Crossing borders: Peru to Bolivia by bus

After 51 days in Peru, I have yet to explore another neighboring country called Bolivia. I wasn’t expecting anything but only thinking of the cheap lifestyle ahead — the cheapest in South America ever.

This time, I am traveling with friends.

I met these beautiful friends of mine when I started volunteering in Paracas two months ago. Now, we are all traveling together and exploring our options in Bolivia.

A few weeks ago, they surprised me by going to Cusco from Lima saying they are also going to Bolivia with me. At first, it was too good to be true.

I never had real travel companions for a year but when we bought the ticket a day before, that’s when everything made sense.

Our bus departed for Cusco at 22:00 and to be honest, to be really really honest. We slept all the way. Compared to the other borders, Peru to Bolivia by bus is the easiest and the shortest. You just have to take one bus and it goes straight to La Paz. You can also request to be dropped off to Copacabana if it’s a part of your itinerary. The main bus station in Cusco has buses in La Paz operating every day.

We arrived at the border at 7:00 in the morning. The usual, we had to get our exit stamps from the immigration of Peru. Some of us had to take more time because they have to pay for their overstay. Yes, my friends are crazy like that. We were all addicted to Peru! However, my Filipino passport has 168 days free in Peru so I didn’t have to pay for anything.

Note: Overstaying in Peru will cost you $1/day. Given that you have overstayed, when you come back, they will only give you a 30-day valid visa instead of 90.

After getting our exit stamps in Peru, we went back to the bus knowing that we’re crossing with it but then, the driver started speaking gibberish Spanish and none of us understood a thing. Look, all of us are fluent and we are with 2 native speakers (Peruvians) but not one of us gets it! One of our friends from England started to panic and said, “If none of you understood, we are definitely doomed. We’re not even in La Paz yet.” When my friend and I went closer to the driver, we finally understood that he wants us to get our entry stamp for Bolivia by foot. So we crossed the bridge of what seemed like another dimension. It wasn’t a long walk but there were no signs or even arrows to direct you where to go. We just followed the people and asked around. Totally disorganized system.

We were in line for almost 2 hours. The entry and exit stamp lines are the same so it took a long time. We were also the last ones who board the bus. Oh God, things are too slow when you are traveling with friends. There were more food hunting, cigarette breaks and chatting, to be honest. The driver looked agitated when we all boarded.

From the border, it was only 3 hours to La Paz and still, we slept. One of our friends didn’t and said he saw the best view(s) of Bolivia. Why do I love sleeping so much? I’ve been traveling by land since Colombia and I feel like every time I board a bus, my brain is programmed to sleep. I led the group to find the hostel where our friend is working (where we’re about to work too).

Being used to 30-hour bus rides, this trip didn’t take any energy from me at all (yes, I was sleeping the whole time, fine). The most special part of crossing this border is that I did it with friends and I will never ever forget this experience. Ever.

Bolivia, we are ready for you! Bring it on!

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