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Getting Around in Ecuador
 
 
 

AIR

Ecuador has one of the best domestic air transportation system in the region. Twelve cities have their airports and are served by local air companies. Costs vary depending in distance and service. The longest flight inside Ecuador may take 45 minutes, with the exception of the Galapagos Islands which may take like an hour and a half.

By Sea/ River

Ecuador’s rocky coastline makes coast-hopping an inefficient and even dangerous means of transport for visitors. Several navigable rivers flow eastwards into the Amazon basin. Dugout canoes, which carry up to about 25 people, are widely used as a means of transport in roadless areas, particularly in the Oriente jungles and in the northwest coastal regions. Tourist boats, luxury cruisers, converted fishing boats and hired yachts can all be used to travel between the Galápagos Islands.

By Rail

Frequent landslides and lack of funding are some of the causes of the railway system becoming almost completely redundant. The only service run by the Empresa de Nacional Ferrocarriles del Estado (Ecuador State Railways) to remain is the famous Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose), which makes a spectacular mountain descent on its route between Riobamba and Sibambe.

By Road

Traffic drives on the right. An extensive network of roads spreads out from the main north–south axis of the Panamericana (Pan-American Highway). Roads can have variable conditions, particularly in the highlands, due to the terrain and weather; potholes and cracks in the road are sometimes sizeable.

The national speed limit is 100kph (63mph) on highways and around 50kph (30mph) in urban areas, unless otherwise indicated. There are strong penalties for even the most minor driving offences.

Bus

Long-distance buses leave from the terminal terrestre (central bus station). Tickets are inexpensive and should be bought in advance to secure a seat. Long-distance coaches can be very comfortable and air-conditioned. Other modes include busetas (minibuses that travel long distances quickly) and converted pick-up trucks. The standards of buses decrease in rural areas. Travellers are advised to keep their passports with them at all times as police checks are common. Keep luggage within sight. It is not recommended to travel at night.


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