I found a lot of misinformation while searching how to cross the border from Ecuador to Peru. I heard that it was one of the dodgiest border crossings in Latin America and that it was best to do it during the day – both of these are wrong. It is possible to travel all the way from Cuenca to Mancora (or to as far as Piura) on one comfortable bus for only $15. Here are all the details you need if you’re planning to take the night bus from Ecuador to Peru.
Booking a ticket in Cuenca
Make your way to “Terminal Terestre” in Cuenca to book your ticket. We went early in the morning and bought our tickets for the 10pm bus from Cuenca to Mancora. It costs $15 each (it might be a bit more to Piura). It was pretty easy; just make sure you have a copy of your passport. There are at least a couple of bus companies that do this route and from what I’ve heard they are all pretty similar.
Getting to the terminal at night
Cuenca seems like a pretty safe place but it’s always best to be careful when taking taxis at night in Latin America. We got the woman at our hostel to order us a taxi – it was under $2 for the short ride to the terminal from the old town in Cuenca. Try not to spend all your US dollars before you get to the terminal – there is a 10c platform fee!
The bus was comfortable and there was a good mix of locals and tourists on board. As always in Ecuador, be careful with your things. I got a bit sick on the bus ride; eating that huge Indian curry and drinking a few beers before a long journey probably wasn’t a great idea. We arrived at the border between Ecuador and Colombia at around 2am. A reader recently let me know that they had a whole heap of money stolen from their bag which was underneath the bus on this journey — it pays to be very careful with your valuables and, if possible, keep them on your at all times. It’s also a good idea to invest in a good lock and find a way to “protect” your bag even if you fall asleep.
The Border between Ecuador and Peru
The whole border process is handled in one small building – it was definitely one of the easiest border crossings we have experienced. It took around 45 minutes – I’ve heard if you cross this border during the day it can take hours.
Arriving in Mancora
We arrived in Mancora at around 5am and joined a group of fellow tourists in walking to Loki Del Mar, one of the few hostels that seemed open at that hour. The check in process was extremely slow – we waited around to be checked in for about 30 minutes until we finally left, frustrated and tired. The sun had come up so we walked around until we found another hostel that was open (Casa de Betty). A double room was 40 soles (Loki Del Mar was 90 soles!). It might be better to book a place in advance as walking around in the dark isn’t ideal, especially if you’re alone. Mancora is a nice town – the beaches are pretty good and the sunsets even better.
FURTHER READING: Mancora, Peru: Desert, Beaches and Sunsets
The night bus from Ecuador to Peru: Safe, Cheap and Comfortable
I can’t imagine a better way of crossing the border from Ecuador to Peru. The bus was cheap, safe and comfortable and the border process was easy. You could spend more money and take longer doing it (as I’ve read some people have done) but there’s really no point – for $15 you can cross the border between Ecuador and Peru in about 7 hours.
Looking to kill time in Cuenca before the bus?
Head to Cajas National Park! We spent the day there before the bus and it was great. The barren, high altitude terrain is home to lots of small lakes and weird looking cactus plants – it’s very different to anywhere else we went in Ecuador.
Are you planning on crossing the border between Ecuador and Peru? Would you take the night bus? Let me know!
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Monday 11th of October 2021
Hey Jon ~ I just now am getting a plane (in Philadelphia) to head to Ecuador. I know that I need to get a ticket for three months after my arrival. But, EVERYtime I go to a site to purchase, it refuses to allow me to buy a ticket. Do you know of a website where I can buy a ticket from anywhere in Ecuador to anywhere in Peru. I'm going to be in Ecuador for a long time (at Cocolandia pretty close to Zapatillo). Thanks, Dan
Thursday 21st of October 2021
Hey Dan, are you trying to be a flight ticket? There was a website, I can't remember the name though, where you pay like $10 and get a ticket that'll work for customs etc. Not sure if that's what you're looking for! If you're looking for bus tickets, maybe try busbud. Cheers!
Friday 28th of June 2019
Hi Jon, thanks for the info on bus to Peru from Cuenca. I will be flying into Quito and ,after a month, want to bus out through Peru to Santiago. Can you tell me if I will need a bus ticket[ buy online?] in advance to prove I am not staying forever in Equador or will my flight ticket home from Santiago be sufficient? Id hate to be refused entry at Quito on arrival!
Wednesday 3rd of July 2019
Hey Peter, I did a little research and it seems like most people don't get asked but it still could happen. You'll be more likely to be denied boarding by the airline, so if that's the case you could quickly book a ticket (get to the airport early if you're doing this) when / if the airline doesn't let you board (or just take the hit and book a bus anyway). I'd say it'd be unlikely you'd get all the way to Quito and then have to return home. Let me know how it goes!
Friday 10th of August 2018
Hi Jon, thank you for this very useful blog. I just wanted to update that my partner and I did this journey the other night (Aug 2018) and it was just as you described and all very smooth an easy! We caught the 9.30pm bus from Cuenca (Ecuador) down to Mancora (Peru) with the Super Semeria bus service. The tickets were 20USD each. We bought them a day in advance as i think theyre popular. The bus was fairly comfortable- decent leg room and not too hot or cold. The toilet was in service and they provided a carton of juice and oreos free at the start. No noisy music but a film playing on a very bright screen and windy roads so not the best nights sleep. We arrived at the Ecuador side of the border at around 1.15am and that was super quick (the driver dropped us off just by the building). Then back on the bus for about 10min drive to the Peru border which took a while longer- we waited in the bus stationary for approx 30mins and had to queue in the building for our passport stamps for about 45mins. In summary we were back on the bus on our way to Mancora approx 3am and arrived in Mancora at approx 5am (there were tuc tuc drivers waiting if you needed a taxi although we just walked to our hostel). Note there were a few ATMs near where the bus arrived.
Would Definately recommend the bus- we were tired but it was a smooth quick journey (we queued for over 5 hours at the colombia-Ecuador border during the day and it was a much worse journey).
Hope this helps!
Friday 10th of August 2018
Hi Helen, thanks heaps for the update -- glad to hear it's still a smooth journey!
Wednesday 25th of April 2018
Hey Jon! Read your post many times in preparation for getting to Mancora from Cuenca in the next few days. Thank you for the advice! We will probably be following your footsteps to the tee.
Thursday 10th of May 2018
Please update if you’ve done this, can’t find any recent information online and I’ll be doing this too in a few days. Thank you!
Friday 4th of May 2018
Thanks Dharshana, let me know how it goes and if anything has changed!
Sunday 14th of January 2018
Hey! Thank you so much for your information it was so helpful! We are planning to go to Mancora from Cuenca so this came in handy. I was wondering where you do the dollar exchange to soles? Is it at the border?
Monday 29th of January 2018
Hey Stace, thanks for the kind words! I think we may have changed it at the border but pretty sure we only had like $10 or something. You'd probably get a better deal if you wait and change it in town. Best not to be changing money too much though, as the changer will almost always get a better deal.