a yellow fever vaccine and/or malaria treatment.  The yellow fever vaccine is good for five years.  Malaria prophylaxis is usually started a few days before you enter the affected region.  For more information, it is important for you to talk with your family physician, and consult the CDC website ( www.cdc.gov ). 

3.  In some areas of the country the water is not completely safe. Cachamsi advises all participants to take precautions and to drink bottled water especially if you have a fragile stomach. Some students choose to bring chlorine tablets for the water or even filter bottles, although safe bottled water is regularly available.

4.  If you have plans to travel to the low lands, wear insect repellant and sunblock at all times.  

5. It is highly recommended that you do not eat from street vendors.  Much of the time the food is prepared in unsanitary conditions. 

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Packing list

Valid Passport: (you must have a passport with a minimum validity of six months counted from the date of proposed departure from Ecuador.

Personal care: Shampoo, liquid soap, hair dryer, toothbrush/toothpaste, sunglasses, sunblock, bug spray, razors, bathings suit, makeup, face wash, feminine hygiene products, deodorant, Imodium, hand sanitizer, water bottle

Clothes: In terms of clothing, just one or two pairs of "clinical dress attire" is appropriate (tie and slacks for men, and dress skirt or slacks for women). Often, dress in clinical situations is informal and jeans and a white coat is all that is needed. In Cacha, students should dress as they would if they were going on a hike: sneakers, jeans/shorts, and sweatshirts you don't mind getting a little dusty.  

Clinical Supplies: White coat, stethoscope, penlight, otoscope,

Daily Clothing: Shirts, sweaters, quick dry shorts or pants, jeans, shorts, exercise t-shirts, scarf, gloves, tennis shoes, shower sandals, hat, slacks, rain jacket (poncho) or any kind of lightweight water resistant jackets.

Goodwill articles: Stethoscope, blood pressure cuffs, gloves, sutures, masks, medical textbooks, cameras, old smartphones.

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Activities

Although these are activities are not offered through the Cachamsi program, we can easily help organize any of the below excursions
 
Soccer Matches: See some of Ecuador’s professional teams play in Estadio Olímpico.
Museums and Churches: Convento de la Concepción, Ateneo de Chimborazo, Museo de Armas.
Dance Classes: There are a few dance instructors located in Riobamba that offer lessons ranging from salsa to merengue to tango.
Cooking classes: Learn to create a range of Latin American dishes including ceviche, patacones, empanadas, etc.
Gymnasium: A handful of gyms offer inexpensive weekly memberships. For about $30 a month, you can usually get a place with free-weights, machines, and aerobic classes.  
 

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Nightlife / Artesian markets / Supermarkets:
  

Camari - Address: Espejo and Olmedo (by La Merced market).
La Ibéric - Address: Av. Daniel L. Borja 37-62.
Paseo Shoping Riobamba - Address: Avda. Antonio José de Sucre, Km. 1 y 1/2 via a Guano..
Droves of indigenous natives gather in San Alfonso (Argentinos and 5 de Junio), and Market of Animals (Av. Circunvalación via a Chambo) from the surrounding areas of Chimborazo to sell their produce, handicrafts and livestock each Saturday.

While Guayaquil and Quito are more notable for their nightlife, Riobamba has its share of nightclubs and bars.

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Weekend Trips

Cachamsi does not organize weekend trips inclusive of the Program Fee, however, many students organize their own trips across Ecuador during their stay. Some popular destinations include:
 
Guayaquil – Malecon 2000, Handicrafts Market, Parque Nacional, beaches, nightlife
Puyo (Amazon) – camping, guided ecotour, nature hike, trekking to waterfalls, canoeing
Baños – biking, 4-wheeling, white water rafting, natural springs, Handicrafts Market
Quito – Downtown, Half of the World, Otavalo Handicrafts Market.
  

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Transportation

Transportation within Riobamba is generally inexpensive. During the daylight hours, one may cross the city in a private cab for about $1,25. At night the rate is about $2. 
 
Riobamba has one bus station or terminal with different routes as described below:
 
The bus terminal (On León Borja, some 2 km northwest of the city center) has frequent bus service to Quito (US$6, 4 1/2 hours), Guayaquil (US$6, 5 hours), Machala with Transportes Patria (8 1/2 hours, US$8), Cuenca, via Alausí with CTA (7 hours, US$9), Guaranda with Flota Bolivar (2 1/2 hours, US$4), Santo Domingo de los Colorados (5 1/2 hours, US$6). Baños via Ambato (2 1/2 hours, US$3) and Puyo (US$4, 5 hours).
 
The train ride from Riobamba is out of this world, the highlight being the Devil's Nose and Alausí Loop. For more information, click here.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. Can I still participate in the program if I don’t know any Spanish?
    We recommend participants have at least some level of Spanish proficiency prior to participating in the program, however, our faculty are experienced in handling students with a variety of proficiency from complete novices to native speakers. We recommend that you download the DuoLingo application or another language learning application a few months prior to your program to brush up on your foundations and identify some gaps.

  2. How much can I expect my Spanish proficiency to increase?
    We usually see a dramatic improvement in the participants' language skills. The improvement depends on whether the participant "speaks" during the rotation or if the student is more passive about learning. The best way to learn a foreign language is through conversation, so we recommend that you come prepared to practice your Spanish with as many people as possible.

  3. How many students usually participate each month, and what are the busiest months?
    For the months of June and July, we have historically capped enrollment at 20-22 participants. During the rest of the year there tends to be 1-4 participants on average. December and January tend to be the least busy months.

  4. In what year of medical school do students typically participate in Cachamsi?
    In the summer, most of the students are first and second years. Fourth year students and residents tend to come in the other months.

  5. What is the weather like in Riobamba?
    Riobamba is cool. Lows in the 30's to highs in the 70's.

  6. What should I bring?
    We've included a checklist to help you decide what to bring.
    CLICK HERE to go to the checklist.

  7. When is the best time to go to Ecuador?
    It is always a great time to be in Ecuador! If you are concerned about weather, the rainy season begins in January and ends in April. Because we are so close to the equator, temperatures tend to remain constant year round.

  8. Should we bring cash, credit cards, traveler checks?
    Ecuador uses the American dollar. It's easy to use your credit card, ATM machine, or get cash from the bank using your credit card. Past participants have had a hard time findings places that take traveler checks, so they aren't recommended.

    NOTE: The ATM will charge a fee. Use common sense when getting cash, for instance never at night, always under well-lit places and trafficked places.

  9. Is this program only for medical professionals?
    We would like to serve all students and professionals in any health related field.

  10. Would you be able to do paper work such as completing elective / evaluation forms for my school / university?
    Dr. Jorge Duchicela would be happy to complete academic forms required by your institution.

  11. I arrive in Quito during the evening. Where do you recommend we stay?

    Please see our Transportation page for more info.

  12. May we bring family, ie spouse, children, fiance?
    Yes, you may. Make sure you let us know well ahead of your arrival date so we can quote you a fee and make arrangements for them.

  13. Will I have access to places where I may make international calls, use the Internet?
    To make local calls, we recommend getting a local SIM card. They are cheap (~$5).There are many booths around Riobamba that you can use to make international calls if you would prefer to keep your SIM card - they are about 18 - 25 cents per minute to the US. There are a couple of places in Riobamba that let you make calls over the Internet (VOIP). These are usually cheaper. You won't have trouble finding Internet access in Riobamba. There are many Internet cafes across the city. Host families may or may not have Internet access.

  14. What should I bring to wear for clinic and hospital work?
    Bring a white coat, one set of scrubs, 2-3 sets of casual business attire and closed toed shoes for rounds. Capri pants are not recommended for rounds in the hospital.

  15. Do you provide a reference from past participants?
    We can provide many references from past participants on request. Please email Dr. Jorge Duchicela for contact information.

  16. I can get a taxi from Quito to Riobamba for $70 and a bus for $4. Why does transportation through Cachamsi cost more than this?
    Please see the Transportation section for a more complete explanation, but it comes down to safety of drivers and students, and flexibility of availability. We know our drivers. We tell them not to pass on curves... It's the Andes. We encourage students to tell us if they think our drivers are being safe, so we can make them better.

  17. Do I need a visa to participate?
    No. Only a passport is needed. However, if you wish to stay more than 3 months, you must request an extension from the Ecuadorian government. Participants have stayed up to 6 months in the past without any issues.

  18. Are computers/internet available to use?
    Yes. You do have access to computers and internet in our offices. We also have some English medical books in our Riobamba offices.

  19. Is it okay to change my arrival date? Yes. Just make sure you let Pablo know in advance. Email: coordinadorcachamsi@gmail.com

  20. What information is available about Zika Virus?
    Please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6507e1er.htm?s_cid=mm6507e1.htm_w#F1_down

  21. The distance between the General Hospital and the Lizarzaburu Clinic is about 20 minutes:

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