Border: Zumba, Ecuador – Peru

We drove from Vilcabamba south to Zumba and crossed at the more remote of the Peruvian borders. It was pretty gnarly driving in the dry season, I can’t even imagine how it would go in the rainy season. Plan on 2-3 days of adventure driving in the middle of nowhere before reaching Chachapoyas.

Ecuador Side

  • Several buildings, each labeled, in a row on the left before bridge.  First one is Aduanas, park right in front.
  • Need copies and originals of registration/title, license, vehicle permit.  (If you don’t have a copy of vehicle permit before border there is a copy place on the Peru side.)
  • Aduana’s will stamp the vehicle out.
  • Migracion next, for our stamps.  You should have an entry paper with you to hand over from the Ecuador entry.

Peru Side

  • Cross the bridge and park before gate on bridge.
  • Go to Migracion, which is the 3rd building on the left.  Fill out the form they give you, both parts.  (They will want your whole name on the form, anything that is included in your passport.)  There is a money amount that you are planning on spending.  They did not require us to fill this part out. If they do require you to fill this out, we have heard the amount you claim can dictate the number of days you can stay.
  • Walk left and down a gravel road to police building to have them validate everything.  He will enter stuff from passport into computer and stamp the form that they gave you.
  • Return to Migracion for passport stamp.  Keep exit portion of paper for exit out of the Peru.
  • Go back to first building that you are parked in front of for Aduanas.  You will need original and copy of registration/title, driver’s license, driver’s passport.
  • He will check plates, VIN number, and look in vehicle.  Then he will type a bunch of information into the computer and give you a vehicle permit.
  • Fill out another sheet of information with your email address and thumbprint. They keep with a copy of your permit.

We ran into at least 15 water crossings, some mud stretches that we could not have slowed or stopped in without getting stuck, and a lot of construction clearing numerous landslides and other things. The border was very chill though. We had been given the wrong information on our paperwork by the northern Ecuadorian border.  For some reason they had us exiting the same border we entered. Also you should be given an a slip of paperwork that you filled out at the northern border, they did not give us this. So the immigration office was very confused. However, everyone was very nice and worked everything out with us.

We had seen other blogs mention that insurance is mandatory, but nobody has mentioned it to us.  None is offered at the border. We’ve been stopped several times and were not required to show it during paperwork checks either. According to Life Remotely, if you have a valid insurance policy in your home country, this can count as well. As a precaution I printed the law Life Remotely quoted on their site and my insurance from home an keep it with our vehicle paperwork.

Our Route

Peru Tips

  • Driving from Zumba to San Ignacio is a pretty long drive after a border crossing due to dirt roads and twisty mountains. We stayed in Jaen at a hostel right as we got into town. Right next to hostel Diamond. The place we stayed at only charged 25S and had secure parking.
  • Instead of going all the way to Chachapoyas, we should have stopped prior at the city of Gocta for the large waterfall (we had to backtrack from Chachapoyas to see it). Here there is a nice lodge and plenty of places to park. Ticket entrance for the hike is 10S per person. The rules do say you need a guide but we just started to follow people down the road and went for the very obvious hike without one as many other people did.
  • You could skip Chachapoyas by staying at the Gocta Falls and then driving straight to the Kuelap ruins and camping there before the long, long drive to Cajamarca.
  • Kuelap ruins is 70-80 km from Chachapoyas. We camped for free after paying the admission fee to the ruins. The people there directed our car to be under the lights. The bathrooms at the office are locked at night. Entrance fee was S. 15 pp.
  • Huanchaco is the place to go if you want to surf or be by the sea. Overlanders can get electricity and camping at a place called Haunchaco Gardens and RV park. Fee is 20S per person. You get showers, bathrooms, a great chill spot, good WIFI, and electricity is 2 extra soles.  We then moved to camp in front of another excellent hostel in the same town called La Gringa owned by a gal named Julia from Kansas. You can camp on the beach or parked in front of her hostel and use services as well. It was S.15 for both of us per day. Also hit up Surf Burger for a proper US style burger. You get a burger with whatever you want on it, including bacon and eggs, french fries (that are awesome), a shot of whatever alcohol he has on hand, and a soda; all for S.15. The guy is from New York and is a biker as well, so here is a shout out for him!

Salkantay & Machu Picchu Tips

  • The Inka trail requires booking in advance, the Salkantay can easily be booked when you arrive.
  • Machu Picchu + Huayana requires booking a few weeks in advance, Machu Picchu + MP Mountain can be booked when you arrive.
  • The Salkantay could be done self supported a lot easier than we initially thought. Each camp is at a little town, more or less, with tiendas selling basic snacks and drinks. This would significantly reduce pack weight not needing 3-5 days worth of food up front.
  • To shorten the Salkantay but not miss the best parts, take transports all the way to Soraypampa, spend the night there, and hike the pass to Chaullay on day 1. From here you can take transports all the way to Hydroelectrica if you desire. Personally, I would continue hiking from Chaullay to Playa or Santa Teresa on day 2 – there’s a nice trail. From there you’re on the main road to Hydroelectrica, hike or transport.
  • If you do hike the entire thing, stay an extra day in Aguas Calientes and book your MP ticket for the following day – you’ll have more fun at Machu Picchu if you’re not exhausted and your legs are fresh. Plus, Aguas Calientes is a pretty unique town to see.
  • For details of our experience, photos, and stats, see our two part blog post: Salkantay & Machu Picchu.


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