The title on this post could have been “the easiest border crossing ever”.. The border crossing is La Balsa between Ecuador and Peru. The location is south of Loja and Vilcabamba, and quite a bit further east than the Pan-Am. When we showed up at the border on the Ecuadorian side, the customer officials was sitting outside wearing shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops, and they were playing cards. Didn’t look like a lot of people usually crossed at this border, and the roads on both sides were more or less rough dirt roads. Some travelers told us that this was a “4x4” crossing because of the road, but most vehicles could probably drive here without any issues.
Approaching the border. Offices on the left hand side, and the guys playing cards on across the street on the right hand side.
Checking out of Ecuador was done in a matter of minutes. You get an exit stamp in your passport from the Migracion, and you go over to Aduana and hand in your vehicle permit. Our Aduana officer looked at our license plate, and that was it.
The Migracion office. Aduana is in the building a couple of meters to the left, but the officer approached us when we were waiting for our passports to be stamped.
The actual borderline is a river. After the bridge is a locked gate. Park in front of it, and walk to the Aduana office.
Aduana office. Migracion in the “brown” building to the right. Copy shop in the funny building to the left.
Parked in front of the gate.
The formalities on the Peruvian side took a little bit more time, but still it was quite relaxed. The officer told us to go over to the copyshop next door to get two copies of passport, driver license, and vehicle registration. We had heard that you don’t need copies going into Peru, so we were a bit surprised. We had these copies in the car, though, so we walked back and got them. Went then back to the office and handed them in. We had also checked the Migracion building, but it was locked and nobody was there. We asked the Aduana officer and he told us to find the Migracion officer in a yellow building about 100 meters down the road. Weird… But we walked down, knocked on the door, and a guy wearing only a towel appeared in a window in the second floor. We told him we needed entry stamps in our passports and wanted to see the Migracion officer. It was him. Maybe he had a break or something, we don’t know. Anyway, he got dressed and let us in, and it turned out that he had the stamps and papers he needed to check us in right in his house. No need to go back to the Migracion office.
Meanwhile, the Aduana guy was almost finished with our vehicle permit. However, when we got back to his office he wanted two copies of our passport entry stamp. Does he know the girl in the copy shop…? You kind of have to wonder… We heard from other travelers crossing the day after us that they only needed ONE copy of these documents.
Eventually he printed our vehicle permit and we were on our way, one hour and fifteen minutes after we found the Ecuadorian officers playing cards.
Peru, here we are!