From Quito to Secret Garden Cotopaxi
Secret Garden is a popular hostel in Quito, but they have also got a hostel on the foothills of Vulcán Pasochoa, with a view towards Vulcán Cotopaxi. To go there by public transportation would be a little tricky and it would also include some walking. Therefore it is very good that Secret Garden in Quito organize transport to their hostel near Pasochoa. They need a minimum of four persons and charge $5 per person (July 2014) for the transport.
I took a taxi from my hotel in Old Town to Secret Garden, which is situated on Calle Antepara in San Blas. The taxi was $1, which is the minimum price for a taxi ride in Quito. The transport left Secret Garden Quito at 10am and we were probably around 9-10 tourists in the minibus. The bus ride took 2 hours.
- Budget Travel
Taxi to and from the new airport in Quito
The price for a taxi from the airport to Centro Histórico was still $26 if you pay in cash to the driver on arrival. I had problems with my bank card and could not withdraw money with it. Luckily I could use it at the airport to pay for the taxi. When paying with the bank card (master card) I paid $27.15. The taxi to Centro Histórico took 50 minutes one time, and 60 minutes another time.
When I went to Galapagos Islands in 2013 I had an early flight and thought it was better to take a taxi from the hotel all the way to the airport, rather than to go to the old airport first and take a bus from there. I arranged for the taxi at the hotel (Hotel Viena Internacional in Centro Histórico). The price for the taxi was $30 (June 2013) and the drive to the airport took only 50 minutes. We left the hotel already at 5am so there was not much traffic.
Coming back from Galapagos Islands I decided to take a taxi too. Just outside the arrival hall there is a counter where you order taxis. The official price to Centro Histórico was $26 (July 2013), you get a receipt but pay directly to the taxi driver when you arrive at your destination.
The taxi left the airport at 17.15. There was a lot of traffic and the driver decided to take the small road past Guápulo. There was not less traffic there and after a while the driver started to use his GPS (he was from El Quinche, closer to the airport). It got dark and the driver took the wrong road and had to stop and ask for the way. I was worried that I would arrive to the hotel too late to make a phone call from one of the shops near the hotel, so the driver let me use his phone. Not until 19.15 did we arrive at the hotel so the journey had taken two hours. The taxi driver wanted more money than $26 and because he had let me use his phone did give him some more.
Bus to and from the new airport in Quito
Update August 2014:
I had checkout time at the hotel at 11 and my plane (KLM) was not leaving until later in the afternoon so I had plenty of time and there was no need to take a taxi directly from the hotel to the airport. Instead I took a taxi from old town to the old airport, from where the airport buses leave. The taxi took around half an hour and was $3. The bus ticket was still $8 (as in 2013). I took the 11.30 bus and as it was Saturday and not so much traffic, and because the new northern route had just opened it just took 50 minutes to the airport. The Wi-Fi on board worked well.
Aero Servicios run buses between the new airport and the old airport in Quito. The buses run every half an hour (except for a few hours around midnight when they run every hour) and the journey is non-stop and takes around 90 minutes. There is free Wi-Fi on board the bus.
When I arrived in Quito in June 2013 it was afternoon so I decided to take the bus rather than a taxi. The ticket counter was just outside the arrival hall and I bought a ticket for $8. I was told the next bus left in two minutes so I hurried outside and was in time. There were only 6-7 passengers on the bus so I brought both my backpacks inside the bus. The bus journey took 70 minutes.
Outside the old airport there was a long line with taxis. They didn’t use taximeter but said there was a tariff and it was $10 to Centro Histórico. It was a lot of traffic and the taxi ride to Centro Historico took 45 minutes.
When it was time to leave Ecuador my flight left in the afternoon so this time I used the airport bus again. I took a taxi from the road outside the hotel (in Centro Histórico) and with taximeter it was $3.37 and it took about half an hour. At the old airport I bought a ticket for the bus and again I didn’t have to wait many minutes before the next bus left. And again it took 70 minutes between the old and new airport.
- Budget Travel
From Quito to Galapagos Islands
During 2014 I have flown to Galapagos Islands twice. Both times I flew with TAME and bought the ticket on Internet for $463. The first time I bought the ticket a month ahead and the second time only a few days before I was going.
I had bought tickets with the plane leaving 7.10 and went to the airport early. The taxi took less than 50 minutes and as I was at the airport before 5am, when the window where you pay the INGALA-fee opens, I first had my luggage scanned and sealed. The INGALA-fee was still $10.
On the way to Galapagos Islands the plane lands in Guayaquil. The TAME plane leaving at 7.10 is supposed to arrive in Galapagos Islands at 9.20 (remember there is an hour time difference between Galapagos and the mainland). The first time we were one hour late, but the second time the plane landed on time.
Before going to Galapagos Islands in 2013 I had seen the cheapest flights on TAME and Aerogal, but they did not accept payment over Internet with foreign bankcards (I have heard that at least TAME does now). LAN had return tickets for $400 (June/July) on their website but I didn’t know if it was a ticket I could change or not. In the end I decided to go on another cruise and when I booked it I let the travel agent book a flight for me as well. I got a ticket with TAME for $525. The ticket could be changed at the airport on Baltra, at the airport on San Cristobal and at TAMEs office in Puerto Ayora without any extra cost. There was no problem to change the ticket the day before departure.
Quito airport is now situated far outside the city and with lots of traffic it can take 2 hours to go there, but as I was taking a morning flight and left the hotel at 5am it only took 50 minutes to the airport. For the pre-booked taxi I paid $30 (June 2013). At the airport I first went to pay the $10 INGALA-fee and then the luggage was checked and sealed. Then I checked in my luggage, went through security and had breakfast. The plane departed half an hour late.
As I was leaving early I booked a taxi from the hotel to the airport already the night before. There was very little traffic and it only took 20 minutes to go from Centro Histórico to the domestic terminal of the airport. The price of the taxi was $13.50 (June 2011), and as I had paid $6 going the opposite way I thought it was too much. The taxi driver told me it was because I had booked it in advance and he showed me a table of the prices and it was correct.
At the airport I met one person going on the same cruise as I and also someone from a travel company giving me a boarding pass. I got a window seat which I was grateful for as the weather was very clear and I wanted to see the Andean mountains as we took off. I had seen from the taxi that there were clear views of Cotopaxi.
Someone at the airport told me there was no opportunities to have breakfast once I had passed the passport control, so I went to the café just outside the domestic terminal and had coffee and toast for $4. After passing the passport control I noticed there is a café on that side as well.
There are no international flight to Galapagos Islands, but you have to fly from Quito or Guayaquil. From Quito to Galapagos it takes almost 2.5 hours, and that includes a stop in Guayaquil (when I travelled this route we changed planes in Guayaquil). From Guayaquil it takes 1.5 hours.
From mainland Ecuador you can fly to Baltra Island (just off the north coast of Isla Santa Cruz) or to Isla San Cristóbal. There is also an airport on Isla Isabela, but it is only operated by small planes coming from Baltra or San Cristóbal (so far at least). There are several daily flights, all arriving to Galapagos in the morning. They then return with passengers to the mainland, and the last plane is leaving around 13.00.
A return ticket in high season cost over $400 dollars for foreigners and less than $400 in low season (2011). For Ecuadorian citizens it is cheaper and for residents of Galapagos Islands it is even cheaper. My airplane ticket was included in the price of the cruise.
The three airlines flying to Galapagos are TAME, LAN and AeroGal.
When you arrive to Galapagos Islands you have to pay the National Park fee which is $100 (June 2011). There is also an INGALA transit control fee of $10 to be paid already at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil. This INGALA-fee was included in the price of my cruise.
At the airport on Isla Baltra there is a restaurant/café and there are a few souvenir stands. If you want to have a Galapagos stamp in your passport you can get it at a counter at the airport.
Galapagos is an hour ahead of mainland Ecuador, so don’t forget to change the time on your watch.
Taxi to and from the old airport, Quito
Update August 2014: I took a taxi from Centro Historico (corner of Flores and Chile) to the old airport. It took less than half an hour and it was $3.
Update 2013: When I arrived in Ecuador in June 2013 I took the airport bus from the new airport to the old airport. Outside the old airport a line of taxis where waiting. They did not use taximeter, but a tariff. To Centro Histórico it was $10 and it took 45 minutes (there was lots of traffic).
When I was leaving Quito in August 2013 I took a taxi from the hotel in Centro Histórico to the old airport and it was $3.37 and it took around half an hour to go there.
2011: I arrived to Quito in the morning and was tired after a very long journey. Luckily I got my luggage quickly and was soon through customs. To your right when you leave customs there are three taxi booths and as there were no other customers there yet, I went directly to one of them to ask for a taxi. I paid $ 12 (June 2011) for a taxi to Centro Histórico. A taxi driver came to the counter immediately and took me to the taxi, which turned out to be a big minibus. To Hotel Viena Internacional in Centro Histórico it took 45 minutes.
When I was flying to Galapagos Islands I asked for a taxi at the hotel the evening before, as I was leaving very early. When I came down the taxi was waiting for me and we went away. This time it took only 20 minutes to the airport (the domestic departure hall) and the cost for a prebooked taxi was $13.50 (June 2011).
When I was flying home I was also leaving very early in the morning and once again I booked the taxi in advance. I didn’t ask for the price this time, just thought it was the same as last time. It took about 20 minutes to the airport and when we came to the International departure hall the taxi driver told me it was $14.50 (August 2011) and showed me the taxi metre.
Both times when I went to the airport the taxi took Avenida Occidental, above the city.
Update 2012: Arriving in Quito in June 2012 the American Airlines flight was 2.5 hours late and it was 1.30am when we landed. I had booked a pickup from my hotel (and had got a confirmation), but there was no one at the airport to meet me. Finally I asked someone standing near the taxi booths (which were closed at this hour). He seemed to know several of the people with signs waiting for people they were picking up. The man said he could take me to Centro Historico. Not until we were on the way to the car did I ask for the price and he said it was $15 because he worked for some tourism transportation firm. Well, as I wanted to come to the hotel as soon as possible I accepted it. He had a large new car and drove very fast through an almost empty Quito. It didn’t take long to reach the hotel and the man waited until they had unlocked the door and let me in.
Arriving from Manta in July I took a taxi from the domestic terminal. The taxi driver didn’t want to use the taximeter but said the official price from the airport to Centro Historico was $12.
A few days later I was flying to Coca. This time I took a taxi from the corner of Montufar and Mejia (Centro Histórico) and with taximeter it was $3.20 (July 2012) to the airport. It took around half an hour.
Coming back from Coca a week later the taxi driver waiting outside the terminal wanted $8 to take me to Centro Historico (we agreed that he would take me to La Marin as Flores was closed at the moment). When we were at Parque La Alameda he wanted to drop me there as it was much traffic, or he wanted two dollars more. This was not what we had agreed on. It was still quite far to La Marin, at least when considering that I had two backpacks and a broken wrist. I wrote down his registration number and he continued to La Marin.
Leaving Quito to go home I left too early in the morning to go out and look for a taxi in the street. I was sharing taxi with another woman who had stayed at the hotel. The taxi driver said it was $12 to the airport, but when we arrived he told us the taximeter showed $14. The other woman, who was Ecuadorian, protested but I saw that she paid $7 when she left at the domestic departure hall so I did the same when I was dropped at the international flights.
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From Quito To Baños and back
When leaving the hotel in Centro Historico in Quito I stopped a taxi on the street. The taxi driver said that he wanted to have $10 for going to Terminal Quitumbe, but I said I wanted to go with taxi-meter and he accepted that. It took just over half an hour to go from Centro Historico to Terminal Quitiumbe and it was $5.55 (July 2013).
At Terminal Quitumbe three companies sold tickets to Baños leaving quite soon after my arrival. They all said that it takes 3 hours to Baños. At Expreso Baños the woman said that the others took longer as they were not direct buses, she also said their bus was leaving at 14:30. I bought the ticket for $3.50 and on my way to the bus I saw that the departure time was actually 14:45. The other two buses departed earlier and someone told me they all take the same time to Baños. Anyway, I got seat number one, which is in the front by a window and where there was good room for my big backpack. When I went aboard the bus the man working on the bus told me to be careful with the luggage (and I always am as I have read about thefts on Ecuadorian buses, and also met tourist having things stolen from their luggage on the bus from Baños). It didn’t take 3 hours to Baños, but 3h and 40min.
When it was time to go back to Quito I took a taxi to the terminal in Baños, even though it is centrally located, but the rain really poured down. It was $1. I arrived at the terminal at 11:30 and the first bus was going to leave at 12. I bought a ticket and got seat 4, which is also one of the front seats by a window, and as usual I had my big backpack in front of me by the window and the small daypack in my lap. The journey to Quito took around 3h 30min and it was $3.50.
Update July 2014: The ticket from Baños to Quito was still $ 3.50 and the journey took 3 hours and 20 minutes.
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Quito's new airport is located about an hour outside of the city. If you read a review that says it takes anything less than that they are probably talking about the old airport. We arrived at 8:30 pm and got through customs and immigration in no time, then headed into arrivals where we found the taxi desk, right next to the information desk. The fares are flat rate, $26 to the centro historico. We got a voucher, but you pay the driver. Unless you are staying at a major hotel chain, bring directions to your hotel and a map, our driver consulted my directions several times before we finally found the B&B.
Taxi around Quito
Besides taking the taxi to and from the airport I took a taxi at a few other occasions while in Quito.
To the Teleférico:
As I had been sick the whole night I didn’t want to take buses and walk too much to get to the Teleférico, so I decided to take a taxi. It was a Sunday and it was not too much traffic on the roads. From Centro Histórico I paid $3.23 (June 2011). Going back to Centro Histórico I took a taxi to La Marín and it was $2.05. In August 2012 I paid $2.10 from Plaza Grande to El Teleferico, and $2.64 going back.
Update 2013: I took a taxi from Centro Histórico and when we arrived to El Teleferico the meter showed $7. I knew it was way too expensive and it also showed the colour for night time fares. I paid the half $3.50.
To El Panecillo:
From the end of García Moreno in Centro Histórico stairs are leading up to El Panecillo, but it is strongly advised not to climb those stairs. I have read many warnings saying that people often get mugged walking up to El Panecillo. So I decided to take a taxi, and as I didn’t know how easy it would be to get another taxi at El Panecillo I told the taxi driver to wait while I walked around for a while. I took the taxi from La Marín. From there El Panecillo looks to be quite close, but there is no strait road. On the way up we drove through a rough neighbourhood, which we didn’t drive past on the way down. When we arrived to El Panecillo the meter was on $3 and something and when I came back to the taxi it had very rapidly increased to $6 and something, even if I hadn’t been away for very long. Well, when we were back to El Marin the metre was on $8.50 (June 2011).
Update 2013: I took a taxi from La Marin to El Panecillo for $3. When it was time to go back a taxi just arrived with other people and I could take that taxi back to Centro Historico for $3.
From Mariscal to Centro Histórico:
Once I took a taxi from Mariscal to Centro Histórico because it was dark outside. I stopped a few taxis and asked if they had a taxi-metro but they all said they charged $5 (August 2011) to Centro Histórico. It was not very late, just after 19, and remembering how much I had paid between Centro Histórico and El Teleférico I thought it was too much. The first taxi driver changed his mind to $4 when I closed the door, so I should have taken that one. After asking a few taxi drivers I decided to take the next one. He wanted to have $6, but when I didn’t want to take his taxi he said $5 and I hopped in.
Uppdate July 2012: I had bought a ticket for the Ecovía bus, but as the first three arriving buses were completely packed and it was impossible for me with a broken wrist to get into the bus I took a taxi from Mariscal to La Marin insted. It was daytime and the price was $2.
Terminal Quitumbe - Centro Histórico:
Terminal Quitumbe is situated in the far south of Quito. From Quitumbe you can take the Trole bus for $0.25, but with all my luggage I didn’t want to take it as it can be very crowded, and pick-pocketing is not uncommon. Instead I took one of the taxis waiting outside the terminal. The taxi had a taxi-metro, as it should have, and when we came to my hotel in Centro Histórico it was on $7 (August 2011).
Uppdate 2012: Going from La Marin to Terminal Quitumbe in July 2012 was $5. A couple of weeks later I was going from Hospital Metropolitano to Terminal Quitumbe and then the taxi driver wanted $10, but as I didn't accept that he agreed to use the taxi meter and it ended on $5.06. Coming back to Quitumbe from a trip the taxidriver outside the terminal wanted $7 to drive to Centro Histórico. As I still had pins in my wrist and also had a cold I didn't want to go out to the road (where it is probably cheaper to take a taxi).
Update 2013: Coming back to Quito I saw a sign outside the terminal in Quitumbe with the taxi fare to different locations in Quito. To Centro Histórico it was $5.
More taxi journeys:
From the Mindo bus (near a shopping centre in North Quito) to Centro Histórico (Plaza Grande): $5 (2012)
From Centro Histórico to the terminal of the Reina del Camino-buses: $3 (2012)
From Centro Histórico to La Cima de La Libertad $5 (2013). When I visited Quito in 2012 I had not found a taxi driver who wanted to take me to La Cima de La Libertad, but the first one I asked in 2013 accepted to take me there for $5 (but he made sure I looked the doors when we went uphill through an unsafe neighbourhood). I took the bus back.
Tell the taxi driver that you want to go by taximeter, it is often cheaper.
At the Tourist Office they had told me I shouldn't pay more than $1-2 for a taxi to Convento San Diego. When looking for a taxi I asked a police man too and he stopped a taxi for me and the driver said $3. I couldn't say what they had said at the tourist office and just had to accept $3. It turned out to be very close, and when I went back to Centro Historico the taximeter ended on less than $1 (but $1 is the minimum you pay for a taxi ride in Quito).
Once when I went from Centro Historico to Hospital Metropolitano the taximeter ended on $4.30. To me that sounded to be to much. Just before we arrived the taxi driver put his hand close to the taximeter and I suspect that he changed something (probably turned it to night time fare). The next time I took a taxi the same way it was only $2.10.
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To Quito from Papallacta
I left Hostería Pampallacta Termales at 8:40 and walked down to the main road. Luckily there were not a lot of barking dogs along the way, as it had been the evening before. It took 20 minutes to walk to the main road and I had thought that I probably had to wait quite long for a passing bus, but luckily a bus was standing at the bus stop when I arrived, and there were also available seats in the bus.
To Quito I paid $2 and it took 2 hours to Terminal Quitumbe.
At Terminal Quitumbe I looked at the signs with taxi charges for different places and saw that it was $5 to Centro Historico (last time I was here I had not found Centro Historico on the sign and thus paid $6). So now I paid $5 for the taxi to Centro Historico. It took more than half an hour.
Local buses in Quito are blue, and you see them everywhere. They don’t have a bus number, but their destination is written on a placard displayed in the front window. To know which bus to take and from where, you can always ask at the tourist office or somewhere else. The bus ride is cheap $0.25 (July 2013). Keep in mind that there can be pickpockets on the buses.
I have often travelled with the Metrobus, Ecovía and Trole in Quito, but only twice with one of the blue buses. The first time was when I came back from Cascada San Rafael and the bus I travelled with got a flat tire. Some people took a taxi and I got a ride to a place where I could get a blue bus to La Marin.
The second time I traveled with a blue bus was when I had visited La Cima de La Libertad. I had taken a taxi to go there, but took the bus back to Centro Histórico. A woman at the museum at La Cima de La Libertad had told me to take the bus down to Av Mariscal Sucre and from there another bus or a taxi, as the bus was going uphill into the neighborhood again. The bus driver told me there was no need to change as the bus was going to pass Plaza Grande (where I was going). So, I stayed on the bus while it drove through the neighborhood, the same neighborhood the taxi had passed on the way up to La Cima de La Libertad, and where the taxi driver had told me to lock the doors.
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Metrobus, Ecovía and Trole
The Metrobus, Ecovía and Trole are three bus routes running in a south - north direction through Quito. They stop at special stations with a raised platform. They drive in their own car-free lane so they are not held up in traffic jams, which makes them a fast and popular way of travelling. They are often crowded and you should be careful with your luggage as it is said to be popular with pickpockets. I have used those buses a lot, but going from the airport and Quitumbe Bus Terminal I took a taxi as I had too much luggage.
They run at least every 10 minutes from early morning to late night. The fare is $0.25 (August 2011) and it is paid either at a ticket booth or at a machine on the platform.
Update 2012: Also in June, July and August 2012 the price was $0.25 for a ride on Metrobus, Ecovía or Trole.
Once when I travelled south from San Gabriel the bus suddenly turned and started to go back after a few stops. I thought all buses where going south pass La Marin, but apparently some didn’t.
Update August 2013: The price is still $0.25.
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Train station at Chimbacalle
Construction of the railroad in Ecuador begun in 1873 and in 1908 the stretch between Quito and Guayaquil was completed. So in 1908 a train arrives for the first time to the station at Chimbacalle. Later the railroad was abandoned in favor of road traffic, but in 2008 it was declared a Cultural Heritage and a reconstruction projects begun.
Much of the railroad has now been restored and tourist trains are running several stretches. From Quito you can make daytrips to Machachi, Boliche and Latacunga by train.
I have not travelled with the trains, but only went to the train station as I was interested to see how it looked like. During my last day in Quito in 2011 I read in a newspaper about the Seven wonders of Quito and that the station Eloy Alfaro at Chimbacalle (Estación del Ferrocarril) had been voted number one. I must say that for me there are many other places in Quito that are more beautiful and interesting.
At the station there is a ticket office and a café.
To go here I took the Trolebus from el centro to Chimbacalle.
From Quito to Riobamba
From the hotel in Quito I walked down to La Marin to take a taxi from there to Terminal Quitumbe. The first taxi driver I asked wanted to have $6 (July 2013) and I accepted that as I had paid $5.55 last time I went to Quitumbe with taximeter.
It took about half an hour to go to Quitumbe. When I arrived at the bus terminal I first went to the food court to eat lunch (Seco de pollo for $2.50) and then went to buy a ticket for the bus to Riobamba. I got a ticket by a window at one of the front seats and there it was good room for my luggage. The ticket was $4 and the journey took almost 4 hours.
In Riobamba I took a taxi to Hotel Montecarlo and as all taxis within the city it was $1.
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From El Playon (Marin Los Chillos) to Pasochoa
Before going to Refugio de Vida Silvestre Pasochoa I asked at the Tourist Office how to get there and was told that I should take a bus from El Playon (Marin Los Chillos). El Playon is situated less than a kilometer south of Plaza Marin, so I walked there.
At El Playon I took a bus from the company Coop Amaguaño going to Tambillo. I went off the bus at El Ejido. To El Ejido it took just over an hour and it was $0.45 (July 2013). From El Ejido it is another 5km to the entrance of Refugio de Vida Silvestre Pasochoa so I took a taxi (camioneta) from the bus stop. The road was quite bumpy and I paid $6 for the ride. At the reserve I was told that the taxi ride should have been $5.
When it was time to go back to Quito after several hours of hiking in Pasochoa I started to walk back to the main road, it was a walk along a narrow road passing pastureland. About halfway I got a ride with some other people who had visited Pasochoa. When they dropped me at the main road I was lucky as a bus heading to Quito and Marin Los Chillos (Playon) just arrived. Back to Quito I paid $050.
From El Playon I have also taken a green bus to Sangolqui. It was $0.40 (July 2013) and it took around 40 minutes to Parque Turismo in Sangolqui.
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Quito Tour Bus
When I visited Quito in 2012 I noticed a new feature that hadn’t been there when I visited in 2011. It was red double-decker tourist buses. I never took a ride with those tourist buses as I had already seen much of Quito, and I prefer to walk, or take public transport.
The Quito Tour Bus started to run in November 2011. It is a hop on – hop off bus which included 12 stops around the city. The buses are running once an hour between 9 – 16. A day ticket cost $12 (May 2013). If you decide to sit on the bus the whole time, without making stops, a tour takes about 2.5 – 3 hours.