Ecuador Peru border crossing by Loja-La Balsa-Chachapoyas
ZAMORA CHINCHIPE-CHINCHIPE ZUMBA
(Open 9H-17H, 2 days, $28)
Among the 3 different border crossings from Ecuador to Peru, the Zumba - Balsa - Jaen is the most interesting one to do. It’s the longest way but it’s worth the effort for its picturesque views. With a combination of sealed and unsealed roads, transfers in multiple little cities, this tour provides the traveler a true adventure. It takes 2 days and $28 to cover from Loja (Ecuador) to Chachapayas (Peru).
From Loja / Vilcabamba (Ecuador) you can catch the bus to Zumba ($9/$8, 7/6 hours). The timetable is as follows: 5am, 8am, 10.45 am, 12:50pm, 2pm, 5:30pm and 9:30pm. In the last 44 km (from Palanda) the road is unsealed. In rainy season, this road is sometimes closed for buses. However, there are little kombis that can take you to Zumba. In this part of the itinerary, sight-seeing is guaranteed. The bus crosses a zigzagging canyon with spectacular views.
From Zumba, it’s needed to catch a “ranchera” (a traditional wood bus without lateral walls) towards the border called “La Balsa” ($2.25, 2 hours). Once you arrive to the border (still Ecuadorian side), it’s very easy to process your visa. Afterwards, you can cross the border bridge and get registered in the Peruvian immigration bureau. The bureau is usually closed at lunch time and the staff is often in the surrounding area. You might need to enquire and look for them if they are not at the office, however this procedure should be easy and relaxed.
Once you are legally in Peru, it’s possible to share a taxi to San Ignacio (15 soles = $4.5, 2 hours). Alternatively, you can catch a moto-taxi (tuk-tuk) to Namballe (6Km, 10Min), and from Namballe to get a bus to San Ignacio (10 soles = $3, 2 hours).
It’s suggested to rest in San Ignacio and keep going the next day to Jaén by shared taxi (VAN) (15 soles = $4.5, 2 hours). Then, from Jaén to Bagua Grande (5 soles = $1.5, 1 hour). Finally, you can catch a shared taxi from Bagua Grande to your last destination, Chachapoyas (20 soles = $6, 2 hours).
It’s possible to find accommodation in Zumba, San Ignacio and Jaén. However, a nice option is to leave Loja early in the morning, arrive to San Ignacio the same day and leave to Chachapoyas the day after.
Without a doubt, the crossing from Ecuador to Peru via “La Balsa” is exceptionally scenic. Adventurous travelers in a low budget can delight this spectacular trip that won’t leave anyone indifferent.