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 start point will be Guayaquil or Montañita. 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 to do.

Don’t overlook Quito. It’s a great city to explore for a couple of days, but then again, Ecuador has loads to offer!

Cotopaxi

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.

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.

Quilotoa

You need four days to the 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.

Baños

The adventure capital of Ecuador! There are loads of activities. If you’re really into adventure, two days won’t be enough. For a visit to the Amazon rainforest, we strongly recommend going for at least 3 days. There are also 1-day trips down to Puyo and back.

Puerto Misahuallí

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!

Riobamba

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

Ozogoche and Alausí

We recommend taking two days to camp or stay with the community of Ozogoche and also take the Devil’s Nose train ride. It departs twice daily in the mornings.

Cuenca

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.

Guayaquil

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.

Galapagos Islands

Plan on at least 3 nights to do this stunning archipelago justice. We can help you book some great island-hopping tours or cruises.

Montañita

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!

Puerto López

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.

4. Choose your pass!

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

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

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 – Everyday except Sunday

Pickup Points

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

Schedule

6:00-06:20 – Depart from Quito from your selected pick-up point.
8:00 – Stop for Breakfast
09:00 – Guidance at Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.
11:30 – Depart Cotopaxi.
13:00 – 13:45 – Traditional lunch near Quilotoa
14:15 – Guidance at Quilotoa. Explore the 3km-wide turquoise volcanic crater lake.
15:45 – Depart Quilotoa.
19:30-20:00 – Arrive in Baños, home to steaming volcanoes, explosive waterfalls and hot thermal springs.

Baños - Quito Route

Available departures from Baños: 6:30 – 7:00 (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 - Cuenca Route

Available departures from Baños: 6:30 – 7:00 (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

Pickup Points

Point 1: Parque la Basílica (main entrance to the Cathedral) 6:40 am. View map

Schedule

6:30 – Depart from Baños from your selected pick-up point.
9:30 – 15-minute stop at Balbanera church for photos.
10:00 – Visit Guamote or Riobamba to explore one of the most authentic markets in the country.
11:00 – Depart Guamote or Riobamba.
12:00 – Guidance at Ozogoche, 45 lagoons for hiking, fishing and spotting highland wildlife and landscapes.
13:00 – Lunch at Ozogoche, made by the local community.
14:30 – Depart Ozogoche.
15:00 – Short stop to visit Alausi. Those who wish to take the train hop off at Alausi.
19:30-20:00 – Arrive in Cuenca, ready to explore one of South America’s most intact colonial cities.

** Those who wish to take the train hop off at Alausi

Cuenca - Montañita Route

Available departures from Cuenca: 6:30 – 7:00 (Wednesday, Friday, 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 - Quito Route

Available departures from Montañita: 6:30 – 7:00 (Thursday, Saturday, Monday)

Pickup Points

Point 1: Los Caminantes Restaurant at the Main road 10 meters before the bridge. View map

Schedule

06:50 – Depart from Montañita from your selected pick-up point.
07:30 – Stop for a traditional coastal breakfast at beautiful Ayampe Beach.
08:45 – Pick up in Puerto Lopez
12:00 – 13:00 – Experience the Manabi culture with a local family and make your own traditonal lunch
18:30 – 19:00 – Arrive in Quito and be dropped off at one of our points.

POSSIBLE HOP OFF POINTS

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 11:15 - 11:30 (Every day except Sunday)

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). Most hotels are in close to the north entrance, from where you will need to take a taxi for about 30 min and 15 USD to our pick up point. If that’s the case will help you arrange a transfer from your hotel to join us. If you stay close to the south entrance you still need a taxi tget toto the national park but this will be fast and cheap.

Quilotoa 15:45 - 16:00 (Every day except Sunday)

In front of the information point at the entrance to the lagoon. View map

Puyo 08:20 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

Restaurante Wijao. View map

Puerto Misahuallí 12:50 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

Paikawe Lagoon. View map.

Tena 13:30 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

Hostal Limoncocha. View map

Riobamba 8:30 (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

In the Plaza Roja View map

Guamote 10:45 (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

Train station. View map

Ozogoche/ Alausí 15:15 (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

In Alausi at the train station (View map)

Guayaquil 15:15 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

At Holiday Inn Guayaquil Airport. View map

Ayampe 07:45 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

El Paso Restaurant. View map

Puerto Lopez 08:45 (Thursday, Saturday, Monday)

Hotel Piedra de Mar at Av General Córdova 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.

PLAN YOUR itinerary

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