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Driving in Ecuador

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Apr 7th, 2014, 09:15 AM
  #1
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Driving in Ecuador

Hi all,

Am planning a trip to Ecuador in August and am going to rent a car. Driving from Quito airport to Otavalo, then to Mindo, then back to Quito. Any suggestions about driving or conditions with the roads? Any roadways to avoid or to stay on for great views?

Thanks for the input in advance!

Dan
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Apr 7th, 2014, 03:08 PM
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I didn't drive, but looked in to it. I think you may need an international drivers' license. There are lots of freeway stops by police. Have your license handy, my friend's uncle took me down to Latacunga and he would hold it up and they would wave him through. But another driver we had got stopped. It seems he needed some kind of {permit} in and adjacent political jurisdiction. I think he paid it on the spot, if you get my drift.

Crossing over that bridge between the airport and Quito is hell. Allow tons of time, especially going back to the airport for a flight.

The major highways are in very good condition although outside of the new 'freeways' not much is marked. Have a very good map, not sure if GPS works.

I would not want to drive inside Quito, but there is ring road, I think you can bypass it going to Otavalo.

Hopefully someone with experience can help more than I.
mlgb is offline  
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Apr 7th, 2014, 08:25 PM
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Yes I think you will need an international driver's licence and like mlgb says, have it to hand with your passport for any police checks which can be common and nothing really to worry about - just show your papers and then you can continue on your journey.

Driving in Quito can be a little daunting at first - I've been living here 13 years and am now an expert - I can beep my horn like the best of them! Just take your time and ignore the beeps - everyone beeps at everyone!

The roads outside of Quito have greatly improved in recent years. If you are picking up your car and driving to Otavalo you won't have to come into Quito anyway - you will need to get on the Panamericana Norte - I like the journey to Otavalo which takes you through the little town of Cayambe (stop and try the local bizcochos!) rather than the Tabacundo road.

To get to Mindo you have to head back to Quito and then take the road out to the north west. Very vague I know but difficult to give detailed instructions....

It is a smaller road - just one lane each way which winds through the cloud forest - beautiful journey - again just take your time and enjoy it. This road can be foggy at times and there are sometimes landslides along this section so be aware especially if it is very wet.

Also even though road conditions have improved greatly always be on the lookout for potholes!

And road signs are few and far between I'm afraid, and I would recommend that you don't drive after dark, just because of general safety and climatic conditions (fog etc.)Leave the car in a safe place and don't leave it with luggage inside, I would be aware of this even during the day time.

Hope this helps!!!
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Apr 9th, 2014, 07:07 AM
  #4
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Thanks for your help!

I land in Quito Airport at like 5pm. Is it possible to first drive to Otavalo at that hour without worrying about the night and driving conditions?
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Apr 9th, 2014, 08:42 AM
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Unless it is bucketing down rain, that is a major highway (freeway like) so I wouldn't hesitate to do that.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 06:43 PM
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I, on the other hand, wouldn't advise attempting it at night especially if you don't really know where you are going, road signs are few and far between, and road lighting can be good in parts, non existent in others.

If you arrive in Quito at 5pm, getting through customs, collecting bags, immigration etc. can take up to an hour, then you have to pick up your car etc. Remember we're on the Equator here so sun down at 6pm every day.

I'd recommend you stay in a hotel close to the airport and set off the next morning - it will be a much more pleasant, fun journey and you can enjoy the views on the way. IMHO.
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Apr 11th, 2014, 06:15 AM
  #7
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Thanks for the input and suggestions!
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