The journey continues: Ecuador to Peru by bus
With all honesty, volunteering in Ecuador was the greatest experience I had in months. Of all the things I’d experience until then, this one was the most different. Even for just a short time (a month), I wasn’t treated differently. I was like family. With this, I was so sad (as always) to leave people behind.
However, the show must go on. The promise of paving South America by bus has to be fulfilled.
After three nights of planning the route to Peru (I actually didn’t have a plan), I finally decided to take one bus all the way. Well, this is kind of boring I suppose as I did not stop to every city to transfer to another bus. First, let’s discuss the pros and cons of the two options I had. This can also help you when you plan to travel from Ecuador to Peru.
OPTION A: the long one
- Taxi to Quitumbe Stn – $10 (30min)
- Quito to Huaquillas – $12 (9hrs)
- Huaquillas to Lima – $25 (16 hrs)
- Total Cost: $47
- rough estimate not including hotel fees and food
OPTION B: the simple way
- Taxi to La Mariscal – $3.50 (15min)
- Quito to Guayaquil – $10 (9 hrs)
- Guayaquil to Lima – $85 (26 hrs)
- Total Cost: $98.50
- Direct buses from Guayaquil to Lima includes a comfortable sleeping area and food (3x)
It took a long time for me to understand that with Option A, I would have to stop in Huaquillas or Tumbes for a night and spend on hotel and food fees. On the other hand, Option B lets me relax for the duration of the trip, food, and accommodation included. It’s amazing how South America has developed this mode of transport where you can sleep comfortably and have first-class treatment as if you’re on a 14-hour flight.
The tribe has spoken: Option B is the way to go. You might think I’m being less adventurous but I am also trying to save cash. After weighing both, I have concluded that I will save more money by taking B. The bus to Guayaquil was cheap and really comfortable. There were not too many people on board. I became too comfortable that I missed the stop. Instead of going down Guayaquil, I ended up in Sta Elena, 2 hours away. When I woke up, I realized I wasn’t in Guayaquil because of the different vibe. Upon confirming that I really am not in Guayaquil, I immediately bought a ticket to Guayaquil ($3.50) from Sta Elena and got on board. With this, I missed my reservation at Nunca Pacha Hostel. I was supposed to stay at this hostel for 6 hours while waiting for my bus to Lima but then it never happened. I would like to apologize to Carolina and the crew for not coming!
Big bus companies in South America are like airlines: you need to check your luggage in.
The grand bus station in Guayaquil, Ecuador
This bus station is enormous I almost got lost looking for my bus!
Cruz del Sur is one of the best bus companies doing inter-country travels to and from Peru. It’s a little more expensive than other companies but it’s super comfortable!
As usual, it was a blind spot. I didn’t have a ticket to Lima yet and the bus leaves in 2 hours. Luckily, my bus from Sta Elena stopped at the same station where the buses to Peru are! I went to the ticket booth and once again, I am lucky enough to purchase a ticket to Lima. However, they only have a VIP ticket which costs $100. In my original mapping, I have allotted $85 to Lima so $15 more means nothing because the next bus to Lima will leave in 2 days. I didn’t want to wait that long!
I checked in, had lunch, bought some stuff with my last dollars and I devoted one hour left on the clock (before boarding) to send e-mails to my family saying that I wouldn’t be reachable for 30 hours. My mother freaks out when I don’t post something on Facebook. People start thinking I am in trouble when I don’t appear on their news feed.
Then, the drive started. As most of you know, I am a sleeper. Well, a bus sleeper for that matter. I grew up throwing up and getting dizzy when taking busses and I never got over it. My only remedy is to close my eyes and eventually sleep.
So I slept and slept and slept. Until I can sleep no more.
Not sleeping on the bus made me sick. Really sick. I always turned every 15mins, try to watch something from my beautiful flat screen, tried to sleep again but nothing worked. I was already sleeping too much that my body wanted to do something else. But I can’t. There are not too many options, yeah? I’m on a bus, obviously. I spent hours sending e-mail to my family and friends before leaving Guayaquil not knowing that there is a good internet connection on the bus (only for Facebook). Not too bad at all!
Ecuador-Peru border control. All passengers had to go down the bus to have their passports stamped at immigration.
Food that you’ll get on long haul travels with Cruz del Sur
By the time we reached the border, I was famished and hoarded Doritos and Oreos. At least we’re already on the half of the trip. At the immigration, people kept double checking if I can enter Peru without a visa and they always end up saying yes. Of course, I can! Filipinos are entitled 168 days visa-free in Peru! Can you believe that!
I might be a sleeper but once we entered the desert of Peru (which will last until we reach Lima), I was stunned. Land travel in Peru was as beautiful as I experienced during my bus trip from Colombia to Ecuador. South America is so beautiful and I don’t feel strange here anymore. I speak the language, I eat the food, I move like I’m one of them. I don’t feel different. For the past seven months of traveling here, I didn’t feel like I’m a foreigner.
As we got closer to Lima, I have come to realize that I made the right decision of taking a straight bus instead of hopping from one to another. I spent less, I was comfortable and felt extremely safe. There are no rumors of the border being unsafe (compared to Colombia-Ecuador) so everything’s good.
Finally, on Saturday, 05 April 2014, I finally arrived Lima and man, this city surprised me a lot. Squeaky clean, beautiful and just beautiful! I stayed with my friend and his family and was able to eat my dream Peruvian food for the first time! I didn’t have much fun with food in Ecuador but this time, I will see to it that I will never miss one food in Peru.
After the weekend, I went straight to Paracas where my volunteer work is waiting for me (for over a week). Upon arriving, I also mapped my bus travel from Colombia to Peru and I couldn’t believe how far I’ve gone. While I’m on it, I kept analyzing while people don’t choose to travel South America when in fact it’s easy (well not too much), accessible and B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!
I love it here and if I finish traveling the whole of Latin America, I’ll have more great stories to tell. This is my road to the World Cup 2014 — a life-long dream.