This post would guide you on crossing the border between Ecuador and Colombia on your own by using public transport. A little bridge called “Rumichaca” links Tulcan (Ecuador) and Ipiales (Colombia).

Both Tulcan and Ipiales are easily accessible from major towns of respective countries. It is absolutely safe to cross through Tulcan-Ipiales during the day.

Bus To Tulcan:

My last stop in Ecuador was Otavalo, an indigenous town known for its weekend market. Otavalo a popular choice amongst travellers. If you are choosing to cross the border overland to Colombia from here, start a bit early to arrive in Colombia by evening.

There are no direct busses to Tulcan from Otavalo’s bus terminal. You would have to change busses at the terminal in Ibarra. Alternatively, you can flag down a direct bus  to Tulcan from Quito on the Pan American Highway which runs 1.5 kilometres outside Otavalo.

Busses to Tulcan normally departs from the third platform in Ibarra. Look for the sign above the platform.

There are direct busses to Tulcan from Quito’s Terminal Carcelen.

From Quito (Terminal Carcelen) Travel Time: 5 HRS | Cost: USD 5 |

From Otavalo – Ibarra – Tulcan

Otavalo – Ibarra: Travel Time: 45 Mins. | Cost: USD 0.35 | Ibarra – Tulcan: Travel Time: 3 HRS | Cost: USD 3|

Getting To The Border:

The bus terminates at the terminal in Tulcan. The bus terminal is located 5 kilometres away from the border. Outside the terminal you will find taxis leaving to the border.

The taxi would drop you off right outside the Ecuadorian immigration office. It costs USD 3.05.

Upon getting the exit stamp just cross the Rumichaca bridge and the Colombian immigration office is straight ahead.

Travel Time: 10 Minutes | Cost: USD 3.5 |

Rumichaca To Ipiales:

The border is located 4.5 kilometres from Ipiales, in a little town called Rumichaca. Upon leaving the immigration office, people would rush to you to exchange your USD. Its better to know the exchange rate before hand.

Alternatively, you CAN pay the for the taxi ride with USD and get your money exchanged at the bus terminal in Ipiales.

You can find taxis to Ipiales just outside the immigration office. It would cost 9500 COP which is equivalent to USD 3.5.

Travel Time: 10 Minutes | Cost: USD 3.5 |

Making A Decision:

Ipiales’ bus terminal is well organised. There are restaurants, mini markets and currency exchange inside the terminal. People often stop by Ipiales to visit the prominent attraction, “Sanctuary of Las Lajas” which is an imposing work of architecture over the river.

  1. If you decide to spend a night in Ipiales there are plenty of hostels and hotels around the bus terminal.
  2. If you decide to continue onward to Pasto, Popayan, Cali or Bogota you can find a regular bus service.

Ipiales to Pasto: There are frequent busses serving this route, smaller the bus the more expensive it is.

 Travel Time: 2 Hours | Cost: 8,000 COP ( USD 2.5) |

Ecuador Colombia Border
Sanctuary of Las Lajas

Route Overview:

  • Bus from Otavalo to Ibarra | 45 Minutes | USD 0.35 |
  • Bus from Ibarra to Tulcan | 3 hours | USD 3 |
  • Taxi from Terminal to Border | 10 Minutes | USD 3.5 |
  • Taxi from Rumichaca to Ipiales Bus Terminal | 10 Minutes | USD 3.5 |


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