Ecuador > Peru
Zumba/San Ignacio – La Balsa Border
This border is approximately 165km south of Vilcabamba – of which only about the first 35km are paved. There is a lot of road construction work going on which combined with the rough road ended up taking us just over 7 hours to ride the 165km. There are several areas of construction where they completely close the road for hours at a time – with only allocated time slots when it’s open. We were lucky that the only really long delay we had was 1.5 hours – the others were just short waits. Judging by the amount of work they have to do, it will be a long time before this road is fully paved – they are constructing from concrete rather than tarmac so progress is slower. The off-road conditions varied, but in general were not too bad – we rode it fully loaded and two up. I’m not sure I would want to do this road after or during heavy rains though!! Also it’s just under 50km further past the border (about an hour) to the town of San Ignacio, the first real town where you can get accommodation (other than a hostel at the border if you were really desperate). Most of this road is also dirt, although construction is underway. It’s then dirt road again for another 50km or so past San Ignacio before you get back onto tarmac.
The La Balsa border crossing itself is a nice relaxed and quiet crossing. When you arrive on the Ecuadorian side there is a bamboo gate just before a bridge. If you stop here you will see the immigration and aduana offices in the row of buildings on the left hand side. You might have to hunt around for the officials though – their offices were empty when we arrived – I’ve read somewhere else that they are often playing basketball or some other sports somewhere nearby! It’s really that quiet so they probably get bored :).
The aduana official will take your permit and immigration will stamp your passport – quick and easy. No fees, copies or anything else required.
They will then raise the barrier and let you through to the Peruvian side. No photos of the Ecuadorian side sorry, it had been a long day and we forgot about taking pics!!
There is another barrier on the other end of the bridge – the aduana official for Peru let us through this side and guided us through and into aduana office no. 1 which was straight ahead after crossing the bridge.
They needed copies of the bike registration document and drivers passport – which could be done at a shop further along the road on the right hand side.
Next up, we were sent to the immigration office to fill out entry forms. Before the immigration officer would stamp the passports we had to walk up the road to the left hand side to get a stamp from the police.
Then back to the immigration office to finally get the entry stamp. No fees required.
Once completed, we then had to go to the 2nd aduana office (which was just two cabins stacked on top of each other on the left hand side as you ride through from Ecuador.
Here they produced the vehicle permit, after double checking the VIN no. and engine no. and taking photos of the bike. Again we had problems as their computer system was playing up so after waiting for ages they decided to issue us with a manual permit which included a sticker that needed to be displayed on the bike.
The process took just over 2 hours but could probably have been completed in an hour if their systems had been working properly.
No fee required for vehicle permit.
The whole day from Vilcabamba to San Ignacio, including the border, took us between 10 – 11 hours.