Border Crossing: Peru’s Piura to Ecuador’s Loja

Tumultuous, dangerous, or surprisingly easy are descriptions bandied around for South American border crossings. Today’s crossing from Peru’s Piura to Ecuador’s Loja is rumoured to be safe and hassle-free.

Many crossings, which can be closed at any time and on any whim are reputed to be flourishing with crooked taxi drivers, scammers, robbers, con-artists, and corrupt or even sometimes honest officials.

The overland border crossing from Argentina to Chile didn’t go well. In contrast, the Bolivia to Peru crossing was a breeze. You really can’t pick it – luck of the draw stuff.

So long Peru…until we meet again – it’s been an incredible 2.5 months!

map of Peru, South America
2.5 months in Peru

Sadly, the South American adventure is almost over.


Always seem to travel against the tide of tourists. Perhaps it’s because a guide book isn’t our bible.

While this isn’t a bad thing, it just means that it takes more research to find buses, border information, and travel details, when travelling in the opposite direction to other travellers.

Piura, Peru, Loja, Ecuador, South America

The straight-through Transportes Loja bus leaves Piura at around 9:30 am from the Ronco Terminal (Loreto), near the Av. Bolognese junction.

As the bus doesn’t stop for meals, make sure to take food, snacks, and water.

From the Macará border, the bus passes arid scrubby desert-land until reaching picturesque mountains, gorgeous valleys, and immense forests of Kapok trees, some 5 hours’ later.

Loja, Ecuador, South America
Gloomy panorama

Although scheduled to take around 8 hours, today’s journey takes 9.5 hours, which includes the border formalities for both countries.


You can do this trip in segments on different buses if you have the time, although you may experience issues in the unattractive and dangerous stop-off point of Sullana. Check before you stop at this city.

Crossing borders

Reputed to be the safest border crossing between Peru and Ecuador, over 3-hours later, the bus drops you off at the Peruvian La Tina border. Then, drives through to the Ecuadorian side to wait.


  • Always take your day pack with you when leaving the bus – you can never be sure whether the driver locks the bus.
  • This 24/7 border crossing is popular with locals so the process is relatively quick.
  • Officials on both sides are easy-going but also friendly between the countries, and often lunch together. Maybe someone can confirm the rumour that during the mid-1990s when the two nations were at war, officials from both countries played Chess together?

Exiting Peru

Everyone proceeds to Immigration for the exit stamp. Hand in your exit card that you received when entering Peru.

The bus driver waits for passengers across the bridge on the Ecuadorian side.


  • Before the bridge, several rustic eateries are available for take-away food. Be quick as your driver won’t wait long on the other side.
  • The driver may not remember that foreigners need an exit stamp so be sure to stamp out of Peru.

Entering Ecuador

Walk 200 metres across the international bridge to the Ecuadorian Macará border and check in. Don’t forget to complete the entry/exit card and retain this in your passport.


Australian passport holders receive a free 90-day-visa on arrival. Check for your country’s visa requirements and timeframes. Overstaying your visa costs USD$1 per day.


Ecuador uses US dollars, so exchange your Peruvian Soles before entering Ecuador, otherwise, expect a poor exchange rate at the border.

You may meet other travellers in hostels that need to exchange money.

Underrated Loja

First impressions of laid-back Loja is a pleasant relaxed feel and judging by the inquisitive stares from locals, the town doesn’t see too many gringos.

Nestled in the sweeping Cuxibamba valley at 2,100-metres high, Loja is graced with lovely churches and beautiful squares.

Although originally located in the Catamayo canyon near La Toma, following a devastating earthquake and issues with Malaria, the city relocated about 35-kilometres east of its present location.

Loja, Ecuador, South America
Historic beauty

Founded in 1548 and at almost 500 years’ old, Loja is one of Ecuador’s oldest cities.

What to see

Stroll around town to unearth wonderful squares and beautiful colonial churches – a legacy of Loja’s Spanish roots and Catholic traditions.

Ecuador’s second oldest university is in vibrant Loja. It’s pleasant to just wander around the numerous well-preserved historic buildings, without the hassling from touts.

Loja, Ecuador, South America
Superb architecture

Monumento a Juan Salinas de Loyola

Built in 1999, the imposing bronze monument dedicated to Juan Salinas de Loyola represents Loja’s coat of arms, which portrays the departure of the Ecuadorian South-east’s colonisers.

Pedestrian and equestrian figures detail the colony’s natives and Spaniards. Juan Salinas de Loyola took part in constructing the road between Guayaquil and the rest of the country during the time of the Spanish conquests.

Monumento a Juan Salinas de Loyola, Loja, Ecuador, South America
Monumento a Juan Salinas de Loyola

Puerta de la Ciudad

Stroll down to Av. Gran Colombia to meet the commanding city gate, which King Felipe II of Spain presented to Loja in 1571. The impressive gate is modelled after the city’s Coat of Arms.

Enter to discover a gift shop, cafeteria, and four galleries exhibiting local contemporary art.

Puerta de la Ciudad, Loja, Ecuador, South America
Puerta de la Ciudad

Climb the gate’s clock tower for a better vista of the surrounding area…

Puerta de la Ciudad, Loja, Ecuador, South America
Dramatic door

Loja’s self-guided tour

At the Puerta de la Ciudad, look for the large orange stripe, which is painted on the sidewalk. Follow the stripe for a self-guided tour of the main areas and historic churches of Loja.


As with many cities in South America, Loja hosts splendid murals, especially this one depicting scenes of Simón Bolívar’s life – liberator of South American countries from the Spanish Empire.

Simón Bolívar, Loja, Ecuador, South America
Simón Bolívar mural

Another monument to Simon Bolivar.

Simón Bolívar, Loja, Ecuador, South America
Simón Bolívar haunts the city everywhere

Even locals are intrigued at the dramatic murals portraying important buildings and monuments, which grace Loja’s streets…

murals, Loja, Ecuador, South America

Other murals make great rest spots from an exhausting day.

murals, Loja, Ecuador, South America
Detailed mural

Street scenes

I’ve thrown in a few street scene images, which depict interesting everyday life in Loja – enjoy!

Loja, Ecuador, South America

Afternoon siesta – too much for some…

Loja, Ecuador, South America

…but for this craftsman busy at work repairing or creating a masterpiece, there isn’t time for a siesta.

craftsman, Loja, Ecuador, South America

Not trusted to cross the road, this cute child is literally dragged across instead…

Loja, Ecuador, South America

Gringo alert!

Loja, Ecuador, South America

Where to sleep

More upmarket than the usual abodes, the Hostal Americas provides a very clean, quiet and modern room, with a private bathroom. The price also includes a delicious breakfast.

Enjoy friendly staff in this great location, which is close to sights, restaurants, and bars.

Leaving Loja

After just a couple of nights in Loja and barely enough time to explore, have to keep moving and head north to Cuenca as flying out of Quito in just under 2 weeks.

This next bus to Cuenca is only a short trip of around 3.5 hours, hopefully.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Ecuador at Image Earth Travel.

34 responses to “Border Crossing: Peru’s Piura to Ecuador’s Loja”

  1. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    Loja is beautiful! The buildings are really interesting and the murals are incredible! I love murals!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Loja is beautiful and not so touristy when I was there, although that may have changed now.
      Thanks for your feedback!

  2. gillmorris Avatar

    Loja looks lovely. I love all those murals and buildings 🙂 x

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hey Gill…yes, it is and the murals are just gorgeous. Hope all is well in the UK. 🙂 x

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks for leaving me your feedback – much appreciated.

  3. Chocoviv Avatar


    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you – it was an amazing trip!

  4. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar

    WOW 😮
    That must have been a very challenging trip but still a really nice article 👍

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Mohamad for your comment and yes, independent travel is challenging but got there in the end. 😉

  5. Giovanni Augello Avatar

    Very very interesting!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      An incredibly interesting trip and many thanks for commenting Giovanni!

  6. fakeflamenco Avatar

    The building in Loja are incredible. Thanks for the photo tour. -Rebecca

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      No problem Rebecca, glad you enjoyed the tour and appreciate your comment. Nilla

  7. Suellen Tomkins - Wild Heart Gypsy Spirit Avatar

    Loving the murals and the street scenes. What an incredible journey.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Suellen!
      South America is an incredible journey – think it may be time to return. 😉

  8. the eternal traveller Avatar

    There’s so much to remember about travelling in this area. I’d be worried I’d forget something.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, that’s very true.
      I stressed that I’d lose the little green exit card along the way and wouldn’t be let out of the country! How silly is that? 😉

      1. the eternal traveller Avatar

        Not so silly if it happened.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Good point. Not sure what would happen really, but it would probably involve bribe money…

      3. the eternal traveller Avatar

        That would be annoying.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, but you know how officials in some countries operate…

  9. easterntrekker Avatar

    What a fabulous trip! Independent travel is my way to go as well. Have fun trekking.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, it was a fabulous trip!
      Many thanks for your feedback.

  10. Valerie Cullers Avatar

    Wow! Great information and photos!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Valerie! Glad you enjoyed this post.

  11. David & Laura Speer Avatar

    Ok, so you are completely living my husbands dream life (if he could bring me along and visit the kids twice a year). He loved photography – neither of us write well, but we love the travel for long times. I’ll mention free lance photography, but I think we are going to be more free – like do things when we want – since we will be retired. I love checking out your website and pics. Happy Travels Girl!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hey Laura, thanks for your thoughts and wish you guys a speedy retirement!

      Started travelling at 22 on a solo-backpacking trip around the world and decades later, still travelling only interrupted by work.
      Guess I’m lucky (depending on your view ;-)) that I don’t have children so am free as a bird (great song!).
      Check back next week as I publish new articles each Sunday with loads of free tips for independent travelling.

      1. David & Laura Speer Avatar

        Well kids are a blessing, but also a weakness for sure, hold you back on many things. But I would not change a thing, and I bet you would not either!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Absolutely right! Need more people like us in the world – happy with what we have. 😉

      3. David & Laura Speer Avatar

        Oh girl I’ll cheers to that everyday!

  12. Blogging_with_Bojana Avatar

    2.5 months. How amazing is that.
    Love those street scenes.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes and part of almost 10 months in South America with a quick side-trip to the USA. Need to return to Peru – it’s been too long!
      Thank you for commenting 😉

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