We planned to cross the border in Ipiales, this is the most visited and most safe border crossing between Colombia and Ecuador. The problem started in Cali, we had no idea about it. We woke up early, wanted to go south, first to Popayan and then towards the border, via Panamericana (the road stretching across American continents). When we reached the bus station we found out that it is not possible to go to Popayan, and that is not possible to go south of Popayan as well. They told us that Panamericana south of Cali is closed cause the indigenous people are protesting. They blocked all the roads and it is not possible nor safe to travel to this direction, that it is not possible to go to Ecuador. We asked why are they protesting, the reason is that the government doesn’t care a lot about them and their demands so they are becoming more angrier and extreme.
We were in a situation, we didn’t know what to do. Do we go back to Bogota and take an expensive flight to Quito? Do we try another way by land? We drank a cup of coffee next to the station and tried to figure out a strategy. we went back to ask for more information, to find another way. We found out that there is another way to reach Ecuador by road but it is more dangerous, it goes through the jungle. We decided to go for it, so the new way will be Cali-Tatacoa desert-San Agustin-Mocoa-Ecuador. Now when I look at it this disaster wasn’t a disaster at all. We did pitstops in places which we haven’t plan to visit, and saw a really amazing place. So, how to get from Mocoa to Ecuador.
How to get from Mocoa to Ecuador
In Mocoa you go to the bus station and tell them you want to go to Ecuador, ask to get off at Puente international. It will cost you 36.000 COP (10,1€;11,4$). The ride takes between 4 to 5 hours and its a nice ride. They will drop you 3 minutes away from the bridge, just walk over the bridge and there you will see people offering a ride to the immigration office. We paid 3.000 COP (0,84€;0,95$) each, at the beginning they wanted 5.000 COP. It is very close, not even 5 minutes ride so you can also do it by walk.
Getting from Mocoa to Ecuador is actually very easy. Before I have read on the internet and the Lonely planet that they don’t advise to cross the border here cause it can be dangerous because of guerilla activities. We didn’t get disturbed by that and we asked the locals and everyone told us that it is not dangerous at all. We trusted them and went for it.
You will see the immigration on the right side, when we came there it was packed with people from Venezuela, families with babies. It was a very sad moment. due to Venezuela’s political situation, the border was crowded, we waited for long. I’m not sure how long, but it was for sure more than 2 hours. First, we needed an exit stamp from Colombia and then we needed to wait to get an entry stamp for Ecuador. You need to fill some paper, with address and phone number of the hotel in Ecuador, your personal data and so on. They didn’t check our bags everything went smooth, except for the waiting.
You get the entry stamp, you leave the office and go outside and wait next to the road for the bus to the closest town. It cost us 1$ each to get to Nueva Loja, it is around one hour drive away from the border. Now it depends on what do you want to do. Nueva Loja is a starting point to go to Amazonas, this is what we did. If that is not on your bucket list, get off on the terminal and catch a bus to Quito, it will cost you 12$. The ride takes between 7 to 8 hours.
Give Mocoa at least one night if not two
Before you continue to Ecuador, I really recommend that you to give Mocoa a day or two. It is a beautiful place with lots to explore. We were staying in a tent in a really nice hostel, Samay hostel, about 7 km away from the city, click here to claim your 10% Booking discount. They have a kitchen, so we bought vegetables in Mocoa in advance and cooked there to save money.
From there you have beautiful jungle walks, beautiful river, that continues to the Amazonas, shelters for exotic animals, waterfalls. It is also very good for you if you are on a budget, we really minimized our expenses there, with cooking and staying in a tent we spend less than 10€ (11,2$) per day each.
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