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Getting There

By Bus -- Buses frequently leave Quito's main bus terminal, Terminal Terrestre, heading south along the Pan-American Highway to Ambato. Cooperativa Ambato (tel. 02/2570-038 in Quito, or 03/2849-504 in Ambato) and Cooperativa Transandina (tel. 02/2572-265 in Quito, or 03/2849-566 in Ambato) are the main bus lines, although another half-dozen or so companies are in the mix, with buses leaving roughly every 5 minutes between 3am and midnight. The ride takes about 2 1/2 hours and costs $2.50 (£1.65). From Ambato there are frequent bus connections to most other major destinations around Ecuador.

The main bus terminal in Ambato, Terminal Terrestre (tel. 03/2520-859), is located a little over 1.5km (1 mile) northeast of downtown, on Avenida de las Américas and Colombia. Frequent local buses connect the bus terminal and downtown Ambato -- look for a bus that says CENTRO. The fare should be around 25¢ (17p). You can also take one of the many taxis you will find waiting at the bus terminal; a ride anywhere in Ambato should not exceed $2 (£1.35), and most rides are just $1 (65p).

By Car -- To reach Ambato by car, head south out of Quito on the Pan-American Highway (E35). The ride takes around 2 hours. There's a bypass around Ambato, but the Pan-American Highway itself, and most of the flow of traffic, actually goes right through downtown on its way south and toward Riobamba.

Orientation

If you enter Ambato from the north, you'll pass by a traffic circle with the sculpture of a large, naked woman holding some flowers and welcoming you to the city. The main downtown area is bounded by the parallel avenidas Rocafuerte and 12 de Noviembre, and by the calles Sevilla and Olmedo. All the city's major parks, churches, and markets are found within this compact area.

Getting Around

The city is large, spread out, and located on relatively hilly terrain, making walking long distances problematic. Luckily, taxis are abundant and inexpensive. If you can't simply flag one down, call Cooperativa Taxi Amigos (tel. 03/2417-900) or Taxi Ejecutivo (tel. 03/2418-000).

Ambato has an extensive network of local urban buses. For most tourists the only bus route of importance is the one between downtown and the main bus terminal. Buses from the center to the bus station are marked TERMINAL, and leave from the south side of Parque Cevallos. From the terminal to downtown, look for buses marked CENTRO.

Visitor Information

The Ministry of Tourism runs a friendly tourist information office (tel. 03/2821-800), on Rocafuerte and Guayaquil, next to the Hotel Ambato . They can provide information on local attractions and tours.

Fast Facts

To reach the police, dial tel. 101 or 03/2415-558. The main office is on Av. Atahualpa 568 and Avenida Quis Quis. The Hospital Provincial Docente Ambato (tel. 03/2821-058) is on Avenida Unidad Nacional and Pasteur.

You'll find the main branch of Banco de Guayaquil (tel. 03/2823-774) on the corner of Mera and Sucre. The main branch of Banco Pichincha (tel. 03/2422-031) is at Lalama 3-20 and Cevallos. ATMs can be found scattered around the city. The post office (tel. 03/2823-332) is located on Bolívar and Castillo.

Internet cafes abound in Ambato, especially around downtown and Parque Montalvo. I like the fast connections at Cyber Café (tel. 03/2425-634). Hourly rates cost around $1 (65p).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.