By car to Guayaquil
As I said in my introduction, we came to Guayaquil by car after a last minute change of plans. And a good change it was! How much better to be driven through the countryside than fly over it! And what wonderful countryside ...
A striking feature of the road from Cuenca to Guayaquil is the dramatic change in height along a relatively short stretch of road. Cuenca lies at around 2,500 metres above sea level, while Guayaquil, being on the coast, is naturally at sea level. This is a considerable drop in just a couple of hours, and it leads to some very varied landscapes and a mini-lesson in climatic zones!
We started our journey a little late, as our driver got caught up in the festivities marking Cuenca’s anniversary weekend, and also had to park some distance from our hotel for the same reason – there was a fun run going on outside. We drove out of the city through a western suburb where we were told a lot of expat Americans have settled – so much so that locals call it “little America”! We were soon in El Cajas National Park, an incredibly scenic if rather bleak area, with a large number of lakes set in a rather stark landscape of paramo, and rocky outcrops. Cajas means boxes in Spanish, and one explanation that is given for the name of the park is that it refers to this distinctive landscape, sometimes called knob and kettle geomorphology, where the outcrops alternate with lakes. Another possible explanation for the name is linked to the Quichua word "cassa" meaning "gateway to the snowy mountains”. The highest point in the park is Cerro Arquitectos, at 4,450 metres, although the highest point on the road was just over 4,000 metres. We only stopped briefly for photos but if you have more time there are lots of hiking routes. It would make a wonderful day out from Cuenca.
When we left the park we were on the western fringes of the Andes, and below us was cloud forest. At this height we could look down onto the clouds that filled all the valleys, almost as if they were flooded. We stopped again for photos, and to use the toilet at a little snack bar. Then we plunged down into the clouds! The road twisted and turned, and the landscape around us (or what we could see of it – we were now in a thick fog) became lush with plants and trees, their branches dripping in the damp air. Every now and then the cloud would break and we would see that we were still pretty high – and hope that our driver knew the road as well as he seemed to, since there was quite a drop on one side!
After a while we emerged fully from the cloud, dropping down below it to reach the plains. The mountains we had left so recently were totally invisible as the thick blanket hid them from view. And again the landscape changed, now becoming intensely arable in nature. We drove between fields of bananas, sugar-cane and rice paddies. In the small villages stalls were piled high with fruits and dusk was falling (it was now about 6.00 pm). Local people were riding their bikes, stopping to chat to friends, buy a few provisions for the evening meal or have a beer at a roadside bar. The air was warm and had that unmistakable tropical dampness. It was such a different world to highland Cuenca, yet only three hours away!
By the time we reached the outskirts of Guayaquil it was dark. Although not the capital, this is the largest city in the country and it was a bit of a culture shock – neon lights shone above US-style shopping malls that lined the road as we approached, and the traffic was heavy. By the time we reached our hotel in the centre we had been driving for about 3.5 hours and plans to do a little sightseeing while searching for dinner were abandoned in favour of a quiet night in the hotel. The sights of Guayaquil would have to wait for another visit!
I have included a map of our route taken from Google Earth as photo five. If you get the chance to take this drive to Guayaquil I can really recommend it for scenery and interest-levels – much better than flying!
Next tip: The Grand Hotel.
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
Taxi to and from airport
Coming from Galapagos and going on to Cuenca I had a few hours to spend in Guayaquil. Instead of spending all time at the airport I left my luggage in a locker and took a taxi to the north end of the Malecon. The taxi was 5 dollars (July 2011) and it took 15 minutes. When it was time to go back to the airport I went back to the same point where I had been dropped and fortunately a taxi just stopped to drop of a passenger. This time I paid 3 dollars to the airport.
- Budget Travel
A modern airport
We left Guayaquil by air to Baltra in the Galápagos Islands. The airport is only four miles from the city centre and as it was a Sunday traffic was light and we were there very quickly. The airport terminal is very new (the newest in the country, at least until Quito’s new airport is finally finished, in theory later in 2013). It was opened in 2006 and the old terminal turned into a convention centre.
José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport is the nearest one to the Galápagos and flights from Quito stop here to pick up passengers. We found it to be relatively quiet and well-organised for the additional complications of a Galápagos flight – buying our INGALA transit control cards (INGALA is the agency that regulates travel to the islands), and having our luggage inspected to meet quarantine regulations. Both of these operations went smoothly and we had time for a coffee in the bright and comfortable departures area (with good free wifi) before boarding our plane. Only 15 hours after arriving in Guayaquil we were leaving already.
This is my last tip in this brief visit to Guayaquil. To return to my intro page please click here.
Flying from Guayaquil to Cuenca
The only reason I flew from Guayaquil to Cuenca is because I arrived to Guayaquil by plane from Galapagos Islands, and I thought it could be convenient with a transfer at the airport instead of going to the bus terminal and take a bus. Later, when I got the flight times I realised I had to wait several hours in in Guayaquil. In one way this was good ,because than I had time for a quick visit to Guayaquil. I left my luggage in a locker at Guayaquil airport and took a taxi to the Malecón and Las Peñas.
I came back to the airport in good time to check in my luggage and have a coffee and a cake at La Española. It is a short flight from Guayaquil to Cuenca, only 30 minutes. All passengers got a newspaper and a fruit drink. After landing in Cuenca my luggage arrived very quickly and outside the terminal I at once found a taxi. The airport in Cuenca is situated only 2km away from the city centre so it was a quick taxi ride to my hotel Hostal Chordeleg, and it was $2.50 (July 2011).
A return flight between Quito or Guayaquil and Galapagos Islands was included in my Galapagos cruise. I flew to Galapagos from Quito, but when planning my trip I thought it was better to continue my journey, after visiting the islands, in the south and from there going north, as I was flying home from Quito a month later. The travel agent I booked my Galapagos cruse with booked the Guayaquil - Cuenca ticket for me and I paid for it at the same time I paid for the cruise. The airplane ticket was $68 (July 2011).
Where and how to go to other cities from Guayaquil
Once you arrive at Guayaquil there are a lot of opportunities to move around not only in Guayaquil. At 300 of the airport you will find the bus terminal, where you will have connections to all other cities of Ecuador. Normally these buses are safe, but to minimize risks I always recommend to travel by day and choose direct buses. This means that these buses are leaving the Guayaquil bus terminal and they don't stop to pick up passangers at the road, which is normal here in Ecuador. At the counters of bus companies you will get this information. Prices depends where you are going, but it is cheap. For example to Cuenca the bus needs 3,5 hours and they charge 8 $. To Quito you will need 8 hours and the price is 12 $ for the direct busses.
Another posibility to go to other cities are some private companies which are using Minvans
to go directly to other cities. In the moment there are connections to Manta, Machala, Cuenca, Zaruma and Huaquillas at the peruvian frontier. This service costs a little more, but it is still
economic. For example from Guayaquil to Cuenca you pay here 12 $ and there are going
only 6 persons in each car.
If you want to go in private transportations you may contact me and I can give you the prices.
From Guayaquil Airport you can although book nacional flights to Quito, Cuenca, San Cristobal, Baltra, Loja and Esmeraldas. There are no direct flights to Manta, but as this city is only 4 hours away from Guayaquil I recommend to do it by bus or van, because if you take a flight you will have to travel to Quito first and then to Manta. This takes more time and is a lot more expensive.
- Budget Travel
Bus Station Logisitcs
The bus station in Guayaquil is called "Terminal Terreste". It is near the airport, and is across the street from the new city bus terminal.
The bus station can be intimidating if you have much luggage. Porters are available just inside the parking lot adjacent to the main entrance. These men are standing around with large flat carts. If you arrive at the bus station by taxi, the porters will be on your left, across the road from where the taxi driver will drop you. The pedestrian entrance to the bus station will be on your right.
If you don't have much luggage, simply walk into the vendor area of the terminal. Walk straight ahead until you come to an overpass with steps climbing to your left. After crossing the road used by the buses, you descend into the ticket booth portion of the terminal.
If you have luggage, either use a porter or wheel your own bag(s) into the vendor area. Turn right and traverse the vendor gauntlet to the other end. Turn left, and you will come to a crosswalk with traffic police. When there is a gap in the stream of buses, cross and enter the ticket booth portion of the terminal. Most passengers use this route in order to avoid climbing the stairs of the overpass.
(A new bus station is almost complete. It will separate the buses - arrivals on the street level, departures on the roof. Dealing with luggage will be much simpler when the new station opens.)
The articulated bus runs on dedicated bus-only lanes. The route extends from the large bus terminal near the airport through the center and beyond to a smaller bus terminal further downstream. The fare is US$ 0.25. Each station has an attendent, or 2 or 3, who takes the fare and controlls admission to the waiting shelter. When the bus arrives, the doors of the shelter (and those of the bus) open and you step aboard. The articulated bus is much faster than the regular ones which share the road with the cars. The area at the front of the bus is reserved for people with special needs. This area is indicated by yellow seats; the other seats are blue.
Guayaquil have many...
Guayaquil have many international flight, Americain Airlines, Continental, Iberia, KLM, Avianca, Copa, and many more.
Transportation in Guayaquil is not a problem, you will find many taxi on the street or buses. The buses go for 25 cents, a taxi from the airport to downtown will cost you usually 2.50(around)how ever if you take a Taxi from the inside of the airport they will charge you around 4.$ ASK FOR THE PRICE before you get in so you wont have any surprise!
Taxis in Guayaquil are OLD and DIRTY!!! If you can find one that isn't a 1980 or older Lada, you are exceptionally lucky. With airconditioning? Buy a lottery ticket, because it MUST be your lucky day.
The best way to get a good taxi in Guayaquil is to call one of the many radio taxi services - such as Taxi Amigo, whose number is easy to remember 222-2222 or 233-3333.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
The city's main bus station,...
The city's main bus station, called Terminal Terrestre Jaime Roldos Aguilera, is located 2 KM north of the city center, just beyond the airport. The Station offers an abundance of ticket counters and bus companies. Fixed prices allow you to choose whatever bus company or travel times are most convenient. Some destinies have only one or two bus per day, Is recommended buy your ticket in advance.
Buses are Guayaquil's most efficient and economical form of transportation. Dozens of bus routes run from the city's center to its outskirts but no buses actually run within the center - walking or taxis are your only options. When in doubt, head to Malecón Avenue because the majority of the buses pass along Malecón during their route. In the evening, you are advised to carry limited luggage because petty theft is common.
Ask locals for the going rate and negotiate fares before entering taxis. Taxistas have been hurt by Ecuador's economic crisis as much as everyone else and will occasionally overcharge tourists. Don´t be afraid to get out of the car, there are plenty more taxis waiting to give you a ride.
My recommendation for my customers is always the same: use only taxis and ask about the real fare and if you are not agree with that fare, ask any person for some help and take another one or call your hotel from any phone cabin for some help. The most short fare is only $1.50 that means about 2km.
Try to not to use buses, but if you want to, it's because you want to. It's not recommended for your safety. Adventure travelers preffer that and there was not problem ever.
There is not train in Guayaquil but some taxis have a very special attention.
Use the different kinds of maps of the city, if you don't have one, buy some.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Buses, Taxis and Cars
We didn't have a chance to take any taxis or rent a car, but we were transported around the city in a tour bus and I took some photos
At rush hours, local buses are very crowded and cost around US$0.25. Minibuses (furgonetas) are also available for about US$0.20, which have their routes posted on the windscreen. All buses run along the Malecón. Buses are a good cheaper alternative to taxis (photo 2)
Taxis in Guayaquil have no meters. Always agree the price previously with the taxi driver before getting a ride. Prices are negotiable. From the airport or bus station to the center for example the average rate is between US$5 and US$6. To Urdesa, Alborada, or Policentro is around US$4.00. Taxi rutas.- Taxi rutas are cabs that run on a set route, charging US$0.50, per person. They look the same as the average taxis but with differing bonnets over the roof. I don't think I have any photos of these.
You can also rent cars. Most of the companies are at the airport, bus terminal, and/or major hotels.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
The new airport offers easy access to and from Gye
Guayaquil has invest over 300 million US dollars in developing tourist infraestructure like a brand new airport, with all the services availables and open 24 hours, the new bus station and the city buses links "Metrovia" made so easy to move around to Guayaquil area and see it alive everyday.
I got this information from a site that I went on in preparation to my Guayaquil trip. I have family here so mostly they drive us to where we need to go but for those who need info on transportation around here, you can read this:
"Because of the population explosion the public transportation has been stretched beyond limit. If you need to go only a short distance in the center you might be quicker if you walk. The bus is a cheap alternative (US$ 0.15) outside the rush hour if you know where you are going. Otherwise take a taxi (especially if you carry luggage). Taxis have no meters so prices are very negotiable.
Airport, bus terminal à center: US$ 2-3
Urdesa, Policentro, Alborada à center: US$ 2
Airport à bus terminal and other short trips: US$ 1"
Buses from the center to
- Urdesa: No 15
- Policentro: No 13
- Albanborja: No 14
- La Garzota, Sauces: No 74
Guayaquil - Cuenca
If you plan to go from Guayaquil to Cuenca, don´t even think about going by plane or by rental car....go with the public bus - it´s cheaper and it`s phantastic to be under the ecuadorian farmers during this trip....
Yes, it takes 4 to 5 hours...
But the nature is phantastic and the people are original..:-)
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