Ecuador Self-drive Tours
For experienced drivers with a sense of adventure, Ecuador is a rewarding country to explore by self-drive vehicle. Urban areas present their own challenges (Quito is notorious for its poor signage) but you should find the newly paved open roads of rural Ecuador a genuine pleasure if you pay attention to the rules of the road. Since you will be driving through some remote areas - beyond the reach of phone or Wifi networks, and without the rapid roadside assistance available at home, it helps to know a thing or two about basic car maintenance, such as how to change a tire.
There are no good detailed roads maps for Ecuador. Many existing maps do not show the newest roads, neither do GPS maps. Google Maps is also not reliable. If you are taking one of these Self Drive holidays, you will receive all the information and guidance necessary before you start.
There are no good detailed roads maps for Ecuador. Many existing maps do not show the newest roads, neither do GPS maps. Google Maps is also not reliable. If you are taking one of these Self Drive holidays, you will receive all the information and guidance necessary before you start.
High Roads of the Andes
Day 1: Quito - San Isidro
You will be accompanied from the airport, or from your hotel in Quito if you have spent a day or two at least in the capital before the self-drive (recommended) to register your rental at the airport office then pick up your hire car from the Hertz Agency close by. Our English speaking local agent will help you understand your car, set up the GPS and Wifi, and explain how the key code works.
You will drive east towards the Amazon basin, first climbing through the Cayambe Coca Reserve and your first recommended optional stop, an hour later, will be at Papallacta natural hot springs resort. (Do not take the road to the pools at KM 36 which is now one way, proceed to Papallacta village at KM48 where the Termas are clearly signed). You’ll need to pay a fee to use the Spa and hot pools, where you can rent robes and cap (take your own swimming gear) and there are lock-ups for your clothes. The pools are clean and vary from 32 to 36°C (no lifeguard). You’ll also have time to take a walk in the grounds through the high altitude cloud forest. There is a one hour self-guided walk but we recommend you ask at the hotel reception for a local guide (free but we recommend a tip of $10). Wellington boots are provided if you take a guide). Have lunch in the Spa’s restaurant, the food is good (not included) but do make sure you are back on the road for a further hour’s drive to your lodge, on the way the road passes through some dramatic changes in vegetation.
On arrival at your lodge, Cabañas San Isidro, you may want to take a short hike on the self-guided trail, where the interpretation signs will give you an idea of what the region is all about. Or you can simply relax on the terrace watching the spectacularly colored hummingbirds, or go swimming in the new large and spotless heated pool (there are changing rooms and showers, but no lifeguard).
Hotel night Cabañas San Isidro (superior room)
Included: English assistance for check in at Rental car office, rental car & driving explorer pack*, bedroom and dinner
Day 2: Explore San Isidro
We strongly suggest you to start the day early with an optional birding stroll before breakfast; the Lodge is a well-known destination for birders. Look out for trogons, wood creepers, flycatchers and tanagers. After breakfast you can take a guided hike to a nearby waterfall, a self-guided or guided walk along the interpretive trail, and perhaps another jungle walk at dusk. Between these walks a dip in the lodge’s new heated pool is certainly a temptation.
You will probably enjoy relaxing on the terrace in front of the bird feeders, which are visited by a plethora of hummingbird species:
Try a cooking class to learn a local recipe! Surprise your friends when you get back! No need to pre-book. Dinner is always something to look forward to at San Isidro: the food is high quality, prepared by expert local chefs. Ecuadorian cuisine is definitely on the up and up. After dinner, a real treat is to take a guided walk around the lodge looking for the San Isidro Owl, known to inhabit only this small area of cloud forest.
Hotel night Cabañas San Isidro (superior room) Included: breakfast, rental car & driving explorer pack*, excursion, lunch, bedroom and dinner
Day 3: San Isidro - Tena - Misahualli
Today we will visit the Santa Rita community where we will start the visit with the chocolate trail. In the community of Santa Rita we will see the entire process of cocoa production: visiting the plantations and working farms where the beans are taken from their brilliantly colored pods. This is the first stage of producing delicious Ecuadorian chocolate, acknowledged as amongst the best in the world. Visitors can even try their hand at roasting the beans.
A delicious lunch will then be served in the host community at the house of a local family chosen by the Cocoa Cooperative while exploring these area archeological remains used by the ancient Napo Runas for rituals and which nowadays are still used by local shamans. There are 200 petroglyphs that keep in silence the knowlegde and practices of the locals and that provide testimony to the richness and power of their ancient culture.
Night at Hamadryade Lodge (Suite Bungalow)
Included: breakfast, rental car & Sky driving explorer pack*, excursion, lunch, bedroom
Day 4: Misahualli
Hamadryade is an Amazon Lodge offering a large range of activities, such as rafting, jungle hikes discovering the jungle vegetation, canoe trips and visits to indigenous communities as well as water sports like rafting and kayaking.
There’s a full day of adventures available (on request – these are not included and you will have to pay at the site). There are 4 options:
Included: breakfast, rental car & driving explorer pack*, bedroom
Day 5: Baños
Today our objective is the town of Puyo, a busy centre for the communities who live in the remoter regions of the Amazon, who come here to get their provisions. After heading South for about an hour, you’ll enter the town. Stay on the main E45 road, following the major road ‘Avenida 20 de Julio’ to the intersection with Cotopaxi street, where you turn left and drive down to a large car park beside the river. On the riverside promenade walk a few hundred metres to the Omaere Ethnobotanical Reserve ,where a guided tour of this truly fascinating place has been scheduled for you.
This 15-hectare parcel of land was planted 25 years ago with vegetation endemic to the region, and your guide will give you insights into how the local indigenous Shuar and the Huaorani cultures have used forest products in their daily lives. Return to the car park and follow the river path to El Jardín restaurant, where you have a pre-paid reservation. Just give the waiter your name. Lunch is served from 12 noon to 4pm. After lunch head back to your car and start the slow climb up through the Andes, following the spectacular Pastaza river valley towards the town of Baños.
En route you may want to stop at the impressive ‘Pailon del Diablo’ or ‘Devil’s Cauldron’ waterfall, located just before the Rio Verde Tunnel. It costs $1 to leave your car in the supervised car park, and a couple of dollars per person to enter the waterfall area. Climb a path at the edge of the falls as high as you want to go (there’s a narrow passage with a low ceiling), and cross a small suspension bridge for great views. Allow 1 to 1.5 hours. It’s well worth it!
Baños is named after the thermal springs that draw thousands of visitors every year, and is also known for the adrenaline-pumping adventures you can find close by. The town is sleepy during the week but comes to life at weekends with local pilgrims, families and adventure sports enthusiasts. Baños sits in the shadow of the impressive Tungarahua volcano, and is surrounded by steep lush green hills. Your hotel is just at the entrance to the town as you approach from the South.
Night at the Samari Spa Hotel (Standard Room)
Included: breakfast, rental car & driving explorer pack*, entrance fee, excursion, lunch, bedroom
Day 6: Baños
A Day at leisure
Some activities you can do on your own:
Casa del Arbol swing: The most popular experience is a swing on a nearby hilltop over the hill slopes and the town of Baños itself.
The church of Our Lady of the Holy Waters: Located in the Central Plaza of the city of Baños. Inside you’ll see a collection of murals which illustrate local miracles that have been attributed to the Virgin.
The Waterfall of the Virgin: The waterfall of the Virgin is the only one in Ecuador located within an urban area; it can be observed from any point of the city.
The Bride’s Veil Waterfall: If you like waterfalls, here’s another one worth taking a look at: the Manto de la Novia (Bride’s veil). It’s located 12 km from Baños: on the road to Puyo before you get to Río Verde.
Night at the Samari Spa Hotel (Standard Room) Included: breakfast, rental car & Sky driving explorer pack*, bedroom
Today you’ll be heading North, making the transition from the Amazon to the Andes. Your route winds along the impressive Avenue of Volcanoes (a stretch of 14 active, semi-active and dormant volcanoes : passing the cities of Ambato and Latacunga; traditional haciendas, indigenous villages and protected natural areas. You’ll also get a taste of the local culture: a visit to one of the fascinating indigenous markets in towns along the way is well worth the effort. Each is held on a particular day of the week, so we’ll let you know which one to visit, depending on your travel plans.
You’ll enter Cotopaxi National Park from the South and cross it from South to North. With luck the weather will be clear, and you’ll be able to see the truly impressive peak of the cone-shaped, snow capped mount Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world at more than 19,000 ft.
Stop for a walk around Lake Limpiopungo to watch for birds. And if you feel like driving higher, you can’t miss the “car park" at the end of the road, where a trail will lead you to the mountain refuge, located on the snow line at 4,800m. But take care, you’re unlikely to be used to the altitude, and may not make it all the way without discomfort (about 1hr from the car). Return by the road leading to the northern exit, follow the signs for Tambopaxi Lodge, where a delicious pre-booked, pre-paid lunch is waiting for you. Lunch in sight of the volcano is something to be savoured. From here leave via the northern entrance to access the Pedregal area, where your next lodge is located. Chilcabamba is clearly signed posted once you leave the Park.
This will be a long day, so please leave early. Enjoy it, but make sure you plan your stops so you can make the most of each one. We suggest leaving Baños at 8am so that you’ll be in one of the market towns by 9.30 am, and in Cotopaxi National Park by 11.am, which will leave time for visiting the Interpretation Centre, Limpiopungo and the mountain refuge. Make sure you leave for Chilcabamba by 4pm, so you’ll arrive during daylight.
Night at Chilcabamba Lodge (standard room)
Included: breakfast, transportation - rental car-, excursion, lunch, bedroom and dinner
Enjoy a half day exploring with a local Spanish speaking guide (available on request).
The Pita river, whose source is the meltwater from the Cotopaxi glacier, is an emblematic hike at Chilcabamba. The walk takes from 2 to 4 hours depending on your preferred speed. The descent is gradual: from the grasslands of Cotopaxi down to the area known as the ‘Pedregal’ and the humid Andean forests. You’ll explore waterfalls, watch for local birds and learn about local plants and their uses.
If there is time, you may want to re-enter the park for a very pleasant relaxing horse ride. You’ll meet wild horses along the way, and gallop if you feel like it, all in coordination with our local Spanish speaking expert. You’ll ride through the striking eastern foothills, passing ‘Machay’ (an interesting Inca refuge) and arriving at the stony plains, with fresh water springs and amazing views of the Pita River Canyon. You can enjoy a ride of 1.5, 2.5 or 4 hours.
When you take your leave of Chilcabamba, drive to the right for about 2 blocks and then turn to your left and continue driving for about 20 minutes until you reach the Rio Pita reservoir. From here you’ll continue straight on until you see the next reference point: on the left, a statue of ‘La Virgen de Piedra’. Continue on past the Rumipamba neighborhood and then La Moca, where there is an Stone arch. You will see a road junction, take the right fork to the San Fernando neighborhood. Up to this point the road is secondary, and the journey will take you approximately 40 minutes.
From San Fernando you continue on to the El Colibri roundabout, passing the Enkador Factory on the left, and then the Selva Alegre neighborhood before arriving at the “Selva Alegre” roundabout, where you will take the first exit to the right. This road will take you to the ‘El Colibri’ roundabout: a journey of approximately 20 minutes.When you arrive at the ‘El Colibri’ roundabout (it has a huge Hummingbird statue in the middle) in the town of Sangolqui, take the first exit to the right, this road will take you to the Airport in approximately 30 minutes.
There’s Another option for getting to the Airport:
When you leave Chilcabamba Mountain Lodge, go to the left towards the West for approximately 15 km, until you reach Amazonas street in Machachi Street, continue on and turn right into Venezuela Street and then left to the Pan-American Highway/ E35; Keep left to continue on Colectora Quito-Tambillo / Av. Pedro Vicente Maldonado / E28A / Av. Simón Bolívar Turn right to access the ramp to Cumbayá / Tumbaco / Aeropuerto.
Continue on the ‘Ruta Viva’ for approximately 14km incorporating a Pan-American Highway E35; At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit towards Conector Alpachaca, which will take you straight to the airport.
Included: breakfast, rental car & driving explorer pack*, English speaking guide assistance to drop off the car
Special Promotion: 20% off listed prices, valid to book from now until the end of 2020 and can be operated until December 2021. Minimum of 2 people traveling together.
2020-2021 rates per person:
High Roads of the Andes
Along the Avenue of the Volcanoes
Rates do not include:
Loss of earnings will be charged to clients following an accident in which they are fault, if it takes over one month for the hire car to be fixed.
You might consider taking out a Car Hire Excess Insurance policy in your home country before departure.
Deposits and Payments:
• Full payment must be received in our bank account at least 35 days before the arrival of the passengers.
Cancellations received 16 or more days before the arrival date:
• No charges on the Promotional Programs until December 2021 if COVID-19 related**!
Cancellations received 15 days before arrival date:
• We will not apply charges for date changes on the Promotional Programs until December 2021 if COVID-19 related**!
• 100% penalty will be applied for cancellations
Services booked with suppliers under Special Policies with specific cancellation policies will be sent with the corresponding quote for the requested program for your approval.
** Covid-19 specific terms:
These revised cancellation terms only apply to COVID-19 related reasons for cancellation, these include:
- The World Health Organization has not revised the pandemic status
- The government in the guest’s country of residence restricts all but essential travel
- Level 3 travel restrictions are imposed on the destination by the guest country of residence
- The destination(s) the guest is traveling to are under official government sanctioned lock-down that prohibits guest from traveling.
- If some but not all of the destinations are impacted, the guest will be offered the option to re-route into other destinations and lodges or held as a credit according to the revised policy as in place.
- The destinations have no formal lock-down but have closed their border either to international travelers or to travelers from the guest’s country of residence.
- International flights are cancelled with no alternative routings available for guest to use to reach the destinations in the itinerary.
- The guest has contracted COVID-19 and under treatment or is in quarantine or under medical treatment up to 48 hours prior to travel. EST reserves the right to ask for any reasonable evidence, written statements and or documents to support the reasons for cancellation that are given.
Along the Avenue of the Volcanoes
Day 1: Quito - Cotopaxi
You’ll be accompanied from the airport, or from your hotel in Quito if you have spent a day or two in the capital before setting off (recommended), to register your Hertz rental at the airport office and then pick up your car from the nearby Hertz Agency. Our English speaking agent will help familiarize you with your car and its coded electronic key, and set up the GPS and Wifi.
From the airport you’ll drive south towards the Cotopaxi area via the town of Sangolqui, with an optional stop at the Pita River. Starting from the Municipal Water Company’s parking area, the hike to the Pita River waterfall and back will take around two hours
The walk is easy and you’ll see energizing waterfalls, lots of birds and endemic plants, it´s also suitable for children.
Hiking time: 2 Hours
Difficulty: Easy, although the narrow path through the valley is uneven in places.
Type of terrain: Grassland;
Back on the road, you’ll continue on to cozy Chilcabamba Lodge, where you’ll spend the night. Once you get there you’ll have time to try some of the easy self-guided walks around the property. The views are wonderful, there’s no other word for it.
Included: English speaking assistance for check in at rental car office, rental car & driving explorer pack*, bedroom and dinner.
Day 2: Cotopaxi - Chugchilan
When you leave Chilcabamba Lodge, drive to the northern entrance of Cotopaxi National Park. (Hours: 08:00 - 15:00)
Once inside the Park your first stop could be Limpiopungo Lake, where you can walk along the shore and look at the many aquatic birds that live here. If you feel like driving even higher, stop at the car park at the end of the road and from there you can climb a steep, winding and rocky road which leads to the mountain refuge, located on the snow line at 4,800m. But take care, you’re probably not used to the high altitude and may find it difficult to make it all the way around; it’s about an hour’s walk from the car. But if you decide not to make the climb, don’t worry, the views from the car park are also truly spectacular. At the Interpretation Centre you’ll get an idea of the history of this truly magnificent volcano and its major eruptions.
When you leave, take the road leading to the northern exit and follow the signs for Tambopaxi Lodge, where we recommend you have lunch.
From there you’ll continue your drive to the charming little town of Chugchilan. You’ll stay the night at the Mama Hilda a homely and tranquil traditional style Andean hotel (Standard Room)
Included: breakfast, rental car & driving explorer pack*, bedroom and dinner
Day 3: Chugchilan - Quilotoa - Baños
Make sure you are on the road early; you have 3 hours of breath-taking scenery ahead as you drive to the Quilotoa area.
When you get to the Shalala viewpoint you’ll see the enormous Quilotoa volcanic crater with its serene green and turquoise lake. Once you’re here you’ve got the option of a short walk (1.7km) along the crater's rim.
After leaving Quilotoa you’ll have a relatively long drive south to the attractive town of Baños; it will take about 3 hours. Baños is named after the thermal baths that draw thousands of visitors annually, and is also known for the adrenaline-pumping adventure activities available in the area. The town is sleepy during the week, but comes to life at weekends, with local pilgrims, families and adventure sports enthusiasts. Baños sits in the shadow of the impressive Tungarahua volcano and is surrounded steep lush green hills. Your hotel is just at the entrance to the town as you approach from the South.
Night at the Samari Spa Hotel with its luxurious guest rooms and flower gardens (Suite)
Included: breakfast, rental car & Sky driving explorer pack* , bedroom
Day 4: Baños
A day at Leisure. Here’s some things you can do:
Casa del Arbol swing: The most popular activity in Baños is a swing on a nearby hilltop, where you launch yourself out over a steep slope, with views over the town of Baños down in the valley. You might prefer just to look: we haven’t tested this out ourselves.
The church of Our Lady of the Holy Waters: The church is in the central Plaza. Inside you’ll see a collection of murals that illustrate local miracles that have been attributed to the Virgin.
The Waterfall of the Virgin : The waterfall of the Virgin is the only one in Ecuador located within an urban area; it can be observed from any point of the city.
The Bride’s Veil Waterfall : If you like waterfalls, here’s another one worth taking a look at: the Manto de la Novia (Bride’s veil). It’s located 12 km from Baños: on the road to Puyo, before you get to Río Verde.
The Pailón Del Diablo waterfall : The Pailón Del Diablo or ‘Devil’s Cauldron’ is a magnificent waterfall in the Rio Verde area, about half an hour’s drive from Baños. The waterfall is about 80m high and it’s one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Ecuador. There’s a small parking and entrance fee, a good paved path, toilets and snacks.
Night at the Samari Spa Hotel (Suite)
Included: breakfast, rental car & Sky driving explorer pack*, bedroom
Day 5: Baños - Riobamba - Alausí
Today you’ll be heading South Head south, making the transition from the Amazon to the Andes.
Your drive winds along the Avenue of Volcanoes, a strip of 14 active, semi-active and dormant volcanic mountains: passing traditional haciendas, indigenous villages and protected natural areas.
Don’t forget to stop at Balbanera church. This is the oldest Catholic church in Ecuador, founded on August the 15th, 1534, and built by the conquistadores in colonial style. The church is dedicated to the most holy Virgin Mary de la Balbanera.
If you’re travelling on a Thursday, you might also want to stop in the town of Guamote. Here you’ll find a very authentic indigenous market filled with fresh produce and a lot of stalls selling goods to local people who come in from the surrounding communities. The Guamote market is a great place to sit and people-watch as the locals in their brightly colored traditional dress buy their provisions for the week.
OPTIONAL ACTIVITY (extra cost, and must be booked in advance)
No image of the Andes is complete without the graceful figures of the native llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas. Their natural habitats are the “paramos”, or high grasslands. From Riobamba you may want to visit the local community of Palacio Real, where you’ll get a real insight into life on the ‘paramo’, into the community’s efforts to preserve their environment, and how they honour their llamas at the Llama Museum and on the llama trail.
Later, you’ll drive from Riobamba to the historic town of Alausi, designated Ecuadorian Cultural heritage. The journey will take about 1 hour and a half. You’ll spend the night in Alausí.
Night at the La Quinta (Standard room)
Included: breakfast, rental car & Sky driving explorer pack*, excursion, bedroom
Day 6: Alausi - Ingapirca - Cuenca
For the train to the ‘Devils Nose’ walk 5 minutes from La Quinta hostel to the train station. The train leaves at 8am, so please make sure to be at the station at 07:45am or earlier.
The biggest problem faced during the construction of the Trans-Andean railroad in the early twentieth century, was the Devil’s Nose, a mountain with almost perpendicular walls. To overcome the obstacle a zigzag track was built that climbs more than 500m in less than 12 km, with steep ascents and descents. Even today it is an impressive piece of engineering.
DEPARTURES: Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday - holidays
While you’re recovering from the incredible descent, you’ll get some spectacular views of river Chanchán’s narrow gorge, and in the village of Sibambe you’ll have the chance to learn a bit about the traditions and world-view of the Puruhua people.
After the train ride, you‘ll be transferred back to Hostería La Quinta to pick up your car at 11:00 and continue on to the Ingapirca ruins. On the way make sure to stop at the Pistishi lookout, where you’ll get spectacular views of the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose).
The Ingapirca ruins are the largest and best preserved archaeological complex in Ecuador. The Inca Empire’s only remaining sun temple in Ecuador, Ingapirca was built with stones perfectly carved and joined with natural mortar. The temple served as a venue for ceremonies and rituals of the Cañari-Inca culture, and also had strategic military objectives. You’ll be able to explore the complex, learning about its various structures – from the baths to the wineries. (Entrance fee paid locally).
When you leave Ingapirca, the next stop will be the historic city of Cuenca, where you’ll spend the night: the drive will take approximately 90mins
You’ll spend the night at the Hotel Victoria, a stylish old world hotel overlooking the tranquil Tomebamba River (Standard Room)
Included: breakfast, train ticket, English speaking guide, rental car & Sky driving explorer pack*, bedroom
Day 7:Cuenca city walking tour (3 hours)
After breakfast we’ll set out on a tour of this beautiful city, named a World heritage site in 1999. Your guide will meet your at your hotel.
One of the first things you’ll notice in Cuenca is its colonial architecture and the magnificent skyline marked by graceful church domes.
You’ll walk along the city’s cobblestone streets and watch the people go by in the town square dominated by the great cathedral. With approximately 400,000 inhabitants,
Cuenca is considered by many to be the most beautiful in Ecuador owing to its architecture, beautiful surroundings and small town ambiance.
Cuenca is traversed by four rivers and surrounded by green valleys. Its people also create some of the finest crafts in the country.
**OPTIONAL: Full day tour to Gualaceo & Chordeleg (extra cost)
Night at the Hotel Victoria (Standard Room)
Included: breakfast, rental car & Sky driving explorer pack*, English speaking guide, excursion, bedroom
Day 8: Cuenca - Guayaquil
Today you’ll start out on the drive to Guayaquil, passing through El Cajas, one of Ecuador’s largest and most diverse National Parks.
El Cajas 70,000 acres shelter everything from cloud forest to rocky lunar landscapes, but it’s the lakes (more than 200 of them) scattered among jagged peaks that best characterize the Park’s attractions.
Most of El Cajas lies above 3,000 meters, with páramo covering most of the rugged terrain. Frost and ice above 4,000 meters try their best to deter, unsuccessfully, hardy vegetation such as the tiny quinua tree, which clings to life higher than any other tree in the world. Look out for these 200-year-old specimens tucked up against hillsides in pockets of primary forest, clothed in a green palette of mosses and ferns and fighting each other for sun- light.
You’ll also stand a good chance of seeing the wild llamas that were reintroduced to the park in the late 1990s. The Park’s other animal inhabitants, such as the spectacled bear, puma, and tigrillo, are a bit more more elusive, but even so, with a little bit of luck you may spot one. The long list of birds species you’ll be able to see here includes hummingbirds, toucans, and Andean Condors.
After leaving El Cajas, you’ll drive on to Guayaquil to drop off your car.
Included: breakfast, English speaking assistance to drop off the car, rental car & driving explorer pack
The road network in Ecuador is generally good, with some fast major routes: for example, the Panamerican Highway section of the Avenue of Volcanoes has 3 to 4 paved lanes. Minor roads may be unpaved or without road markings. In the rainy season (generally from January to May) small landslides can cover stretches of road with mud and stones. Care is required.
The country’s major highways are designated by both name and an alphanumeric designation. The designations begin with the letter E followed by a number. The system is a grid, with odd numbers used to designate roads travelling from North to South with numbers rising as you travel from West to East. Even numbers are used to designate highways running from East to West, with numbers rising as you travel from North to South.
There are few toll roads, but where these do exist charges are low: around $US1.00.
The recently paved E45, which runs down the Eastern flank of the Andes to the Amazon region, has many curves and can be steep in places; caution is advised at all times, above all at night or on a wet surface. On the other hand, there is generally less traffic compared to other major roads, although large trucks may sometimes slow progress.
Minor roads in and around towns and villages may have potholes and speed bumps, and these are not always clearly marked.
There are occasional police check-points where you will need to show your driver’s licence and insurance certificate.
THE RULES OF THE ROAD
Driving in Quito is regulated according to vehicle number plate. Your driving is regulated within Quito from 7:00 -9:30 am and from 16:00-19:30, according to the final digit of your number plate (Monday: 1 – 2 / Tuesday: 3 – 4/ Wednesday: 5 – 6/ Thursday: 7 – 8 / Friday: 9 – 0); We suggest take the AV. Simon Bolivar to leave the city
Drive on the right; overtake on the left.
The minimum age for drivers in Ecuador is 18.
While the car is in motion all occupants must wear seat belts.
The permitted blood-alcohol level is 0.07%.
In urban areas, the maximum speed limit is 50 km/h (30 mph). If the car exceeds the limit above 60 km/h (37 mph) the driver may be arrested.
On perimeter roads, the maximum speed limit is 90 km/h (55 mph). Driving between 90 km/h (55 mph) and 120 km/h (75 mph) is a traffic offence with a fine payable of $US200.00 or more. If the speed of your car is clocked exceeding 120 km/h (75 mph), the driver may be arrested.
On highways the maximum speed limit is 100 km/h (60 mph). Driving between 100 km/h and 135 km/h (84 mph) is a traffic offence with a fine payable of $US200.00 or more. If the speed of your car is clocked exceeding 135 km/h (84 mph), the driver may be arrested.
On roads with bends, the maximum speed limit is 60 km/h (37 mph). Driving between 60 km/h (37 mph) and 75 km/h (45 mph) is a traffic offence with a fine payable of $US200.00 or more. If the speed of your car is clocked exceeding 135 km/h (84 mph), the driver may be arrested.
If a motorist is involved in an accident in which someone is injured or killed, they will be detained irrespective of fault.
The police phone number is 911.
Driving at night is not recommended as it can be dangerous.
The rush hours in cities are 8:00 – 9:30, 12:00 – 13:00, 17:00 – 19:00 Monday to Friday. Traffic is especially heavy entering or leaving towns on market days.
In urban areas, signage is not always good. You should be particularly alert to the fact that many towns and cities operate one-way systems. Look out for the arrows on the road surface and road side that indicate these systems, but bear in mind that they may be missing or obscured.
At roundabouts, there may only be one sign posted before the roundabout, and not at each exit.
Rural roads tend to be better signposted than city streets. However, be attentive to pedestrians on the road, cyclists without lights or high visibility gear, cowboys and their cattle, dogs and maybe even bears! Road works are not always signposted.
Parking in a designated car park is recommended.
Picking up hitch hikers is not recommended.
Petrol is sold in gallons; the rates are: Extra - $US1,85; Super - $US2.98; Diesel - $US 2.30
Gas stations are numerous, even on back roads you should be able to fill up regularly. There is no self-service, you will be served by an employee without needing to get out of the car. Credit cards and cash are accepted in cities but in smaller or rural locations cash may be only way to pay.
FINDING YOUR WAY AROUND
We recommend that you do not drive in large cities owing to the chaotic traffic and poor signage. In Quito there is a system whereby cars with certain number plates may circulate on any specific day (pico y placa).
If you need directions, try to ask a taxi driver. Local drivers and passers-by may try to help but you can end up even more confused!
HERTZ CAR HIRE: SPECIFIC INFORMATION
To rent a car, the minimum age of the driver varies according to the hire company. Hertz, stipulates a lower limit of 21 and upper limit of 80 years of age.
A valid national driver’s photo-licence is acceptable for the first 30 days of your stay in Ecuador, beyond this an International Driver’s Licence is required.
You can choose to prepay for a tank of fuel. If you do, you will not be charged if you return the car empty. If you do not pre-pay, but set off with a full tank, you will be charged according to how full the tank is when you return the car, so you are advised to fill it before handing over (a petrol station can be found close to the airports).
Rental periods are 24 hours. If the car is returned more than one hour into a new rental period, an extra day will be charged on return of the vehicle
Hertz emergency 24 hour phone number is 099 244 1545.
Picking up your car:
Hertz have agencies at Quito (and Guayaquil airports 07:00-00:00hrs) and downtown (it is not recommended that you collect your car there). You can arrange to collect your car outside these hours. Cars can be returned to Quito or Guayaquil airports.
Pick-up: At the Quito airport, Hertz’s booth is ahead of you as you come out of the luggage hall. Our representative will meet you to assist you with the paper work. (Some Hertz staff speak a little English). Once the paperwork is completed you will be driven to the car pick-up point 5 minutes away. The car should be checked before acceptance for any damage, cleanliness, petrol level.
The car should be provided with a warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and cover for the boot.
Drop-off: Upon return, it is not necessary to have the car washed, but you will be charged if it is extremely dirty inside or if there is animal fur or damage not registered at pick-up.
Hertz can currently provide two vehicles. These are considered the best for road conditions in Ecuador. Manual transmission vehicles are not available.
Suzuki SZ2 2.4L 4x2 automatic, 5 passengers (recommended for our High Roads of the Andes package). No older than 2016.
Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.5L 4x4 automatic, 7 passengers. No older than 2016 (possible upgrade for High Roads of the Andes package).
Clients taking pre-designed itineraries will be provided with a
Wifi dongle in the car allowing you to access to the internet and Whatsapp on your own smart phone. Note that coverage can be patchy in remote areas. Mobile Wifi comes with a USB port for hardware battery charging to use in the car’s energy port.
A Sat Nav with pre-loaded key locations and images relevant to the route.