There are at least three or four ways to get from Ecuador to Peru. The most popular is via the Pan American Highway which runs through Quito, Guayaquil and Lima. One can also go by boat through the Amazonian jungle. But when Peter, the owner of Hosteria Izhcayluma in Vilcabamba suggested a backroads way that required several bus transfers over two days, transiting remote Andean passes seldom seen by gringos, towns unchanged by time, and a destination of the second largest and prominent pre-Colombian site in South America (and not all that visited compared to #1 Machu Pichu) well of course we were in! Peter armed us with some travel advice, sack lunches, fond farewells, and this scrap of paper:
At 6:00 a.m. without the benefit of a cup of coffee, Tom, Lara, Jenny and yours truly slung backpacks and trudged down the stairs of our resort for the last five days. There we waited for about 20 minutes until our first bus came by. This was to take us on a six hour ride to Zumba.
Most of our trip was on dirt roads; although there were paved sections from time to time. This first leg was on a large bus. After a couple hours, we had to stop for a construction delay where some new road was being paved. This lasted about an hour and then we were on our way again. Soon thereafter, the pavement ended.
Seven hours later, we arrived in Zumba and were fortunate to barely make the only Ranchera for the 90 minute ride to the border at La Balsa.
The motor is already running as we throw our backpacks on and hop aboard. As Jenny peels an avocado, Tom, Lara and I are just glad that we aren’t looking for a camping spot in Zumba for the night.
Pretty soon we are really in the boonies and yes, we are the only gringos on the Ranchera and a fun curiousity for the locals.
We travel through some of the most beautiful and remote countryside I have ever seen, finally arriving at the frontier. There is actually no one minding the “international” bridge. We have to round up a young fellow to stamp or exit stamps before hoofing it across the boarder.
This is definitely the most chill border crossing ever. We get entry stamps and hire the only taxi to drive us 90 minutes to San Ignazio where we crash for the night at the Gran Hotel, a surprisingly nice hotel in this remote area.
The following day we are up early. Three hours to Jaen. One hour to Bagua Grande. Three more hours to Chachapoyas. We travel through more incredible beauty along the way
We will be staying in Chachapoyas for several days treking to waterfalls and ruins that predate the Inca Empire. It is bound to be interesting. However, just the journey to get here has been nothing short of amazing.Tweet