Overland Ecuador Travel
Pan American Highway > Ecuador
Currency to display:
- 1 Visiting Ecuador
- 2 Entering Ecuador with a Car or Motorbike
- 3 Driving in Ecuador
- 4 Gas and Diesel price in Ecuador
- 5 Safety and Security Considerations
- 6 Camping in Ecuador
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Special Overland Travel interests
- 9 Vehicle Maintenance
- 10 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Ecuador
- 11 References
- 12 Helpful External links
Give a brief overview of what it's like to visit. How easy is the border, how safe is the country, are there great things to see and do, etc.
Entering Ecuador with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: January 2013
- Passport of registered owner (original and one copy)
- Vehicle registration (original and one copy)
- Drivers license (original and one copy)
(NOTE:You do not require a Carnet de Passage to enter Ecuador. (That is outdated information around the web)
Process at border
(For people, see Ecuador Visa and Passport requirements at the World Travel Guide)
- The owner of the vehicle gains entry at Immigration (Migración), usually with a tourist card, including a stamp in their Passport.
- The owner must show the new passport stamp, original vehicle registration and original Drivers license to Customs (Aduana) (plus one copy of each).
- The owner is issued a temporary import permit for the vehicle.
- As opposed to the sign at the aduana window - you don't need a SOAT (insurance) to get the temporary import. Just promise you will get it ASAP (in the next city).
Cost of entry
Permitted length of stay
Extension of stay
Extensions were previously permitted, they are currently not permitted. To extend your stay, you must exit Ecuador and return. Be careful, however, Ecuador is one of the strictest countries in South America with regards to how much time foreigners are permitted to be in the country in a calendar year. Check carefully with immigration.
Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
Out of ignorance I left my motorcycle twice,still within the 90 days. When I inquired about another mater at the consul in NYC, they were outraged that I had left the vehicle in Ecuador and demanded that I immediately return and remove it. 2 weeks later I did and had no problems at the border.
If you need to leave your vehicle in Quito while flying out to the Galapagos for example Parqueadero VIP is recommended. It's only 5 kms from the airport S0.17324 W78.34403. The people are very friendly and it's very secure. It's set in a small farm so you are surrounded by Shetland ponies, chickens and even a peacock. If you have a self contained vehicle they are happy to let you sleep in it and they even have a bathroom and wifi. Costs depends on length of stay but we paid $6.00 USD per night and that includes free transport to and from the airport.
We were able to store our vehicle in Ecuador while we returned to the US for 15 weeks. We've outlined the somewhat arduous process here. This is a place that you can store your vehicle. [www.finca-sommerwind.com]- July, 2014
Exiting with a vehicle
- The registered owner presents the temporary import paper to customs.
- The registered owner is stamped out of Ecuador at immigration.
Driving in Ecuador
Recommended books for Overlanding in Ecuador
Insurance is mandatory in Ecaudor, and Police will ask to see it. Like many South American countries, the insurance is called SOAT (Seguro Obligatorio Automóviles Transito). It is difficult, though not impossible to purchase because the vehicle will not be in the Ecuadorian computer system. SOAT is available only for one month or one year.
Cost of insurance
Varies with the size of vehicle. Around $60.00 USD for three months for a 4x4. Third-party insurance for a camper costs $5.00 USD to $7.00 USD for one month.
Where to purchase insurance
Ask around for "SOAT". Most insurance brokers in small towns only sell one-year insurances, it is more difficult to find a one-month contract only. Entering Ecuador from the north, the first possibility is: Colonial Seguro, Ibarra, at the roundabout with the mother monument, N 00°20’47.8’’ W 78°07’53.8’’. Coming from south, Colonial Seguro in Cuenca at the stadium (estadio) sells SOAT insurances, prolongations are possible: S 02°54’23.0’’ W 79°00’23.9’’.
The head office of QBE insurances in Quito. Within 5 minutes I was back at my truck with insurance papers! Very fast, friendly, and professional service. Possibilities: 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year. We took the 3 months. It was only $8.85 USD for the whole period for a Lexus LX450 (80-series Toyota Land Cruiser). (This is just for damage to persons, which is the only required insurance for cars in Ecuador.)
Address: At the corner of Avenida Eloy Alfaro and José Queri, at the other side of the road of Universidad de las Americas
Coordinates: -0.169021, -78.469403
SOAT INSURANCE WARNING FOR ECUADOR: When we got across on October 20 2014 we were told it was impossible to buy less than 12 months of insurance (soat) at the border even though those of us with temporary importation only need 3 months of insurance. Despite the fact that insurance is mandatory, we were told to drive on to any gas station and buy soat there. This is not possible. Soat can only be sold in less than 12 month blocks at head offices of the major insurance providers (Liberty Seguros or QBE). We drove around Ecuador for weeks without insurance before we finally found a Liberty Seguros office in Manta on the coast that sold us 3 months quickly and easily. It's possible in Quito as well and, probably in Guayaquil. The Liberty Seguros address in Manta is: Malecon Jaime Cavez (between Avenida 19 and Cale 19) Edificio Navio de Sol right on the malecon.
Technically an International Driving Permit is required.
In reality, showing a license from anywhere in the world seems to be good enough.
In order for your foreign license to be considered valid, you have to have an entry stamp from the last three months. If you have a visa that permits you to stay longer than 90 days, or are a resident, then you need to get an Ecuadorian license.
Driving side of road
Right hand drive vehicles are permitted without problem.
Mandatory items in vehicle
General Road quality
Roads in Ecuador vary greatly. Highways are all sealed and good quality. Small roads into the central highlands are cobblestone to prevent mud in the rainy season, and as such are extremely slow going. Gravel roads can be anywhere from very good to impassable mud-pits depending on the time of year.
Road signs are common on highways and in towns. It's usually not too difficult to find signage to get where you are going.
The Pan American Highway is tolled through Ecuador. Expect to pay $1.00 USD every 50km or so.
Bribery in Ecuador
Police bribery does happen in Ecuador, though it's by no means rampant, so don't assume Police are always trying to bribe you.
See the bribery tips page for advice.
Police checkpoints are common in Ecuador. You will be asked to present your Passport, Vehicle registration, drivers license, the temporary import permit you were issued at the border and your SOAT insurance. Driving without the required SOAT insurance is a sure-fire way to encounter bribery.
Traveling with pets
List the entry requirements and anything else required to travel with a pet.
Gas and Diesel price in Ecuador
Last updated: January 2013
Currency and unit to display:
|Extra||$1.48 USD per Gallon (US)|
|Super||$2.10 USD per Gallon (US)|
|Diesel 2||$1.03 USD per Gallon (US)|
|Diesel Premium||$1.03 USD per Gallon (US)|
- Price Information: Petrol Commercial
Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
Gas stations are extremely common in Ecuador, and shortages are not common. There is a law that limits the amount of gasoline you can purchase in one transaction to $10.00 USD when immediately next to the Colombian border. You can get around this by going to a couple of different gas stations.
Gas and Diesel Quality
Gasoline and Diesel are generally thought of as good quality, especially when bought from the name-brand stations. The BTU value of diesel is lower than in other countries, and the sulfur content is unknown. Diesel is suspected to sometimes be dirty or mixed with water. Make sure to purchase "diesel filtrado".
Safety and Security Considerations
Driving at night
Driving at night generally regarded as safe enough. Quito and Guayaquil have some very rough neighborhoods and should be avoided at night.
Parking vehicles on the street in smaller towns during the day is typically OK. Find a secure parking lot in big cities and at night. Cost is around $1.00 USD to $2.00 USD per night.
Special driving considerations
Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for Ecuador - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Camping in Ecuador
Camping is not common or popular in Ecuador, and very few hostels in touristy areas have camping to cater for backpackers. A few of the larger parks and reserves allow camping for a nominal fee. Roadside camping is generally OK away from the large cities.
Camping guide books
Tap water in Ecuador is generally not safe to drink. Every corner store sells 1 and 2 liter bottles, and 20 Liter bottles can be purchased for approx. $6.00 USD, though much of that money is deposit on the bottle, which they want you to return. Once you have the big bottle to return, the cost is less than $2.00 USD.
Reise Know-How are amoung the best paper maps. Purchase paper maps before arriving in Ecuador
The Military Geographical Institute in Quito sells a "tourist" road map with almost all roads marked for $4.00 USD. For a high quality road map, buy before you get to Ecuador.
GPS Maps of Ecuador
- Open Street Map: Appears to have good coverage.
- Garmin: No map of Ecuador.
- TomTom: No map of Ecuador. 
GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in Ecuador
- Maps/camping SEVENTEEN BY SIX Detailed list of campsites in Ecuador, shown on Google map, can be downloaded in word format too.
- Camping Sites: Ecuador - Detailed list of campsites and propane filling with description, directions and GPS co-ordinates. Some at hotels (lists facilities and price), some roadside and free.
- Campsite Listing - South America | PanAm Notes - List of campsites, with directions and GPS co-ordinates. Some at hotels (lists facilities and price), some roadside and free.
- Andes Expedition camping Locations - List of campsites, with basic directions and GPS co-ordinates. Mostly free sites.
- Camping Log 2: South America - List of campsites, shopping, fuel, propane and border crossings with excellent descriptions and GPS co-ordinates.
- Hackney Travel SA Waypoints - Raw GPS data (in gdb or gpx format) for waypoints (including campsites, fuel, repairs, propane and more)
- The Silk Road Motocaravan Network - Raw GPS data for waypoints (camping, gas, propane, points of interest and more)
- Finca Sommerwind, (GPS: N 00°22'51,0" W 78°05'22,1') Great place outside of town run by a German family; wonderful hot showers, close to the lake, electric hookups and drinking water.
- Cuenca camping. Very friendly and relaxed people - Umberto and Maria. Umberto also speaks English and German. $5.00 USD per person for camping/camper, including toilet/shower/wifi/use of kitchen. Also breakfast possible. Tastes great, by the way, and more than enough. Other option is a cabaña or a room in the house. Coordinates: -2.905927, -79.027981
Special Overland Travel interests
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
Add known good mechanics here.
Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Ecuador
A foreigner can buy, register and leave the country with an Ecuadorian vehicle. The exact details are unknown.
Ecuador is a good place to buy a used car, because everyone has one and mechanic service is really cheap. If possible, pay an Ecuadorian to do the haggling for you, because as a foreigner you will be a target for inflated prices.
Another good tip if you are leaving your travels from Ecuador is to sell the Ecuadorian car back to someone else. It is definitely possible to sell it for almost the exact same price as you bought it for. Foreign-registered cars I have no idea.
- Ecuador: Visa and Passport requirements | World Travel Guide
- Health Information for Travelers to Ecuador - Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Ecuador travel guides at wikivoyage
- Ecuador - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Ecuador Overland | Overland Sphere Overland travelers currently in Ecuador