Peru Visa for Indians

As most of you know, I hold an Indian Passport and I am realising how much of an issue it can be while traveling. Peru has been a must visit destination for us since we started planning the trip. But turns out, we will have to skip the Land of Macchi Pichu for another trip. We tried many options for Peru Visa but everything failed.

Visa Application in Delhi

If you are following our blog, you know about our Delhi application incident. In summary, we applied ‘too early’ for Peru Visa! If we had known we would have altered our itinerary for a visa.

Emailing Consulates

While we were in Gujarat for about a month, spending time with my parents, Manish wrote to almost all the Consulates and Vise Consulates in countries we were visitng, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile regarding Peru Visa application. Unfortunately the response rate was under 10% and always negative.

Attempts in Colombia

We had planned on applying for Peru Visa in Bogota. We had our papers ready with the plan of visiting Peru Consulate as first thing on Friday morning. As it happened, our flight from Fairbanks, Alaska was delayed and we arrived in Bogota almost 24 hours late. We missed our opportunity there.

We were still not dishearted as we thought we could attempt again in Medellin. We got to Medellin on a weekend and on Monday morning heading to Peru Consulate. Guess what happens there – the Consulate closed down on Friday and all applications would have to go to Bogota office!

We were definitely bummed about that but after discussing our options and doing more research, we realised we could fly to Leticia, small town in Colombia Amazon that shares the border with Peru and Brazil. This would be a great opportunity to see the Amazon River and cross over to Peru.

So when we got to Guatape, we decided to contact the Consulate in Leticia to check if they would accept my Peru Visa application. We had to be sure that they will at least consider our application before we decided to fly to Leticia. Cost is always a consideration as we are budget traveling. We emailed and Facebook messaged them but received no response. Ultimately we decided to call and we were told that the Consular is on a month long holiday. After trying to clarify if we can still apply or not, we did not get definite answer. Dead end again!

From Guatape we tried calling the Consulate in Bogota to check our options but our calls were not answered. Another closed door. So we decided to head to Ecuador and try.

Attempt in Ecuador

We had our papers ready for visa application in Quito. On our first working day in Quito, we headed to the Peru Consulate. The entry is like an interrogation room – one way glass, one way mirror. After the security let us in, we headed to the office. There a woman greeted us. We put forward our papers and waited for her response.

Within 2 mins of looking at my passport and the cover letter, she asked, “Do you have Ecuador Residency?”. We said no and she quickly responded that my application will not be accepted. We explained we have the documents and we tried in Delhi but she shut us down. She got a call and left us hanging at the window.

A gentleman appeared after some time and attended us. We showed him my papers and even he rejected us. We started explaining our situation to him, at least he agreed to hear us out, but said he cannot do anything about it.

Completely dishearted we left the Consulate. We were not sure of what to do next. We discussed all our options over and over again but couldn’t conclude on anything. We stayed in the hostel most of the day, talking, planning and deciding next steps.

What Next?

Look out for our next post about change of itinerary – one thing is almost certain, No Peru happening this trip. Maybe I’ll have to wait for my Australian Passport before visiting this part of the world again.

Colombia to Ecuador Land Crossing

Our trip in Colombia finally came to an end in Salento. The rest of the way involved heading South, sleeping in small towns and doing the Colombia to Ecuador land crossing. In all, this leg was an adventure upon itself.

First Stop – Popayan

We left Salento at 11am to arrive in Armenia, the nearest city and take a bus to Popayan. We reached Popayan at 7pm without any issues and the bus cost was 44,500 pesos (about USD 14.60) per person. Our hotel, Hotel Alcala was a stone’s throwaway from Popayan’s colonial white city. The cab ride from the terminal was about 10 mins.

Popayan, Colombia

To be honest, we knew little about the city and only used it as a stopover. However, the centre of the city, the white colonial buildings were beautiful. There are plenty of churches around as well. Though we never spent much time there, the city had amazing food and was unique due to its colour and architecture. There are some good day trips in the area as well.

Popayan, Colombia

First Bus Blues

We called up various bus companies to find out what time was the first bus to Ipiales. One company told us the earliest at 5:30am. When we got to the terminal at 5:00am, the bus company failed to recognize any such bus.

Another group of travelers talked to another company and they were quoted 30,000 pesos (USD 10) per person for a bus that may arrive between 5:30am and 6am. We opted for the safer option of using a bigger company with a confirmed bus at 6:30am for 35,000 pesos (USD 12) per person. As it turned out, we were shoved in the same bus but I managed to recovered our 10,000 pesos after protesting. The ride was crazy as we went through several high mountains, foggy roads and tunnels. It was also some of the most beautiful bus rides in Colombia.

Pit Stop – Ipiales

We arrived at Ipiales at 3pm. There is not much there except the most beautiful church, Las Lojas Sanctuary Church. Virgin de Las Lojas is popular in Colombia, Ecuador and many other parts of the world for helping people in need. We thought of doing a quick trip to the church before crossing the border.

There are collectivos from the bus terminal that drive people for 2500 pesos (less than USD 1) to the sanctuary. Upon getting there we left our backpacks at a shop for 2000 pesos each as we had to walk down to the valley.

The church is incredibly beautiful. Not only is it built on a ravine between two mountains, the glasses, the bricks and the architecture of the church is remarkable. We saw lots of churches and cathedrals in Colombia and this was by far the prettiest. A must do in Colombia!

Las Lojas Sanctuary Church, Ipiales, Colombia

We took another collectivo back to the terminal for same price. Now, we were ready to cross the border.

At the border

We changed our leftover Colombian money into USD, yes USD is used in Ecuador, at the bus terminal itself. We then hopped into a collectivo from the terminal to the border along with our locals.

Unfortunately, the driver never asked and we never told him that we needed an exit stamp from Colombia. He drove across the border and rest of the locals hopped into another collectivo. Clearly they didn’t need any stamps! We had to walk back over the bridge to the Colombian side and get an exit stamp. A great waste of time.

Tip: The border is open and it is very easy to make this mistake. Remember to get your exit stamp before going to Ecuador immigration. Get off the taxi before the bridge.

Entering Ecuador

Due to the confusion about the immigration, the long queue and Shruti’s Indian Passport took us around an hour to get the entry stamp for Ecuador. While we knew that Indians get Visa On Arrival for Ecuador, the officee in charge took longer than usual around 15 minutes. As a comparison, it took me less than 5 minutes.

We took a collectivo to Tulcan Terminal from Ecuador border for 75 cents each. The ride took about 15 minutes. While the border is open, many tourists visit Ecuador from Colombia making it busy. Please allow enough time to cross.

Tulcan to Otavalo

We took a bus as soon as we arrived in Tulcan at 7pm. The bus ticket was USD 3.50 per person. Our hostel had a check in till 10pm and we emailed them to not lock us out. The bus started at 7pm and it usually takes 3 hours to Otavalo. We thought we will get there just in time.

Unfortunately, the Ecuador police work opposite to Colombia. The bus was stopped twice, once closer to the terminal and second somewhere half way. The first police check involved going through our bags thoughroughly, every zip, every pocket. They made Australian customs look like amateurs. Strangely though, only we were checked. In Colombia, before the bus left the terminal, police officers would check IDs of most locals.

This of course delayed us and we didn’t get to Otavalo until 11pm. Luckily, the hostel received our email and a guy checked us in. Phew!

Long Day

In total, it took us 18.5 hours from Popayan, Colombia to Otavalo, Ecuador. Around an hour of that time in Colombia and at the border was avoidable. We are sure there are better ways of doing the land crossing and below is our suggestion so you do not exert yourself as we did.

Recommended Way for Colombia to Ecuador Land Crossing

We realized later that staying 2 nights in Popayan was a mistake. The highlights of Popayan can be done in couple of hours during the day.

Pasto should have been our second stopover. Ipiales is only 2 hours away from Pasto making the journey to Otavalo 5.5 hours and Quito 7.5 hours. Much better way for bus rides!

Summary

We practically crossed the border in two days.

Day 1 – Arrive at Popayan with plan to spend night there.

Day 2 – Leave at 5am in morning from Popayan and get to Otavalo by 11pm. Long day!

We recommend spanning the journey to three days if you have the time.

Day 1 – Arrive at Popayan with plan to spend night there.

Day 2 – Explore Popayan in the morning and catch bus to Pasto around 1pm. Spend the night in Pasto.

Day 3 – Leave from Pasto in the morning towards Ipiales. Spend 2 hours at Ipiales visiting the Sanctuary. Then cross border to Ecuador. You are likely to arrive in the evening at Otavalo or Quito, without exerti g yourself.

Traveling in Colombia

We initially planned on spending 25 days in Colombia, but ended up staying in this beautiful country for over 40 days. We fell in love with Colombia – the place, the people and the culture. Traveling in Colombia was really fun.

There are plenty of things to do in Colombia and every part is pretty in its own way. During our time here we visited popular cities, touristy towns, National Park, sleepy villages and did lots of hikes. Here is a map that shows all the places we visited while traveling in Colombia.

Against popular brief, Colombia is a very safe place to be. Apart from the lanes in Bogota, we did not feel unsafe in any other part of the country. There are police officers, and sometimes even army men, at almost every second block.

Colombians are very friendly people. They are always wanting to chat. Unfortunately, Shruti couldn’t say much in espanol, except Ola and Gracias! Most of her conversations start confidently and eventually died out because not everyone is good in charades.

Colombia has some of the most exotic fruits. We were surprised to know that lot of these fruits do not even have English names! Red beans and rice is staple diet along with plenty of fried food. And, lot of cheese.

Videos of Traveling in Colombia

Here are two videos we edited during our travel in Colombia. We have tried to keep the best parts. Hope you like it.

Btw, the songs used in the videos is the typical beat you would hear in Colombia.

List of Posts:

3 Days in Bogota

Taganga & Santa Marta

A Day in Minca

Tayrona National Park

2 Days in Cartagena

Sleepy Town Mompos

Medellin – Slums and Things to do

Guatape – Beautiful Town

Cocora Valley

Salento – A Beautiful Small Town

Drinks in Colombia

Colombia Photo Gallery

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