Ecuador

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Flag of Ecuador Ecuador
Information
Language: Spanish, (Quechua)
Capital: Quito
Population: 13,922,000
Currency: U.S. dollar (USD)
Hitchability: <rating country='ec' />

Ecuador is great for hitchhiking, just be careful in some places, especially at the coast. Many pick-up trucks are there. Drivers might ask for money, but if you can explain your situation you will get away with it. Many Ecuadorians are happy to pick up a foreigner. It's not the safest country to hitchhike though.

Along the Panamericana there are several toll booths ("peaje"). Take an overland bus in direction of your destination and get out at the first toll booth (normally $0.25 - $0.50). You have a couple of seconds to ask the other drivers until you get kicked out by the police, but that's normally enough time to find a ride. If you are able to explain your situation in Spanish, you might be able to stay longer. If you want to avoid this kind of "trouble" you can as well try to stop cars along the Panamericana. Along this road normally you won't get asked for money.

Buses in Ecuador are quite cheap (usually $1/hr), and will usually stop anywhere. On some roads, though, there are no buses at all, in which case hitchhiking can be a good alternative, and you will be most likely picked up quickly as well, though it takes more time to find a free ride on small roads. Very often the very first car that passes will pick you up.

Strangely, hitching in groups almost works better than solo or in pairs. Don Nadie once left Quito in a group of eight, all drunk, at 3am and no problems catching a ride. Incredible. The best country for hitching in the Western Hemisphere.

License plates

This section contains text from the Wikipedia article on Vehicle registration plates of Ecuador.

The first letter indicates the province of issue. The second letter, also called the "key letter", identifies the type of license plate.

Province Letter Province Letter Province Letter
Azuay A Galápagos W Pastaza S
Bolívar B Guayas G Pichincha P
Cañar U Imbabura I Orellana Q
Carchi C Loja L Sucumbíos K
Cotopaxi X Los Ríos R Tungurahua T
Chimborazo H Manabí M Zamora-Chinchipe Z
El Oro O Morona Santiago V Santa Elena Y
Esmeraldas E Napo N Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas J

The background color of the license plate varies according the key letter and identifies the type of service of the vehicle.

  • If the key letter is A, Z or Q, the background color is orange and the vehicle is a bus or a taxi.
  • If the key letter is E, the background color is gold and the vehicle is property of the government.
  • If the key letter is M, the background color is light green and the vehicle is property of a municipality.
  • If the key letter is W, the background color is white-silver and the vehicle is property of the police.

The rest of letters are for private, or particular, vehicles. Their background color is white-silver.

Accomodation and sleep

The bomberos (firemen) are more hospitable in Ecuador than in other countries. Drop by the firehouse and ask if they have a space for you to lay your blankets and pitch your tent. Usually they will let you use their bathrooms and kitchen too.

As a last resort, there are police in bus terminals all night, if you don't mind sleeping under the florescent lights.

Internet

In addition to the internet cafes, you may also find Infocentros in small towns around the country. These are government-funded facilities with free computers with internet access. You just need to show your ID to use a computer (a foreign driver's license worked fine). Look out for signs that say "Infocentro <Town name>" along the highway. There is also a map of Infocentros on their website (in spanish).

Healthcare

Centros de Salud, found in most cities and towns, give out free condoms, and probably healthcare too.

Personal Experiences

Easily the easiest country to hitch. Spent about a month hitchin around. I recommend the walk from the highway to Misahualli to see the monkeys in the square and to camp along the banks of the jungly river fork. -Chael777
"I never had to wait more then half and hour, at any place in Ecuador. Hitchhiking through the coast is probably the easiest. Hitchhiking around the Andes is the best. I recommend visiting cities like Loja and Cuenca." - fyrexia

Cities

Gallery

wikipedia:Ecuador