Ecuador Transportation Information
All major Ecuadorian cities and attractions are connected by roads, which are in generally good conditions. Almost all primary land routes circulate through Quito, including roads leading north to Otavalo, Ibarra, Tulcán; the Colombian border crossing, south to Ambato, Latacunga, Riobamba, Guaranda, Cuenca, and Loja; west to Mindo, Santo Domingo and the northern coast of Esmeraldas and the southern coast of Manta; and east to Baños, Baeza, Lago Agrio, Puyo, Tena and Coca. The steep and rugged geography of Ecuador makes the construction of direct roads challenging, so expected travel times are often longer than the actual distances involved. Travel in car between Quito and the nearest point on the northern coast is usually at least 5 hours.
Landslides are sometimes an issue during rainy season, so it is always advisable to check the state of roads before travelling. Roads are sometimes blocked because of political protests, and the poor visibility and slick conditions caused by the rainy season make travel generally slower during these months. More isolated destinations, especially the interior of national park and reserve areas, are much less accessible, so four-wheel drive or off-terrain vehicles are necessary. Ecuador has an extensive system of bus cooperatives, making land transport without a car easy.. Almost any destination may be reached by bus, and prices average to cost $1/hour of travel, buses are only slighter slower than cars here.
There are several things to be aware of while driving in Ecuador. Driving on Ecuador's roads takes skill and a good deal of caution, because Ecuadorian drivers tend to be fast and aggressive with passing and maneuvering, and the roadways are often narrow and very curvy. In the more isolated areas, roads are poorly marked. In some of the poorer provinces, there are unmarked speed bumps, hardly visible potholes. City driving, especially in Quito, is intense and often chaotic. Many city residents will opt for public transportation in order to avoid the stress and traffic. If you have a valid driver’s license from your home country, you are allowed drive in Ecuador during the 90-day period granted under your tourist visa. Should you change your visa status, you will need to obtain an Ecuadorian license in order to drive legally.
Renting a car requires that you be at least 25 years old, hold a valid license, and have an international credit card. Car rental rates vary between $50 and $120 per day, and it is generally recommended that you rent a four-wheel drive vehicle if you plan to drive in rural areas. Avis (tel. 02/2440-270; www.avis.com.ec), Budget (tel. 02/3300-979; www.budget-ec.com), Hertz (tel. 1800/227-767 toll-free within Ecuador, or 02/2254-257; www.hertz.com.ec), and Localiza (tel. 02/3303-265; www1.localiza.com.ec) are the main car rental agencies, with offices at both major international airports. Since Localiza is a national company, it also has several offices in other cities and tourist destinations around Ecuador.
Ecuador Domestic flights, airfares and airportsIf you opt for air travel, all major mainland destinations are serviced by domestic flights with durations of under an hour, and one-way tickets usually cost $50 and $70. The exceptions are flights to the Galapagos Islands, which take around four hours and cost much more than most flights ($300 - $400 round-trip for foreigners, depending on the route and the season. Flights to reach some locations deep in the Amazon Rainforest are also expensive. The return journey to get to deep Amazon locations can cost $160 from Quito, Cuenca or Guayaquil just for the first flight. There may be a small local flight following this flight also. Flights to nearly all destinations originate from the Quito or Guayaquil international airports. The Quito airport (www.quiport.com) is located at Av. Amazonas and Av. de la Prensa. A new airport is under construction, which will be located about a half an hour outside of the city, but it is unclear when construction will be completed. The Guayaquil (www.tagsa.aero) airport is located at Av. de las Americas and Isidro Ayora.
Aerogal (tel. 1800/2376-425 toll-free nationwide; www.aerogal.com.ec), Icaro (tel. 1800/883-567 toll-free nationwide; www.icaro.aero), VIP (tel. 02/330 4621 in Quito; www.vipec.com) and Tame (tel. 02/2909-900 in Quito, or 04/2310-305 or 04/2310-305 in Guayaquil; www.tame.com.ec), are the main commuter airlines. AeroGal serves Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta, Coca, Lago Agrio and Portoviejo, Isla Baltra and Isla San Cristobal, and also provides service to the international destinations of Bogota, Colombia, and New York City. Icaro serves Guayaquil, Cuenca, Quito and Manta. TAME serves Cali, Coca, Cuenca, Esmeraldas, Galapagos Baltra airport, Guayaquil, Lago Agrio, Loja, Quito, San Cristóbal Galápagos airport and Santa Rosa. LAN Ecuador has flights serving Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. On this airline, international connections are available from New York, Miami, Madrid, Bogota and Lima, making it easy to get to Ecuador and get around within the country. From September 2010, LAN will also offer direct flights to the Galapagos Islands, making the trip cheaper.
If you can’t get on a flight, you may want to go early to the airport to get on a waiting list, because passengers often don’t show up. Aerogal, Tame and LAN Ecuador have service to both the Galapagos based airports, Baltra and San Cristobal; it is important to remember that these flights will require that you arrive to the airport at least two hours in advance and that you pay a $100 entrance fee upon entering the islands. For other domestic flights, arriving an hour in advance is generally sufficient.
Airports with commercial air service are:
|Baltra, Galapagos||Galapagos||Seymour Airport|
|Cuenca||Azuay||Mariscal Lamar Airport|
|Coca||Orellana||Francisco de Orellana Airport|
|Esmeraldas||Esmeraldas||General Rivadeneira Airport|
|Guayaquil||Guayas||Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport|
|Lago Agrio (Nueva Loja)||Sucumbios||Lago Agrio Airport|
|Loja||Loja||Camilo Ponce Enriquez Airport|
|Macas||Morona-Santiago||Coronel Edmundo Carvajal Airport|
|Manta||Manabi||Eloy Alfaro International Airport|
|Quito||Pichincha||Mariscal Sucre International Airport|
|San Cristobal||Galapagos||San Cristobal Airport|
Ecuador international Flights & AirportsEcuador has three international airports: Mariscal Sucre in Quito, José Joaquín de Olmedo in Guayaquil and Santa Rosa airport in the southern province of El Oro.
Flying to Ecuador is really easy from major cities. There are daily flights in North America and Europe and you can plan your flight from:
Los Angeles (LAX),
Toronto doing stop in United States or doing plane switch
Quebec doing stop in United States or doing plane switch
Almost all the flights have a stop with the exception of flights from the United States, Bogota and Lima. Some make stops in Central America and others in Madrid. From Europe the hub airports are Madrid Barajas and Amsterdam Schipol. You can book departures from these airports.
Airlines with daily flights to Ecuador
The airlines who fly to Ecuador from North America, South America and Europe daily are:
Ecuador flight seasons from North America and EuropeHigh Season: Jun – August and December mid January
Low Season: Mid January to May, September to November
Ecuador airport departure fee
Ecuador national airports have different rates of departure tax. The Mariscal Sucre Quito airport has a $40.80 fee, that must be paid in cash at the desk in the check in area.
Guayaquil Airport Fee is for all passengers is US$28, 27. This amount is paid at the Banco de Guayaquil branch located in the International Departure Hall next to the check-in counters of the airlines. The fee is non-refundable and valid for 7 days.