Car and Driver In Ecuador, Cheaper Than Car Rental


Usually we rent a car and explore a country on our own. There is such a joyous freedom in being able to stop when you want and where you want, or take that little side road, or stop at that quaint little village.


This time though, after a few days in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, a week with an Ecuadorian family in Otavalo, and a week on the Amazon Riverboat, we decided to try renting a car and driver for our last two weeks in Ecuador. Mauricio at came highly recommended on Trip Adviser, so we decided to do a little research. Turns out a car and driver was less than a rental car! And who doesn’t like being chauffeured around?! We felt like royalty.


The car and driver picked us up at the hotel, and we were off to the explore the beaches along the west coast of Ecuador, then later drive North through the Andes Mountains back to Quito.


Mauricio, our driver. 

P1020115 Driver, Mauricio


Leaving Quito, the charming capital of Ecuador, surrounded by the grand Andes Mountains, we still had to go West across the mountains to get to the beaches.


We often travelled long days, some days through thick fog or pouring rain, or construction with more fog and pouring rain, but Mauricio drove with skill and patience.

P1020121 Fog


P1020120 Construction


Sometimes it was like driving through a misty fairyland with the soft haze of the fog floating over the lush green foliage. So beautiful! Can you see the waterfall?

P1020133 Fog& Waterfall

P1020165 Dreamy Landscapes


Beautiful, and scary!


With sharp turns, steep cliffs, rock falls, and signs in Spanish saying,

“Reduce Velocity. NOW!”,

we zig-zagged this way, then that, up and down the huge Andes.


P1020150 Reduce Velocity NOW!


P1020143 Danger Deep Excavations


Finally we got through to a nice little mountain town, and took a break at a candy making shop! What fun!

P1020170 Home Made Candy


Oh… the look…



P1020173 Finished Candy


Back on the road, we passed all sorts of interesting vehicles.



P1020184 Everyday Transport


P1020177 Reassuring the Cows


Including 3-Wheelers…






And bare-armed helmet-less motorbike riders in skirts…



Transport by donkey…

P1020420 Donkey Delivery


And some on foot…

P1020364 Push!


We thought we were making fairly good time until we came to a mile-long line of vehicles stopped on the road. Mauricio got out to talk to the guys, and reported back that a big truck caved-in the highway, again! Third time this week!

P1020201 Construction - Traffic Stopped 1 hour

So I took the time for a photo op. (I take a crazy amount of pictures). Sometimes T gets quite exasperated as I spot something amazing, and call out “Stop, please stop” for the 85th time. And with an impatient whine, he replies, “You know I cannot pullover all of a sudden with five vehicles behind me.” And I wonder why not. He has signal lights, hasn’t he?!





Our vehicle…

P1020203 Our Vehicle


Two hours later, as dusk was falling, we started moving slowly ahead.


When we saw where the road caved in, “Holy Crap!”, there was barely any highway left, and the truck almost went rolling down the deep mountain ravine!

P1020206 Big Truck Caved Road in Again, Traffic Stopped


Finally, we got to the beach town of Atacames. What a relief it was to get out of the claustrophobic mountains, and nail-biting driving.


Mauricio was a little hesitant to go to Atacames. He said it could get a bit rough sometimes. Our research had mentioned that it was a black community, a Caribbean party town with reggae and marimba music, and spicy food. The beaches there were popular with Colombians and Venezuelans, and they were crowded on weekends. It seemed just fine though, at least in the day time.







Finally, we got to the beach!

P1020226 P1020227

Down the road the next day, the little fishing village of Tonchigüe was charming. 

P1020241 Village, 3 Boys with Fish


P1020239 Fishing Boats


The next town was actually on an island close to the mainland, so we took the ferry across to Muisne and we were entertained by an expressive little boy, the son of a worker on the ferry, who chattered away to us, going a mile a minute.




P1020273 Little Boy on Ferry





Other Ecuadorian people in villages along the way…

P1020746 - Ecuadorian Girl

P1020372 Ecuadorian Man

P1020310 Sweet Ecuadorian Smile


Animals along the highway… 

P1020320 Cow Pasture P1020321 Cow

A heavy load of logs…

P1020325 Boy on Horse Carrying Logs

Pigs being herded….

P1020345 Pigs on the Highway

Strange donkey with legs splayed out oddly… maybe the rain made it slippery.

P1020342 Funny Donkey


 “Jeez, I’m missin’ the game…”

P1020394 Oh Jeez, I'm missin' the Game


We stopped to look at some villas for sale at Coco Beach Village, near El Matel, between Jama and Canoa. 1300 square foot villas on one-quarter acre lots on the beach for $110,000 CAD (2011).

P1020376 Villas for Sale on Ocean P1020378 Villas for Sale on Ocean P1020380 P1020381 P1020383 P1020384 P1020385 Villas for Sale on Ocean P1020388 Villas for Sale on Ocean

 The price was right, but it was extremely windy. Later we were told that it is usually windy in this area and that’s why many buyers owned sailboats. Since we’re not into sailing, we quickly lost interest.


We continued driving all around the coast stopping at quaint towns and villages, most with beautiful undeveloped beaches, especially at Jaramajo and San Mateo.

P1020827 Village overlooking Ocean

P1020448 Beach San Clemente P1020458 Ocean Reflections


We found nice beach accommodation each day after we arrived in a town, around supper time. In San Clemente, we can highly recommend the Palma Azul Hotel. Most of our accommodation along the coast was between $30 and $6o Canadian.



We didn’t get to Isla de la Plata (poor man’s Galapagos) with its many unusual animals: Waved Albatross, Red-Footed, Blue-Footed and Masked Boobies, Frigatebirds, Tropic-birds, because it was a rough 1 hr boat ride and it was pouring rain.


On a similar note, we deliberately did not go to the famous Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. They were just too touristy and expensive, not to mention a long way out into the ocean, and after seeing many wild animals in their natural state on the Amazon river boat, we don’t think we missed much.


Our favourite town on the Ecuador coast was Olon. It was in the rain forest, but on a beautiful beach as well!








P1020790 Olon Beach Restaurants


Lunch on the beach – best calamari ever!!!

P1020844 Beach Food



Shallow water going out forever, with soft waves to play in…


P1020855 Olon Beach, Gotta Ya



Ayangue Bay was full of boats…

P1020796 Boats in Los Tunas Bay

P1020798 Boys and Boat


Thousands of seagulls screaming and fluttering overhead as the fishing boats come in off the ocean…

P1020743 Birds, Boats, Fish, Puerto Lopez


Cleaning the nets…



A Typical rural house scene…

P1020828 Village Scene


A travelling Shoe Store…

P1020744 Truckload of Shoes


But Lemonada and Beer – only 50c!

P1020731 50c Beer and Limonada


Manta was an interesting town, and a little bigger.



Beach restaurant in Manta…

P1020559 Manta Beach Restaurant


Where we had the best Ceviche ever!!!

P1020555 Best Ceviche


And light homemade corn chips with salsa…
P1020554 Plantain Chip and Salsa

P1020548 Plantain Chips


A strange fruit the waitress showed us…

P1020556 Strange Fruit


Near Manta Park… a man carrying fresh – very fresh – chickens….

P1020544 Carrying Chickens


And another selling fresh langostina…

P1020542 Langostina (small lobster)


How to advertise a pork sandwich restaurant…

P1020536 Restaurant


Huge tree in the park…

P1020534 Manta Tree Downtown


Our hotel in Manta, Hotel del Sol

P1020519 Manta Hotel

P1020492 Manta Hotel


Views from our hotel room in Manta…

P1020496 Manta Hotel View

P1020565 Manta Hotel Balcony

P1020502 Manta Sunset View 

Now in this same nice hotel room, picture this. I woke up in the morning after a very comfy sleep to stare at the shiny clean floor in complete shock.

P1020492 Manta Hotel

The floor was covered in bugs!

I mean covered. The floor was black!!!

Maybe I was still dreaming? Nope, the floor was covered in hundreds and hundreds of what looked like flying ants.


There was nowhere to step on the floor! And I had to go to the bathroom! I called out to T, who replied, altogether too cheerily, that he was having a bath.

I called the front desk. She spoke Spanish only! Maybe it was the urgency in my voice, or the screaming in half-English/half-Spanish (I did not know the word for “bugs”),

“Urgente, Urgente!!!” I shouted.

When the bellboy came and opened the door and looked down (I was still squirming on the bed), even he looked shocked!

He quickly got a broom and swept them mostly out, but when I put on my housecoat. one little bugger bit me! Nothing serious; the sting was gone in a second.

I raced to the bathroom.

Of course T never quite believed me when I told him the floor was covered in bugs, until we went to down for breakfast and the stairs were also covered with them. Someone explained to us that when it rains, they sometimes seek refuge en mass, indoors.


On down the road, the highway would change from smooth pavement to potholed dirt and back again, every 10 kilometers. The lush rain forest gave way to a drier desert-like terrain.

P1020581 P1020602


Our casita in Puerto Lopez, another little town with a pretty beach, and lots of flowers.

P1020755 Our Casita in Puerto Lopez P1020758 Bougainvillia P1020754 Flowers after Rain P1020752 View from our Casita P1020764


Further along the coast,we just had to stop at Los Frailes Beach in Machilla National Park.

P1020699 Los Frailes Beach, Machilla Park P1020703 Los Frailes Beach P1020704 Los Frailes Beach P1020708 Cool Waves

P1020676 Splash


The last town before heading inland and up into the mountains was Salinas, more of a resort beach/yacht club town. Seeing skyscrapers was a shock! People everywhere, noise, booths on the beach selling food and trinkets, shouting, music – it all felt like an invasion of the senses. With a population of 50,000, Salinas seemed large compared to all the tiny villages and towns we had been through, which frankly, we preferred.


The cost of the car and driver was $100 a day, and included the full-time driver, gasoline, food and lodging for the driver. We had the driver for 14 days, and a rental car would have cost $70 a day without insurance, a GPS and gasoline, so a rental car would have been more like $120 a day. With a chauffeur, T got to really look around instead of having to focus on driving.

Note: Cost of Car and Driver in 2014 is $195 US per day for 2 people, including accident & life insurance, and an English-speaking guide. A Spanish guide is $150 per day. You are responsible for paying for meals and accommodation for the driver, however those costs are very reasonable in Ecuador.

Mauricio, booked through , was a fantastic chauffeur – a careful driver, polite, considerate, knowledgeable, respectful, funny, and easy-going. Cute too – T still occasionally refers to him as “your boyfriend” when we talk about Ecuador. Too funny.


 *Stay tuned for the wildest train ride as we turned inland and back to Quito through the mighty Andes.


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18 Responses to Car and Driver In Ecuador, Cheaper Than Car Rental

  1. Wendy says:

    Personally, I love the detail! The pictures are great to look at …. I may never get to go there and this helps o visualize everything ….

    • travellittleknownplaces says:

      Thanks Wendy. Sometimes I think we use too many photos, but your comment tells me it really helps readers to “be there”.

  2. Wendy says:


  3. Another spectacular adventure….but bugs, not so much….ooooh – will definitely be aware of thatttt in Mexico/everything refridgerated, eaten ASAP… – otherwise, the little beggars find ya. Can see how a ‘chauffeur’ would be well worth it – how sweet. Truly seems like a dream-adventure……love it! You two are amazing adventurers…..really. Woohooooo!

    • travellittleknownplaces says:

      Thanks Marnee. In Mexico, I think its the food that attracts the cockroaches, but these in Ecuador were just harmless little flying bugs. Yes, the car and chauffeur was a great find and was less than renting a car ourselves! I couldn’t believe it. A fabulous adventure it was!

  4. Marcus Dixon says:

    Great and a very useful blog for me. like reading this blog. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep sharing.

    • travellittleknownplaces says:

      Thank you Marcus. It means a lot to us to know people really find the posts useful, and hopefully entertaining, as well. Feel free to comment any time, share, or ask questions. We love the feedback.

  5. rah says:

    hi,,, never enough pictures
    i enjoyed the experiences you shared ,,, the foods, the candy the clothing, and beautiful landscapes,, the harmless but freely bug carpet lol
    through your experience i had a mini trip
    i plan to go to and will have to check out your favourite little town Olon looked perfect,,,

  6. You will enjoy Ecuador Rah! Olon is lovely, but will you take an Amazon riverboat tour? And the Wild Train in the mountains? Those were two highlights for us, though we loved the beaches too. So glad you enjoyed a vicarious mini trip… and thanks for commenting! Let us know about your trip when you return, ok?

  7. Ericka Leon says:

    Hello this is Ericka with more than 22 years of experience as a driver, I have my professional license type D. If you need my help call me at 096 890 2961

    Kindly Regards,


    • Shelley says:

      Hello Ericka- Are you still for hire as a driver? My husband and I were going to fly from Quito to Manta, but are now considering hiring a driver so we can see more of the landscape and people. Are you available November 6th after 10am? If so, what do you charge? And.. how long will the drive be? Could you please give us your email address? Thank you, Shelley

  8. Samuel F Hartsock says:

    Do they have English-speaking guides that can help with the process of moving and settling into Ecuador?

  9. People in Ecuador are very helpful and kind, and many people speak English. I’m sure that if you contact any agency, they will offer another name or agency that would help with the process of moving and settling in. Did you do a google search on “moving to Ecuador”?

    • Shelley says:

      Hello Shirley- I really enjoyed reading your blog and viewing the beautiful photos! We will be spending 3 weeks in Ecuador, starting next week.
      Did you travel from Quito to Manta in one day? If so, how long did it take? Would you do it again, or fly?

      Do you have a direct email address for Mauricio?
      Also, what was the name of the restaurant you enjoyed in Manta?

      Thank you for any help you can offer us.

      Shelley 🙂

  10. Thank you so much Shelley. Glad you enjoyed this post and how exciting that you are going to Ecuador. It is a gorgeous country with so much to see. Did you read our other posts on Ecuador? You must take the train through the mountains – spectacular.

    No, we did not travel to Manta in one day. We travelled NW from Quito to Atacames near the border of Columbia, then followed the beach towns down to Manta. That took about 3 days. Definitely would drive rather than fly. We saw so much varied terrain, towns and people.

    I’m sorry, I don’t know the name of the restaurant in Manta. I just remember that it was the only one we saw in the trees with the little palapa thatched roofs and that it was pretty, with shade as well.

    Mauricio is under contract with as in the link above so that is the only contact I have for him.

    You will have a fantastic trip!

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