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Ecuador Taxis

Ecuador taxis started off Merri’s and my adventures in Ecuador 15 years ago. Ecuador transportation is readily available… pretty good quality… safe and  inexpensive.

We use Ecuador taxis a lot!


Ecuador taxi waiting near our hotel in Cotacachi, Ecuador.

Our first trip to Ecuador took us to Quito in 1995.  Quito Airport is efficient and the porters who happily help were extremely good. We felt no aggression, no hustle for the tips.  There were NO street salesmen trying to sell everything from gum to sunglasses to jewelry. How refreshing it was not to feel pushed!

Quito, called the Paris of South America, is calm, sedate and stately. This is a beautiful city sitting in a bowl high in the Andes at 9356 feet. The downtown area is ringed by majestic snow capped volcanoes. There are two other suburban valleys just beyond the city.

We drove out in a hired taxi to Cumbaya Valley, which sits about 7,500 feet above sea level but is so warm that mangos and bananas grow. Rugged Andean snow capped peaks thrust themselves into the background. This broad Andean valley is very expansive and green. One chalet we visited would make you think you were in a Swiss cottage near some Alpine village, except for the garden which was one of the most amazing I have ever seen.

The garden boasted Alpine fuchsia, lantana, cedar, pine, rose, geranium, apples, pears, gladiolus, buttercup and Swiss edelweiss with tropical plants, lemon, mango, orange, fig, poinsettia, angel’s trumpets and hibiscus… ALL in one garden! Merri and I are dedicated gardeners, but had never seen such a mix.

Quito is where our adventure began as we were “turistas” who rode north far into the Andes.

I had been having a hard time with the taxis. They wanted too little money!  We visited on this first trip several places and it seemed we could go forever on a dollar. I tried to be careful not to over tip, but this was really hard.

When we wanted to book a taxi with an English speaking driver for an entire day he only asked $45 to drive us any and everywhere. I told the driver it had to be $55 or forget it!

That first driver… (his name was Milton) took us to Cotacachi and the fabulous La Mirage Spa.  We fell in love.

The price of taxis has risen over the years and varies from place to place and hotel to hotel but still we find them reasonable. 

In Cotacachi, where we now live, the basic minimum trip fare is still $1.  The fare for a ride in a Cotacachi taxi to Quito airport, two hours away, is $55 to $65 (night rides cost more than in the day).  A Quito taxi will charge about $85 to $100 for the same trip.


We rent a van like this to ride for Quito airport to Cotacachi for $80 or less.

The taxi fare from Cotacachi to Otavalo used to be $3 and return was always $5, but now it seems it’s $5 both ways.

For comparison, bus fare is 25 cents, but of course involves more walking and is not convenient with a lot of bundles.

Taxis in Quito

Cost of a regular ride in Quito is higher. The fare on short trips can run from $2 to $4.

Quito taxis can also charge by the hour. The rate can vary from $ 6 to $ 8 dollars, so it’s important to negotiate with the taxi driver before you start.

Rates are higher when the taxi is hired from an expensive hotel in Quito.  For example the fee is $10 dollars per hour in Quito, for taxis from the Radisson Hotel.   The rate to visit the valleys outside Quito is $12 dollars.  It is always better to take a real yellow taxi than “a car” that the hotel provides…because we found out the hard way, often these drivers don’t know where to go in Quito!  The old timers know everything.

Taxis in Cuenca

cuenca taxis

This Cuenca taxi can’t be beat for charm… but for speed take the yellow.

Typical taxi fare from town center to the Cuenca airport is $2.50 – $3.00. If you’re a gringo they ask $3.00 but will accept $2.50 if you negotiate.

The minimum fare in Cuenca is $1.00 which covers most of in town.

Hotel approved taxis get slightly more to the same rates.

A regular private car (4X4 may cost more) with a bi-lingual driver runs $10.00 per hour in Cuenca.

Taxis on the Coast


A taxi rank in Bahia on Ecuador’s coast.

The cost of a taxi from the coastal port of Manta to the Palmazul and Vistazul condos in San Clemente is between $20 and $ 25. A van is between $60-80.

Once in San Clemente the local taxis are more primitive… but cost less. They are…


covered motorcycles and can be 50 cents to $1.

Palmazul to Bahia is $15

A regular taxi ride within Manta is $1 to $ 3.

A taxi or van from Oro Verde to Airport is $ 5.

In Puerto Viejo a taxi to Manta is $12-$15. A  van: $30

The cost of a taxi to Bahia is $40 – $50 from the airport.

A  regular ride within Puerto Viejo is $1.00.  Longer distances $1.50.

Differences can be great…and you can probably negotiate these following prices yourself for a much better price…these are just the published prices.

Here are some quotes for a car with English speaking guide with two vehicle sizes: a five passenger 4×4 SUV and three passenger compact 4×4 SUV.

#1: A car full size with English speaking driver for one day in Quito.

Van 4 x 4  – 5 passengers:  $ 159, guide / driver – 8 hours
Vehicle 4 x 4 – 5 passengers: $106, guide / driver – 8 hours

#2: A full size car with English speaking driver to Papallacta… stay over
night return second evening. (2 days)

Van 4 x 4  – 5 passengers:  $ 347 , guide / driver –  2 days
Vehicle 4 x 4 – 3 passengers: $270, guide / driver –  2 days

* This service only includes transportation and guide/driver. no meals or
accommodation are included which must also be paid.

#3: A 4 by 4 with English speaking driver from Quito to Mindo for one and for two days.

Van 4 x 4  – 5 passengers:  $ 159 , guide / driver – 8 hours
Vehicle 4 x 4 – 3 passengers: $118, guide / driver – 8 hours

Van 4 x 4  – 5 passengers:  $347 , guide / driver – 2 days
Vehicle 4 x 4 – 3 passengers: $271, guide / driver – 2 days

* This service only includes transportation and guide/driver. no meals or
accommodation are included which must also be paid.

For specific quotes contact Elena Guachamin at elena@columbusecuador.com

There are other good forms of public transport such as the public…


bus. However watch your purses… bags and briefcases on public buses. We have heard back from many readers about losing things on buses…  even when stored beneath their feet.

The Ecuador tours we advertise use very safe private buses.




They are only for tourism but can be a lot of fun.

In Cotacachi we also like to walk.  This tourist evidently decided to mix trains and walking.


I am not sure why but this is not advised.

Walking on train tracks is not always safe anywhere… but in Ecuador other forms of transportation are good… and inexpensive so you can move around easily and enjoy this beautiful country.


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