Getting Around in Ecuador (I)
1. Getting Around in Ecuador – By Air
Many internal flights are with TAME, including those to the Galapagos, as well as major towns throughout the Andes, Oriente and along the coast. Other local airlines include SAN, the internal flight subsidiary of SAETA. Domestic flights are worthwhile, especially if you are heading deep into the Oriente and they are less expensive than flying direct to the Galapagos. Prices generally range from $40 to $120, depending on your destination. Flights to the Galapagos, on the other hand, cost $390 from Quito during high season, as the islands are 600 miles from the mainland. Ecuador’s international airline, SAETA, and its domestic sister company, SAN, also offer flights between major cities and San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos. You can make arrangements with other Ecuadorian carriers through travel agents in Quito.
Quito’s domestic terminal is adjacent to the international terminal.
2. Getting Around in Ecuador – Public Transportation
Ecuador’s public transportation and travel infrastructure is fairly well developed. Public buses are frequent, inexpensive, and increasingly located around central terminals in each town. In fact, they are the easiest and most efficient way to travel around Ecuador. Buses are the main form of transportation for many Ecuadorians and, therefore, they travel to virtually every corner of the country. Each village, town and city will have easy access to bus transportation, whether it’s in the form of a major bus terminal or by a dusty street-side general store. And, believe it or not, some buses are almost comfortable and clean. Roads are decent in most regions and long-distance travel is straightforward (sometimes made a bit too thrilling by “enthusiastic” bus drivers). Just make sure you know where to get off the bus so you can tell the driver where to stop.
Camionetas are trucks, mostly privately owned, that generally wait at local plazas or in the busy areas of smaller towns. Fares are in the same range as taxis, but camionetas are more durable in the backcountry. In addition, they are much more convenient than buses for taking you to remote areas and are very economical if you have a few people willing to split the cost. It is always a good idea to negotiate a price before the journey begins.
Because it's one of the smallest countries in South America, getting around in Ecuador is not too difficult. The bus routes are comprehensive. The roads, however, can be a bit rough and the busses are often hot and crowded. If you are short on time we recommend taxis.
Taxis are a good way to get around in Quito and Guayaquil. If you’re staying for an extended period, however, you may want to try and learn the bus system.