People often complain about how expensive it is to fly to Ecuador.
But it’s true when compared to closer destinations like Costa Rica or Mexico.
Flights from the US/Canada to Ecuador can often cost $1000 or more.
For some it’s a deal-breaker.
But it doesn’t have to be.
I often get to Ecuador from the US for under $180 and now you can too.
Here’s how… But first, remember I said “cheap” not necessarily “comfortable”.
To start, you have to get from where you live in the US to Miami or New York City.
I buy two separate flights. One to Miami/NYC and another to South America.
Or I do it even cheaper and hitchhike, AMTRAK or take the Greyhound bus to Miami.
Then once you’re in Miami (or New York) buy a one way flight from Miami to Armenia, Colombia on my favorite budget airline (that doesn’t yet fly to Ecuador) Spirit Airlines.
Armenia in western Colombia is the closest city to Ecuador they fly.
If you buy at least a month in advance you can get a flight often less than $150, for instance, now I’m seeing flights in late January and early February on the Spirit website for around $135 to Armenia from Miami with taxes and everything included.
In fact, you’ll find Colombia to actually be a nice place to visit.
Plus, Colombia is a place that doesn’t require a roundtrip ticket to enter. Whereas Ecuador officially does require the return although most the time they don’t enforce it yet sometimes the airlines will not let you on the plane to Ecuador without the return passage.
I know, it’s confusing but it is what it is.
Colombia is far removed from the bloody 80’s, 90’s and Escobar years. I should know, I lived there for a year recently and learned of this strategy because I wanted to visit some old friends and get from the US to Ecuador cheap.
A really nice area to visit near Armenia is the “Coffee Triangle” or “Eje Cafetero”.
Once in Armenia take the 2 ½ hour bus ($4-5) to Cali, another interesting town and a famous salsa dance Mecca.
Once in Cali hop a little crop-duster-type plane to Tulcan on the Ecuadorian border with one of the several tiny Colombian airlines that aren’t well advertised on the net like Satena. I’ve caught flights as low as $65.
Or to it even cheaper hop one of the frequent daily buses (15 hours, $20-30) from Cali to Tulcan.
It’s a scenic ride and one beautiful stop along the way is Popayan, a pearly-white colonial town in the southern hills of Colombia.
Then from Ipiales, Colombia cross the border to Tulcan (Ecuador), get your passport stamped and hop one last bus 4-5 hours ($5) to Quito.
That’s it! You made it!
If you’ve been keeping track, if you fly to Colombia and bus it the rest of the way you can get from Miami, USA to Ecuador one way for around $175 in 2013.
Especially great for people who are coming to Ecuador one way!
OR if you are over 65 and have an Ecuadorian Cedula meaning you are an Ecuador resident OR Ecuadorian citizen, you can buy national or international flights for HALF PRICE, any time of the year with the Ecuadorian airlines of Aerogal, LAN or TAME. Preferably buy in person at the airports or by over phone to get the senior discount.
To discover some of my other creative strategies to get to Ecuador cheap please fill in the blanks below, thanks: