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Ecuador is a country in South America. It borders Colombia and Peru. It is great for hitchhiking, just be careful in some places, especially at the coast. Many pick-up trucks are there. Many locals ,especially far from cities, hitchhike their way to school, work and such. But! In Ecuador it's kind of common to pay for rides. After a month of hitchhiking some ride asked me for money, and I realized that many of the people who gave me a ride this last month were actually expecting money, but I left the car and they were too shy to ask. it's good to say before you go on the ride, "No tengo Dinero, esta bien?" or "Sin plata, esta bien?" If the say yes than you are good. if you don't ask before you might be asked a specific amount that is too large for you in the end of the ride. 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.
In general beside some tourist areas, Most of Ecuador is not used to see foregniers. And might find it hard to understand what's your situation, and why are you hitchhiking. Many might assume that you are very poor if you have to hitchhike and not take the bus.
Therefore Hitching in groups almost works better than solo or in pairs. Anything that might indicate to the locals that you are actually travelling and not a poor person in need might shorter your waiting time. 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.
Buses in Ecuador are quite cheap (usually $2.5/hr), and will usually stop anywhere. Now days there is buses or shuttles on even really small roads and they are quite frequent. There is usually two workers on every bus, a driver and a guy that helps with putting bags in the trunk, boarding the bus and collecting the money. Many busses expect you to run and board as fast as possible while the bus is still moving. Many times while I hitchhikied busses stopped thinking I am waiting for them, and when I said: "no tengo dinero" they told me to board the bus anyway. Many people also stop and try to give you money for the bus.
How locals hitchhike
In Ecuador the locals hitchhike by doing the clasical fist with a thumb pointing out but they point the thumb towards the road and move their hand back and forth when cars pass to show they want to go to the direction their thumb is pointing. you can also hitchikie the classical way, but many will not be sure what you mean. I found out that cars stop much faster if you are hitchhiking like the locals, but also most of them will go if you are not willing to pay for the ride.
Ecuador is roughly divided into 3 regions. La Sierra in the middle. Which is mainly high mountains. and it can rain here quite a lot.
La costa to the west. Which includes the coast line but also all the land and forest after you come down from the mountains but still very far from the coast. here it's very humid and hot most the year.
and El Oriente to the east. which is a big lands of changing forest. it's climate is something between La Costa and La Sierra.
In El Oriente and in La Sierra in general hitchhikng is good. Getting rides is usually easier the further you are from big cities. But sometimes, on spesific days or hours very few cars pass by.
In La Costa hitchiking is a little bit harder. In the last years many refugees from neighbouring countries are coming to Ecuador especially to La Costa. Many refugees tend to walk around with big backpacks. And because of that, many locals will mistake backpacker as refugees, even if you look like you are from totally different part of the world. Which might cause people to try to help you with giving you money and such, But also might make people be more hesitant to give you a lift. Many truck drivers which are used to refugees hitchhiking stop and mark you to go in the cargo bed if you wish. many times if you come to the window and speak with them a word or two, they invite you to the front.
If you wish opening a tent for the night it's kind of common to do so in Gas stations or at the fireman station. Just go and ask. Mostly they'll say yes. You might get free access for bathroom and shower a roof and maybe even a meal. plus there is always people working there guarding so it's relateviley very safe.
It should be said that Ecuador is not the safest country in the world. In some places it's better to walk only if you are with locals. If you don't pay attention to your stuff you might end up loosing them.
There is also a higher chance in some areas for getting mugged. It's better not to go to very isolated parts far from the big roads, or wonder around at nights if you are new to the region.
Many part of the country are very safe and you can totally relax. But other parts are a little bit more tense. So it's always good to talk with the locals and ask for advice. Most of the times you can feel the atmosphere from they're responses about the area that you are in.
Police in general are very helpful, especially if they understand you are from a different country. They might offer you to camp next to them and such for protection. or help to find a bus and sometimes rides.
- Baños de Agua Santa
- El Coca
- Puerto Lopez
- Santa Elena
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.
|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.
- 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
- Loved Ecuador, I hitchhiked from the Colombia border to Quito, over to Pernables, down to Montanita, over to Guayaquil and onwards to Peru. Never waited long, could easily sleep in the country in my hammock and got given money for lunch once, bought lunch once and given a place to stay twice. The coast is a little trickier but very doable, just aim for the pickup trucks, some might ask for money (one did) but just say you have none and it's all cool. The water in Quito is drinkable too and there is a lively couchsurfing scene, just be careful because its not as cheap as Peru or Colombia. Managed to hitchhike urban buses twice, I recommend always walking with your bag on your bag and turning around when a car approaches, especially on the coast, this type of hitchhiking works better than petrol stations and signs because Ecuadorian will pity you fast and want to help out - HoboSpirit
Ecuador only borders two countries: Peru to the South and East and Colombia to the North and East. In the Amazon region of Ecuador, there's some border crossings by river boat that aren't really good for hitchhiking, but might provide a great challenge.
Ecuador has one of the most chill visa policies in the world, therefore many people with "difficult" passports can also come and enjoy the country for 90 days.
All border crossings are ordered roughly from West to East. Ecuador and Perú had a border dispute as recent as 1999, so perhaps be sensitive on the issue. This is not a comprehensive list of border crossings, as there are many more, but most of these will have immigration offices to process international visitors.
Huaquillas to Aguas Verdes ¡DON´T GO THERE! Only if you want to do sightseeing, you can cross walking, nobody cares, but if you need to stamp your passport is imposible! From Huaquillas you must go 5km in "Transversal Sur" to a place that is called CEBAF, the first one is only to entry in Ecuador so don´t go there, 2km more in south direction you will find a second CEBAF there you can stamp your exit from Ecuador and finally entry in Perú (June 2022).
Is probably a local border crossing between the two countries, not suitable for foreign passports. The border is the bridge over the Zarumilla river. The location of immigration offices is unknown. Please add information if you've hitched this. Perhaps take the next border crossing instead:
Puente Internacional Zarumilla is a major border crossing between roughly Ciudad Astral in Ecuador and Zarumilla in Perú. The location of the Ecuadorian customs and immigration is about 2 km from the actual border. The location of the border control on the Peruvian side is unknown. Please add info if you've hitched this!
El Alamor between Zapotillo in Ecuador on the E25 and Lancones in Perú on the 1NN. The immigration offices are about 600 meters apart across a small bridge over the Rio Alamor. Please add info if you hitchhiked this!
Puente Internacional Macará from Macará in Ecuador on the E35 to Suyo in Perú on the 1NL. It seems to be the "real" Panamerican Highway border crossing between the two countries. The immigration offices are about 500 meters apart. Please add info if you hitched this!
Rio Canchis/La Balza from Zumba, Ecuador on the E682, to Namballe, Perú on the 5N. Immigration offices are 400 meters apart over a bridge. SonOfaHitch crossed this border on March 2022. The Immigration points are on both sides of the River Canchis and crossing is possible only between 6:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M. Hitchhiking to the border from Loja was the nicest and easiest exprience I had in all of Ecuador. never waited more than 10 minutes. There are many small towns on the way and the view is beutiful. very relaxed country side. The locals were very friendly and many times will try to help me or offer me where to stay for the night even if I didn't ask. There aren't many cars, but usually the first one will take you. The end of this road is not paved until the border crossing. After the small village of pucabamba there are really few cars or motorcycles coming by. Eventually got offered a bus ride for free with the shuttle that goes to the border. On the peruvian side althought there is a road there isn't much going on until the town Namballe. Got offered a ride eventually with a Motocar while I was walking on the road. Both sides asked me for my Covid Vaccination papers, but didn't looked at them so well because they were in a foreign language.
Río Santiago perhaps there is a river boat from Jempekat/Soldado Monge in Ecuador via the Rio Santiago and the Rio Marañon to Saramiriza in Perú. There seems to be both a Peruvian and an Ecuadorian settlement at the border, which is perhaps a military base or an immigration office. Let us know if you crossed the border here!
Río Pastaza perhaps there is a river boat from between Puyo and Macas in Ecuador down the Río Pastaza (border town named Andoas), to San Lorenzo/Yurimaguas in Perú. Let us know if you're aware this route exists!
Río Napo between Nuevo Rocafuerte/El Coca in Ecuador and Cabo Pantoja/Iquitos in Perú. Mind of a Hitchhiker crossed this border in May 2017 in opposite direction and wrote extensively about this trip and made a video here! Immigration offices are in Nuevo Rocafuerte and Cabo Pantoja. IMPORTANT: when trying to leave Ecuador to Colombia via Tulcán border crossing, it turned out Mind of a Hitchhiker's entry stamp from Nuevo Rocafuerte was not entered in the electronic system - guess what, the connection in the jungle isn't that great! She was turned away to make copies of her passport (three of the main page, three of the entry stamp page) and return. The lady who copies your passport is in a little booth 40 meters from the immigration office. The six pages will cost you $0.60 and then the officer is happy. Realize when crossing the Nuevo Rocafuerte border, you'll need to take a little more time to exit Ecuador because of your silly (but great) stamp!
Güeppi is the (northernmost) Peruvian town on the tri-border with Ecuador and Colombia on the banks of the river Putumayo. There is a Peruvian military base here. To enter via Ecuador, enter the Putumayo river from the town Puerto El Carmen de Putumayo, or another village at the river connected by road. Getting here via any of the Ecuadorian or Colombian rivers would be both an incredible adventure and a hassle. One can follow the Río Putumayo downstream until Tarapaca in Colombia on the border with Brazil. Eventually, the river will enter the majestic Amazon river. Let us know if you did it!
All border crossings are ordered roughly from West to East. Ecuador was formed from the former country Gran Colombia and the flags of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela are nearly the same design, indicating their common history. The following list of border crossings isn't comprehensive.
Mataje roughtly from San Lorenzo in Ecuador on the E10 to Espriella/Tumaco in Colombia on the ruta 10. WARNING! This border crossing is rather new, and at the time of research (June 2017) it wasn't clear yet if the border crossing had been opened yet. It was announced in 2014 and the project would take two years to finish, so ideally it should be done already. It crosses the Río Mataje. Let us know if this fresh border crossing has been opened to international travelers already and how it was to hitchhike it!
Tufiño - Chiles from Tufiño in Ecuador on the E182, to Chiles in Colombia. There is a bridge across the Carchi river, which forms the border. It is unknown if and where the immigration offices are located and if it's possible to cross on a foreign passport. Let us know if you hitched this border!
Puente Internacional Rumichaca between Tulcán in Ecuador and Ipiales in Colombia. This is the "official" Panamerican Highway border crossing between the two countries, and the one most certainly accepting foreign passports. The distance between immigration offices is 400 meters. There's a bridge crossing the Carchi river. Please add information if you hitched this!
Urbina a few kilometers from the Rumichaca border crossing is the smaller border crossing in the Ecuadorian town of Urbina at the river of the same name. The nearest town on the Colombian side is again Ipiales. It is unknown where the Colombian stamp-in immigration office is at. Let us know if you hitched this!
Puente Internacional San Miguel between Nueva Loja (also known as Lago Agrio) in Ecuador on the E45, and La Hormiga in Colombia on the Ruta 45. The immigration offices are at the San Miguel river bridge and are 200 meters apart. Please add information if you hitched this border!
Puerto Asís isn't a real border, but it is a town located at the Putumayo river that forms part of the border with Ecuador. It is likely possible that there are river boats from here to Puerto El Carmen de Putumayo in Ecuador, the tri-border with Perú called Güeppi, and far away places in Colombia like Tarapaca (near Leticia). Eventually, the Putumayo river will become part of the Amazon river in Brazil and end in the Atlantic Ocean, if you're looking at the big picture. Please add any information you have if you have taken a river boat border crossing in this area!
In March 2022 you can still see people a little bit affraid because of the covid. Some places will totally expect you to put on a mask, even in the street. And some will totally not mind. Especially close to the capital, Quito, people tend to be more nervous becuase of the Covid-19, and might be more hesitant to aprroach or stop for giving you a ride. Some people claim that to stop for hitchhikers is ilegal because of the pandemic, but many policeman confirmed that hitchhiking is ok. Proof of Vaccination is required at the entrance.
Hitchhikers Katja and Augustas traveling in the back of a pick-up in Ecuador.
A hitchhiker Dome having a ride with... a cow!
themodernnomad hitchhiking in the rain in the jungle near Macaus, trusty tarp in hand
- Eric pics 131.jpg
Eripson (right) with friend Gaston hitching from Baños to Quito.