Crossing the Colombian-Ecuadorean Border on Christmas Day

We’d heard mixed things about crossing borders on holidays, with the two disparate problems being overcrowding from everyone travelling during the holiday or nobody being able to cross because the border is just…closed. These vary by holiday and border, so we weren’t sure what to expect at the Colombian-Ecuadorean border on Christmas Day. We verified with locals that the border would be open, then after our time at Las Lajas caught a taxi for 20,000 pesos (~USD $6.50) to the nearest border crossing, Rumichaca. It turns out we got the best of both worlds: the border was open, and there were only a handful of people crossing.

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 Colombian migration office on Christmas day. Pretty lonely, but convenient for crossing. Next time, I’ll bring candy or something to hand out along the way.

We visited migration on the Colombian side for our exit stamp and waited in a line consisting for 4 people, including ourselves, for about 5 minutes. The border guard checked our passports, then stamped them and politely waved us out.

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Walking toward the border. There was some vehicle traffic, but only a handful of pedestrians.

Then came the ridiculously easy task of crossing the border. We walked south of the Colombian migration building and walked the yellow footbridge into Ecuador.

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Welcome to Ecuador, almost.

From reading other reports, I’d heard the Ecuadorean side can be a bit more confusing. There’s not a checkpoint directly at the border; it’s the large white building on the left a few hundred meters in. We walked over to get our entry stamps, initially worried they may ask about our plans for onward travel (an issue that’s dogged us more than I imagined on our trip so far). They didn’t, just asked where we were bound next (Quito), and stamped our passports.

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Taxis wait outside of the Ecuadorean migration office. Their rates are higher on Christmas Day (and other major holidays). To save costs, consider sharing an unofficial taxi with other travelers. 

We then encounterd the only disadvantage of traveling on Christams Day: taxi prices on the Ecuadorean side were higher. We shopped around for a bit with the taxis in front of Ecuadorean migration, then crossed the street to the unofficial taxis where we shared a car with two other passengers for $1.70 and swapped travel stories. This ride took us to Tulcan, where we paid $6 for a winding, 5-hour bus ride to the Ecuadorean capital of Quito.

So overall, Christmas Day is a great time to cross the Colombian-Ecuadorean border, and probably any open border for a country that celebrates this holiday. Just remember that the people working are away from their families for the day, so if you can then tip a little extra.

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