Planning Guide

Our team has travelled all over the country in search of the best experiences travelers can enjoy. Our Ecuador itineraries are really just the starting point for you to add your own adventures! You’re in charge and can adjust your Wanderbus plans as you go.

TIPS FOR YOUR PLANNING

1. Know your starting point.

If you’re coming overland from Peru, your starting point will be Cuenca. If entering overland from Colombia, you’ll start in Quito. If you want to start anywhere else, you can!

2. Plan how many days you want to travel in Ecuador for.

This will help you to know which of our Passes is the best for you.

3. Choose where you want to go and what you want to do.

Our passes have tons of activities included AND we have tons of fun extra tours, so if you’re looking to do something special or specific here in Ecuador, don’t worry, we have everything and so much more!

4. Choose your pass!

Once you’ve decided how many days you want to travel and where you want to go, choose one of our specially-designed passes to explore Ecuador!

5. Make or change your booking

Once you book your pass, you’ll be able to log in to your account and adapt it to the way you want to travel the country. You will be able to choose the day you want to depart from every stop according to our timetables, and select your pick up point(s) in each town along our routes. Make sure to confirm your bus or any changes you want to make at least 24 hours before departure so that we have time to organize access to national parks, meals with the local communities, logistics, etc. You won’t be able to change your departure date from any point less than 24 hours before departure.

DEPARTURE DAYS

Wanderbus Departure Days

These are the departure days for the Wander Pass, Condor Pass, Tangara Pass, Colibri Pass, Tucan Pass, and Garza Pass.

QUITO – BAÑOS DEPARTURE DAYS

Quito - Baños Departure Days

These are the departure days for the Wander Pass Express, Jacamar Pass, and Cotinga Pass.

ROUTE TIMETABLES

Now you’ve got an idea of where you’ll start, how long you’ll travel for and what you might do. 😎

Now take a look at our route timetables. Each Wanderbus pass is made up of 1 to 5 routes. Along each route, you can choose to hop off at the intermediate stops along the way (for example, Quilotoa, Puerto Misahuallí, Guayaquil, Alausí for the Devil’s Nose Train, etc.).

Quito - Baños Route

Available departures from Quito: 6:00 – 6:20 – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday*

*Departures from Quito:
Monday and Friday: Wander Pass, Condor Pass, Tangara Pass, and Colibri Pass

Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: Wander Pass Express, Jacamar Pass, Wander Pass, Condor Pass, Tangara Pass, and Colibri Pass

Pickup Points

Point 1: Secret Garden in Plaza Belmonte 6:00 am. View map
Point 2: Blue House Foch in Mariscal 6:20 am. View map
Hostel and Hotel Pick-Ups in Quito. See list of options.

Schedule

6:00-06:30 – Depart from Quito from your selected pick-up point.
7:15 – 8:00 Visit a traditional hacienda and stop for breakfast
10:00 – 11:00 Guidance at Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.
12:30 Stop for lunch
14:00 – 16:00 Guidance at Quilotoa. Explore the 3km-wide turquoise volcanic crater lake.
17:00 – 17:15 Stop for famous Ecuadorian ice cream on the way to Baños
19:30 Arrive in Baños, home to steaming volcanoes, explosive waterfalls and hot thermal springs.

Baños - Quito Route

Available departures from Baños: 6:30 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

Pickup Points

Point 1: Parque la Basílica (main entrance to the Cathedral) 6:30 am. View map

Schedule

6:30 – Depart from Baños
8:00 – Traditional Ecuadorian breakfast in Puyo
10:00 – Visit Piakawe Lagoon for some wildlife watching and a canoe ride
11:15 – Pick up / Drop off in Tena
11:30 – Visit Santa Rita community for a cocoa farm adventure and a traditional lunch
16:45 – Visit Papallacta hot springs (includes entrance to the thermal spa)
19:30 – Arrival in Quito

Baños - Alausi Route

Available departures from Baños: 6:30 (Monday and Thursday)

Pickup Points
Point 1: Basilica Church entrance 6:30 am. View map,

Schedule

6:30 Pick up in Baños at the Basilica
8:30 – 9:00 Experience a traditional breakfast of the Puruhá culture
9:00 – 10:30 Visit an indigenous ceremonial temple in Ecuador and learn about the limpia ceremony
11:30 – 12:45 Visit Guamote or Riobamba to explore one of the most authentic markets in the country
14:00 – 16:00 Guidance at Ozogoche, explore more than 45 lagoons for hiking, fishing, and spotting highland wildlife amid dramatic landscapes
18:30 Drop off at the train station in Alausí

Alausi - Cuenca Route

Available departures from Alausi: 8:00 – Tuesday and Friday

Pickup Points
Point 1: Train Station 8:00 am. View map.

Schedule

8:30 – 10:30 Ride the famous Devil’s Nose Train and zig-zag through the mountains
13:00 Stop for lunch
14:00 – 15:00 Venture to the Ecuadorian Inca ruins of Ingapirca for a tour of this site
17:00 – 18:30 Afternoon city tour of Cuenca

Cuenca - Montañita Route

Available departures from Cuenca: 7:00 (Thursday and Sunday)

Pickup Points

Point 1: Parque Calderón (main entrance to the Cathedral) 7:00 am. View map

Schedule

07:00 – Depart from Cuenca from your selected pick-up point.
07:45 – Stop for breakfast.
08:45 – Guidance at El Cajas National Park for a wet and wild adventure among 200 lakes.
09:45 – Depart from El Cajas.
12:00 – Experience how to create your own choclate at a local cacao hacienda and stop for lunch
14:00 – Depart hacienda.
15:15 – Arrive in Guayaquil to drop off/pick up those who wish to stay here.
18:15 – Stop in a local community to learn how to make the famous Panama Hats with paja toquilla
19:00 – Arrive in Montañita in time to catch the sunset and hit the party scene.

Montañita - Puerto Lopez Route

Available departures from Montañita: 7:30 – Monday and Friday

Pickup Points
Point 1: Los Caminantes Restaurant 7:30 am. View map.

Schedule

7:30 Pick up in Montañita at Los Caminantes
8:00 – 9:00 Visit to the small artistic town of La Entrada to explore and take some pictures
9:15 – 10:00 Stop for a traditional coastal breakfast at beautiful Ayampe Beach
10:30 Drop off in Puerto Lopez for those who want to stay here and not go to Los Frailes
11:00 – 11:45 Light hike to Los Frailes, the most beautiful beach in the country
11:45 – 14:30 Time to enjoy the white sands and the clear ocean water of Los Frailes beach
15:15 Drop off in Puerto Lopez at Hotel Piedra del Mar

Montañita - Puerto Lopez Route

Available departures from Montañita: 7:30 – Tuesday and Saturday

Pickup Points
Point 1: Los Caminantes Restaurant 7:30 am. View map.

Schedule

Departs: Tuesday and Saturdays

*You have the option to travel from Montañita to Puerto Lopez while visiting some beaches along the way in the morning or in the afternoon with a direct connection.

8:30 Pick up in Montañita at Los Caminantes for those who will join the 4 beaches tour
9:00 – 10:00 Visit to the small artistic town of La Entrada to explore and take some pictures
10:15 – 12:00 Free time to spend at the peaceful Ayampe beach
12:15 – 14:00 Free time at Las Tunas beach and stop for lunch at one of the best coastal seafood restaurants
14:15 – 16:00 Free time at Puerto Rico beach
16:30 Drop off in Puerto Lopez at Hotel Piedra del Mar
18:00 Pick up in Montañita at Los Caminantes for those who stayed here
19:00 Drop off in Puerto Lopez at Hotel Piedra del Mar

Puerto Lopez - Mindo Route

Available departures from Puerto Lopez: 8:00 – Wednesday and Sunday

Pickup Points
Point 1: Piedra del Mar Hotel 8:00 am. View map.

Schedule

8:00 Pick up/drop off – Hotel Piedra del Mar
8:30 – 10:00 Light hike through the Agua Blanca Community and a swim in their sacred turquoise lagoon
13:00 – 14:30 Experience the Manabi culture with a local family and make your own traditional lunch
19:00 Arrive in Mindo
19:30 – 21:00 Enjoy a night hike to see and hear nocturnal creatures in Mindo

Mindo - Quito Route

Available departures from Mindo: 8:00 – Monday and Thursday

Pickup Points
Point 1: Mindo Forest Coffee & Tea 8:00 am. View map.

Schedule

8:00 Pick up in Mindo
8:30 – 10:00 Hike through the cloudforest to discover unique wildlife
11:00 – 12:30 Coffee creating experience, learn the process and enjoy some treats
13:00 – 14:00 Stop for lunch
15:00 – 17:00 Experience being in both hemispheres at once at the Middle of the World and the Intiñan Museum
18:30 Drop off in Quito

HOP OFF POINTS TO EXPLORE MORE ON YOUR OWN

The Wanderbus makes it easy to hop on and hop off wherever you are in Ecuador. If you stay in the “tourist-friendly” neighbourhoods of Quito, Baños, Cuenca and Montañita, then our points will always be within a 5-10 minute walk of your accommodation.

When you hop off at one of our stops, your guide will clarify what day and what time the next Wanderbus will be passing through. The only thing we can’t do is let you on or drop you off at stops that aren’t part of our itineraries and schedules. We are not a public transport company and value the experience of our Wanderbus passengers travelling together. Last but not least, we will always put your safety first.

Cotopaxi 11:00 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday*)

You need two days to summit the volcano and need to be acclimatized. There are no hostels inside the National Park (although there is one mountain climbers lodge called Tambopaxi inside). Please get in touch with us to plan your adventure.

Your drop off/pick up point is at the South Entrance to the National Park (accessed from the Panamericana E35). View map.

Cotopaxi National Park has 2 main entrances: north (Machachi) and south (Panamericana Highway). If you stay close to the north entrance, you will need to take a taxi-pick up truck for about 30 mins (costs around $15) to our pick up point. If that’s the case, we can help you arrange a transfer from your accommodation to join us. If you decide to stay close to the south entrance, you will still need to take a taxi-pick up to our meeting point, but this will be fast and cheap.

*Pick ups/drop offs depending on Pass:

  • Monday and Friday: Wander Pass, Condor Pass, Tangara Pass, and Colibri Pass
  • Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: Wander Pass Express, Jacamar Pass, Wander Pass, Condor Pass, Tangara Pass, and Colibri Pass
Quilotoa 15:45 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday*)

You need four days to do the entire ‘loop’. But in two days you can explore the whole area on great treks, and kayaking in the crater lake. We can advise you.

Your drop off/pick up point is in front of the information point at the entrance to the lagoon. View map.

*Pick ups/drop offs depending on Pass:

  • Monday and Friday: Wander Pass, Condor Pass, Tangara Pass, and Colibri Pass
  • Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: Wander Pass Express, Jacamar Pass, Wander Pass, Condor Pass, Tangara Pass, and Colibri Pass
Puyo 08:20 (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday)

Spend a few days here to go deeper into the jungle.

Your drop off/pick up point is Restaurante Wijao. View map

Puerto Misahuallí 10:50 (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday)

Puerto Misahuallí combined with Tena and Archidona: to fully experience the jungle we recommend spending 2-4 days traveling this area. There’s so many things to do here — raft the rivers, swim in a waterfall, go tubing, hike through the jungle, try new foods, visit indigenous communities, see wildlife, try medicinal plants, and so much more — you’ll never get bored!

Your drop off/pick up point is Paikawe Lagoon. View map.

Tena 11:30 (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday)

Tena combined with Puerto Misahuallí and Archidona: to fully experience the jungle we recommend spending 2-4 days traveling this area. There’s so many things to do here — raft the rivers, swim in a waterfall, go tubing, hike through the jungle, try new foods, visit indigenous communities, see wildlife, try medicinal plants, and so much more — you’ll never get bored!

Your drop off/pick up point is Hostal Limoncocha. View map

Riobamba 10:30 (Monday and Thursday)

The jumping-off point for Chimborazo Volcano and for discovering indigenous cultures and rural ways.

Your drop off/pick up point is La Merced Market View map

Guamote 10:30 (Monday and Thursday)

Your drop off/pick up point is Train station. View map

Alausí 10:30 (Tuesday and Friday)

We recommend taking two days to camp or stay with the community of Ozogoche and also explore the small town of Alausi.

Your drop off/pick up point is in Alausi at the train station (View map)

Cuenca 07:00 (Thursday and Sunday)

A great city to enjoy art, architecture, music, crafts and more. Or take to the nearby hills for all sorts of adventures. Also the Ingapirca ruins to the north.

Your drop off/pick up point is is at the New Cathedral in front of Parque Calderón. View map.

Guayaquil 15:15 (Thursday and Sunday)

Often overlooked but young, fun, dynamic and with captivating pockets of green spaces. Easy to connect with national and international flights, including the Galapagos Islands.

Your drop off/pick up point is at Holiday Inn Guayaquil Airport. View map

Montañita 07:30 (Monday and Friday) AND 08:30 or 18:00 (Tuesday and Saturday)

Famed for its party atmosphere, great stretch of beach with good surfing and laid-back vibe. Many people plan to stay for a few days and end up staying for weeks!

Your drop off/pick up point is at Los Caminantes Restaurant. View map.

Ayampe 09:45 (Monday and Friday)

This small beach town is the perfect place to unwind and relax for a few days

Your drop off/pick up point is El Paso Restaurant. View map

Puerto Lopez 08:00 (Wednesday and Sunday)

An important port for fishing on the Pacific Coast, it’s got a decent beach and good restaurants to sample the local cuisine. Jumping off point for Isla de la Plata (the “poor man’s Galapagos”), whale-watching trips (June to September), and exploring the coast further north.

Your drop off/pick up point is Hotel Piedra de Mar at Av General Córdova View map

Mindo: 08:00 (Monday and Thursday)

This beautiful tiny town in the heart of the Ecuadorian cloudforest is the best place to spend a few days to relax, birdwatch, hike to tons of waterfalls, and visit a butterfly house.

Your drop off/pick up point is Mindo Forest Coffee & Tea 8:00 am. View map.

Important:

Please remember, if you hop off at a stop along the way, your departure day will be the same as that route’s starting point, and according to the timetable shown above. For example, if you hop off at Quilotoa Crater, on the Quito-Baños route, you will need to hop on again on the same days as the Quito-Baños route. Please always check our Pick-Up & Drop-off times and locations.

Hotels & Hostels in Ecuador

We’ve traveled the entire country looking for the best places for you to stay! Here you will find the list of our recommended hotels and hostels in Ecuador. BONUS: We also offer hotel and hostel pick up from all the listed places in Quito.

The Wanderbus offers hotel and hostel pick up only in Quito since the city is very large. If you’re staying in another accommodation (AirBnB, friend’s house, another hotel or hostel, etc.) you will have to meet at one of our set pick-up points in touristic areas, at either The Blue House Hostel near Plaza Foch or Plaza Belmonte.

In Baños, Cuenca and Montañita we only offer set pick up points from the main touristic areas. Due to the logistics of some streets or neighborhoods, as well as the small size of these other cities, we are not able to pick up everyone from their individual hostels or hotels in Baños, Cuenca and Montañita. You can use our planning guide to see where the pick up points will be so you can plan your trip accordingly.

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