The Ungraceful Guide | Budget Travel Guides

How To: Travel from Cuenca in Ecuador to Huanchaco in Peru

Our stay in Ecuador was cut short after the letdown of Cuenca, a city that lacked life and atmosphere. We just didn’t get the hype. Sorry guys! It was quite boring, to be honest.

We enjoyed our time in Ecuador, but after the high of whale watching along the coast, and the costs of accommodation in Cuenca, we decided to bail on the country that so many choose to skip.

Our original plan was to head south to Lojas, a Puebla that is often compared to the coffee regions of Colombia. I hate to say it but sometimes the ‘been there, done that’ attitude sneaks in and we felt that the green hills of Colombia could not be topped by Ecuador. We decided against the idea of giving it a chance.

Making the swift exit, we excitedly moved on to Peru, and as always, we bring you a simple guide so you can too. Hun Buns and all (Peru 2 reference!).

Table of Contents

Cuenca City to the Bus Terminal:

A backpacker’s wish come true is a bus terminal that isn’t located in the back arse of nowhere. This is the one thing Cuenca got right.

Located on Avenue España, the Cuenca Bus Terminal is easy to get to on foot and is in a safe area, along a busy and brightly lit main street.

From the central park, take Luis Cordero Street until you meet Gran Colombia. From Gran Colombia, it’s a straight walk until it ends, bringing you to a main road.

Swing a left and, at the roundabout, follow the traffic towards the right. You will see a petrol station. The walk itself takes 15 minutes or so.

Cuenca to Chiclayo:

There used to be some concerns regarding the direct and overnight bus to Chiclayo, but let us squash any concerns.

This was the first time we crossed a border at night, so of course we were a little anxious. But honestly, the bus service was so smooth, comfortable and safe that the minute we became comfortable, we fell asleep.

After massive concerns with bag slashing all through Ecuador, the one warning that even every local will tell you, it is heavily advised that you never place your bags in the overhead storage (we never do this anyway) or on the floor at your feet (now this, this we do).

It was a nightmare constantly sitting with my carry-on on my lap. A bag that weighs more than my backpack, thanks to my ye olde laptop, and every gadget I own hiding in there.

We tend to travel safely, but in saying that we don’t pay too much heed to every Gringo warning. But even the locals sleep or sit wrapped around their carry-on so this isn’t just an issue for tourists. Let’s just say I was an anxious wreck on the buses through Ecuador, paranoid that a chat with any local meant I was being distracted and never getting a decent night’s sleep. It ruined a lot of the travel days for me.

This wasn’t the case when I took the overnight from Cuenca to Chiclayo. A direct bus service filled with families, a service that does not stop to pick up anyone along the way, not even a vendor.

Locals’ bags tossed on the floors gave me a sense of comfort, and I hope to pass this comfort on to you, dear reader. But please, like anywhere in the world, be aware, don’t flash your belongings and always tuck a leg through a strap. Be comfortable, but don’t be an idiot.

So, which bus to take and how to take it?! Well, there are only two companies each with one bus; so you’ve little choice.

Super Semeria:

At $25 per person, a cost which may seem steep (it is!) but totally worth it, Super Semeria leaves Cuenca at 10 pm and (should) arrive in Chiclayo at 8 am, a little too ambitious but the one we favoured.

It made one stop throughout the night, that being at Immigration.

There is a second stop the following morning at Piuras, but no passengers get on the bus, it’s only a quick drop-off.

NOTE: Don’t leave it too late to book this bus. After checkout, we left our bags in our hostel and took a walk to the bus station. We booked the last two seats at 12 p.m. that day, we were very lucky! Go even earlier, or the day before.

It’s also worth mentioning that the direct overnight bus is much cheaper than going via public busses i.e. Cuenca to Lojas, Lojas to Piura etc. Costs were adding up to $35 pp so know that $25 is the cheapest cost.

The Semeria bus is comfortable, has semi-camas, Wi-Fi, and USB charging points, bags are tagged AND you get a small snack before departure. How lovely!

About an hour into your trip, you are given an entry form for immigration. Don’t be ‘that guy’ at immigration, be sure to complete before arrival.

Azuary Bus Company:

Same costs as above, another option is Azuary Bus. This company leaves at 9.30 pm, promising an arrive in Chiclayo at 10.00 am.

We didn’t dig the idea that this company makes four stops in total; one before the border (we think it’s in Lojas), one at Immigration, another in Piura (the far side of the Peruvian border) and a final at Chiclayo.

Unfortunately, we cannot say any more about this company only that the same services as above were advertised.

Feel free to update us!


Lights on and a friendly nudge, our zombie-like selves wake to prepare our passports and smile at the immigration officials.

The bus stops at a checkpoint and border patrol officers open the baggage hold to make a quick and random bag search, so you’ll need to hang around for a few minutes.

Funnily for us, Luke’s bag was chosen (of course it was) and he was made open every zip and pouch. It was quite thorough, but thankfully they didn’t find the contraband… JOKE!!! (Jeez, calm down Dad!).

The officials will make friendly small talk during the search. Luke found himself laughing at the little jokes made and the official was genuinely interested in Luke’s travelling tales. I just wanted to go back to sleep.

Given the all-clear, bags are placed back on the bus and it’s a short walk towards the immigration building (bring your carry-on with you!).

This bit sucks, for the impatient kind (me!).

In the yellow, blue and red corner, two members of staff represent Ecuador. In the red, white and red corner, sucking on coca leaves, are the more smiley Peruvian officials.

After two hours of queuing, we were stamped out of Ecuador and into Peru. No questions and no proof of onward travel are required.

Back on the bus by 3.30 a.m., I was snoring by 3.35 a.m., to eventually wake up in Peru.

Swapping Terminals in Chiclayo:

Fresh-faced, the bus arrived at Chiclayo’s Terminal Plaza Norte at 11 a.m.

When we had researched this journey, we read that buses to Trujillo leave from the same terminal. However, this is a relatively new terminal, where “border” buses are now directed to. We didn’t know we would have to change terminals, so take this as a warning!

With no Wi-Fi, no information desk, no idea where we were and only the hounding taxi men to help; our tired eyes gave in to taking a cab, but not before we spotted more Gringos and arranged a cab share.

The “taxi” (a man with a very small car) cost 5soles (€1.25) to the Emtrafesa bus terminal. We had to chat our way down to this price so you will too.

It might be helpful to know that in this terminal, there is a family beside the bathrooms that exchange money, should you need money for said “taxi”. I’ll always remember their little girl, who said I looked like her Barbie. Score!

We changed $10 at the rate of 3soles to $1 (August 2017). Not a great exchange but the lack of ATMs left us little choice.

In the “taxi” it is a 15-minute drive through the Chiclayo centre, to the Emtrafesa Bus Terminal.

Chiclayo to Trujillo:

Buses leave the Emtrafesa Bus Terminal every hour on the hour for 15 soles (less than €5), the journey is 4 hours.

NOTE: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Peru doesn’t have an ‘all in one’ bus terminal. Instead, each company has its own bus terminal and they’re not always near each other. So a little extra preparation is needed (but sure, that’s why we’re here!).

Most travellers decide to stay in Trujillo, but we recommend heading 15 minutes down the road to the beachside beauty of Huanchaco. Way nicer vibes there!

Trujillo to Huanchaco:

After 4 hours of desert-like roads, arrive at the Emtrafesa Terminal in Trujillo, and follow the exit signs.

NOTE: There is an ATM in the bus terminal, near the information desk. Use the BCP ATM to avoid additional fees.

Take a right as you leave the bus station, until you reach the traffic lights (there will be stalls all along this road).

From the traffic lights, take yet another right towards the bottom of that road. Wait here.

Busses and minivans with Huanchaco displayed along the front windscreen will pass by here for 1.70soles (€0.40).

If in doubt, ask a local as ALL Peruvians are so friendly and helpful. No exaggeration, we’ve yet to meet one who didn’t give us their time.

Enjoy the coastal ride to Huanchaco and get ready for a few fun-filled days at this beautiful beachside town. You can always jump the same bus back to Trujillo to explore the city, but basing yourself in Huanchaco is the best idea.

Have fun guys!



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