From Cali to Quito by Bus

Ipiales, on the way from Cali to Quito

When I am travelling, backpackers sometimes ask me for advice. Often they are not only interested in the different destinations, but also in how to get from one place to another. I therefore try to include some guides when writing about my travel experiences. Here for example, you find out how to get from Cali to Quito by bus.


On the way to Ecuador, we stopped in Cali. This was not just out of convenience, but because Cali is called the Salsa capital of the world. Everything in this not very beautiful and dangerous city revolves around dancing Salsa. It is the main attraction and pretty much the only reason to stop there. We spent the days at the hostel El Viajero Cali, where you can take private or group Salsa lessons. In the evening, the people working at the hostel take the guests to the hottest Salsa clubs of the city. Wow! What dancers! Of course you can practice what you learned during the day but it is also fun to just watch the locals. It is like being at a dance show, simply spectacular.

The soccer cup final DIM – Cali also took place in Cali during our stay. We watched it in a bar because it was unsafe on the streets. Cali won and the celebrations left three people dead, nine wounded by gunshots as well as many wounded by car accidents or stabbings. Cali is neither the safest nor the prettiest city of Colombia. Nevertheless, you end up loving it.

From Cali to Quito by bus

From Cali we took a bus to Ipiales, where the border to Ecuador is. This bus ride took the whole day and by the time we arrived at the bus terminal, it was dark. Luckily the Metropol hotel is located only a few meters away. Even though the hotel is very cold and basic, I would recommend it. As a general rule, I always try to book an accommodation as close as possible from where I arrive if it is dark. And Ipiales is not the kind of city where you want to drive or walk around at night looking for a place to stay. The Metropol hotel served its purpose and was cheap with 8 dollars for a double room. There is a special sanctuary in Ipiales, Las Lajas, and it is really worth it to stop there on the journey from Cali to Quito. It is best to take a taxi and you can either look at it from the main street or walk down to get a closer look.

The border crossing was smooth and quick and we only encountered a problem when changing money and the calculator was manipulated. Thanks to the iPhone we were able to double check the numbers.

Once you reach the Ecuadorian side, there are different busses that take you to Quito. As always we chose the one with the loudest and most pushy busboy. This is a tactic that has worked well for us as it is usually the bus that leaves the soonest. In this case, it was not the ideal choice, because the bus stopped a lot and it took us seven hours to reach Quito. Nevertheless, I enjoy these kinds of bus rides, where you travel like the locals and get to be part of their everyday life for a short while.

We lived in Ecuador for three years in the eighties and it was special for us to go back after almost 30 years. We had heard many stories from our parents and were eager to travel back in time and see how this country really is.

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