Border Crossing: Colombia to Ecuador

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Crossing the border between Colombia was the part of our journey we were dreading most.

After reading multiple blog posts describing bus hijackings and the dangers of traveling through this region during the nighttime, we decided to take the journey slow, traveling only during daylight hours.

Despite all the horror stories though, there was no time during our trip that we felt unsafe.

Our three day journey looked a bit like this:

Day 1

  • Bus from Salento to Armenia – 40 minutes

  • Bus from Armenia to Cali (4 hours)

  • Bus from Cali to Popyan (3 hours)

Day 2

  • Bus from Popyan to Ipiales (7 hours)

Day 3

  • Cab from Ipiales to the border

  • Get Colombian exit stamp

  • Walk across the border

  • Get Ecuadorian entrance stamp

  • Taxi from border to bus station in Tulcan

  • Bus from Tulcan to Quito

As you can see, the journey was a long (and pretty uneventful) one.

There were only a couple of notable things that happened during those long three days:

1. Several police checkpoints: picture young men – maybe 19 or 20 – dressed in camouflage gear and each carrying an AK-47 and a pistol, entering the bus to check identification of each passport. For what purpose exactly, I do not know.

2. A stunning church. Las Lajas Cathedral spans a gorge in the border town of Ipiales, Colombia, and was worth a short visit.


3. Endless hours on buses means many naps and eating only bread and jam. 

Oh, the life of a backpacker... jam sandwiches for 3 days straight.

Oh, the life of a backpacker… jam sandwiches for 3 days straight.

4. One very sketchy motel in in the border town of Ipiales. Only $10 per night though. I guess you get what you pay for…

At least we only had to stay one night...?

At least we only had to stay one night…?

TINY shower

TINY shower


Read about our other border crossings here:

Ecuador to Peru

Peru to Bolivia


We’re Katie & Ben!

High school sweethearts from Minnesota, USA. We seek adrenaline rushes, good food, authentic experiences, and adventures off the typical tourist path. We think travel can be life-changing, and we’re here to share our best travel tips & inspiration that’ll get you packing your bags!

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