Boliva Pt I: Puno to La Paz via Copacabana

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Peruvia-Bolivian border at Copacabana

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.

Paying the departure tax (1 PEN each)

We were only allowed into the boarding area after showing both our tickets and the departure tax receipts.

Huayruro Tours

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.

On-board the bus

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.

Peruvian immigration

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.

Bolivia lies beyond the arch

It appeared that there was some ceremony and student bands from both sides were performing between the two countries.

Peru

No idea what the ceremony was about

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.

Following the sign

Initially there was only one official on duty which meant that a long queue had formed up.

Long queue

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.

Still queuing

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.

Another 8km to Copacabana

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.

The bus to La Paz

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).

Cafe in Copacabana

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.

Copacabana

Andes in the background

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.

Vehicles ahead of us

Our bus loaded up

Going across

Our ferry

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.

All the way from Colorado

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.

With Andes in the background

Entrance to a military camp

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.

Street art in El Alto

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.

El Alto

El Alto

Strangely the traffic jams disappeared after we went up the expressway to La Paz.

Going down to La Paz

Evo welcoming us

Our bus would drop us at Hotel Sagarnaga, located where most of the guesthouses and hotels are.

Hotel Sagarnaga

However, our accommodation was some way away but luckily a kind staff from Hotel Sagarnaga helped us get a taxi there for 15 BOB.

Central La Paz – quite different from El Alto

Central La Paz

Map of our journey:-

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2 Comments

  1. Hey there! Great post!

    How was your experience with Hotel Sagarnaga? My boyfriend and I are planning to stay there for 2 nights. Cheers.

    • Hi Alexis, thanks for reading. We didn’t stay at Hotel Sagarnaga so we couldn’t comment on the rooms’ quality. Location-wise it’s where most tourists stay so all the amenities are nearby.

      We stayed at an Airbnb instead and you can check out its review in the next post.

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