Getting to Gaia Sagrada
Travel to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America
Please make sure your passport has at least 6 months or more left on it before the expiration date or you cannot board the plane!
Please plan to leave after 12pm on the last day of the retreat. Earlier flights may prove to be difficult after the full day’s ceremony on Tuesday.
It’s better to book your flight for the next day, or late in the afternoon or evening so you have time to get to your international flight without leaving early in the morning or rushing. The retreat officially ends at lunchtime, so book your flight later in the day so you don’t miss out!
Travel During the Pandemic
Please check your government’s travel advice before travelling to Ecuador. At this time, travel advice varies from country to country and can change day to day. Because this information differs greatly and is ever changing, it’s not possible for us to list travel advice for all countries and keep it up to date.
Your government will have its own webpage on international travel (US Citizens can view specific advice on travel to Ecuador here) and we strongly advise that you check regularly for updates and understand and comply with any advice given by your government before travelling.
Exit Ticket from Ecuador Required
In order to enter Ecuador from many countries, it is required that you have a round trip or exit ticket out of the country to board your flight. You can get a refundable or changeable round trip ticket so you don’t lose your money if you plan on continuing to travel in Ecuador or are not sure when you are going to leave Ecuador. However, you will not be allowed to board the plane if you do not have a ticket out of the country.
If you have to change a ticket later, it’s easy and not that expensive, as long as you booked it as a refundable or changeable ticket in the first place. Simply call your airline and the fee to change is usually somewhere between $75 and $250, some are even free. Nonrefundable tickets are not able to be changed, so plan accordingly so you don’t lose money.
Getting to Ecuador, Your International Flight
Fly into either Guayaquil or Quito international airports. If you fly into Quito or Guayaquil, make sure you arrive at least by 4 or 5 pm so you can catch a flight directly to Cuenca without having to leave the airport or stay overnight. There are very few nearby hotels, and Quito is more than an hour away from the airport.
Sleeping in Airports
If you need to overnight in either Guayaquil or Quito where your international flight lands before you come to Cuenca, there is a great site called www.sleepinginairports.net where you can check on how that airport works for sleeping overnight there while waiting for an early morning flight to Cuenca if need be. This site has reviews and tips for overnighting in airports around the world, including where the best spots are to sleep in the airport itself, lounge amenities, nearby hotels, and more.
Vans to Cuenca from Guayaquil
There are constantly vans leaving for Cuenca from the Guayaquil airport area and it takes 4 hours on a curvy, nauseating and bumpy road. (There are no vans coming to Cuenca from Quito, only buses which take 12 hours to reach Cuenca.) If you are sensitive and get carsick on curvy, mountain roads in a car, this option isn’t for you!
Just walk out the front door of the airport and go right. On the same side of the road as the airport, about one block down, are several van service companies. Each of them will be offering rides to Cuenca. You won’t have to wait long.
If you stay at a hotel overnight, they should be able to help you get back to the van service area in the morning with their shuttles or calling a taxi for you. Vans cost about $15 and a fee for extra baggage if you have more than one suitcase and a carry on.
Taxis from Guayaquil
Taxis are as expensive as a flight unless you are sharing the ride with others arriving at the same time. Might as well take the flight. It’s quicker! It only makes sense to use this service if you have a huge amount of luggage or are traveling with some friends and you all split it. If not, the plane might be a little cheaper. Taxi will cost about $100 or more. A private Van (listed above) will cost about $80-100.
Guayaquil is a 4 hour drive from Cuenca ($80-100), whereas Quito is 12 hours by bus and no taxis make the drive. A bus from Quito is grueling and long. We don’t recommend traveling by land from Quito unless you are sight-seeing along the way for a few days.
Arrive a Day Early
It is a good idea to arrive a day or two early before the retreat starts, just in case you can’t catch a connecting flight for some reason. If you come to the retreat a day early you can settle in, rest, get rid of the jet lag from your trip, and ease in gently. Here are the non-retreat prices for the rooms, and food is included. You can check on your reservation form that you would like to arrive a day early or stay a day later, and it will automatically calculate your cost.
Stay a Day Later
Try not to book your flight out of Cuenca early in the morning on the last day of the retreat or you will miss some last magical moments, and we really like to close the retreat as a full group. Try to book a flight out of Cuenca that leaves in the afternoon or evening, or if you have to leave early, leave the next day after the retreat is over, in the morning. You will be glad you did!
After all these ceremonies, you’ll be glad for the extra rest before you take off. Just book an extra day or two before and after the retreat so you have time to settle in when you arrive, and have time to rest up for your journey home after the retreat.
Again, you can check on your reservation form that you would like to arrive a day early or stay a day later, and it will automatically calculate your cost.
Cuenca Airport Pickup
We will have a driver waiting for you at the Cuenca airport with the name Gaia Sagrada on paper as you come out of baggage claim. Gaia Sagrada is an hour northeast of Cuenca from the airport. This ride will cost $35 and will cover your transportation to and from Gaia Sagrada. We will set up the driver pickup from the airport to Gaia Sagrada. Just let us know your arrival details when you book, or via email when you make your travel plans. If you go back to the airport at an unusual time (wee hours of the morning, or by yourself) then additional fees would apply.
Can I save money if I take a bus to Gaia Sagrada?
Buses to Gaia Sagrada are complicated, impossible to explain, and often standing room only. This is not a good option for your first trip to Gaia Sagrada while carrying luggage and being vulnerable as a tired traveler and newcomer to Ecuador. We do not allow outside rides or arriving via public transportation, as people get lost and it creates problems. Many people have things stolen on buses.
Try the buses on a day you have time to be adventurous, ready for the unexpected, and you don’t have a lot of stuff with you. Unless you have only a daypack and are willing to stand for an hour or more, do not choose the bus. You will also have a 30 minute walk when you arrive with all your things, so please, use our driver on your first journey out to Gaia Sagrada! It is best not to risk mishaps when you have all your valuables with you!