Planning a Trip
By Plane -- Tame (tel. 02/3977-100 reservation number in Quito, or 07/2677-306 in Loja; www.tame.com.ec) has daily service between both Quito and Guayaquil and Loja's Aeropuerto Camilo Ponce Enríquez (tel. 07/2677-140; airport code: LOH) -- also known as La Toma -- in Catamayo, about 45 minutes outside Loja. Fares run $76 to $92 (£51-£61) each way, and the flight takes around 1 hour and 10 minutes from Quito, and 40 minutes from Guayaquil.
There are always taxis waiting for arriving flights. A cab ride from the airport to Loja should cost around $6 (£4). From the airport into Loja, buses also run about every hour between 6am and 9pm. The fare is around $1 (65p).
By Bus -- Transportes Loja (tel. 02/2581-240 in Quito, or 07/2570-505 in Loja); Cooperativa Santa (tel. 02/2572-899 in Quito, or 07/2570-084 in Loja); and Pullman Viajero (tel. 02/2953-872 in Quito, or 07/2572-820 in Loja) all have service to Loja, via Cuenca, from Quito's main bus terminal. About a dozen different buses leave between 1:30pm and midnight for the 11- to 13-hour journey. The fare is around $14 to $16 (£9.35-£11).
Cooperativa Loja and Pullman Viajero have roughly hourly service round the clock between Loja and Cuenca. This ride takes about 4 1/2 hours and the fare is $8 (£5.35). Cooperativa Loja also has regular service to Guayaquil, a 12-hour ride.
In Loja, the main bus station, Terminal Terrestre (tel. 07/2570-407), is on Avenida 8 de Diciembre and Juan José Flores. In addition to the major cities listed above, you can find regular bus connections between Loja and Huaquillas, Machala, and Vilcabamba.
By Car -- To drive from Quito to Loja, follow the directions to Cuenca. In Cuenca, stay on the Pan-American Highway (E35), which takes you right in to Loja.
If you are coming from Guayaquil, follow the directions to Machala. From Machala, continue south on E25 until the town of La Avanzada, where you will take the well-marked exit for E92 to Loja.
The highways into Loja from Cuenca, Machala, and the airport enter the city from the north, near the divergence of the Malacatus and Zamora rivers -- the heart of the city lies between these two rivers. The main north-south thoroughfares in town are avenidas Iberoamérica and Universitaria, which are parallel and straddle the Malacatus River. The Parque Central is the physical and social center of Loja, with every major hotel, restaurant, shop, and attraction of note within easy walking distance. The Universidad Nacional de Loja (National University of Loja) is located south of downtown.
Fast Facts -- The main police station (tel. 101 for emergencies, or 07/2578-344) is located outside of the center of town, on Avenida Argentina near Avenida Bolívar. The main post office (tel. 07/2578-447) is on the corner of calles Colón and Sucre. The Hospital Loja (tel. 07/2570-540) is on Avenida Samaniego and San Juan de Dios. At Av. Valdivieso 8-22 and Avenida 10 de Agosto, on the southwest corner of the main plaza, you'll find the Ministry of Tourism (tel. 07/2572-964). There's also an I-Tur (tel. 07/2570-407) information office on the corner of Bolívar and Eguiguren.
Several banks are located near the central park, and other branches and ATMs are spread around town. Banco Pichincha is on Valdivieso and 10 de Agosto, and Banco de Guayaquil is on Jose Antonio Eguiguren and Olmedo. Internet cafes and cabinas telefónicas can be found all over Loja, particularly around downtown, as well as at or near any hotel.
Local buses and taxi rutas (shared taxis that cruise a specific route, picking up and dropping off passengers as necessary) circulate around the city. Fares run 10¢ to 60¢ (7p-40p). You can also find numerous traditional taxis. A ride anywhere in town, including to or from the bus terminal, should be just $1.50 (£1). If you can't flag one down, call Radio Taxi (tel. 07/2584-158) or Ecotaxi (tel. 07/2571-902).
To rent a car in Loja, contact Bombuscaro Rent A Car (tel. 07/2577-022), on 10 de Agosto between Avenida Universitaria and 18 de Noviembre. Rates run $45 to $90 (£30-£60) per day.