Border Crossing: Ecuador to Peru via Bus

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"The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff."

~Britney Spears

One of the things we were most nervous about in our South American travels were the border crossings. We had heard and read about horror stories of people getting stuck at borders, hoards of taxi drivers and scammers trying to trick you, amongst other dangerous tales. We did a lot of research on how to get from Ecuador to Peru and it didn’t seem like there was a clear answer. Some people said a certain crossing is “the most dangerous in all of South America” and others said they had no issues at all at the same crossing. With this in mind, we didn’t really know what to expect so we made an educated guess, picked the best looking bus route and went with it.

Guayaquil to Máncora

We booked two seats on a Cruz Del Sur bus from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Máncora, Peru (right on the ocean) based on reviews that said this was one of the safest and most comfortable options. We will dive into a review of the buses in a later post but I’ll say it was very comfortable, we felt safe the whole time, and the eight hour trip cost us about $83 (including free dinner on the bus).

The trip was scheduled to be from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. which we figured would be perfect. We would hit the border before dark and if there was any craziness we would sort it out in daylight. The bus left about 15 minutes late and we hit the border out in the desert near the town of Huaquillas, right about dusk. They unloaded us all about five feet from the entrance to the immigration building for exiting Ecuador. We stood in line for about an hour or so and one of the bus drivers stood with our group to make sure we all made it through without any issues (and so he could flirt with the immigration officer). After we were “out” of Ecuador we waited outside the little concrete building by the bus while everyone finished up. There was no craziness, just a little store selling ice cream and other snacks.

After everyone finished the process for exiting Ecuador they piled us all back on the bus, made sure we were all there, and then drove us about five minutes down the road to the inbound processing point for Peru. The process repeated itself here. We waited in line with the bus driver, got some stamps, and waited for everyone to finish getting “in” to Peru. While we waited we walked across the street to the cash machine and got some Peruvian Soles. Then we walked next door to buy an ice cream. This was more strategic than anything else, we needed change. We knew we were going to need to take a moto-taxi in Máncora and that they weren’t going to want to make change for a 100 Sol note on a 5 Sol ride. Plus, we didn’t want to be flashing our money around the streets of an unknown city at night trying to get change and a taxi.

Back on the bus, about two and a half hours after we initally arrived at the border, we were on our way again. No fuss, no danger, no madness. Just some standing around in line, harmless flirting with a border agent, and an ice cream. We arrived in Máncora right on time, hopped off the bus, grabbed a five minute moto-taxi ride and were at the hostel and in bed by 11:30 after a nice warm shower. The photo below isn't relevant, but we thought the infinity pool at the hostel was hilarious.

We can't say if all border crossings from Ecuador to Peru are this easy but we'd definitely recommend the route we took.

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