Leaving Hostal Tiana I took a taxi to the road where the Quito buses stop. The taxi was $1 (August 2011) and it dropped me near a bus standing still. This was not at the same point, where I had been dropped more than a week before when arriving to Latacunga with a Quito bus, but it was probably near.
I went onboard the bus and paid the ticket, which was $1.50. After 10 minutes, at 10 o’clock, it left. In Quito the bus stopped at the big Terminal Quitumbe, which is situated 5km south of Centro Histórico where I was going. From Terminal Quitumbe you can take the Trole bus, but as those can be very full and I was travelling with my backpacks I chose to take a taxi. The taxi to Hotel Viena Internacional in Centro Histórico was $7. The whole journey from the bus stop in Latacunga to the hotel took two hours.
Update August 2012: Also this year the price for a taxi ride within Latacunga was $1. The bus to Quito, Terminal Quitumbe, was $1.50 and took 1.5h. The taxi drivers waiting outside Terminal Quitumbe didn’t want to use the taximeter but charged $7 to Centro Historico. I knew it would be cheaper to go out on the street to take a taxi from there, but still very tired after having temperature and a bad cold I accepted the price of $7.
I came to the bus terminal in Baños after 10.30 and at 10.40 there was a bus leaving for Quito. I went into the office and bought a ticket and as always I got a seat number. The ticket was $2 (July 2011). I put my big backpack by my feet, by the window, and my small daypack on my lap. Before coming to Ecuador I had heard there is a lot of thefts on the buses so this is how I always put my bags when travelling by bus. To Latacunga it took less than two hours.
In Latacunga the Quito buses stop one block away from the bus terminal and several blocks away from the city centre. As I didn’t know the exact location of Hostal Tiana (they had changed location just a few weeks before) I took a taxi. I told the taxi driver the new address for Hostal Tiana, but it turned out he took me to the old location. The taxi ride was $1 and the taxi driver told me that that is what all taxi rides within the city cost, I should not pay more. I asked someone in a shop about the new location of Hostal Tiana and it was not far to walk.
Posada de Tigua is situated 800 metres down from the main road, so after breakfast, when it was time to leave, I took my bag and started to walk up to the road. About halfway, when I passed a house, two angrily barking dogs came running after me. I took up a stone and threw it near them and they luckily turned around.
Up on the main road I waited about 15-20 minutes for a bus to pass. From Tigua to Latacunga I paid $1.00 (July 2011) and the journey took over an hour, maybe 1.5 hour.
In Latacunga the bus stopped on the west side of the river, next to a big supermarket. I could see the bridge over the river and decided it would not be to far to walk to Hostal Tiana from there. Otherwise a taxi within Latacunga is $1.00
On Saturdays the bus from Latacunga to Isinliví leaves at 11am, other days it leaves at 13. The bus leaves from the bus terminal in Latacunga, except on Thursdays when it leaves from Saquisilli. One of the guys from Hostal Tiana was going to Isinliví with fruits and vegetables, and an armchair, so I got a ride to the terminal in the back of the truck. At the terminal the Isinliví bus was already standing there and I went on board , took a seat and paid $2 (July 2011) for the ticket. When the bus left the terminal it was full, and along the way it got packed. The ride to Isinliví took 2.5 hours. In Isinliví the bus stopped at the square, near the church, and then it went down to Hostal Llulu Llama, so it was easy to unload all the things going to the hostel.
Uppdate 2012: I had planed to take the bus at 13.00 and I arrived at the terminal in good time because I remember the bus filled up quickly last year. At the terminal I went over to the counter where it said Isinliví on a sign. It was 12.15 and the man said it was a bus leaving that moment. I asked if it was a direct bus and he said yes. I bought the ticket, which was $2.50 (July 2012) and the man took me to the bus. There I saw that it said Sigchos/Iisinliví in the window of the bus and I realised it was not a direct bus. I asked if that bus, or the direct bus at 13, would arrive first. I was told that they would arrive around the same time. To Sigchos it took around 2h and to Isinliví another half an hour. We arrived first, because I saw the direct bus arrive around 15 minutes later.
Latacunga is a hub of land transport in Ecuador. The main bus station is just on the other side of the river from the center of the city and an easy safe walk. It is two hours ($1.50) south of Quito and the easiest access point for doing the Quilotoa Loop, a great bus/bike/walking tour of Andean villages around the giant crater lake Quilotoa. It is easy to get a bus from Latacunga to Zumbahua (two hours, $2) to begin the loop. Buses run frequently to all destinations so unlikely you will have to wait more than an hour.
I walked to the bus terminal and just as I arrived a bus outside the terminal was leaving for Ambato. I hopped on and got a seat. I sat next to a man from Ambato whose name was Darwin. Near Ambato there was a lot of traffic and the bus travelled slowly. In Ambato I had planed to go to the terminal and take a bus to the centre from there. Darwin told me it was better to go off the bus at another place were the buses would pass by. So we went off and so did most people. Before a bus arrived a taxi came. Darwin who was in a hurry back to his work stopped the taxi and as his work was in the centre I could come along . The bus journey from Latacunga took 1h and it was $1 (July 2012).
When it was time to go back to Latacunga in the afternoon I went to Parque 12 de Noviembre from where the buses to the terminal left. I went on board and paid $0.25. I never saw the terminal and when I asked a man about it he told me we had already passed it, but the bus would turn and go downhill again. I could then go off at a roundabout and walk a short distance from there to the terminal. So I got some sightseeing of residential areas of Ambato too.
At the terminal I didn’t see a ticket booth selling tickets to Latacunga. When I asked for it I was told to go directly to the buses outside. There I saw people queuing for the Quito bus. A bus got full and left and another arrived immediately after. I got a seat on that bus. IN Latacunga the bus stopped a few blocks from the bus terminal. Once again the journey took 1h and cost $1.
The buses from Chugchilán to Latacunga leaves very early in the morning. I can’t remember if it was at 3am or 4am, but it was absolutely too early. Another option for me was to share a pickup with people who were going to Quilotoa, and take the bus at 13.00 from Quilotoa to Latacunga. A pickup from Chugchilán to Quilotoa cost $25 (July 2012) for up to five people. If there are more than five people everyone pays $5. The man with the pickup was maybe going on to Latacunga and then I could go with him for another $5.
When it was time to go it turned out there were many people going to Quilotoa, so they went with a small lorry. We were three who were going to Latacunga and we went with the man with the pickup. As the other two tourists hadn’t seen the landscape before and after Sigchos we went that way.
It took between 2-2.5h to go to Latacunga. The other two tourists wanted to go to the bus terminal so I went off there as well and walked to the hotel. We paid the driver $10 each.
We used Latacunga as a base for a trip to Laguna Quilotoa and the surrounding region. To get there, we took a bus to Zumbahua, which in theory would have arrived early enough to allow us to walk the last few miles up the hill to Laguna Quilotoa and the inn there. Unfortunately, it took a long time, and hopefully you won't make the same mistake we did:
Once at the bus station, try to get confirmation from multiple sources on which is the next, and fastest bus to Zumbahua. Ask if there will be a stopover anywhere. What happened to us was that we found a bus for Zumbahua, and got on, but the conductor was not present. A conductor from another bus got on and informed us that his bus would be leaving sooner. We transferred our bags and bodies to the new bus, only to sit there for at least an hour, watching the original bus and at least one other heading our direction depart.
We were a little peeved, but stuck it out. When the bus finally got going, it went about 10 km to the neighboring town of Pujili, where it stopped in front of the market, for an hour! We set about getting some lunch, and finally departed for Zumbahua. When we arrived, we were met by a pick-up truck, whose driver offered to give us a lift to Quilotoa for $10 US. We were so late that we had little choice but to accept his offer, or try to find a place in Zumbahua to bed down.