Need to travel to Peru from Cuenca, Ecuador? Here are three options if you want to take a bus from Cuenca to Peru (Mancora, Piura, or Chiclayo).
All three options begin from Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre, located at the west end of Ave. España.
From our Airbnb accommodation, we took bus #12 and it dropped us right next to the terminal, for only US$ 0.25 each. Even as late as 8PM we felt safe taking the bus.
Use this link to identify the bus that could take you to the terminal from wherever you are staying. Or you can take a cab.
Also note that there are other options aside from taking a bus from Cuenca to Peru. These include taking a bus to Guayaquil in order to take a Cruz del Sur bus (more expensive luxurious, people say. We don’t know, we’ve never taken it), or going down to Loja and taking an onward bus from there.
Navigating the Cuenca Terminal
The layout of Cuenca’s terminal is slightly different. If you enter the terminal from the Ave. Espana entrance, to your left is the arrival area, in the middle are the food shops, and to your right are the ticket booths divided into aisles. Each aisle has about six companies. At the end of the aisles are terminal exit gates that let you into the bus departure area.
You will need to pay 10 cents to exit, using the machines at the gate. It does not matter which gate you use. They all lead to the same departure area.
Bus from Cuenca to Peru
Company: Super Semeria
Daily trip leaves leaves at 10PM.
Cost: to Mancora or Piura is $18; To Chiclayo is $23.
The office is in Aisle 1 in the Cuenca terminal
Daily trip leaves at 9PM
Cost: to Mancora or Piura is $20; To Chiclayo is $25.
The office is in Aisle 2 in the Cuenca terminal
Company: Pullman Sucre
Daily trips leave at 7AM and 9PM
Cost: to Mancora or Piura is $15; Does not go to Chiclayo.
This is one option for travelling during the day. It’s not a direct bus though. The first bus takes you to the border, you do the border crossing, then you take a different bus from their affiliate in Peru (Cifa bus).
How it Went for Us
I purchased our tickets a day before just so I could ensure our seats. This is highly recommended during high season because the buses fill up.
I chose Azuay because at first I did not know that the Super Semeria bus also went to Chiclayo, our destination. I probably would have been happy with Super Semeria and saved a couple of bucks.
The Pullman Sucre option was a no-go for us. We had decided to do an overnight trip to avoid the longer lines at the border control office. Also, I’ve read stories about long waits for the second bus. Not a good position to be in on a night trip.
Checking In Your Luggage
If you put your luggage in the bodega (baggage compartment under the bus), make sure to tell the bus attendant your destination so he can place it in the proper compartment. There is separate compartment for the final destination and it is never opened until the bus arrives there. This gives an immense sense of security, and you don’t have to look out the window at every stop. The attendant gave me a claim ticket for my backpack.
We usually take our backpacks inside the bus with us, but I read about a lot of good experiences from other people in online forums about putting luggage in the bodega. The bus did not stop to pickup additional passengers along the way.
The Azuay bus was comfortable. When we first got on there was a strong smell of disinfectant. A good sign, or bad. It meant they cleaned the bus, or they are trying to mask something. The smell lingered for about an hour, or maybe we got used to it.
It was not a very smooth ride, but mainly because of the road conditions. The driver did not drive aggressively. If you have a sleep mask it will come in handy because with the seats at a reclined position, the light from the streetlamps shine through the window and into your face.
On the bus, there was a bus attendant who distributed immigration forms. I filled them up while the bus was in motion. The border agents never asked for them. If you do feel the need to fill them up, you can wait until you are in line at the border facility. There will be stand-up desks there and you will have enough time to fill them up while waiting in line.
The Border Crossing
We reached the Huaquillas border just after midnight.
First, the bus stopped at an inspection station where a border agent entered the bus and looked around for suspicious luggage. Outside, there were other border agents who pulled out a few pieces of luggage from the bodega under the bus to inspect them.
There was an ice chest that was all taped up and they opened that to inspect the contents. They actually pulled out my backpack which we had placed inside a black garbage bag, but they did not open it.
There were a couple of people who got off the bus and walked to the immigration offices, to get a head start. You could do this, if you don’t want to spend too much time standing in line.
From the inspection station, the bus moved further into the border facility and parked. Everyone got off to go into the immigration office which houses both the Ecuadorian and Peruvian offices.
The line was long although I imagine it would have been longer during the day based on other people’s accounts.
While you are waiting in line, you could go to the bathrooms which are nearby. Even if you are by yourself, just tell the person behind you that you will be right back, so you don’t lose your spot. No spanish? Mime. Just don’t be too graphic about it.
Inside the building there were six stations, or “windows” if you will; four were Ecuadorian exit counters and two were Peruvian entry counters. When your turn comes up, you go to any of the four Ecuadorian exit counters, whichever is available. After getting the exit stamp, you go to either of the Peruvian entry counters. I observed that the exit processing seemed to take longer, which explains the two additional, makeshift-looking exit counters.
The bus attendant was very helpful and he monitored the passengers in our bus to ensure nobody got left behind. There were two other buses that arrived after ours.
Everyone was made to wait outside the bus where there were benches to sit on, until all the passengers had gone through the border procedures. This way, any luggage inside the bus was secure. Also, this allowed the easier distribution of the onboard meal which were given to each passenger while he/she re-boarded the bus.
In total, the border crossing took 1 hour and 15 minutes.
And Then We Were in Peru
The bus stopped at Mancora at around 3:30AM. The area was well-lit, and I saw a couple of convenience stores still open.
We awoke at 6:30AM to find that the bus had arrived in Piura. From here on we watched outside the window for our first glimpse of Peru.
We arrived in Chiclayo at 10AM.
It was a very easy border crossing and a comfortable ride overall. I was happy with Azuay, and with our decision to do the overnight trip instead of a day trip. I hope you find this post helpful and informative for taking the bus from Cuenca to Peru.