Tulcan, Ecuador/Ipiales, Colombia border crossing rental cars in Ecuador

We left Misahualli by taking a bus to the neighboring small city Tena, then taking a 6 hour bus ride back to Quito. The bus ride was pretty miserable, stopping every few minutes to pick up passengers and waiting in city traffic.
When we got back to Quito we met up with Jose in the hostel. He updated us that he had been robbed (again..) as he was robbed when I met him last year in Buenos Aires. Bad luck I guess?

Apparently he was with a girl in the hostel going to see a city monument and 4 guys with knives jumped them. They made away with Jose’s sunglasses and the girl’s ipad and camera.

We really didn’t do much as we had been doing stuff non stop between the jungle and Banos. It felt good to just chill out.

The next day we started looking into our trip to Colombia. We picked up another guy named Chris from Switzerland staying in our hostel so we are now rolling in a group of 4. Works well for taxis etc.

We were careful with our plans to Colombia as we had heard a lot about it. Some girls I met from the peace core said that they won’t allow the peace core to enter Colombia for safety reasons. They told us they heard about a bus that got robbed and made everyone strip naked on the side of the road. They said that we shouldn’t take any busses at all in Colombia.

I had heard from a couple other people that if you take busses, only to take day busses. We started looking into rental cars but Jeremy had trouble finding places to rent as most of the major rental chains don’t operate in Colombia and we are not allowed to take a car from Ecuador over the border.

We ended up deciding to take a day bus just over the border.

So we woke up early this morning and jumped on a bus to Tulcan, the border city in Ecuador. The bus ride was $5 and 5 hours.

As soon as we arrived in Tulcan there were guys outside our bus asking if we needed to exchange currency. We were a little apprehensive about exchanging money with these guys on the street but we didn’t really have a choice since we had no Colombian Pesos on us, so we exchanged $20. The exchange rate is 1800:1 USD so everything costs thousands of Pesos.
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Once in Tulcan, we had to catch a cab to immigrations ($3 about 20 minutes from Tulcan)
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The border crossing was surprisingly easy and un-sketchy. First we had to enter the Ecuadorian immigrations to get an exit stamp rental cars.
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There were many other gringos in there, and we waited in line about 30 mins
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After exiting this building, we walked about 2 minutes across a bridge into Colombia
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We had to enter the Colombia immigrations to get our entry stamp and visa
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Once over the border we fumbled around for a bit and jumped in a taxi to the border town on the Colombian side, Ipiales, about 10 minutes.
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Ipiales wasn’t too sketch, the cab dropped us at the bus station. Here we were able to withdraw from an ATM and found out about busses for tomorrow. However, we didn’t want to stay in Ipiales and opted to instead head 1.5 hour North to the next larger city, Pasto rental.
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We jumped on a small shuttle van/bus which was 6000 pesos per person or around $3 each.

The ride was beautiful, I couldn’t really catch good photos from the van but very scenic. We were all in high spirits, excited, and in a good mood, despite the long day of traveling.
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Pasto is a pretty run down city, and I think we all felt fairly uncomfortable.
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When we arrived it was just starting to get dark and a policeman told us not to go outside at night. So we walked just around the corner from the bus station and were surprise to find a very nice hotel for $70,000 pesos or around 35 a night with 4 beds. Hot shower and cable!
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We just hung in tonight got some local cheap food at the place right next door.
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We did some planning. What we plan to do is catch an 8 hour bus bright and early tomorrow morning to Cali. Cali is supposed to be a really sketchy city so we don’t think we will spend much time here. From Cali we will head North to Medellin spend a few days there and fly to Cartagena on the Carribean coast. From there we will fly to Bogota where Jose and my flight home is from, and Chris and Jeremy will fly back to Quito.

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