From Quito to Otavalo and back
Before coming to Quito I had read that buses to Otavalo leaves from Terminal Carcelen, in the far north of Quito. To know how to get there I asked for direction. Someone told me to take the bus to La Y and from there take another bus to Carcelen. When I left in the morning they told me at my hotel to take the yellow Metrobus from La Marín to Ofelia and from there another bus to Carcelen.
At La Marín I bought the ticket for Ofelia, which was 25 cents (June 2011). On the way to Ofelia the bus stopped at La Y (two different stops) but I decided to continue to the end stop Ofelia. From La Marín to Ofelia it took over half an hour and when we arrived there people quickly went to line up in queues for other buses. The queue for the Carcelen bus was the longest and when the bus arrived the queue dissolved as everyone tried to get in at the same time. Anyway I got on the bus! The bus linking Ofelia with Carcelen didn’t cost anything (not when you have already paid for the Metrobus).
At Carcelen most people went directly to the ticket booths, but I had to buy something to eat first as I hadn’t had breakfast and there were several small booths selling snacks and drinks there. Then I went to buy the ticket for Otavalo, which was $2. To enter the terminal you have to pay another 20 cents. On the bus ticket not only the seat number was written, but also the bus number. As it was Saturday , and market day in Otavalo, a lot of people were going there and my bus was not the first leaving, but the third.
To Otavalo it took 2 hours and the bus stopped at the terminal, but many people left the bus already at the Panamericana and took a short cut to the market. However, it is not far to the market from the terminal either.
Coming back to the terminal in the afternoon a bus was just leaving for Quito and I went aboard and bought the ticket on the bus. To Carcelen it took 1h 50 minutes
At Carcelen I went to the line for La Y (wanted to see if this way was quicker than the one over Ofelia). On the bus I paid 25 cents and at La Y the line for the Metrobus was very long. As I had already paid 25 cents I didn’t pay again for the Metrobus to La Marín. As far as I can see it doesn’t matter if you change at La Y or at Ofelia, as both routes took a very long time.
- Budget Travel
TAME Saves the Day
Long story short: I was supposed to arrive in Quito at midnight, but I arrived in Guayaquil at 3 a.m. instead. Thank you Continental!
Well, I took a nap on a wire bench (I felt like an Excel spreadsheet), and at 6:30 sharp, the office of TAME (pronounce Tammy, stands for Transporte Aereo Militar Ecuatoriano) opened. I bought a ticket to Quito for $56, and to my delight discovered the flight would be on one of the two remaining 727s operated by TAME.
So, in the end, I got to fly 40 minutes in a 40 year old "whisperliner," one of the noisiest but most exciting early jets: A delightful flight with great views to boot.
- Budget Travel
Scooter and Motorcycle Rental in Quito
Motorcycle and motorscooter rentals (and mountain bikes, too) are available for rent from Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental located on Juan León Mera N22-37 (between Carrión and Veintimilla).
This is absolutely the best way to get around Quito - especially with its steep hills and traffic! Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental offers easy-to-drive 100cc Yamaha Scooters that are fitted with GPS units and are programmed to give you a tour of Quito at your own pace. This is the best way to see the city, stay outside and be free to do what you want. www.FreedomBikeRental.com
- Adventure Travel
QuiMetro is the local system of public transit in Quito, which is marginally better than the systems of transit in other Latin American capitals. There are three lines (green, blue and red) that have dedicated lanes for their buses or trolleys. These trolleys are quite cheap (25 cents a ride), but they are not the best maintained, and nor are they the cleanest or most comfortable form of transit. During rush hour, they can become so full that the doors have trouble closing and people topple over on one another. Nevertheless, without a car, they are undoubtedly the cheapest and easiest means of getting from the financial district to the centre of the city, and as long as you take precautions to protect your wallet, they should just be a fun ride.
Bus in Quito
A typical street view in Quito with old buses. There were a lot of shabby, old buses in the city.
Take a look at the photo and notice the monument on the top of the hill. It gives you an idea of where you are in Quito.
- Budget Travel
- Adventure Travel
easy and cheap!
There are two reasons why it is easy to go around Quito. First, transport is very cheap and second Quito is long and narrow so wherever you need to go you can use the bus and then walk. There are mainly 3 bus lines.
Ecovia, which runs on the east side of the city, on Avenida Seis de Diciembre.
Trole, which runs on Av. Diez de Agosto and will take you to the Central bus Station Cumanda, when you move to another destination, and to the Old town.
Finally Metro bus, built only recently in 2004, which runs on Avenida Diez de Agosto and Av, de la Prensa and will take you to the airport and to Mitad del Mundo. Buses are fast, comfortable and cost only 25c. Sometimes they are really crowded but you don't have to worry as long as you keep your money well hidden and your hands tightly on your luggage. I always used them with no trouble. Locals were polite and helpful.
On the other hand, taxis are very cheap. If you arrive at Quito's airport for the first time you'd better take a taxi to reach your hotel. It will cost you 7$. But still it is easy to get on the Metro bus passing just outside the gate, in case you know exactly where to get off and only in daylight. Taxis are no more than 5$ to run through the whole city. For usual trips a taxi will not cost you 1- 2$. If you use it to go to Panecillo, wait for you and take you back, it could be 6$. If you like negotiating you can always hit a better price.
There are plenty of other buses going to every place in Quito. Just ask locals or bus drivers. They will be eager to help you.
As for the Old Town the best way to go around is on foot.
Safari Tours - Quito
One of the most reliable agency in Quito, Safari Tours is excellent for any kind of tour in Ecuador. They have a variety of well organised expeditions or trips to fit all tastes. It's not cheap but the company are associated with more than one boat companies or travelling experts so they can give you a range of different prices. Whatever your needs or desires are, they can find the best solution. Go climbing, jungle trekking, sightseeing or even shopping in the famous Ecuadorian markets under their care. You 'll have your peace of mind, as they are seriously taking care of every client. The staff are very efficient, knowledgeable and polite.
By the way the famous bar and restaurant “ Magic Bean” is across the street.
Foch E5-39 & Juan Leon Mera.
- Family Travel
For me, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say for the majority of visitors to Quito, the most useful bus routes will be the north-south links between the Old Town and La Mariscal. Fortunately, it's very easy to make this connection cheaply and conveniently.
There are three main bus networks. The Trole, which uses electric trolley buses and runs along Avenida 10 de Agosto in the Old Town and along Avenida Maldonado and run most of the day (not after 11:15 pm on weekdays and 12:35 am on Fridays and Saturdays). For connections between the Old Town and La Mariscal, it makes no difference which bus you get on, they all follow this route.
The Ecovia runs between La Marin in the Old Town and along Avenida 6 de Diciembre through La Mariscal. While it's not electric, is is eco-friendly, which means the buses are low emissions vehicles and they are just as easy to use. Again, any bus will connect you to the Old Town or La Mariscal.
The Metrobus Q runs from 6am to 10pm and also runs low emissions vehicles from the Universidad Central at the southwestern edge of the new town to the airport along Avenida America and Avenida de la Prensa. I didn't actually take the "Q", but it looks like a great option.
There is a flat fare of $.25 for the buses! Not a bad deal!
Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre is the main entrypoint for international flights (along with Guayaquil in the south) and the fairly modern terminal is located about 6 km from La Mariscal ($4 by cab) and 8 or 9 km from the Old Town ($6 by cab). There is a small information desk here along with ATMs if you need to get some cash.
On the way back to the States, we were able to use the very nice VIP lounge (because of a flight problem with American Airlines), which was very nice with free food, comfortable chairs and internet access.
The approach into Quito is somewhat harrowing as you must fly between jagged mountain peaks in often unpredictable weather. My trip was delayed because of a plane that skidded out at the end of the runway shutting down the airport for a couple days and diverting me to Bogota, Colombia. My second attempt at Quito from Bogota was also delayed due to weather and we were forced to turn around after circling for an hour or so and head all the way back to Colombia. Apparently, this is not uncommon here, so be prepared for possible flight delays when coming to Quito.
The airport code is UIO.
Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre
Mariscal Sucre International Airport consists of one terminal split into a domestic and international area. It is equipped with five swing gates capable of directing arriving passengers to either immigration or to baggage claim. Because it is downtown and in a valley, they can't expand this airport to accommodate larger aircraft to increase air traffic. Six serious accidents and several incidents have taken place in recent years, including one where an Iberian Airlines jet overshot the runway the week I was there, adding a challenge to my departure schedule and seriously altering Mark's "acemj" arrival. It was still stuck in place when I left. A new airport is being built a good ways east of town, which is supposed to open by 2010. The main methods of ground transport from here are taxi and bus. City buses have stops near here, but not on airport property. Hotel shuttles and taxis have clear access to the domestic and international terminals.
Taxis and buses
Taxis and buses are the prominent forms of mass transit in Quito. I saw no evidence of any major trains and there is no metro system in the city. Unlike some cities, taxis in Quito are quite cheap. You can get to almost any point in town for $3 or under. City buses are also a cheap way to get around town. These buses are not only omnipresent in the city, but they are often seen on the narrowest streets in the countryside. Particularly at the airport, people posing as cabdrivers will try to hoodswankle you. Honest to goodness taxis and buses have to be certified by local government. That certification placard is prominently displayed on both sides of and in the upper right windscreen of both taxis and buses. Don't hop aboard ground transport lacking this local government seal of approval.
walk but you don't have to
We flew directly from Miami to Quito on Lan. It took about 3.5 hours for a cost of $435.
Taxi from airport to Old Town was $7 though later we got one for $6. It cost less to the New Town as it's much, much closer.
Getting around the Old Town is best on foot. Distances are short and you see more. You could get a taxi just about anywhere for $2.
To get from the Old Town to New Town during the day we used the electric buses which are actually faster than taxis as they don't have to stop at all intersections. They are very cheap (25 cents) and entirely safe. At night it's probably best to take a taxi and that should cost about $4.
- Budget Travel
TROLE / ECOVIA
The 2 trolley lines in Quito are Trole and Ecovia. They are quite frequent, modern and clean.
Trole runs mainly along Av 10 de Agosto and Ecovia runs mainly along Av 6 de Diciembre. Both taper more or less towards each other towards the historical centre.
But the Trole takes you right to the plazas that matter, like Plaza de la Independencia ('Plaza Grande' stop) and Plaza Santo Domingo ('Santo Domingo' stop). And it also takes you to Cumanda Bus Terminal ('Cumanda' stop and walk a bit) and the Train Station for the Cotopaxi train ride, you get off at ('Chimbacalle' stop and walk a bit).
For museum-hopping, you take the Ecovia trolley to the Museo Nacional del Banco Central del Ecuador ('Casa de la Cultura' stop) and Museo Guayasamin ('Eloy Alfara' stop and a MAJOR HIKE UPHILL, or perhaps it is best to take a taxi to get up). The other place you might use the Ecovia is if you are going to Mercado Artesania La Mariscal ('Galo Plaza' stop).
Bus service from Quito
Buses in Ecuador are as handy, frequent, and affordable as they are in Guatemala. Most buses are big touring buses, plush but shabby, with curtains and valances across the windows. Often, a DVD will be playing on two monitors - one up front and one in the back. Or music will play, but not too loud.
Before the first departure, a salesman often tries to sell cheap jewelry, with much success I noticed. During long trips, there will be very quick snack and bathroom stops.
There is always a conductor who yells the final destination while hanging out the door "Quito Quito Quito!"
Most adorably, when an Ecuadorian woman climbs on a bus, she always does so with a beaming but slightly embarrassed smile, like an out of breath debutante who's late at her own party.
Buses depart Quito at a medium-size terminal, except buses to Machachi (considered a local run) which leave from across the road.
- Road Trip
Quito is a long and thin city, with congested streets. Mass transportation is provided by the Trole (trolley). What sets the Trole apart from buses I've been on elsewhere is that you pay the fare at the bus stops, which are elevated. The Trole cars stop at very precise spots to align with the platforms. If you are let go between stations (as happens when traffic comes to a dead stop), it's quite a jump to get off.
Cars are frequent, and the one size fits all fare is economical.