Destination guide: Quito, Ecuador
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is in the Andes, about 2,800 meters above sea level. Walking through its streets, you can see the contrasts between its old buildings, which combine both contemporary and colonial elements. Quito’s inhabitants are very hospitable to tourists, making it the perfect destination for your vacation. Ask about our offers for tickets to Quito and fly with LAN Airlines.
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Quito - Transportation
From The Airport
Quito’s new airport is scheduled to open in 2010; visit www.quiport.com to check if it’s operational before you depart. The old airport is at the north end of Avenida Amazonas, about 10km north of the old town. Many of the northbound buses on Avenidas 10 de Agosto and Amazonas go there (look for Aeropuerto and Quito Norte placards). If you’re going from the airport into town, you will find bus stops on Avenida 10 de Agosto, about 150m away from the terminal’s front entrance.
A taxi is the best way to get into town. A new voucher system from the airport offers fixed rates current charges are $6 into the new town and $8 to the old town. To save a couple of dollars, catch a cab just outside the airport on either side of Avenida Amazonas.
Driving in Quito can be a hectic experience, especially in the old town. Remember, most streets are one-way, and on Sunday the streets in the old town are closed to traffic. There are private garages throughout town where you can park overnight for around $10; inquire at your hotel for the nearest.
Local buses all cost $0.25 pay as you board. They are safe and convenient, but watch your bags and pockets on crowded buses. There are various types, each identified by color: the blue Bus Tipos are the most common and allow standing, while the red ejecutivo buses don’t allow standing and are therefore less crowded, but are more infrequent. Buses have destination placards in their windows (not route numbers), and drivers will (usually) gladly tell you which bus to take if you flag the wrong one.
Trole, Ecovía & Metrobus
Quito has three electric bus routes: the Trole, the Ecovía and the Metrobus. Each runs north south along one of Quito’s three main thoroughfares, and each has designated stations and car free lanes, making them speedy and efficient. As the fastest form of public transport, they’re also crowded They run about every 10 minutes from 6am to 12:30am (more often in rush hours) and the fare is $0.25. The Trole runs along Maldonado and Avenida 10 de Agosto. It terminates at the Quitumbe bus terminal, 5km southwest of the old town. In the old town, southbound trolleys take the west route along Guayaquil, while northbound trolleys take the east route along Montúfar and Pichincha.
The Ecovía runs along Avenida 6 de Diciembre, between Río Coca in the north and La Marin in the south. The Metrobus route runs along Avenida Am´rica from the Universidad Central del Ecuador (northeast of Parque El Ejido) to north of the airport.
Cabs are all yellow and have red taxi stickers in the window. Usually there are plenty available, but rush hour, Sundays and rainy days can leave you waiting 10 minutes for an empty cab. A few taxi companies include Rodan Taxi ([tel] 248-5888), City Taxi ([tel] 253-3333) and Occidentaxi ([tel] 249-2222).
Cabs are legally required to use their taxímetros (meters), and most drivers do. Many however charge a flat rate of $2 between the old and new towns, about $0.25 to $0.50 more than if the meter was on. When a driver tells you the meter is broken, flag down another cab. Late at night and on Sunday, drivers will ask for a higher fare, but it should never be more than twice the metered rate.
The minimum fare is $1. Short journeys will start at that and climb to about $4 for a longer trip. You can also hire a cab for about $8 per hour, which is a great way to see outer city sites. If you bargain hard and don’t plan on going very far, you could hire a cab for a day for about $60.