I’ve crossed the Peruvian/Ecuadorian border twice at Tumbes (1,2) at it was not a very pleasurable experience. Macará is said to be very different, so when having to cross into Ecuador last week, I decided to try that route.
Between Piura in Peru and Loja in Ecuador, Transportes Loja run 3 buses a day on a journey of 8 or 9 hours, depending on how hungry the operators are when the bus pulls in at Macará in Ecuador for lunch. A two-course meal cost us $1.25.
The border is nothing like the Huaquillas crossing. In contrast with the busy market and hordes of people, the Macará crossing was empty. It was quiet and calm. You can even take photos without the threat of being robbed.
Although Ecuador has excellent roads, the journey from the border to Loja was slow. Old style zig-zagging up and down mountains rather that bridges and tunnels meant many hours in a bus just to move a few more kilometres north. The coastal route is one that winds out west and gives you easy access to Guayaquil. This one takes you to the sleepy village of Vilcabamba in just as much time, but can leave you further away from Cuenca or Guayaquil. It’s worth the journey if you have time, and missing the Tumbes border was a joy.