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After yet another sumptuous breakfast at our hotel, we grabbed a taxi (5 PEN) to the bus station for our 7.30am departure to La Paz. The hotel staff had arranged the bus ticket for us at a reasonable price of 30 PEN per person; the later departure at 2.30pm would cost 35 PEN.
We were only allowed into the boarding area after showing both our tickets and the departure tax receipts.
However boarding didn’t commence immediately and we had to wait in the cold. It seemed that most of our fellow passengers were tourists like us.
The bus took over two hours to reach Yunguyo, one of the two Peruvian border towns with Bolivia. At the border, we were asked to disembark with our bags at the Peruvian side and get stamped out of Peru.
There were two buildings; we needed to queue up at one to get our passport scanned first in the right building before we could go to the actual immigration building to get stamped out.
After getting stamped out, we would make our way across the no man’s land to Bolivia.
Except that the no man’s land was full of people that day.
It appeared that there was some ceremony and student bands from both sides were performing between the two countries.
We didn’t linger on and found our way to the Bolivian immigration. Crossing the border also meant that we set our clock one hour forward, making us exactly 12 hours behind Singapore.
Initially there was only one official on duty which meant that a long queue had formed up.
Singaporeans need to pay 55 USD for the Bolivian visa-on-arrival and there was a separate counter that we had to go to. On hindsight, we should have gotten our visa before joining the queue for immigration.
There was a moneychanger to the right of the immigration building and I exchanged my remaining Peruvian soles for Bolivian Bolivianos (99.4 BOB for 41.2 PEN).
The total process of crossing the border took us over an hour and we were glad to go back to the bus.
Just before entering Copacabana, someone came up to collect an ‘entrance fee’ of 1 BOB. We were dropped outside a travel agency Diana Tour and were informed that the bus to La Paz would depart around an hour later.
Instead of exploring the town, we were happy enough to grab some lunch at a cafe instead. A burger and a bottle of Coca Cola set us back around 40 BOB (around 8 SGD).
At 1.30pm Bolivian time we were back on our way to La Paz. The Bolivian bus wasn’t as nice as the Peruvian one but still was decent enough. It was quite a scenic drive along Lake Titicaca.
Around 40 minutes later, the bus came to a halt again. There wasn’t a bridge between the two sides of the Strait of Tiquina and vehicles would need to take a raft across. Us the passengers had to disembark and took a separate ferry across for 2 BOB.
Although we departed later, the passengers would arrive at the other side earlier. We took the opportunity to visit the bathroom (1 BOB) and we spotted an interesting vehicle after that.
We had a short chat with the girl who was in the vehicle; the owners were Americans who were on their way to Brazil for the World Cup. They had set off in February and being football (soccer) coaches, they gave clinics to children along the way. Pretty interesting way to go to the World Cup.
The scenery after Tiquina was similar to Peruvian altiplano.
It was a smooth journey until we reached El Alto where our bus got snarled into a really bad traffic jam. I suspected that many people were returning from the weekend trip on a Sunday.
It took us more than an hour to get through the traffic and what I saw in El Alto along the way didn’t impress me. It was dusty and generally lacked charm.
Strangely the traffic jams disappeared after we went up the expressway to La Paz.
Our bus would drop us at Hotel Sagarnaga, located where most of the guesthouses and hotels are.
However, our accommodation was some way away but luckily a kind staff from Hotel Sagarnaga helped us get a taxi there for 15 BOB.
Map of our journey:-