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Getting There

By Plane -- Tame (tel. 02/3977-100 central reservations number in Quito, or 04/2964-865 in Machala; www.tame.com.ec) has two daily flights Monday to Friday, and one daily flight Saturday and Sunday between Quito and Machala's Aeropuerto General Manuel Serrano (tel. 07/2930-620; airport code: MCH). The flight takes a little over an hour, and the fare is around $104 (£69) each way.

By Bus -- There are a handful of direct buses from Quito to Machala each day on the Cooperativa TAC (tel. 02/2951-913 in Quito, or 07/2930-119 in Machala), Occidental (tel. 07/2930-820), and Panamericana (tel. 07/2557-133) bus lines. The ride takes around 11 hours, and the fare is about $10 to $12 (£6.65-£8).

Alternatively, you can travel first to Guayaquil, and make onward bus connections to Machala and the border. Buses leave Guayaquil's main bus terminal at least every half-hour between 4:30am and 11:30pm, on three or four different bus lines, including CIFA (tel. 07/2933-735 in Machala, or 04/2140-379 in Guayaquil) and Ecuatoriano Pullman (tel. 07/2931-164 in Machala, or 04/2140-617 in Guayaquil). About half of these buses continue on to Huaquillas. The ride takes 3 hours to Machala, and 4 1/2 hours to Huaquillas. The fares run around $4.50 (£3) to Machala, and $6 to $7 (£4-£4.65) to Huaquillas.

Transportes Azuay (tel. 07/2930-539) has frequent service between Machala and Cuenca. The ride takes about 4 hours, and the fare is $5 (£3.35).

CIFA and Ecuatoriano Pullman make the run between Machala and the border at Huaquillas. The ride takes around 1 1/2 hours, and the fare is $2 (£1.35).

There's no centralized bus station in Machala, but all the major bus lines arrive and depart from stops or terminals in the downtown area. For departures out of Machala, the terminal directions are as follows. To Guayaquil: Rutas Orenses (tel. 07/2937-661) leaves from Avenida 9 de Octubre and Calle Tarqui, Ecuatoriano Pullman leaves from Avenida 9 de Octubre and Calle Colón, and CIFA leaves from Avenida Bolívar and Calle Guayas. To Quito: Panamericana buses leave from Calle Colón and Avenida Bolívar, Cooperativa TAC buses leave from Calle Colón and Rocafuerte, and Occidental buses leave from Avenida Buenavista between calles Sucre and Olmedo. To Cuenca: Transportes Azuay leaves from Calle Sucre and Calle Junín.

By Car -- To reach Machala by car, follow the directions to Guayaquil. From Guayaquil, take Hwy. E70 east out of town until the junction with E25. Just outside the city center, E25 crosses E584, which will take you to Machala. E25 continues down to the town of Arenillas, where it connects with E50, which heads to Huaquillas and the Peruvian border.

Getting Around

You should have no trouble flagging down a taxi in Machala. A ride anywhere in the city should cost less than $2 (£1.35), and a ride out to Puerto Bolívar should only cost $3 (£2). You can also call Cooperativa de Taxis Machala (tel. 07/2920-271) or Taxi Colon (tel. 07/2933-333).

Local buses run constantly along Avenida 9 de Octubre out to Puerto Bolívar. The fare is 30¢ (20p).

You can rent a car from Budget (tel. 07/2960-586; www.budgetrentacar.com.ec), which has an office on Avenida 25 de Junio and the Circunvalación Norte, or at Hertz (tel. 07/2933-140), based out of the Hotel Oro Verde.

Orientation

Machala's downtown features a central plaza with the city's Catholic church and a small park, bordered by avenidas Rocafuerte and 9 de Octubre and by calles Guayas and 9 de Mayo. Avenida 9 de Octubre is the main avenue running through the heart of town. As it heads out of Machala to the northwest, Avenida 9 de Octubre becomes Avenida Bolívar Madero Vargas, which takes you to Puerto Bolívar.

Fast Facts -- The main police station (tel. 101 or 07/2933-391) is on Avenida 9 de Mayo and Calle Manuel Estomba, near the airport. For a medical emergency, call the Cruz Roja (Red Cross; tel. 07/2930-151). The Hospital Teófilo Dávila (tel. 07/2935-570) is the best medical facility in the city; it's located close to downtown, on Avenida Boyacá between calles Colón and Buenavista.

The Ministry of Tourism operates a tourist information office (tel. 07/2932-106) at Avenida 9 de Mayo and Pichincha. The main post office is on Avenida Bolívar and Calle Montalvo. The Peruvian Consulate (tel. 07/2920-680) is on Avenida Bolívar and Calle Colón.

Most major Ecuadorean banks have a branch or two in downtown Machala. The main branches of both the Banco de Guayaquil (tel. 07/2963-101) and Banco Pichincha (tel. 07/2931-195) are located on Calle Guayas and Avenida Rocafuerte, and there's a branch of Banco del Pacífico (tel. 07/2933-400) on Rocafuerte and Junín.

There are plenty of Internet cafes and phone cabins all over downtown Machala. Rates run around 90¢ to $1.50 (60p-£1) per hour. Your best bet is to find whichever Internet cafe seems most comfortable and well-equipped.

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.