Entering Peru at La Balsa

Go East young man!

[map style=”width: 300px; height:300px; float:right; margin:10px 0px 10px 10px; border: 1px solid black;” marker=”yes” markerimage=”http://www.wolfandzebra.com/files/map_pin.png” lat=”-4.977242″ lon=”-79.115623″ maptype=”OSM” z=”6″]Our thwarted attempt to enter Ecuador in the Valle Guamuez at La Hormiga had left a bitter taste in our mouths (Read the full story at “Bouncing into Ecuador“). Alright, mostly mine, since the friendly recommendation of the Columbian army to reroute via Ipiales made a strong impression on the Zebra.
I was dead set to make up for it by entering Peru through its most Eastern border crossing: La Balsa.
Preliminary research hinted at a muddy road often closed by mudslides. The Zebra was not pleased. I argued that from Villcabamba, La Balsa was the closest border and the ideal route into the Peruvian Andes, Chapapoyas, Leymebamba and beyond, the famous Canon del Pato. She reluctantly agreed and we left Villcabamba under a gorgeous blue sky.
The first 10kms are nicely paved with only a few potholes sprinkled here and there just to make sure you are keeping your eyes on the road. The landscape is absolutely magic
Men had to fight Mother Nature to make the road between Vilcabamba and La Balsa happen.

Men had to fight Mother Nature to make the road between Vilcabamba and La Balsa happen.

Shortly thereafter the Ecuadorian Transport Authority deemed it unnecessary to pursue its paving efforts and we found ourselves back on the dirt. Luckily it had not been raining for several days and the surface reminded us of a clay tennis court, ideal for drifting through corners. I am not sure we would have had that much after a few days of heavy rain, at least not on loaded DRs with street tires. After a last turn we finally saw the Rio Canchis down below and the bridge into Peru.

Border formalities

Exiting Ecuador was very easy, the Aduana and Migracion offices are next to each other. We got there around 11:30am and found both officers wandering around. They kindly greeted and minutes later our bikes were cleared to leave the country after the VIN had been checked and we surrendered our Ecuador temporary import permit. Getting the exit stamp on our passports was as fast. We rode across the bridge hoping entering Peru would be a swift.

Sadly it was not the case and we would have to wait another 2 and a half hours before riding into Peru. Here is a quick overview of the process:

  1. Past the barrier you will notice a long kaki building on the left. Go to the Police office first to get cleared out of the country
  2. Proceed to the immigration office, complete the entry form and get your passport entry stamp
  3. Go to the small store on the opposite side of the road and get copies of your passport ID page, bike title and driver’s licence
  4. Next up is the Aduana, the two stacked containers immediately to the right of the barrier. This is the part that took the most time as the vehicle information is entered in a computer with a satellite connection. The connection appeared to be extremely temperamental and the system does not have a local cache. Whenever a cloud crosses the sky, the connection drops and the friendly, but incredibly slow, officer begins the whole process again.
  5. You will eventually get your Temporary import permit and be free to go
  6. While insurance is mandatory in Peru we were not asked for it at the border. As far as we know there is no way to buy one at La Balsa
The bridge over Rio Canchis allows you to cross the border between Peru and Ecuador

The bridge over Rio Canchis allows you to cross the border between Peru and Ecuador

2 thoughts on “Entering Peru at La Balsa

  1. Justin

    Hey. Thanks for sharing this info — we’re headed toward La Balsa in the next couple of days and are hoping for good road conditions. One question — where were you able to buy insurance? We understand that Jaen is the first opportunity. Was this your experience?


    1. The Wolf Post author

      Hey guys, we are very happy to hear that you found some useful info on our site, it’s a big part of our motivation for writing it in the first place. Jaen is the first town but it is quite chaotic and we ended up spending only one short night there. Next up for us was Cajamarca and I would guess your chances of buying insurance are much better there. Be also aware that despite our best efforts we were unable to purchase insurance in Chile, every company required a RUT number that foreign vehicles don’t have. Keep us posted and enjoy the mountains.

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