Puyo, also known as El Puyo, is a city in the Amazon region of Ecuador. It is often overshadowed by the nearby tourist magnet of Baños, but serves as an excellent base for trips to community-based tourism projects and jungle excursions. It is home to the Universidad Estatal Amazonica, as well as a growing nightlife scene.
Puyo is served by many local, suburban and inter-city buses. From Quito, buses leave from Quitumbe terminal in the south and the ride is 5 hours. Cooperativa San Francisco is a reputable company that has a regular route to Puyo. More info about bus schedules and travel times can be found at AndesTransit.
From Baños (2.75$ Aug 2023), it is a 1 1/2 hour bus ride.
There also is a small airport nearby, in Shell, but this airport primarily runs flights to communities in the Amazon. There are no connections to major cities. Charter and emergency flights, in light aircraft, are available.
Most attractions within Puyo are walkable. There are several local buses that cost 30 cents. Taxis within the city are a set price of 1.25, though you may be charged 1.50 if traversing the entire city.
- Visit Omaere Ethnobotanical Park, along the Paseo Turístico del Río Puyo, at the northeast edge of town. Local guides take you through the park and explain the medicinal and cultural uses of various native plants. Tours are offered in English and Spanish. There is a small entrance and guide fee.
- There is a mirador overlooking the Puyo river, Omaere park, and the city, and is free
- Ask around about taking a day trip to waterfalls, of which there are many in the region. The waterfall in Triunfo (Via Arajuno) is particularly breathtaking
- Support indigenous community tourism projects
- Ask a tour operator about the rafting, kayaking, and canopying
Visit the Wao fairtrade handicraft store in the center.
- Eat Volquetero, a typical local dish available in many of the restaurants in Obrero
- Many comedores located throughout the city offer lunch (consisting of a soup and main dish) for between 2 and 3 dollars. The cheapest almuerzos are to be found in the Mercado Mariscal or Mercado de Los Platanos (second floor in both markets) for between 1.75 and 2.50
- Mama Mia, located in barrio Obrero, offers delicious saladas, burritos, sandwiches, and hamburgers
- Cafe Escobar, in the center, offers salads, sandwiches, chicken wings, and a great selection of craft beer
- Along the main highway near the terminal terrestre you will find almost exclusively Amazonian cuisine. You can find maito, chontacura (an Amazonian worm), and other traditional dishes.
If you plan to cook in your hostel, go to local markets located in the center (Mariscal, de los Platanos, el municipio) to buy fresh produce. On Sundays vendors offer the freshest produce.
- Zona Obrero is where all the discotecas and bars are located and is flooded with university students on weekends. Bars are located within close proximity of each other, and play everything from salsa to electronic music.
- Escobar, which is located in a more central area of downtown, offers artesanal beers and cocktails, as well as variations of the fermented yucca drink chicha.
If you are in transit through Puyo or don't mind the walk, hostels in front of the main bus terminal can run as low as 7 dollars a night. There are a handful of other hostels in the center, as well as nicer hotels.
The terminal terrestre offers frequent connections to Quito, Macas, Banos, and Ambato and less frequent connections to Santo Domingo, Atacames, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. If you are making a less frequent connection, it is better to get a bus to Ambato, which leave hourly from Puyo, and from there make your connection. The Ambato bus terminal offers more frequent buses to almost all destinations.
You can catch intercantonal buses outside of Mercado Mariscal and in the Centinela bus station one block down from the market.