Heading out to Ecuador during my time in South America I had a few unanswered questions in my travel plans – how the hell was I going to make my way overland into Peru and onwards?!

I’d done a bit of googling, but to be honest the answers were a bit all over the shot and did nothing to reassure me when people mentioned issues about the border crossing between the two countries, great!


Backpacker Advice

Whilst working at The Cabanas in Montanita I had a great resource at my disposal – a constant stream of backpackers who had travelled through various parts of south America in various ways, so I did my best to get the information I needed that way.

The conclusions was pretty simple actually, you get what you pay for. I decided to take this advice and rather than try to save a few bucks here and there and take a few local buses I opted to pay for a more premium and comfortable service.

I’m pretty glad I did as my experience throughout was pretty glitch free, including the border crossing into Peru. There’s a rather treacherous looking no mans land town that sits between the border of them both, about 2kms long.

By paying the extra for a better company we got stamped out of Ecuador, got back on the same bus, drove to the Peruvian immigration building, got stamped in and continued down the coast.

Cheaper companies save money by simply dropping you at the Ecuadorian border, where you have to make your own way, carrying your luggage, to the Peruvian side before jumping on a new bus – an option that I’d strongly advise against.


Classes and Companies

My first bus journey was with Cruz Del Sur, and it went smoothly. So with most of my decision I went with the “if it’s not broken then don’t fix it” option and used them throughout. Sure I ended up paying slightly more, but my service stayed consistent and reliable throughout.

The only exception to this was my Puno – Cusco bus where I had to use another company, simply due to the fact CDS didn’t operate a direct service between the two.

One of the things I had been told was to go first class. However I opted to go with 2nd simply to save some money. Second class on a South American bus puts National Express to shame and even beats economy on a plane!

The seats were wide and super comfortable, there was plenty of leg room and it even reclined 170 degrees allowing me to to sleep heaps! There was an on board meal on most journeys, blankets, pillows and a stream of movies to keep me occupied – and on some of the longer legs even free wifi! Now you can’t complain with that!

I did use first class on one journey, yes I did have a little bit of a bigger seat and fewer people in the downstairs area, but to be honest there wasn’t a heaps big difference.



So here’s what I actually undertook by bus during my 6 week journey across Ecuador and Peru;


Montanita – Guayaquil = 4 hours – $5

Guayaquil – Mancora (including border crossing) = 8 hours – $20

Mancora – Huacachina (including transit in Lima) = 28 hours –  £45 (inflated due to travel on Easter Sunday)

Huacachina – Puno (including transit in Arequipa) = 17 hours – £25

Puno – Cuzco = 5 hours – £15


After completing the above journeys in the space of just over a week (bar the Guayaquil – Mancora leg) I was understandably fed up travelling overland and opted to do my final stretch from Cusco to Lima via air.

This reduced a 22 hour bus journey into a 90 minute flight with TACA and I got it for around £80, which I didn’t think was too bad considering the alternative time frame!

Getting buses booked in south America was a pretty painless experience, and many hostels can arrange them on your behalf and as far as my time on them is concerned it was safe and comfortable and easy to book large chunks if needed with the reassurance I could change tickets if needed.

I would however advise a bit of pre planning and pay attention to public holidays as on a few occasions I had to shuffle my plans around due to services being full and did get stung for some extra dollar as a result.

My experience going overland in the two countries has definitely upped the bar for my travel experience and it’s been tough to match these expectations – there’s a lot that could be learnt on price and service by many companies in the UK!

It’s also reassured me that when I return to explore more of South America going overland is going to be the easiest and cheapest way to accomplish it.

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18 Responses

  1. Beatriz

    Hi! my name is Beatriz and I live in Peru. I’m thinking of going on a little roadtrip to Ecuador during the first days of January and was wondering if you could recommend places you like in Montañita or nearby. It would be a lot of help. Thanks!

    • Chris

      Hey Beatriz,
      If you’re heading Ecuador way I’d check out Balsa Surf of Montanita Cabanas for accommodation. Jump in a taxi and explore Olon if you can too (only 2 mins up the road) as it’s heaps less busy!

  2. Anna

    Hi Chris!

    thank you very much for your post about this.
    I am going to start a backpack trip from Ecuador to Peru, and then Bolivia and Argentina in 1 month and I was reading about crossing borders…I was starting to get scared. I go alone and it is the first time I travel around south America.
    I heard before about cruz del sur so I would take that bus company.

    thanks again for the info!

    • Chris

      No worries Anna! I’ll admit I’d heard some bad stories about the border hence paying a bit more fro a better bus company. It was pretty smooth actually and I can say it was no where near as bad as I expected!
      Good luck with your trip – make sure you stop off in Montanita and come say hi!

  3. Paul

    Hi Chris, did you book your tickets online? I’ve just looked at the Guayaquil – Mancora busses with the company you used and prices were 4x as high at $80

    • Chris

      Hey Paul, I booked mine on the ground in Montanita. I’ve actually just redone the trip last month and it was still around $25USD You can also sort it at Guayaquil bus terminal, although you need to arrive early as they’re sometime full.

  4. alassane

    Hello my name is alassane I need to visit ecuado & peru & chili but I need to know some info about the crossing boarder if anybody can advice plz ..

    • Chris

      Hey Alassane – I used the bus company Cruz Del Sur and they made it all really easy.

  5. Ryan

    Howzit Chris, Cheerz for the good info bro. Am heading to Equador from Peru Next Feb and just been looking up best way to get there. Cheerz GREAT info.

    Will u still b in Montanita then or moved on??? I’m a surfer from NZ and would love to hook into some waves. Not travelling with a board as I’m going further afield, but will get a board one way or another while I’m there.

      • Ryan

        Chris on the off chance u know where I might find some action… I am also a DJ and will have the necessary gear to lay down some tunes. U know of anywhere I might be able to ply my trade in Montanita??

      • Chris

        Hey Ryan, there’s a few bigger bars and clubs that you might be able to grab some work in – Nativa Bambu is the main one, might be worth dropping them an email

  6. Ryan

    cheers man… i actually live in Vanuatu, up in the islands of da south pacific. Never know when travellers paths may cross. Enjoy Asia bro

  7. Ryan

    Thanks HEAPS Chris… Safe travels & I trust you’ll find the GREEN ROOM where ever u surf, take it easy

  8. Henry

    Hi Chris, thanks for the advice.
    I’m planning on doing this trip soon and I was wondering about what you did with hostels? Did you book in advance or just find one when you arrived?

    • Chris

      Hey Henry, stoked to hear you’re heading that way, you’ll have a blast!
      Hostel wise I did book slightly in advance at places like Montanita and Mancora as I knew they’d be popular.


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