As much as well love Colombia here at the Colombia Travel Blog (and we do, you know we do!), sometimes we have to accept that not all of you who travel through our adopted homeland plan on staying indefinitely (your loss I say); many of you will move on to other Latin American countries, many of which share a land or river border with Colombia…Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador. The latter seems to be the most common country that backpackers traveling overland leave to from Colombia, so we thought we’d offer you all a little updated border crossing info, just to make the nightmare of leaving Colombia a little bit easier…
First thing’s first: we’re going to look at the Ipiales border-crossing, which conveniently links to Colombian cities like Cali, Popayan and Pasto, and Ecuadorian hotspots Otavalo and the capital Quito. There is a border crossing point in Putumayo in Colombia, however very little information exists about this border, and, theoretically, the process should be the same. So, back to Ipiales; the first thing to do is decide when you want to cross – honestly, Ipiales is not much to look at, so staying there might not be worth it. My suggested itinerary would be as follows:
- Stay the night before in Pasto (The Koala Inn in the old-town is a good, simple budget option).
- Grab an early bus bound for Ipiales; this shouldn’t cost more than 10.000 COP.
- When you arrive in Ipiales, check your bag in the luggage room for 4.000, and jump in a 2.000 colectivo taxi to Las Lajas, and check out one of Colombia’s most unusual and interesting churches.
- Return to the border, get your bag and jump in a colectivo to Rumichaca (Colombia’s border town) for 1.600 COP.
So there’s the itinerary for the Colombian side of the border; here’s the Ecuador side for you:
- Once you have your Colombian exit stamp in Rumichaca, walk across the bridge (as seen in the cover photo) to Ecuador Migracion.
- Fill in your entry card (fun game: see how much of an outrageous ‘career’ you can make them think you have), and present it along with your passport for your Ecuador entry stamp.
- Behind the migracion building you can jump in a $0.70 colectivo to the first major town in the country, Tulcan, from where you can jump into a new bus.
- A bus to Otavalo takes a couple of hours and costs $3, and the same bus will carry on to Quito (about 4hrs) for $5. Sorted.
The process can take as little as 20 minutes on a quiet day, and as much as 3 or 4 hours when the border is chocka. Plan accordingly and make sure to leave Pasto really early to give yourself time for Las Lajas and the border crossing. Or ignore everything I’ve said and stay in Ipiales; you have free will!
Anyway, we hope this helps you leave Colombia, but, as I’ve mentioned, hopefully you’ll be back as soon as possible!