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Most countries in South America are Catholic and conservative. However, in most large cities, there is a thriving underground gay community. To avoid offending local sensibilities or inviting possible verbal harassment in other parts of the continent, we recommend being discreet.

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 800/448-8550 or 954/776-2626; www.iglta.org) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry, and offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses and tour operators.

For good, comprehensive information on the current situation in Ecuador, check out http://quito.queercity.info, the best English-language online resource for gay travelers to Ecuador, although the site is almost exclusively geared toward men. Ecuador Gay (tel. 02/2529-993; www.ecuadorgay.com) is a Quito-based travel agency geared specifically towards a gay and lesbian clientele, while Galápagos Traveller (tel. 877/829-9006 in the U.S. and Canada; www.galapagostraveller.com), is a recommended GLB-friendly Ecuadorian travel agency.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.