This question comes up quite often when I am speaking to people that are coming down to visit Ecuador. Many times the question comes up because of what many have read about some of the road conditions or based on someone’s own experiences. I thought I would shed some light on what it is like and has been like from a “living here” perspective.
One of the things I like very much regarding air travel in Ecuador is the availability and the pricing of in country air travel. There have been a few occasions where my wife and I could not get through to the airlines web sites to make reservations and just showed up at the airport and purchased our ticket right then for the same price as if we would have made reservations and booked in advance, and flew out within a couple of hours. Of course we always check the schedule to make sure flights are going where we want to go and are flying that day. For example, to go from Manta (coast) to Quito (highlands), we pay between $48 and $60. The flights are jet service and it takes only 35 minutes.
Once on the ground we find taxis and buses very convenient and fairly in-expensive. We think this is a great way to travel around a city or area if you don’t know it. One tip here, if using a cab is to make sure the cab is legal, make sure you ask for them to use the taxi meter and do not accept a ride from someone offering you taxi service in a private vehicle. We find Yellow cabs to be the best, but even then make sure they have a license plate and the driver has his documents in plain view.
We have rented cars in Ecuador ever since we started coming down over 4 years ago now. Rental prices are higher than we are used to in the USA and the security deposits are high along with the insurance but the cars are in decent shape, road conditions all over the country have improved greatly and driving here is not that different from the USA. The same basic rules apply, signs are not that prevalent and drivers here tend to drive quite fast. The scenery is gorgeous and by renting a car you can be on your own schedule and not have to rely on anyone or their schedules.