Although very few overseas visitors arrive in Ecuador by car, some do rent cars when they get to Ecuador. These are the adventurous ones, willing to put up with poor roads, bad signs and erratic driving. A small saloon car is adequate for most of the countryís roads, but a high-clearance model is preferable for more rural driving. A four-wheel drive jeep is pretty essential in the Oriente
, particularly in the rainy season.
To rent a car, you should be over 25, have a valid [preferably international
] driverís license and a credit card with sufficient funds for the deposit [which, be warned, can be up to US$3,000
]. A small car costs about US$40 per day including mileage, or about US$260 a week. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are also available, but are more expensive. Check carefully on insurance, tax, drop-off and other charges, particularly mileage. The cost of gasoline in oil-producing Ecuador is low and gas stations pretty frequent. If taking an unleaded car into the wilds of the Oriente, it would be wise to carry a jerry can of this fuel. Carefully check your car over for scratches and dents before signing, and also have any four-wheel drive or spare tire practicalities explained. If you can avoid it, never travel at night, since road markings are virtually non-existent and accidents more common. Never leave valuables visible in a car, and always try to park your vehicle in an inexpensive guarded car park, never on the street.
The best road maps for the country are the Guia Vial de Ecuador
, a blue, fold-out booklet published yearly [but not amazingly accurate
] available in many hotels and bookshops, or the Hojas de Ruta
maps of the most popular routes published by the Instituto Geografico Militar [IGM
||Article contributed by Dominic Hamilton|||