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Is it just me, or does this Peru to Bolivia by bus title sound vaguely like it could be a chapter in The Hobbit? Maybe I’m super out of the pop culture loop right now, but I definitely feel like it could be. Anyway.
While Bolivia featured on my preliminary South America itinerary (which was ridiculously crammed and definitely not at all feasible), I decided that I’d instead be spending the month of January in Peru and then flying down to Chile for a semi-self-imposed writing retreat of sorts (a.k.a. I wanted to lounge around and work on my craft rather than hop from town to town for a while).
However, given that I was still planning on visiting the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca anyway, combined with the fact that neither me nor my boyfriend needed to pay for an expensive Bolivian visa (sorry, estadounidenses), I decided to pencil in a long weekend over on Bolivia’s four tenths of the largest lake in South America. This was…a mistake. But that’s a story for another post and, after all, I know the real reason you’ve ambled onto this piece—you want to know how to get from Peru to Bolivia by land! So, here’s exactly how to cross from Peru to Bolivia by bus (taking the Puno to Copacabana border crossing route, of course).
PERU TO BOLIVIA BY BUS
As with my Colombia-Ecuador border crossing post, I know that the information I’m providing here is not especially revolutionary, but hopefully you find it useful either way!
GET TO PUNO, PERU
Puno is the jumping-off point for most travellers wanting to visit the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. We gave it a miss, but travelling through was still required to get to Copacabana, Bolivia. Super well connected, we arrived from Cusco on an overnight bus at around 5am and immediately headed to the Trans Titicaca company stand, which you’ll spot easily given the swarm of backpack wielding travellers crowded round it.
Tickets cost us 20 soles per person, one-way and we set out at roughly 7am (despite them trying to bump us to the next bus because they’d messed up their ticket list).
CROSS THE PERUVIAN-BOLIVIAN BORDER
When travelling with bus companies that take you direct from Puno to Copacabana, the border crossing is all very straightforward. You’ll be provided with the relevant migration forms to fill out on the bus journey (which takes around three hours) and then all you have to do is present them at Peruvian migration before walking over the hill (and taking in the pretty picturesque surroundings) and getting in line for Bolivian migration. Make sure you stand in regimented single file at Bolivian migration to avoid provoking the unbridled annoyance of the security guard on shift.
At each office, you’ll have your passport stamped. Remember, there’s no fee to enter or exit either Peru or Bolivia.
GET TO COPACABANA, BOLIVIA
Once you’re all stamped and ready to go, hop back on the bus and in an hour or so you’ll be arriving in Copacabana. At the time we went (perhaps this doesn’t apply all year round), the clocks in Bolivia were one hour ahead of the time in Peru, so make sure you keep that in mind too.
BOLIVIA TO PERU BY BUS
The return journey is much the same, with buses leaving from Copacabana at either 8am or 9am, and then in the afternoon at roughly 4pm (please check this information though, as I’m sure this sort of thing changes on the reg). We were lucky to snag seats on a 9am bus heading to Puno at the last minute, but I’d strongly recommend buying ahead of time. Prices are also cheaper on the way back, costing just 30 bolivianos per person!
As with the Puno to Copacabana journey, you’ll be ushered across the border by the conductor of the bus and arrive in Puno roughly three or four hours later. Remember that you might need to turn your watches back an hour when you arrive though!
Anyway, it’s that simple to get from Peru to Bolivia by bus (and back again!). Is there anything missing from this guide or do my prices need updating? Let me know in the comments!