How We Traveled to the Border
Crossing the Ecuadorian border from Colombia was a little confusing at first because the immigration lines are not labeled. Do not worry. We are going to tell you how we did it, where to go, and the cost of travel from Cali, Colombia all the way to Quito, Ecuador. For easy border crossing, just follow our step-to-step guide and you too will have an easy day!
We started the day in Cali, Colombia after spending some time in Salento. We did this to break of the travel time, but you can easily take the bus all the way from Salento or even Medellin. Both cities we highly recommend you spend some time in- they are amazing! First, we took an Uber for 6,000 COP from Hotel Loft Granada Inn to the bus station Terminal Intermunicipal de Transportes de Cali. We showed up without a ticket around 7:30am and booked a ticket to Ipiales for 48,000 COP/person, where we would stay the night before crossing the border the next morning. We booked a room at the Hotel San Jose in Ipiales for 55,000 COP. The hotel is conveniently located right across the street from the bus terminal where you get dropped off.
How to Cross the Border
We woke up early the next day to cross the border before the rush of all the overnight buses. It is really easy to get to the border. We took a taxi from the same bus terminal we were dropped off at the night before for 3,000 COP, and were dropped off right at the border. Once at the border, there are two lines to get into the immigration office. There is a line for people leaving Colombia and also for people entering. MAKE SURE TO ASK SOMEONE IN LINE, AS WE WERE IN THE WRONG ONE AT FIRST, BUT WERE DIRECTED TO THE CORRECT LINE! When you get to the front of the line, border patrol will ask you where you are going and direct you to the line up the stairs inside the immigration area. Once at the window, immigration will ask you where you are going in Ecuador, then stamp you out of Colombia. That’s it! You are on your way to Ecuador.
TIP: If you have to exchange money from a stranger on the street like we had to, please remember the exchange rate. I told a man how much money I had and also how much I expected. He tried to short change me $10 and I showed him on the calculator the correct rate, as he had calculated using a less favorable rate!
Now you are on your way across the border into Ecuador to get stamped in. As you cross over, military personal will stop you and ask some questions about where you are going and why. Just smile and answer promptly. Our Spanish lessons came in handy here as they were stoked we knew Spanish. Keep on walking into Ecuador to enter the immigration office and wait in line. At the window I was asked where I was going, my occupation, and how long I was in Colombia. Again, just answer promptly, and do not forget to smile. BOOM! You are now in Ecuador!
TIP: We suggest you get to the border early! It took us a little over an hour to get stamped out of Colombia, cross the border, and getting stamped into Ecuador. Our friends experience took 3 hours and they took the overnight bus.
How We Got to Quito, Ecuador
Once we were officially stamped in, we exited the immigration office and flagged down a taxi. We took a taxi to the bus station Tolcan for $3 USD. Ah, finally no more converting money! Again, showing up to the bus station without a ticket, we purchased on to Quito, Ecuador for $6 USD/person. We arrived just as one was leaving, but opted for the next one because nature was calling and we needed some breakfast. Hey, it was early! The bus left around 9:30am so by the time we crossed the border and arrived at the bus station, we only had to wait about 45 minutes. Enough time to use the facilities and grab a bite to eat. The bus took about 6 hours from Tolcan to arrive in Quito, Ecuador. The bus station in Quito is called Terminal Interprovincial Carcelén which is in the north part of Quito.
TIP: Do some research of the local bus system prior to arrival. We forgot to, which was a bummer. If we did, we could of taken the bus directly from the bus terminal to our neighborhood for $0.25. Instead we took a taxi for $10 and is 20 times more expensive for two of us! See the map to the right for the Quito bus routes.