Airports & Airlines
Ecuador has two international airports.
Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre Quito's airport is located about 38km east of the center.
Aeropuerto José Joaquín de Olmedo Guayaquil’s airport is just a few kilometers from downtown.
TAME Ecuador’s main airline; it has had a good safety record in recent years, with a modern fleet of Boeing, Airbus and Embraer aircraft as well as several turboprop ATRs.
LATAM Flies internationally to New York and various cities in Peru, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Bolivia.
Ticket prices are highest during tourist high seasons: mid-June through early September, and December through mid-January. Working with a travel agent that deals specifically in Latin American travel is usually an advantage.
Departure tax is now included in ticket prices rather than payable at the airport.
Peru and Colombia are the only countries sharing borders with Ecuador. If you are entering or leaving Ecuador, border formalities are straightforward if your documents are in order. No taxes are levied on tourists when entering or exiting overland.
If you’ve overstayed the allowed time on your T3 visa (90 days – consecutive or not – per year, beginning on your stamped entry date), you’ll have to pay a hefty fine or you will be sent back to Quito. If you don’t have an entrada (entrance) stamp, you will also be sent back.
At the time of research, hundreds of Venezuelan citizens were flooding the Ecuadorian border with Colombia daily: officially, 50,000 settled in the country in 2018, although the unofficial number is far greater. Some travelers we spoke with were delayed for several hours in this logjam at the border.
The main border crossing to Colombia is via Tulcán in the northern highlands, currently the only safe place to cross into Colombia. The border crossing north of Lago Agrio in the Oriente is unsafe due to smuggling and conflict in Colombia, while San Lorenzo on the coast is experiencing drug and ex-FARC activity cross-border danger.
There are three important border posts connecting Ecuador and Peru.
Huaquillas This crossing, south of Machala, gets most of the international traffic between the two countries. It consists of side-by-side border posts on the highway a few kilometers north of town. Buses to Huaquillas don't stop at this border post, though international buses (Ecuador–Peru) do stop there and wait for everyone to complete the formalities. Another option is simply hiring a taxi from Huaquillas to take you out to the border post and back.
Macará Increasingly popular because it’s more relaxed than the Huaquillas crossing, and the journey from Loja in the southern highlands is beautiful. Direct buses run between Loja and Piura, Peru (eight hours) via Macará, and wait for you at the border while you take care of formalities; it’s easy.
La Balsa at Zumba South of Vilcabamba, this little-used crossing is remote and interesting and gets little traffic. People often hang out in Vilcabamba for a few days before heading to Zumba and Peru.
Busing into Ecuador from Colombia or Peru is straightforward and usually requires walking across one of the international borders and catching another bus once you’re across (this is more complicated in Huaquillas, though). Some international bus companies offer direct, long-haul services from major cities such as Lima and Bogotá.
Car & Motorcycle
Driving a private vehicle into Ecuador can be a huge hassle, depending largely upon the mood of the official who stops you at the border. To bring your car into Ecuador, you are officially required to have a Carnet de Passage en Douane (CPD), an internationally recognized customs document that allows you to temporarily ‘import’ a vehicle into Ecuador without paying an import tax. The document is issued through an automobile club in the country where the car is registered, and you are strongly advised to obtain one well in advance. Motorcycles seem to present fewer hassles at the border, but be sure your paperwork is in order, too.
It is possible but time-consuming to travel down the Río Napo from Ecuador to Peru, joining the Amazon near Iquitos. The border facilities are minimal, and the boats doing the journey are infrequent. It is also geographically possible to travel down Río Putumayo into Colombia and Peru, but this is a dangerous region because of drug smuggling and terrorism, and is not recommended.