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Peru-Ecuador Border Crossings




La Tina, Peru / Macará, Ecuador

This is the safest of the border crossings between Peru and Ecuador. 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 Piura heads north to Sullana and beyond to the border crossing. The scenery passes from bare desert and oases to mountain forests of kapok trees. The trip can be done in segments, from Piura to Sullana ($0.70, 40 minutes), then a collective taxi to La Tina ($3.35, 1.5-2 hours). Although the route is not dangerous, problems could arise in Sullana, which is a rather unattractively dangerous city. There the point of departure for La Tina (Punte Internacional) is in the rather sketchy Mercadillo Bellavista market district (Avenida Buenos Aires and Calle 4), some 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the Piura stop (Avenida José de Lama, cuadra 4). Take a motortaxi ($.0.50), which could prove be quite adventuresome. (If coming from Ecuador, you can ask the taxi driver to take you directly to the terminal for Piura-bound buses). From the La Tina, border, take a pick-up truck to Macará ($0.25), where buses leave for Guayaquil, Loja and other destinations in Ecuador.


The most secure way is through Loja International’s direct service: Piura, Peru-Loja, Ecuador: 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 9:30 p.m., $8, 8 hours. Loja, Ecuador-Piura, Peru 7 a.m., 1 p.m., 11 p.m. (Avenida Cerro Sánchez, cuadra 14, Piura, Tel: 073-30-5446). The bus waits for passengers to go through border procedures before continuing on to Macará and Loja. It is a bit faster than doing it in legs, and is slightly less expensive.



Aguas Verdes, Peru / Huaquillas, Ecuador


The faster border crossing is along the coast. It's the road that goes along the coastal plains from Piura to Tumbes, passing through Máncora. From the market on Mariscal Castilla in Tumbes, combis and collective taxis ply the route to Aguas Verdes, where Peruvian immigration procedures are done. Then a taxi takes travelers through the three-kilometer (1.8-mile) no man’s land to the Ecuadorian border post at Huaquillas, Ecuador. But this is your border crossing, with a tragic-comedic atmosphere. Besides the to-be-expected contraband running, 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 b corrupt border officials (all official transactions are free) and taxi drivers (who may demand a $20 “road tax” at gunpoint) 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.


Finally there is direct international service direct from Piura, Peru, to the Ecuadorian cities of Machala and Guayaquil. This bus stops at the Peruvian border post, then takes its passengers the three kilometers to the Ecuadorian post, then on to the final destination. The most reliable service is provided by Cifa (Urbanización Los Naranjos, Manzana G-20, Piura, Tel: 073-30-5925). The bus can also be caught in Máncora (Avenida Grau) and Tumbes (Avenida Tumbes 570, Tel: 52-7120). Piura, Peru-Machala, Ecuador-Guayaquil: 11:30 a.m., 6:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., $10-12, 8-9 hours. From Guayaquil, Ecuador-Piura, Peru: 7:20 a.m., 7:20 p.m., 11:30 p.m., $10-12, passing through Machala, Ecuador at 11:20 a.m., 11:20 p.m., 2 a.m., $6-8.



La Balza, Peru / La Balsa, Ecuador

Due north of Chachapoyas is a crossing into Ecuador convenient for getting to Vilcabamba, Ecuador. 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 to April) and roadwork. You will need two days; there is accomodation in every transfer point.

In Chachapoyas, catch a colectivo taxi to Bagua Grande from the 500-block of Jr. Grau (daily 3:30 a.m.-6 p.m., $7.35, 3 hours). A cheaper alternative is a combi to Pedro Ruiz, leaving from the 400-block of Ortiz Arrieta (every two hours 8 a.m.-5 p.m., $2.35; 1.5 hours) and then a combi to Bagua Grande ($2.35, 1.5 hours).

The one-hour combi ride from Bagua Grande to Jaén costs $1.70; a mototaxi between the terminals is $0.35. Another combi takes you to San Ignacio ($4, 3 hours); then a colectivo to La Balza, the Peruvian border post ($4, 1.5 hours). On the other side of the bridge is La Balsa, Ecuador. Immigration is open on both sides from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and there are moneychangers.

From La Balsa, several chivas a day go to Zumba ($1.70, 2 hours) and three buses from Zumba to Vilcabamba ($6.50, 5 hours).


Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: The Peruvian Amazon Environmental Issues, When to Go, The Communities of the Colca Canyon, Border Crossing: Santa Rosa, Peru / Chacalluta, Chile, Earthquakes in Cusco, La Tina Border Crossing, Tingo Maria Services, La Balza Border Crossing , Border Crossing: Aguas Verdes, Peru - Huaquillas, Ecuador and Recent Archeological Finds Near Chiclayo.

By Lorraine Caputo

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

27 Oct 2008

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