1. Understanding the Driving Culture
Driving in Loja, like many parts of Ecuador, can be a bit chaotic for those not used to it. Traffic rules are often loosely followed, and drivers can be aggressive. It’s important to be alert and cautious at all times. Expect the unexpected, such as pedestrians crossing the road without warning, or vehicles not signaling before turning.
2. Car Recommendation
Given the hilly terrain and sometimes rough road conditions in Loja, a 4×4 vehicle is often recommended. This will handle the city streets as well as the surrounding rural areas. However, if you plan to stay mostly within the city, a smaller, more fuel-efficient car may be sufficient.
3. Parking in Loja
Finding parking in Loja can be challenging, especially in the city center. However, there are several paid parking lots available. The cost is generally affordable, but it can add up if you’re parking daily. It’s also common to park on the street, but be sure to follow any posted restrictions to avoid fines.
4. Driving with an International License
Foreigners can drive in Ecuador with an international driving permit for up to 90 days. After that, you will need to obtain an Ecuadorian driver’s license. It’s important to have your original license and international permit with you at all times when driving.
5. Obtaining an Ecuadorian Driver’s License
To get an Ecuadorian driver’s license, you will need to pass a written test and a practical driving test. The written test is available in English. You will also need to provide a number of documents, including your passport, proof of address, and a certificate of having attended a driving school. It’s recommended to start this process well before your international permit expires.
6. Road Conditions
Road conditions in Loja can vary. In the city, roads are generally paved and in good condition, but in rural areas, you may encounter dirt roads or roads in poor condition. Be prepared for this, especially if you plan to travel outside the city.
7. Safety Precautions
Always wear your seatbelt and ensure all passengers do the same. Avoid driving at night if possible, as visibility can be poor and there may be more hazards on the road. Also, be aware that drinking and driving laws are strictly enforced in Ecuador, so always designate a sober driver.