We opted to take a taxi rather than the bus from Vilcabamba to Loja. It was early in the morning and misty in patches. The taxi driver drove “rápido”. In sections the roads are potholed with broken rough surfaces resulting in much braking and swerving. The taxis here are all rugged double cabs ... which are probably the one vehicle that can survive the road conditions!
As we drove through Loja it looked an interesting city. With a good infrastructure, not too big and not too small. If we’d known more about it we’d have spent some time looking around there.
Loja Ecuador to Piura Peru
We took the recommended bus service bus - Cooperativa De Transportes which departed exactly on time!
The journey was slow and steady.
Bus travel in South America can be a bit confusing when one doesn’t know what’s going on. You don’t speak Spanish and there are no announcements! So the best thing … just go with the flow ... or follow the driver or conductor!
We stopped in Catamayo for about an hour with the only apparent reason was that the driver wanted breakfast.
Like all bus trips in Central and South America there are constant mountains with winding roads up and down!
The buses are make regular stops with people getting on and off - farmers and locals have a customized service. However these stops get less and less the further away you travel from the cities.
At one stage we had the surreal experience of being above the clouds!
Still in Ecuador e travelled through the town of Catacocha which had many really pretty renovations and others in progress.
We arrived at the border at Macara at about midday. The crossing was very routine. The only problem was on the Peruvian side where the computers were down. So our small group sat on the pavement outside the immigration office while the problem was sorted out.
We had heard that this border crossing was far quicker than the route along the coast to Tumbes. The total time was probably about an hour.
There were two young woman travelers from Holland who told us that they waited more than 8 hours at the border when crossing from Colombia to Ecuador! A problem apparently caused by the many Venezuelans leaving their country and heading south.
We arrived slightly ahead of schedule in Piura. The bus stop is in a crowded downtown area and there are the customary “official” taxis touting for business. As usual, even after a negotiation, these taxi’s extract an exorbitant fare … this one being double the fare of the return journey.
“Piura is a dump” was my first reaction. It is situated in the desert area of Peru. It is dusty and littered with garbage. The road surfaces are uneven and in places nonexistent. There are potholes and surrounding areas are covered in fine dust. The only benefit of the terrible roads is that cars have to travel slowly!
Our sightseeing was limited to taking a taxi into the old town and wandering around the few recommended sights. Easily deciding that lunch was the best option we had a very delicious and reasonably priced “almeurzo” (limited option lunch menu) before walking back to the hostel.
Piura is a town that is useful as a convenient low cost transition from Ecuador - for catching low cost internal flights in Peru. But has very little other attraction. For most part it is a dusty dump!