Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Fairwell Ecuador, hello Peru!

Our final, yet brief, stop in Ecuador was the charming city of Cuenca. The river cutting through the southern part separated this city from many other similar cities. We only had 1 and a half days here but it was a nice place to finish of Ecuador before Peru. Strangely we saw a wide variety of animals within the city!
Cuenca´s cathedral in the main square

From the bus station in Banos we arrived super early only to waste 2h before the first bus to Cuenca left at 9am to go to Riobamba ($2pp, 1.5h). We then transferred to a direct bus from Riobamba (about 5h). We got a shared taxi from the station into town (5 people, $1.20pp).

We stayed in a lovely family hostel ran by a friendly couple called Hostal Villa del Rosario (recommend). $10pp for a double with a private bathroom, which was meant to be $12 each but they gave it to us for our booking price, they were so sweet! Breakfast wasn't included but there was an option of a big breakfast with a fantastic presentaion (including flowers on the table) for only $2.50.

The lovely breakfats area in Villa del Rosario
Cuenca was brilliant for museums if you like that sort of stuff but most of our day was running around doing errands, although we did managed to pop into the shrunken heads museum (Punapongo). Honestly, we blasted through most of the museum, we just wanted to see the creepy heads (no photos allowed unfortunately). Okay, the shrunken heads were disgusting! But we saw them.

Afterwards we walked around the so-called Inca ruins out in the garden. We were a bit tired so we ended up spending 10 minutes watching a duck eat the food laid out for him then walk to the pond to drink. Back and forth over and over! It was our highlight!

We also saw humming birds and llamas strangely. What kind of museum was that place??

There were plenty of options to eat. We had a great cheap meal at a Colombian restaurant across the road from our hostel (Moliendo Cafe) and another good (more expensive) meal at a cool bar called Wunderbar.

We had an early start the next day as we were heading to Peru. We took a 7.15am bus to the border town, Hauquiila ($7pp, 5h) to change buses to Mancora in Peru around 12pm. We knew we had to get a CIFA bus to the border so we just kept asking people until we found our bus, going to Piura I think. The scenery changed dramatically from mountains, to banana plantations and farmland to dessert.

We had the most simple border crossing in a brand new building. We queued in one line to exit Ecuador and then waited in the adjacent line to enter Peru (why aren't they all that easy?). Although, we did not have our initial entry form for Ecuador but they allowed us to fill it out again at immigration. It only took about 15mins.

So far so good, until security decided to search everyone's bags through their "customs service" which added an extra 30min wait to the whole process.

We were pulled over again a couple of hours later by more security and made everyone get off the bus, but they searched nothing! Pointless waste of time!

We arrived in Mancora around 4pm. A very small (and touristy town) so there was no need to get a Tuc-Tuc taxi, no matter how much they asked us. It was only a 10min walk. Thankfully it was a chilled beach town so it was straight relaxation from here!

The beach of Mancora

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