Transportation for getting around in the colonial area for me hinges on walking, bus or taxi. As I walk, I imagine a stop sign at every curb.
Motorcycles zip by suddenly without warning.
Local locomotion gives vehicles the right-of-way so you need to cross at the "zebra" which is what they call their crosswalk. Even though most pedestrians break this rule.
Buses, trolleys, Eco Via or El Trole operate to get you as close as possible to your destination throughout Quito. You determine the limit.
Second to walking, I prefer buses. They're usually far less crowded than the trolleys. Besides, trolleys seem to have a bigger problem with pickpockets for the very reason they get so crowded, especially at rush hour... too snugly for me.
I work on following my own advice: Let the driver know where you want to go to be sure you're in the right bus until you learn the route. Always watch your belongings.
Taxis are great when I don't know how to get to where I'm going. I just give the address to the driver.
I leave the car rentals to the fearless.
Also, the train offers an exciting option to some destinations in Ecuador. For a hefty fee which includes hotel fees, you can now traverse from Quito to Guayaquil on a 4-day trip through remote villages or vice-versa. I went on the short trip to Cotopaxi and loved it. That trip ends in Latacunga.
The prez wants tourism to include everything Ecuador has to offer, and the train presents adventure and safety.
Do ride the orange-plated taxis especially at night. There's at least 8,000 registered in Quito. Then there's the unregistered white-plated cabs that can be risky. I wouldn't take a chance on these.
I don't recommend a taxi from the airport at night, since it's about an hour out of Quito. Hotels near the airport are an option.
Do take note that the number of the taxi is on the windshield and the name of the company on the side before you board. Some locals take photos of the license plate.
Do ask the fare before you get on. If he says he goes by the meter, that's great. You really don't want a meter-less cab.
When I first arrived in Quito, my getting around was always in taxis. Why not? For two dollars or less, I could explore wherever I wanted in my neighborhood and all the way to the shopping malls with a chauffeur even!
With congestion far worse now, it slows the taxi, but the meter keeps on ticking, so now I traverse all over Quito for around $3 and up. It's still a heck of a deal.
I once hopped into a meter-less cab without thinking. Not only did the jerk drop me off at the wrong address and I had to walk a long way, but I spent more. Still, I got off easy.
One time I forgot some important papers in a taxi, and all I remembered was the name on the outside of it. I frantically lunged over to someone sitting by the wall and asked if he happened to see the number. He had and remembered it!
I quickly dialed the number of the cab company, and was directed to an address. Then, I took another cab to the address which amounted to a cab parking lot. In approximately 3 hours I received my manilla envelope with my papers intact!
Ecuador statistics have shown little violent crime in the past, but it's increasing - not as much as in Guayaquil or the beach areas... although there are now warnings to tourists in Quito in the Mariscal area, the parks and the historic center at night.
Also walking away from the teleferico on the trails cries out, "DANGER," as does walking up or down El Panecillo or anywhere at any time on the south side.
A Jan, 2013 news alert warned that twice, tourists have been "express-kidnapped." That means they take you where they want and just drop you off there after they've robbed you. So, always use caution. These were rare incidents at night with people leaving bars.
For transportation by bus, watch your belongings carefully. I only ride the bus short distances inside Quito. Outside of Quito, I lug a local friend.
But in all fairness, once, when I reached my stop by bus and I walked towards the door to get off, someone pointed out to me that I was forgetting a package. Quito never disappoints me.
If you opt for a bus for getting around the countryside, not all buses are equal. The good ones like San Cristobal Bus Lines don't go to the terminal. They operate from depots. One is on Manuel Larrea by Asuncion. From there you take a taxi.
These buses do not stop for strays by the roadside. Their door is sealed to be checked at the destination... much safer.
For getting around the countryside, you probably do need a car rental unless, of course, you take a group tour. With so much sightseeing and things to do in Ecuador, it's well worth it. Even renting a car, I strongly stress strength in numbers through group travel.
Car rentals online start at $150 a week for manual transmission. If you rent one at the airport, depending on availability, I recommend checking before you leave.
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