Ecuador — Transportation
Ecuador Taxis and Car Rental
Most of Ecuador’s large towns feature at least one reliable taxi company. American Taxi (+593-2-222-2333) and Taxi Express (+593-2-211-1111) are two of the popular firms in Quito. Official cabs are yellow and bear a code, don’t risk using unlicensed cars. In Quito, during the day, make sure the meter is on at the start of the journey. At night, and in other cities, negotiate the price before starting a trip.
Car rental offers more autonomy than taxis and can be a good way to see parts of Ecuador that are not well served by public transportation. Most major firms have a presence at the airport, although booking in advance is recommended. Drivers need to be at least 25 years old, have a credit card and an international driver’s license. Driving can be hazardous due to poor signage, unkempt roads and erratic behavior by the locals so know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand. Gas and vehicle costs are similar to those in North America and cheaper than Western Europe. Driving at night is not advised and some areas of the country are dangerous even during the day so research and plan your route well in advance.
The Galapagos Islands can be reached by boat, with charters, cruises and regular ferries departing from the mainland ports of Ecuador to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. From there, speed boats provide regular service between Puerto Ayora, San Cristobal Island, and Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island, departing every two hours. These journeys are mid-priced, noisy, and rough, but are the most practical way to get around the Galapagos. There are various operators offering multi-day cruises, some with a focus on diving or sport fishing.
Ecuador Trains and Buses
Ecuador’s rail network is in a state of disrepair, with trains running only in a few tourist areas. The most famous is the scenic route from Alausi to Sibambe along the notorious Nariz del Diablo line (named for the numerous workers who died building it) through the Andes Mountains.
Bus travel is the standard way to get around Ecuador and is efficient, affordable and often picturesque. Intercity buses link the entire country and most schedules are available online at www.ecuadorschedules.com. Tickets can be booked at the central station (terminal terrestre) in each town, although visitors should bring a Spanish phrasebook as staff rarely speaks English. The levels of comfort can vary greatly between operators, with ejecutivo (first class) buses being the most expensive, the safest and most comfortable. Advance reservations are recommended for peak times such as Christmas and Easter.