Ecuador // The southern sierra //

Via Zumba

There’s a less-used border crossing near ZUMBA over 145km due south of Vilcabamba, on a rough, slow road through remote and beautiful country, which is serviced by eight daily buses from Loja (6–7hr) via Vilcabamba (5–6hr). From Zumba, where there are a few simple hotels, catch a ranchera (Mon–Fri 8am & 2.30pm, Sat–Sun 8am, 10am & 2pm) or hire a private camioneta to La Balsa, about 1 hour 30 minutes away on a potholed road, which is prone to landslides and closures in the rainy season. The Ecuadorian immigration office, not far from the international bridge over the Río Canchis, is open 24hr, though you may have to search around for an official at quiet times. Once in Peru, busetas ferry you to Namballe (20min), from where there is transport to San Ignacio (around 2hr), a nice enough place to spend the night, then Jaén (3–4hr), a city of reasonable size with hotels, money-changing facilities and transport connections to major centres.

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