Car Travel

Traffic is congested in cities, and in Quito parking spaces are nearly impossible to find (Guayaquil has numerous parking garages). Outside the major urban areas you'll find that only the major highways are paved. All roads can be treacherous in bad weather. In most parts of the country a four-wheel-drive vehicle is a necessity. On the narrow mountain roads bus drivers are notorious for making dangerous maneuvers, such as passing on curves. If you decide to drive, bring or rent a cell phone for emergencies.

Car Rental

Ecuador recognizes the validity of your home country driver's license for short-term tourist stays. Given the ease here of flying and of renting a taxi by the hour for shorter trips—to say nothing of urban traffic congestion and parking—consider carefully whether you really need to rent a car in Ecuador. A vehicle rental can be quite expensive, with rates running higher than $300 for a compact car, and close to $375 for a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Inquire about deductibles for damage and theft, which can be quite high, before agreeing on a price. Examine the car carefully, and make sure it has a jack and spare tire. Outside Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca, rental offices are virtually nonexistent.

Emergency Assistance

No emergency roadside service exists, although passing motorists will frequently stop to help with disabled vehicles. Ask your rental agency for emergency numbers and a list of garages in the area you're traveling in.


Ecuador's status as a petroleum-producing nation has buffered it from higher gasoline prices seen elsewhere on the continent. Gas is sold by the galón: regular leaded, called extra, costs about $1.40; unleaded, called súper, is roughly $2 per gallon.


Park your car at your hotel rather than leaving it on the street, where it is susceptible to theft. Larger hotels are more likely to have fenced parking lots, although surprisingly few lodgings in Quito offer parking at all.

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