On Friday 10th October 2014 I left Colombia and entered Ecuador. In this blog post I describe the journey from Ipiales to Quito, including stops at Las Lajas and Tulcan.
I stayed in Ipiales for one night because I wanted time to visit Las Lajas. I stayed in Hotel Metropol, which is opposite the Ipiales bus terminal. My hotel room was clean, had its own bathroom and TV, and was a good price (20,000COP).
At 9am, before crossing the border, I visited Las Lajas. To get there I took a shared taxi from the Ipiales bus terminal. There’s a sign post indicating where the taxis to Las Lajas depart from. The taxi journey took 20 minutes and cost 2,000COP.
I spent 90 minutes touring the church and eating plantano con queso at a cafe. Then I got a taxi back to the bus terminal. Note: taxis go to the Ipiales bus terminal or Ipiales town centre.
At 12pm I got a shared taxi to Rumichaca from the Ipiales bus terminal. Rumichaca is the neighbourhood that lies on the border. There’s a sign post indicating where the taxis to Rumichaca depart from. The taxi journey took 15 minutes and cost 1,600COP.
The taxi dropped me off in the car park of the Colombian immigration. It took under 10 minutes to go through immigration.
Then I walked across the extremely short bridge into Ecuador. The walk took under 2 minutes; even with my heavy backpack.
Upon entering the Ecuador immigration office I was greeted by an English and Spanish speaking Information Officer. He told me to complete an entry form and join the queue.
When I was called up to the desk I was greeted by a friendly English and Spanish speaking Immigration Officer. I only remember her asking me one question, was this my first time in Ecuador?, and then she stamped my passport. I took 20 minutes to go through immigration as there were lots of people in the queue.
The Information Officer informed me that there were taxis and minibuses to Tulcan, both depart from the front of the immigration centre.
I took a minibus to Tulcan. I only had to wait 5 minutes for it to fill up with enough passengers. The journey took 35 minutes and cost 1,500COP.
Money exchange and refreshments
On both sides of the border, around the immigration offices, you can exchange money and buy refreshments.
From Tulcan bus terminal you can go to many destinations in Ecuador. I took a bus to Quito. The bus timetable is on the wall above the ticket desk. I chose the next departing bus. It cost $5. I had to buy the ticket using US dollars. I didn’t change money at the border so I needed a cash machine. There is a cash machine at the terminal. If that doesn’t work, there is another one down the road, 2 minutes away. Beware: as soon as you step out of the taxi/minibus people will offer you bus tickets. Politely decline their offer and go to the timetable and choose the exact bus you want. The bus journey took 8 hours due to traffic.
I hope this post helps. Let me know how your journey goes.