Getting there & away
Machala has no central bus terminal. There are CIFA (293 1164; Guayas & Bolivar) buses that go to the Peruvian border at Huaquillas ($1.50, 1½ hours) every 20 minutes during daylight from the corner of Bolívar and Guayas. These buses go via the towns of Santa Rosa and Arenillas.
CIFA buses also go to Guayaquil ($4.50, three hours) from its depot on 9 de Octubre near Tarqui. Rutas Orenses (293 7661; Rocafuerte near Tarqui) and Ecuatoriana Pullman (293 1164; 9 de Octubre near Colón) have more comfortable air-conditioned buses and frequent services to Guayaquil as well.
Piñas Interprovincial (229 3689; Colón & Rocafuerte) and Transportes TAC (Colón) both leave regularly from early morning to around 7pm for Piñas ($2, two hours) and Zaruma ($3, three hours).
Panamericana (293 0141; Colón & Rocafuerte) has regular daily buses to Quito ($7, 11 hours). It also has buses to Santo Domingo ($6, eight hours) and an evening bus to Tulcán. Transportes Occidentales (Buenavista & Olmedo) has regular buses to Quito and a night bus to Esmeraldas ($7, nine hours).
Transportes Cooperativa Loja (293 2030; Tarqui & Bolivar) goes to Loja ($4.50) several times a day; the ride takes six to seven hours on the old (but very scenic) dirt road via Piñas and four to five hours on the newer paved road.
Weekday morning flights to Guayaquil ($30), continuing to Quito ($55), are available with TAME (293 0139; www.tame.com.ec ; Montalvo near Pichincha). The airport is barely 1km from downtown and a taxi ride there will cost about $1. If you’re on foot, walk southwest along Montalvo.