Thank you Wanderbus Ecuador for inviting myself and Sasha to experience the wonders of Ecuador with you *gifted trip*
If you guys have been following my blog you’ll know I was recently gallivanting around Peru with the help of the amazing Peru Hop (check out my post about this fantastic company here….). After leaving Peru, the next destination on our epic journey around South America was Ecuador, a bewitching land of fantastic scenery, astounding animals and wonderful people. During our 3-week exploration of the mainland we were lucky enough to work with Wanderbus, a fresh-faced company ready to rock traveller’s worlds with their hop on hop off service. But as many a thrifty traveller may ask, “Is Wanderbus really worth it?” And “does it really provide more than your average bus service?” I am about to set all records straight with this brutally honest review, so if you’re planning on taking a trip to Ecuador in the not too distant future, grab a cuppa and read on!
Why Choose A Tour Company?
By the time Sasha (traveling partner and map reader extraordinaire) and I got to Ecuador, we’d already experienced the fantastic, stress free ease of travelling with a hop on hop off company in Peru. For us it as a no-brainer, if there was a hop on op off service for Ecuador, we’d be definitely using it!! So why not do it ourselves? Why are we singing the praises of companies like Wanderbus? Well in truth, lots of reasons….
- Now there’s no beating around the bush here, South America isn’t known to be the safest of travel destinations. Using a company to travel around provides peace of mind and minimises the risk of any traveler, but especially females becoming targets. We all want to live to tell the tales of our adventures right!?
- Quite simply for ease! Let’s face it traveling is awesome but it can be stressful and it’s often not without complication. Using a company like Wanderbus takes the stress and hassle out of planning routes, navigating bus timetables and all those other niggling things which eat into your holiday time.
- They are great people to ask for recommendations and insider knowledge – a little advice never goes amiss and the guides on tours like Wanderbus really know what they’re talking about.
- It saves time, there is lots to see and do in Ecuador and if you’re on a tight time budget like we were, it can be a struggle to fit everything in. A company like Wanderbus have set routes with extra stop offs so you get to see and do more!
- Relative luxury – Many of the local buses are hot, crowded and sweaty. When you’re jostling heavy bags ( my own rucksack is the size of China) and there are live chickens in bags ( true story, happened to us) to share seats with, it’s not always the ideal way to spend long bus journeys. With companies like Wanderbus, you have your own comfy seat, places to put your luggage and air conditioned buses. Trust me, it makes all the difference!
Who Are Wanderbus?
Wanderbus is a relatively new bus company who provide a hop on hop off service, operating through popular tourist circuits around mainland Ecuador. Formed by a group of travel experts, it is currently the only company like it in Ecuador.
There are several tickets to choose from to suit almost every traveler’s needs and budgets and they are completely flexible, meaning you can spend 1 night or 1 month in a particular destination before choosing to move on. They operate through an online system where you have a unique login in order to plan your trip. I don’t want to put numbers to this as they may have changed by the time you read this, so check out their website for the most up to date prices and circuits https://www.wanderbusecuador.com/passes/
What Was Great About Wanderbus…
In short, sooo many things!! I’ve tried to break it down into a few main points, but essentially, we LOVED Wanderbus! They continued to prove just how great they are throughout our 3 week trip with them, especially with how much we got to see on our tight time budget. So here are the main points why we loved Wanderbus and think you will too….
- They support the local communities – This is something I feel really strongly about and I love that they help their fellow Ecuadorians by sharing tourism and promoting the locals through the free stops they include. Through Wanderbus we had an amazing time learning how to make chocolate and eating one of the best meals we’d had in Ecuador at the cocoa plantation. We also got to try our hand making green plantain Bolón for breakfast at an eco camp in Puerto Cayo which was amazing! They also fund travel for tourism students to help them become better guides in the future.
- They try to do their bit for the environment – another cause I feel strongly about. It can be hard to be eco friendly while traveling, so it’s so nice when the company you’re using really cares. On Wanderbus they had bags by the seats for rubbish but asked that you separate your plastics out so they could be recycled. One of the guides even went as far as to pick up litter on one of our walks to take back to the bus with us. It’s amazing when companies have this attitude towards the environment.
- The destinations – With the full Wander pass you visit the main tourist hot spots in Ecuador. These include Quito, Banos, Cuenca and Montanita. We had a fantastic time in each of these destinations from whale watching and surfing in Montanita to horseback riding and white water rafting in Banos. We couldn’t have seen and done all that we did in the time we had without the help of Wanderbus getting us from A to B!
- Gateway to the Galapagos and Amazon Rainforest – Wanderbus stop offs allow access to some of Ecuador’s main attractions. They can take you to Guayaquil, also known as ‘the gateway to the Galapagos’ where you can catch a flight to see the world renowned inspiration for ‘origin of species.’ Wanderbus also takes you to not one but two access points to the Amazon rainforest in Quito and Banos. It’s great Wanderbus takes you to these access points as it takes out yet another’s hassle for you to consider when planning your trip.
- It’s safe -We’ve all heard the horror stories of tourists getting robbed (and worse) on public transport in South America. With Wanderbus you never have to worry about your personal or luggage safety. You can even leave all your bags on the bus while you get off to go to the loo or take pictures at view points without having to worry (it’s soooo nice not having to lug everything with you all the time as I do not travel light!). The buses are maintained on a weekly basis and they always have two drivers on board to try and avoid accidents on the road. It’s the sort of company that stops your mum worrying about you quite so much!
- No Hassle – Now I don’t know about you but I don’t think you can put a price on stress-free travel! I do not find it fun trying to figure out where I need to be, how much I should be paying, if I can get to the bus station from where I am and if what I’m about to do is safe. Add the complications of a foreign language, towing a small cumbersome house on your back in luggage and a different culture into the mix and it all gets a bit stressful. It’s do-able but I think if people are honest, it’s never a part of traveling that people find fun. With Wanderbus it’s so simple, you can sort your itinerary before you go or while traveling, you know all your pick-ups and drop offs and you know it’s safe!
- Freebies! – Who doesn’t love a freeby? On Wanderbus not only do you get FREE SNACKS!?! (music to every traveler’s ears right?) But also loads of stop offs between destinations. We did the Wanderpass loop around Ecuador and with that we got a free tour to a Cacao plantation, Puerto Cayo to make a traditional breakfast, Cotopaxi Volcano, Quilotoa, Cajas national park, Riobamba market, and Ozogoche national park. We found these little freebies really worth it as they added an interesting element to our trip, broke up longer journeys and would often be quite difficult places to get to by yourself.
- It’s a great way to meet people – Traveling with a company like Wanderbus provides you with the opportunity to meet like-minded travelers. On our journey we met one girl who we became fast friends with and have still remained in touch! It was a great way to share experiences and let’s face it, meeting new people is one of the greatest part of traveling. We found with companies like Wanderbus, you form a friendly community as many of you will find yourselves traveling together for multiple legs of the journey. We loved this sociable aspect and I’m sure you will too!
There’s Always Room For Improvement…
No matter how amazing a company is there is always room for improvement, so here’s a few things to note as travelers so you can make up your own mind as to whether Wanderbus is for you…..
- A few more bus essentials – although there are regular stop offs, it would be great if there was the safety net of a toilet on board if you over do it at the fresh juice counter like me! Another great addition would be charging points for phones as some of the journeys are long and the extra phone juice would be appreciated to fuel the Netflix binge!
- Enthusiasm to a fault – Now I know how this is going to sound trust me, but some of the guides were a little too keen. Don’t get me wrong I love learning about the places I’m visiting but at 7 am when you’d had an early start you sometimes want a bit of down time and some journeys felt a little like a school trip. Saying that some of the guides got the balance just right; leaving us to our own devices most of the journey, then providing us with plenty of interesting information just before or once we’d reached our destination. However, saying that, I’d much rather this way round than a guide who gave you no information.
- The food was hit and miss – As I explained above, Wanderbus help local communities by taking tourists to certain destinations, at some of these food is offered for you to purchase. Some of this food was amazing, the cocoa plantation especially was spectacular and was definitely worth the money. However there is some variation in the food quality and price. Many of the meals were of average quality and were a decent price but on a few were less value for money for the quality we felt. I will point out here that you don’t have to have the food, though it is recommended by the company that you do. Though this is something they said they are currently working on.
- Organisation – There were multiple occasions where we would get to the meeting point for the bus only to discover we had to walk to get picked up, these were never hideous distances but when weighed down with luggage it would be nice if Wanderbus could organise pick ups where bus access was guaranteed. Other than this small thing, I have to admit the company was incredibly organised and couldn’t otherwise be faulted in this area.
- Food for thought – After traveling with Peru Hop who provide a similar service across the water, you can’t help but compare these two companies. Now I will grant you that Wanderbus is incredibly fresh to the party and have a lot of room to expand but it would be nice to see Wanderbus doing some of the things Peru Hop do such as working with tour companies, restaurants and hostels to provide discounts to their passengers and offering hostel pick up and drop off. It would definitely be a great addition to the company in future years.
My honest opinion? I would book again with Wanderbus in a heartbeat, as would my friend and traveling partner Sasha. This company delivered every step of our journey with them, with its safe, no-stress friendly atmosphere, amazing extras and an ethos I can most definitely get behind! I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone considering traveling Ecuador!
Ok, You’ve Convinced Me, How Do I Book?
Booking is simple, just follow this link to their website (https://www.wanderbusecuador.com), take a gander at their different tours until you find the one that’s right for you. Then you’re simply a few clicks away from your unforgettable Ecuadorian adventure!
Disclaimer: I was provided a free pass with Wanderbus for this trip, however, this has not influenced my opinion in any way and all opinions are my own.