Divided into two parts by the equator – one in the southern hemisphere and the other in the northern hemisphere – Ecuador is made up of three distinct geological zones: Sierra, Oriente and Costa. It seems incredible that three regions so different could fit into such a tiny country. In addition, the Galapagos Islands, which seem even more utopian, also belong to Ecuador. The Andes with mountains over 6,000 m high run through the middle of the country. The landscape is dominated by volcanoes, half of which are still active. Most of the cities of Ecuador lie in a wide valley called the Avenue of the Volcanoes. East of the Sierra lies a wet lowland known for its rich biodiversity, with dense jungle and a complex network of rivers that feed the Amazon. Ecuador’s Pacific Coast offers lush rainforests, attractive beaches and the country’s commercial capital, Guayaquil. Deep in the Pacific lie the Galapagos Islands, a forgotten world teeming with unique animals that seem unafraid of humans. Charles Darwin discovered them in the 19th century and today they are the ultimate dream destination. See other countries in South America on cheeroutdoor.
Arriving by plane
Attention: Air traffic to Ecuador has been suspended. There are no non-stop flights to Ecuador from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. LATAM (LA) flies from Frankfurt/M. via Madrid to Guayaquil and Quito. Lufthansa (LH) offers feeder flights from Frankfurt/M., Munich and Vienna to Madrid to the LATAM long-haul flights. Swiss International (LX) serves as a feeder from Switzerland. Iberia (IB) can also be used as a feeder to Madrid from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and offers non-stop flights to Quito from there. Lufthansa (LH) in cooperation with Copa Airlines (CM) connects Frankfurt/M. via Panama with Quito. KLM (KLM) flies from Amsterdam to Quito.
Frankfurt/M. – Quito: from 15 hours 15 minutes; Zurich – Quito: from 15 hours 20 minutes; Vienna – Quito: from 15 hrs 10 mins (flight times can vary significantly depending on the duration of the stopovers).
Airport taxes are already included in the ticket price.
Arrival by car
Ecuador’s road network is 43,000 km long, of which only about 7,300 km are paved. The Panamericana crosses the country, connecting Ecuador to the north with Colombia and to the south with Peru; in between are the cities of Tulcán, Ibarra, Quito, Riobamba and Cuenca. Long-distance buses run from Ecuador to Venezuela, Colombia and Peru with connections to Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Tolls: Sections of the Panamericana are subject to tolls. Documents: In addition to the national driver’s license, the international driver’s license must be carried.
Arrival by ship
Guayaquil is the main passenger and cargo port along with Esmeraldas, Manta and Puerto Bolívar. Numerous cruise ships from Europe and America call at the port of Guayaquil.
Phoenix starts cruises in Hamburg, Genoa and Nice with a stopover in Guayaquil.
Traveling by plane
Ecuador’s national airlines, Avianca Ecuador (2K) and LATAM (XL), operate regularly between Guayaquil and Quito. LATAM (XL) offers domestic flights from Quito and Guayaquil to Cuenca, the capital of the province of Azuay, and to San Cristobal and Baltra in the Galapagos Islands, among others. A few smaller airlines fly to the coast and the eastern part of the country; the airplane is a common means of transport in domestic traffic.
Traveling by car/bus
Although Ecuador has an extensive road network, the driving conditions are quite different. Quito, Otavalo, Ibarra and Tulcan on the Colombian border are end-to-end interconnected.
Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic
Condition of the roads
Some roads are maintained and repaired; however, many roads have large potholes and cracks due to earthquakes and floods (in the south). Between Quito and Guayaquil, and between Quito and Latacunga, Ambato and Riobamba, the roads are fully paved.
The designation of the national roads of Ecuador consists of the letter E and a number. First-class national roads are marked with blue signs, second-class national roads with green signs.
International car rental companies are represented at the airports and in the cities. Drivers must be at least 26 years old and have held a driver’s license for at least 2 years. Some landlords state a maximum age of 69 years.
Taxis in Ecuador are mostly safe and inexpensive. However, travelers should only use the official yellow taxis, with the registration number or the name of the taxi company on the vehicle. For unmetered taxis, it is advisable to negotiate the fare at the start of the journey.
In the cities there are numerous rental companies for bicycles, mopeds and motorbikes.
Bus connections are good and mostly faster than in the other Andean countries because there are more asphalt roads. Seat reservations are required on routes between Quito and Guayaquil and from Quito to the other major cities in the highlands. Intercity buses from Quito depart from the bus stations of Quitumbe in the south and Carcelén in the north of the city.
Traffic regulations: – right-hand traffic; – Alcohol limit: 0.3 ‰. Speed limits: – inner-city: 60 km/h; – extra-urban: 80-90 km/h.
The ADAC foreign emergency call offers ADAC members and holders of ADAC foreign health and accident insurance comprehensive assistance in the event of vehicle breakdowns, traffic accidents, loss of documents and money, and medical emergencies. The emergency number is available around the clock; for vehicle damage: Tel. +49 (89) 22 22 22, for illnesses: +49 (89) 76 76 76. The ADAC partner club in Ecuador is the Automovil Club del Ecuador (ANETA) in Quito, Tel. +593 (2nd ) 22 90 20, 22 90 21.
In addition to the national driver’s license, the international driver’s license must be carried.
Traveling in the city
In Quito and Guayaquil, regular buses and minibuses operate with the same fare. Taxis are mainly found in larger cities (see also Taxi).
Locally on the way by train
A train service operated by the national railway company Ferrocarriles del Ecuador is the route known as the Devil’s Nose (Nariz del Diablo) from Alausi to Sibambe. The train travels a spectacular route through the mountains. Due to weather-related or technical difficulties, you should find out before you start your journey whether the train is running. There are other connections with trains and rail buses between Riobamba and Urbina or Colta, between El Tambo and Baños del Inca and between Ibarra and Salinas and on small routes from San Lorenzo. Trains also run from Durán near Guayaquil to Yaguachi and Bucay. The historic Tren Crucero train connects Quito to Guayaquil via Alausí (journey time: 4 days).
Traveling by ship
There are several navigable rivers in the Amazon region. In the Oriente jungles and in the northern coastal region, due to the lack of roads, the dugout canoe (up to 25 passengers) is often the only means of transport. Hardly any passenger ships operate between the mainland and the Galapagos Islands. However, numerous tourist boats, mail boats and rental yachts operate between the islands. Trans Martisa Ferries offer regular ferry services between Isabela, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.