Hey hey you guys!!
Have you ever wanted to do just jump on a bus and see where it takes you? if your eyes lit up you are honorary part of the Eccentric Nomadic Circle!
Well.... I did just that! JUMP ON A BUS to see where it would the me.
During my 2 months in Ecuador I visited 4 cities by bus and do I have a few things to share!
Here's some Things to Know from my 9 day (decide as I go) Eccentric Bus Road trip.
My route went a little something like this:
Manta to Puerto Lopez
Salinas to Guayaquil (pass thru) to Cuenca then
Cuenca back to Guayquil to Manta.
I took a separate trip Manta to Montañita cost was $6 each way. See YT video
I decided to go on a city adventure by bus mainly to see what all else Ecuador had to offer, to see what other areas "feel like", which cities have what I'm looking for and check out how the bus system works and do it on my time schedule.
I'm a solo nomader with limited Spanish lingo. (I'm a work in progress. 😅) But I have never let that stop me...
Even though Ecuador is not a huge country its bus fleet and options are quite substantial. They run coach buses which are pretty nice and clean and actually comfortable. Some buses have TVs, Banos, USB plugs. All buses have a driver and assistant.
In addition to many bus lines that focus on Intra city routes and fleets that operate the Inter city routes, Ecuador has something called Hop on hop off tour buses.. and Nope I don't mean the double decker open air buses you catch in cities to see local attractions... Noooooooo, these are far more sophisticated. They offer Inter city stops and tours in the same package.
You can find a route you like, pay for it and some tours are private so the bus picks you up at your hotel and the schedule is set others you hop on and off at any of the inter city stops within your ticket duration. This allows for overnight stays & your fee includes activities. Some routes include crossing the border to Peru to the south or Colombia to the north. It's like a bus cruise but you have more control. HOW COOL IS THAT???
A couple of the bus companies I saw offering this service are:
I did not try these options.. maybe next time.
So on to the Inter city travel I did partake in. I found it to be pretty easy and crazy cost efficient. Both are right up my alley.
🚍Bus Tips & Notations:
Taking the bus was not super daunting even with a language barrier
Download a translator
Keep small bills on you $5, $10s
Make sure to top off data on your sim card
If traveling solo try to plan most of trips during daylight hours just feels safer
You can use Ecuadorbus.com as a bus time guide (I don't suggest booking thru them-separate story)
Unlike the US of A they have 500k bus lines (exaggeration of course) but this means you will more than likely always find a bus leaving within 5,15,30 mins
If you want a Window seat request asiento de (V)entana and for Aisle request asiento de (P)asillo
You may not need or get a specific seat number depending on where you hop on (ie. middle of a route/not at a bus station)
Use restroom before you board... Some buses have banos, but I notice you have to ask the bus attendant for access and I am not sure how they are.
If you travel thru cities between 6:30-8am and 12-1:30pm be prepared for lots of school aged kids to board the bus and sit anywhere.
Locals hop on and off along the routes (at designated stops)
If you want your own space (extra seat) see if they will let you buy 2 seats( sometimes you can't if bus is full or a busy route). And sometimes you will get on at a stop in between a route and someone will be in the seat on your ticket... 💥When this happened to me.. no prob I just grabbed a different window seat... you can ask driving attendant they can help or assure you you can sit elsewhere. No prob.
During your route locals will jump on the bus and offer food and snacks. If you want something pay with cash and enjoy.
When you first get on the bus someone may be giving a full speech and hand you candy or snacks. If you take it you are expected to pay for it. Just say No Gracias and they move on.
If you want to bypass the coast and go straight to Guayaquil it's a quick 3-4hr ride
✈️*ONE MAIN ROUTE TIP - If you are afraid of heights or winding rounds in the mountains consider taking the 40 min flight from Guayaquil to Cuenca and vice versa. I've seen it as low as $36 OW. Then resume your bus ride from there.
The Coast is beautiful to drive along and overall, the roads are GREAT multi lane roads with a few small exceptions in the Mountains, from what I experienced.
Safety tip if you have a back pack you take on board. Most do not store in overhead area. Many people hold bags on their lap. I had a wheeled back pack so I sat it on the floor. Safety hack is to connect the strap around your leg or waist. That way it is not easy to snatch and you can doze off. WHICH I DID!
💰Here's the Cost Breakdown:
Manta to Puerto Lopez 2hrs; $4.50 (you can hop off in San Lorenzo for Lighthouse hike about 40 mins in; way more budget friendly than cab/uber/private driver)
Grab a tuk tuk when you arrive at the bus station in Puerto Lopez; $1
Puerto Lopez to Salines/ Santa Elena 2 hrs; $4
I stayed on the Malecon in Salinas so I took a taxi (about $6) to Salinas coast, or you can hop on a bus)
Santa Elena to Cuenca (must take a bus to Guayaquil then separate bus to Cuenca)
Santa Elena to Guayaquil 2 hrs; $4.50
Guayaquil train terminal is like a mall!! Everything you need is there..with over 100 bus stalls, food, stores, snacks, Tuenti data booths etc...)
Guayaquil to Cuenca 3.5-4 hrs LITERALLY thru the mountains; $9.20, (be aware this route is a bit rough with the winding roads, but I give it to the drivers they know how to wheel it!)
Cuenca uses Uber which is likely cheapest. Taxi may try to exploit you. I got charged $12 because of rush hour I presume, and no one seemed to know where my hotel was (in the historic dist) so I was turned down as well. When I got to my hotel, it was so easy to find & I realized I could have walked and gotten there sooner.
Total cost for transportation to 3 cities was $47.20 including taxis: Buses only $22.20
On the way back to Manta I took the inland route:
Cuenca to Guayaquil 3.5 hrs $9.20
We had a tire blow out in the mountains - Blog to follow
Guayaquil to Manta 4 hrs $7
Had a bus fender bender with a taxi so we (passengers) had to find other transport. I took a taxi the last 10km; he charged me $12
Return trip $28.20; buses only $16.20
Total trip transportation to 3 Cities RT = $75.20
This bus adventure was fun, a great way to explore a lot of cities on a Budget. I would definitely recommend this option!
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