we are travelling in September for 2 weeks, thinking of Quito – Cuenca - Puerto Lopez (Isla de la Plata) – Bahia/ Canoa – Quito.
Question 1: Regarding the accommodations and travels for local buses or flights, do we need to book everything in advance, or can we do it on the spot? It would be nice to be flexible and stay a few extra days in one place if we like it. (I speak Spanish fluently – this must help…)
Question 2: Overnight bus Canoa – Quito: has anybody taken it? how safe is it?
September is neither a peak period for domestic or international travel. Also, there are no public holidays in September. As such, you should easily be able to travel around without too much worry.
Of course, if there's a particular hotel you really, REALLY want to stay at, you might want to book in advance. Or if you plan to take the trains, an advance booking wouldn't hurt. But other than that you'll be fine.
yes it is safe to take bus at night from canoa to Quito, and holiday season ends This Month, so there will be not problem booking on the stop.
I was in Puerto Lopez in July/August and that is definitely peak season with a lot of hotels fully booked. However, as above posts says there will be much less people in September and there shouldn't be any problems to find a a hotel, but for popular hotels, like Mandala 8if you plan to stay there), I would book in advance.
Someone I know always takes the nightbus and nothing has happened, but I would not take it. When in Puerto Lopez I heard about a night bus where a brick had been trown through the front window (which broke to pieces) by robbers, but the driver continued driving even if he was full of glass.
I agree, September is low season country wide so it should be fine to book on the spot or a few hours ahead generally speaking, even for national flights.
As for the overnight bus, I used to take it all the time and I never had any issues. HOWEVER, I will not take it again. There haven't been any kind of assaults for years now that I am aware of, security is pretty good on the buses and the streets are generally well patrolled at night these days. However, there have been more than a handful of bus accidents on that route during the night specifically. An Australian friend of mine was actually in one of them this past April and is still recovering. It is a dangerous route and the majority of the bus companies here do not follow maintenance and safety procedures such as rotating drivers frequently as they should. If you're traveling on a budget the day bus will probably be okay but I would recommend not traveling that route at night, unless in a private car. Depending on the amount of people traveling, you could get a 'flete' (car and driver) from one end of the route to the other, for just a few extra bucks each person, which will also get you there faster and more comfortably. I could help you get some information regarding prices if you are interested in this option.
Enjoy your trip!