Quito airport lies within the...
Quito airport lies within the city, in the Northern area, at 2,800 asl; that means air is thin and take-off is somewhat ...... lazy, but the surrounding mountains reaches up to 6,000 metres: you may imagine what I mean! Last time I was there a new airposrt was planned to be built in Tumbaco, well lower than the capital, but then the problem would be for
the airplane to climb amid the vallys and reach the open skies.
Bus terminal is called "Terminal de Cumanda": all kind of buses leave from there to all over the country. No need to know the timetables, short and medium distance routes are served continuosly, as soon as the number of passengers is large enough to make the trip worth.
Trolley-bus inside city
Trolley bises operate in Quito. Go the picture from the taxi on the way to my hostel from the airport. I did use public transport in Quito which happens to be very cheap. To get to old town which is set on the hills, bus is a a good way. Though walking is great to see around but high altitude makes you tired soon.
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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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.
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.
Taxis and public transport
There are plenty of taxis; a ride from the airport is about $5, tips are not expected.
There are basically two avenues with a trolleybus and an electric bus running along each from the outer suburbs to the center. Ride is 25c. They are fast, efficient, new and come very frequently.
There is a vast number of private buses that cruise around, ride is about 35c.
When not on an arranged tour,...
When not on an arranged tour, walking and taxi rides are the way to go. A new trolley system and a 'Eco-via' also provide safe and reliable service though sometimes they may be a bit crowded.
The Trolley and Bus Ecológico run north-south and serve the west and east sides of Quito respectively. The Trolley begins at the juncture of 10 de Agosto, Avenida America, and Avenida de la Prensa and follows 10 de Agosto to the mall El Recreo located on Avenida Maldonado in the Old City.
The Bus Ecológico stretches north-south on Avenida 6 de Diciembre.
Two classes of color-coded buses run in Quito: popular and selectivo (sometimes called ejecutivo). Popular buses (blue) are the less expensive and correspondingly, are considerably less comfortable. They are always jammed packed and commonly spew black diesel smoke that leaks into the cabin. Furthermore, watch your stuff when riding popular buses, wandering hands frequently probe your belongings.
Selectivos (red) cost about twice as much as populares but they are well worth it. For about 10 cents more you will have your own seat (no standing is permitted) and run much less of a risk of being robbed.
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
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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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.
- Budget Travel
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.
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.
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.
Don't miss the bus!
Around Quito, one can take the trolley's back and forth between Old Town and New Quito. However, to get out of Quito, or even just side excursions I would recommend bus travel...which can get a little crazy at times.
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tips for taxis
Taxi drivers in Quito don't know much English. Make sure you have some idea of where you are going or a good address that the taxi driver understands before you take off. We spent about an hour in a taxi with a driver who didn't know where the area that we were trying to get to (it was residential.) He kept getting out of the taxi asking directions of locals and he never did figure out where to go, even though we realized later he came within sight of the address!
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