Editor’s Note: Our Adventure Riding in Ecuador series was kindly sponsored by Court and his team at Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental in Quito. Ecuador Freedom offers Bike and 4×4 Rentals, Self-Guided Tours of Ecuador as well as all-inclusive Guided Tours.
Ecuador is among the easiest South American countries to travel by bike, and it is still among the cheapest, especially compared to Brazil or Chile. Depending on your budget, you can travel comfortably on $50-60 a day or less including food, fuel, and accommodation. If you’re renting a motorcycle, this number will go up, but if you’re riding your own bike, the damage to your bank account will be minimal.
Ecuador uses the US dollar, so figuring out prices and costs is simple: you don’t need to convert currency. When getting cash out, make sure you have smaller bills: $100 bills are rare in circulation and shop and restaurant owners may not want to accept them. Carry your cash in $20 and $10 bills to make life easier for everyone involved. ATMs are plentiful in most cities and towns, and all bigger supermarkets and gas stations accept card payments. However, if you’re going off the beaten path, carry cash as some smaller villages and communities may not be able to process card payments. Generally, you’ll be fine paying by card in places like Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. Use Booking.com, AirBnB, and Uber as much as you can if you prefer to pay by card.
Just like most South American countries, Ecuador’s hotel costs and prices for activities and tours may vary a little depending on the season. The high tourist season in Ecuador is mid-June to September and December to January. However, as Ecuador sits right on the equator, the weather is mild all year round, so seasons matter less here – even for motorcyclists. Most tour operators and hotel owners offer discount deals from February to April and during September, October, and November. If you’re on a budget, these months may be the best time to travel Ecuador.
Ecuador boasts a wide variety of accommodation options from small, family-owned hospedajes (tiny bed-and-breakfast type hotels), AirBnB, mid-range and luxury hotels and resorts to Amazonian jungle lodges and traditional colonial-style haciendas. Camping isn’t very popular here yet, but there are some campsites around more touristy places; you may also find cabins and hostels.
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind sharing a room, prices of hostel dormitory beds start at $7-8 per night. A private room in a hostel (typically with a shared bathroom) will cost around $12. A basic hotel room will cost anywhere between $12-18, and for mid-range hotels, prices are usually around $30 a night. An entire AirBnB apartment or house will cost anywhere between $25 and $50 depending on location.
Most hospedajes, hostels, and hotels include free breakfast. WiFi is usually available in all hostels and hotels as well as coffee shops, shopping malls, and so on.
Most budget travelers usually try saving on food by preparing their own meals, but in Ecuador, this isn’t necessary. A meal at a small, family-owned restaurant costs around $5-6, and if you really want to save and are feeling adventurous, try street food. Street food stalls are everywhere in Ecuadorian towns and cities, and a meal will cost you as little as $2-3. A bottle of beer at a restaurant is typically around $1.
Large markets are also great for trying out local cuisine and paying less. Most markets will have a food section where you can dine with the locals for as little as $3-4. For dessert, simply buy some of the gorgeous Ecuadorian fruit.
Heading into the Amazon? Check out this Amazonian cuisine guide.
Ecuador produces its own fuel, which means gas prices are usually low. Expect to pay $1.78 per gallon for regular gas and up to $3.20 per gallon for premium. Gas stations post fuel prices outside so you can always compare as you ride along.
Generally, fuel availability in Ecuador is very good and you’ll find gas stations even in more remote Andean villages.
When it comes to public transport, a cab or Uber ride from Quito airport to central Quito will cost you around $25-27, whereas local buses typically cost pennies. The famous Devil’s Nose (Nariz del Diablo) train ride in Alausi costs $33 round trip.
Aside from the Galapagos Islands, most tours and activities in Ecuador are still fairly cheap. Entrance to most museums and archeological sites will cost around $5-6, a day trip to see a volcano is around $30, a chocolate or coffee tour is usually around $10-20.
If you’re looking for deals, try buddying up with other travelers as tour operators might offer discounts for groups. On the other hand, there’s so much to see and do in Ecuador you can explore the country on your own – combining motorcycling, hiking, and chocolate tasting in Ecuador is usually a good recipe for a self-guided adventure.
For more ideas on Ecuador’s adventure routes and must-see places, be sure to check out this post.