Getting from Cali to Quito by bus in 2018 can be a real time consuming headache, having in mind the situation in Venezuela and the thousands of people crossing the border each day.
However, there are definitely ways to save many hours by making a few wise choices. In this article we will walk you through how we went from Cali to Quito in bus and how you can learn from our mistakes and what we did right.
We actually went all the way from Salento to Quito. We’ll explain how we got to Quito from there just in case anyone is doing the same. If you are going from Cali just skip until “Cali – Ipiales”.
Salento – Pereira
The bus took us a little less than one hour and the cost was 7.500 cop.
Pereira – Cali
Our plan was to take a night bus at 22:30 with Boliviariano getting to Ipiales (the border with Ecuador) at 11:30 am the next morning. We got to the bus station around 21:00 and was told it was already full. That was the only bus covering that route that day. Our tip is to book it online a day or two in advance so you don’t end up without a ticket like we did.
Anyway, we took a bus leaving at 23:00 to Cali as we wanted to arrive to Ipiales the next day as planned. We went with a bus company (don’t remember the name) that had a sketchy feel to it. The bus was really old and dusty, but it was the last one of the day. At one point during the journey the bus didn’t start so they had to fix it. We payed 27.000 cop each for the ticket, you should definitely pay a bit more and go with a proper company like Bolivariano.
We arrived at the terminal in Cali about four hours later.
Cali – Ipiales
When we finally arrived in Cali around 03:00 there was a minibus going to Ipiales almost immediately. The cost was 54.000 cop each. We soon wished we had waited until the morning to go with Bolivariano or another legit bus company. The seats were extremely uncomfortable and made it almost impossible to sleep. After about twelve hours and not a lot of sleep we finally made it to Ipiales where we spent the night.
Crossing the border
When we arrived at the border the next morning around 10:30 am we were met by an insanely huge line of venezuelan people waiting to get stamped out of Colombia and into Ecuador. We were told the line would take more than seven hours. Seven hours?! If that were the case we weren’t going to make it to Quito the same day.
Luckily for us we were soon approached by a man who claimed he could take us to the front of the line if we payed him $20 each. We were a bit sceptical to his claim but felt we didn’t have much of a choice. As promised though, he took us to the front of the line after having payed him and we ended up waiting in line for about thirty minutes instead of more than seven hours.
Then we proceeded to the next line, to get the stamp into Ecuador. Unfortunately, there were no escaping this line so we had to wait for about two and a half hours until we got our stamps.
All in all, to cross the border took us about three hours in total and costed us $20.
Ipiales – Tulcán
After crossing the border we took a taxi to the bus terminal of Tulcán (from where you take the bus to Quito). It costed us $3,5 in total and it took about ten minutes.
Tulcán – Quito
Once at the terminal we didn’t have to wait long for the bus to Quito which took about five hours and costed $7.
Which terminal in Quito?
There are two terminals in Quito; the northern (Carcelén) and the southern (Quitumbe). If you’re staying somewhere in the city centre it’s best to get off at the first terminal, Carcelén. The distance is pretty much the same, but it’s less expensive to take a taxi from there ($8) and you will arrive earlier.
Total Travel Time
From Cali to Quito we spend roughly twenty-one hours travelling, including crossing the border and time between buses.
From Salento to Quito we spend more than twenty-five hours, which could have been many hours less had we booked the night bus in advance.
The night in Ipiales was important as the trip would’ve been to exhausting otherwise. Still, it was a very intense trip. If we were to do it again there’s a lot of things we would do different:
- We would book the bus from Pereira to Ipiales in advance.
- Have gone with more legit companies like Bolivariano.
The total cost of transportation from Cali to Quito was $29,5.
From Salento to Quito it was $41,5.
There you have it. We really hope you have enjoyed these couple of tips and that you now have an idea of how to make the trip yourself. Good luck!