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Vilcabamba to Zumba, Ecuador - The Most Remote Border Crossing To Peru

Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - July 2011   » View Photoset (29 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
To get to Peru from Vilcabamba there is a border crossing south of Zumba, the bus from Vilcabamba to Zumba takes 5hrs 30mins and then it is 1hr south again to
Ecuador Photo - The gardens at the park in Palanda south of Vilcabamba.
The gardens at the park in Palanda south of Vilcabamba.
Pucapamba where you cross the bridge to La Balza at the Peruvian border and continue on to San Ignacio. The journey is a pretty rough and wild one but great fun.

5hrs 30mins by Bus

Yangana was the first place south of Vilcabamba we passed through, it's around 15kms. From there it is 170kms to Zumba, 65kms to Palanda and 47kms to Valladolid. There are some interesting and tall rock forms on the left side 15mins before coming into Yangana. The town has a nice yellow dual-tower church, also on the left. 30mins out of Yangana the road gets a little rough with some landslip problems, then we climb up to the cloud forest. 40mins later we desend to Valladolid valley.
Ecuador Photo - A small town between Zumba and Pucapamba.
A small town between Zumba and Pucapamba.

Valladolid Valley

Valladolid has a big soccer field, some colorful houses and a white and green church. The town sits beside the river just below the cloud forest. We continue on the mud road along the ridges of the jungles hills and valleys. I see a big group of tall and slim palm trees on the left, we cross a bridge over the river and arrive in Palanda 30mins later.

While in Palanda

This was an opportunity to get some food to eat, we were here for 20mins. The town has some really nice gardens in the park with bright colored flowers, palm trees and exotic plants. The church is up the stairs behind. In Palanda you can do and see things like visit Park Podocarpus, see waterfalls and caverns and explore some arqueology.

Palanda to Zumba

From Palanda to Zumba was the real hard slog of the journey which took 2hrs. A mud road, road problems and men
Ecuador Photo - Tall thin palm trees between Valladolid and Palanda.
Tall thin palm trees between Valladolid and Palanda.
working on the road, the real heart of jungle mountain territory. We did pass through a little village, I think called Chinchipe, it has a cute little yellow and blue church. 20mins later after passing through a military checkpoint we arrived in Zumba.

In Zumba

At the terminal in Zumba there are a couple of restaurants where you can get soup and chicken rice meals. The next bus to the border was 2-3hrs away, my friend and I along with another couple who were also waiting for a bus to the border decided to share a taxi instead, it was $20USD ($5 each).

Zumba to Pucapamba

It took 45mins by taxi to get to Pucapamba where there is another military checkpoint, it's an unpaved dirt road but it wasn't muddy like it had been earlier in the day. There is a little town along the way with a blue church. From the checkpoint it's another 15mins
Ecuador Photo - Yellow and blue church and donkey in a settlement north of Zumba.
Yellow and blue church and donkey in a settlement north of Zumba.
to passport control and the bridge across the river to La Balza.

In La Balza (or Balsa)

We had to go to the policemans house in La Balza to get passport stamps because he was having lunch, then we had to go to another place down the road to get the backpacks checked. We spent 1hr here sorting that out before all sharing a taxi 1hr 20mins to San Ignacio.

Please NOTE!

Please note: La Balza is not in the immigration offices system, which means if you enter Ecuador again in the future you will have problems if you do not carry the passport with the La Balza stamp with you. This happened to me when I re-entered Ecuador at Huaquillas nearly 1yr after exiting at La Balza. I got it sorted out but only after a lot of hassle. If you enter Ecuador at La Balza, I would go to an immigration office in a city as soon as possible and get it put into the system.

     

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Distances & times (if available) from about halfway from Vilcabamba to Zumba (Ecuador) to:


Map location: Vilcabamba to Zumba, Ecuador. 5hrs or so south of Vilcabamba is a remote border crossing into Peru at Zumba, this is the journey to the border baby!
 A : Vilcabamba - Ecuador 44 kms 44 kms straight distance | 1hr 35mins 1hr 35mins by car (74 kms) | 1hr 54mins 1hr 54mins by bus (74 kms) (74 kms)
 B : La Balsa to San Ignacio - Peru 56 kms 56 kms straight distance | 2hrs 49mins 2hrs 49mins by car (110 kms) | 3hrs 22mins 3hrs 22mins by bus (110 kms) (110 kms)
 C : Loja - Ecuador 72 kms 72 kms straight distance | 2hrs 28mins 2hrs 28mins by car (117 kms) | 2hrs 57mins 2hrs 57mins by bus (117 kms) (117 kms)
 D : Zamora - Ecuador 67 kms 67 kms straight distance | 3hrs 34mins 3hrs 34mins by car (167 kms) | 4hrs 16mins 4hrs 16mins by bus (167 kms) (167 kms)
 E : San Ignacio to Chachapoyas - Peru 120 kms 120 kms straight distance | 5hrs 30mins 5hrs 30mins by car (260 kms) | 6hrs 36mins 6hrs 36mins by bus (260 kms) (260 kms)
 F : Cuenca - Ecuador 196 kms 196 kms straight distance | 5hrs 45mins 5hrs 45mins by car (322 kms) | 6hrs 54mins 6hrs 54mins by bus (322 kms) (322 kms)
 G : Huaquillas - Ecuador 178 kms 178 kms straight distance | 6hrs 27mins 6hrs 27mins by car (339 kms) | 7hrs 44mins 7hrs 44mins by bus (339 kms) (339 kms)
 H : Huaquillas to Machala - Ecuador 182 kms 182 kms straight distance | 6hrs 35mins 6hrs 35mins by car (348 kms) | 7hrs 54mins 7hrs 54mins by bus (348 kms) (348 kms)
 I : Chachapoyas - Peru 221 kms 221 kms straight distance | 7hrs 26mins 7hrs 26mins by car (370 kms) | 8hrs 55mins 8hrs 55mins by bus (370 kms) (370 kms)
 J : Ecuador (Macara) to Sullana to Piura - Peru 61 kms 61 kms straight distance | 9hrs 6mins 9hrs 6mins by car (401 kms) | 10hrs 55mins 10hrs 55mins by bus (401 kms) (401 kms)
 K : Piura to Tumbes - Peru 187 kms 187 kms straight distance | 8hrs 8hrs by car (454 kms) | 9hrs 36mins 9hrs 36mins by bus (454 kms) (454 kms)
 L : Mancora - Peru 223 kms 223 kms straight distance | 8hrs 33mins 8hrs 33mins by car (470 kms) | 10hrs 15mins 10hrs 15mins by bus (470 kms) (470 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


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