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Ecuador-Peru Border Crossings

Macará, Ecuador / La Tina, Peru
This is the safest of the border crossings between Ecuador and Peru. La Tina is directly south of Macará, Ecuador. It has historically been a laid-back border, where the officials often have lunch on the other side and (as legend says) played chess together during their nations’ war in the mid-1990s. Border posts are only about 200 meters from each other. The border is open 24 hours; during business hours banks operate on either side of the border. Money changers also operate near the market in Macará.

The road from Macará heads south to La Tina and then Sullana beyond to the border crossing. Scenery passes from mountain forests to oasis and bare desert. From Macara you can take a pick-up truck ($0.50) to the border or cab it there ($1). From the border you can take a mototaxi to La Tina ($1). Bus from La Tina to Sullana (1.5-2 hours, $4), and then to Piura (40 minutes, $1). Be careful in Sullana, as it’s a rather unattractive and dangerous city.

Huaquillas, Ecuador / Tumbes, Peru
The faster border crossing is along the coast. It's the road that goes along the coastal plains from Huaquillas, Ecuador to Tumbes, Peru and beyond.

Your best bet is to depart from Machala, Ecuador so you can get to Tumbes, Peru via bus (the bus will even wait for you as you do immigration). From here you can get to other such places like Máncora via bus or taxi. Just know that this is a border crossing with some lurking issues. Besides the to-be-expected contraband running, certain dangers await the unsuspecting. For many decades, travelers of all nationalities have reported that they were given counterfeit notes by border money changers, robbed on the route between border posts, charged extra fees by corrupt border officials (all official transactions are supposed to be free) and taxi drivers (who may demand a $20 “road tax” spontaneously) and unfortunately even assault and rape. Many international travelers are beginning to go the other route, through La Tina. However, for those whose next destination is on Ecuador’s coast, this is the most logical one.

Balsas, Ecuador / San Ignacio, Peru
Due south of Vilcabamba is a crossing into Peru, convenient for getting to Cachapoyas, Peru. This journey has been described as adventuresome and beautiful, through a landscape of cloud-bathed jungle mountains strewn with orchids. Expect delays due to landslides (especially December-April) and roadwork. You will need two days; hotels exist in every transfer point, though Jaén is best.

From Vilcabamba, starting at 6-6:30 a.m. there are several buses called Cooperativa “Sur Oriente” that pass in front of Hosteria Izhcayluma and head to Zumba (5-6 hrs, $6.50). From Zumba to La Balsa there are several open-air buses called “rancheras” or “chivas” that will take you there (1.5 hrs, $1-2). Once in La Balsa, either catch a bus to the border or take take a taxi there for $20. The border is open on both sides from 6:00 a.m. to 6 p.m., and there are moneychangers available as well.

From the border Peruvian border you can get to San Ignacio via a colectivo taxi (2 hrs, 15 soles/$5.50). Then from San Ignacio take a combi (microbus) to Jaén (3 hrs, 12 soles/$4.50). From Jaén head to a Bagua Grande in a one hour-hour taxi colectivo ride (8 soles, $3). From Bagua Grande you can get to Chachapoyas via colectivo taxi (3 hrs, 25 soles/$9); or alternatively, catch a combi to Pedro Ruiz (1 hr, 22 soles/$8) and then ride another combi to Cachapoyas (2 hrs, 8 soles/$3).

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: Transportation to and from the Galapagos Islands, Getting To and Away From Ayangue, Getting Around Vilcabamba, Getting To and Away From Same, Transportation to and From Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Getting to and Away, Getting To and Away from Chugchilán, Getting To and Away from Machala, Getting to and away from Muisne and Buses From The Quitumbe Terminal.

09 Oct 2013

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