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Colombia-Ecuador Border Crossing: Tumaco To Esmeraldas


For a different adventure in making the journey to Ecuador, consider going by sea. Service has much improved in recent years. No longer do you travel in launch through mangroves and into the open sea—now it is done by cargo-passenger boat.


Servimar runs a ship from Tumaco’s Puerto Marítima on Isla El Morro to Esmeraldas every Friday evening, arriving in Ecuador Saturday morning; the trip takes 10 to 12 hours. Buy your passage from Servimar’s office across from the maritime port, where the two palm trees are (Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–noon, 2–6 p.m. Cel: 09-315-491-7821, E-mail: Tickets are sold all day Thursday and Friday,until 6 p.m., and cost $15 one way.


The DAS office is Tumaco is now authorized to give entry and exit stamps.

Its offices are located about 1.5 kilometers (1 mi) from the port, towards Isla Tumaco; it is the green-trimmed, yellow-ochre building opposite and just past the military base. You are responsible for going there before departure to get your exit stamp (or, if arriving to Colombia, for your entry stamp). These regulations can change, so check—you may have to go to Ipiales for the entry/exit stamp.


Boarding of passengers on the ship begins at 7 p.m. Friday night; departure is at 8 p.m. (or so). You will receive a bed (camarote) in a nine-bunk room. No food or drink is provided or sold; bring your own. Upon arrival in Esmeraldas, Ecuadorian immigration and customs will greet you dockside. Expect a very thorough search of your belongings.


From Esmeraldas to Tumaco, the boat leaves on Wednesday night, arriving in Tumaco on Thursday morning. The Esmeraldas agent is Sarjento Campaña (Tel: 72-26-09). Whether departing or arriving to Colombia with this ship, it is more convenient to stay at Playa El Morro, just one kilometer (0.6 mi) from the maritime port.


Note: This service has been on-hold since mid-2010, but is expected to resume in the near future. Contact Servimar in Tumaco or Sarjento Campaña in Esmeraldas for the boat's latest status. Launches still do run down the coast. Check at Tumaco's tourism office for details, and at the dock (muelle) at Calle San Carlos and Calle de Comercio for boats. The usual route is: land transportation from Tumaco to Invilí, from where a canoa(launch) is taken to Puerto Palmas. From there, a vehicle goes to Desembocadero and then a launch to San Lorenzo, Ecuador. Immigration procedures are done in Tumaco and San Lorenzo.


By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

26 Sep 2011

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