There doesn’t seem to be a central database for bus travel in Ecuador and I found it difficult when researching times and costs and journey duration, so here’s a rough guide of some of the journeys that I took, just in case it’s some help to somebody out there:
Quito to Otavalo, 2 hours, $2. Get a bus – there are many companies – from Terminal Terrestre in the north of Quito. Check whether the bus drops you in the town’s terminal or on the Pan American highway (the walk into town for the latter option isn’t too bad).
Quito to Atacames, 7 hours, $9 with Trans Esmeraldas. The bus does go from Quitumbe but only twice a day, it’s better to get a bus from their terminal in La Mariscal where there are frequent departures. (I went with Trans Esmeraldas from Quitumbe to Emeraldas and then onwards to Atacames – it’s another option but considerably longer and much more hassle). The air conditioning doesn’t always work and heading up to the north coast means that you should expect increasing heat and humidity.
Quito to Baños, 3 ½ hours, $3.50. Catch the bus in Quitumbe, Quito’s south terminal. Buses are frequent.
Baños to Puyo, 2 hours, $2. A few bus companies do this route and it is a regular service.
Puyo to Riobamba, 3 hours, $3. There are frequent buses from the main terminal.
Riobamba to Cuenca, 6 hour, $6. There are about five buses during the daytime from the main terminal. Be early! – I was on time but the bus had left ten minutes before its scheduled departure. I ended up in a taxi chasing it to its next stop.
Cuenca to Loja, 5 hours, $7. There are frequent buses from the main terminal.
Loja to Vilcabamba, 1 hour, $1.25 with Vilcabamba Turis, a smaller bus with really frequent services running until 9:30pm.
Loja, Ecuador to Piura, Peru. 8 hours, $8. There are two day time buses (07:00am, 13:00pm) and one night bus with Loja International. I took the overnight bus, a comfy and modern bus by Ecuadorian standards which set off at 11:00pm, arrived at the Ecuador/Peru border around 03:30am and into Piura just after 06:30am. The bus drops everyone off with the Ecuador border officials to get exit stamps. The bridge crossing is done on foot to reach Peru immigration. Once your passport is stamped and you have an Andean immigration slip, you can board the bus again (it will have driven across to meet you).