Getting Around in Ecuador (II)
3. Getting Around in Ecuador – By Boat
Where bus routes end, you have probably come to a waterway. At this point, boat transportation begins. This is particularly true around the northern coastal tropical forest region and throughout the entire Oriente. Waterway transportation is usually in the form of motorized dugout canoes. Although more expensive than buses, boats are also fast and efficient.
4. Getting Around in Ecuador – Hitching a Ride
In the more remote areas of the highlands, you can often hop in the back of a pickup truck and ride with the locals. This is a great way to travel and enjoy the spectacular scenery, as long as you don’t mind the minor discomfort of a hard wooden seat. On the coast, trucks and open-sided bus-truck hybrids, called rancheras, sometimes substitute for a bus. Pay the driver whatever he asks, which should be only small change, usually similar to the bus fare.
5. Getting Around in Ecuador – By Rail
Once connecting the coast with the Andes, Ecuador’s rail system was largely damaged by the 1997 El Nino and is often in disrepair, as the more efficient roadways have largely replaced its value. Now, it is more suitable for sightseeing than transportation. The Riobamba / Alausi line through the Devil’s
Nose runs several times per week and is a spectacular journey.
6. Getting Around in Ecuador – Rending a Car
Renting an automobile is an option that offers the flexibility of seeing the country at your own pace. Prices are the same as in the US or Canada. Be sure to check the condition of the car and insurance terms thoroughly. Keep in mind that driving in Ecuador can be crazy. And road conditions, especially in more remote areas, but also on the major thoroughfares, are poor and flat tires are a dime a dozen. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended for many areas.
Many roadways in Ecuador are not only unmarked, but they may have no names other than “via a…,” meaning “the way to….” Road conditions can be hazardous. Be cautious of other drivers, especially bus and truck drivers, and always expect that they will try to pass, even on blind turns. Still, driving in the Andean countryside is easy compared to the major cities.