What you should know before you rent a car
Where to rent a car in Ecuador?
A former Spanish colony, Ecuador is located in South America and is home to the world famous Galápagos Islands. Its capital city is Quito, where the busy Mariscal Sucre International Airport welcomes international arrivals on a daily basis. Visitors to Ecuador may also want to visit attractions such as Baltra Island, Tortuga Bay and the city of Cuenca – and renting a car to explore the country is a great way to do so. Car rental companies such as Thrifty, Avis, Localiza and Hertz can all be found at Mariscal Sucre International Airport. Ecuador also offers a small rail network aimed primarily at tourists: Tren Ecuador runs services on routes from stations such as Chimbacalle Station in Quito, to popular sites across the country. However, for a more authentic – and less restrictive – option, renting a car is a good way to take in all Ecuador has to offer.
What are the driving rules in Ecuador?
When renting a car in Ecuador, there are a few rules and regulations to be aware of – as well as, of course, the general road rules in the country. Drivers hoping to rent a car must be at least 21 years old, although some car rental companies may operate different age restrictions – so check before booking. As well as holding a full driver's license from your country of residence, you'll also need an international driver's license to rent a car in Ecuador.
When driving in Ecuador, drive on the right and pay attention to speed limits – harsh punishments are in place for those who speed in Ecuador, so be sure to stay within the specified limit. Seat belts must be worn while driving in Ecuador; driving after dark isn't recommended, and drivers should carry their driving license with them while driving at all times.
Looking for somewhere to park your car in Ecuador? Seek out a secure parking lot in which to leave your rental car.
Road trips in Ecuador
Home to the Andes, the Galápagos Islands, and numerous beautiful towns and cities, Ecuador is a fascinating destination with much to offer. Exploring by rental car is a great way to travel, so check out these three road trips to take in the South American nation.
The capital city of Ecuador is the second highest city in the world, standing at 2,850m above sea level. Located in northern Ecuador, in the Andes, it is both a fascinating destination in itself, as well as a great place from which to begin a road trip in Ecuador. While in Quito, don't miss a visit to the city's old colonial center – in which the beautiful Cathedral of Quito can be found. From Quito, a number of destinations await discovery by rental car. For an easy day trip from central Quito, the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo monument is just 16 miles away and marks the equator, offering visitors the chance to stand in two hemispheres at the same time. Further afield, the beautiful Cotopaxi National Park is an impressive area of natural beauty, encompassing Limpiopungo Lake and the Cotopaxi volcano.
The second largest city in Ecuador, Cuenca can be found in the Andes of southern Ecuador. Intersected by the Tomebamba River, it is home to attractions including the New and Old Cathedrals of Cuenca; the Pumapungo Museum and Archaeological Park; and the Homero Ortega Hats Museum, which is dedicated to the panama hat. Rent a car in Cuenca and head out of the city for an 18 mile drive west to the Cajas National Park. Standing at around 4450m above sea level, the park is home to hiking trails, beautiful lakes (such as Lake Toreadora and Lake Totoras), and a wide array of wildlife.
The Pacific Coast
Sharing a coastline with the Pacific Ocean, this road trip takes travelers along the Spondylus route and offers stunning ocean views, as well as interesting stops along the way. Running between the Loja province in southern Ecuador, to the northern border with Peru, the route runs through destinations such as Punta Carnero, the town of Salinas, the city of Montañita, and the city of Manta. The road also runs past a number of beautiful beaches, perfect for relaxing stop offs along the way.