About Ecuador (EC)
Situated on the Pacific Ocean on the northwestern coast of South America, Ecuador (EC) straddles the Equator between Columbia and Peru. The land can be divided equally into thirds, with coastal lowlands to the west, the Andean Mountain ridge in the central region, and Amazon rainforest in the east. Home to a tremendous amount of biodiversity, Ecuador joins Costa Rica at the forefront of ecotourism, and indeed, many visitors come for the incredible range of natural attractions on offer, with Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano, leading the way.
Meanwhile, Ecuador is primarily known as the gateway to the Galapagos Islands, accessible by plane from the cities of Quito and Guayaquil. Its west coast is famed for pristine beaches and surprisingly affordable resorts that span the length of the coastline. And of course, Ecuador is not without a wide range of historical and cultural attractions, including indigenous communities and the well-preserved capital of Quito.
With premier destinations spread out across the country, the best way to experience it is to rent a car in Ecuador and make use of its rapidly improving road network. Once known for having some of the worst driving conditions, Ecuador is now home to some of the best roads in all of South America, thanks to improvements driven by the country’s burgeoning ecotourism industry.
Given the variable topography, it’s probably not a great place for beginners to earn their stripes, but intermediate and expert drivers will face few obstacles getting around. All of the top attractions are well connected by a national highway system, with feeder routes leading to more remote locales. Be advised that the far eastern edge of the country is Amazonian forest and not accessible by car, and anywhere near the Colombian border is pretty much a no-go zone. But generally speaking, visitors to Ecuador will find that renting a car is much more efficient and cost-effective than relying on public transportation.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rental hire in Ecuador are supplied by the major brand names in car hire. Choose your car from Avis, Sixt, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Thrifty, and National. Select from the full range of vehicles on offer, including compact and economy cars, standard, fullsize, and premium 4-door sedans, 7-12 seater minivans, estate wagons, and SUVs.
Tips and advice
There are two seasons in Ecuador: wet and dry. December to June is the wet season, and somewhat more of a challenge for navigation, since rural roads may be impassable.
Staying safe in Ecuador is a matter of common sense. Theft is the number one criminal element likely to affect tourists, so that means keeping an eye on your valuables and avoiding displays of cash. Female visitors are warned that solo travel in the remote areas of the country is exceptionally discouraged.
Staying healthy in Ecuador is a matter of avoidance. Food and water-bourne diseases are still prevalent in this developing nation. Stick to bottled water and eating at major establishments found in hotels, resorts, and major cities.
Beggars and street vendors are common in major cities. If approached, your best course of action is to simply ignore them. You should always keep your Ecuador car rental doors locked and windows sealed.
If driving in Quito, be advised of a congestion reduction plan called Pico y Placa, based on the last digit of your license plate number. The program is only applicable to peak hours, but rental cars are not exempt from the restrictions.
Like most South American countries, Ecuador makes liberal use of speed bumps, many of which are unmarked. Fortunately, you can avoid these hazards by sticking to the main roads.