One thing that I’m not fond of when travelling is overland border crossings. They always seem to be a bit stressful, sometimes time consuming and often frustrating, especially the ones in Latin America. After our last Latin America border crossing experience from Ecuador to Colombia which took over two hours, we didn’t know what to expect from the border crossing between Peru and Bolivia.
Most people cross the border overland between those two countries to experience Lake Titicaca from both sides. You can catch a bus from Puno to the border and then switch buses when you reach the other side. Or like us, you can choose to travel with Peru/Bolivia Hop which makes it even easier!
We chose to travel with Peru Hop while in Peru and opted for their Lima to La Paz hop-on-hop-off itinerary. This itinerary includes visiting both sides of Lake Titicaca and they also help you cross the border between the two countries. In contrast to our previous experience, we found this border crossing to be a breeze. In fact, it took us less than thirty minutes all up!
Here are the details of what was one of the easiest border crossings we’ve done to date:
Our Pickup in Puno
Puno is Peru Hop’s last stop in Peru. Most people visit Puno for a chance to see the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca and the famous floating Uros Islands. We took a two-day tour of the Peruvian Lake Titicaca islands which included a homestay with a local family on Amantani Island. Some people take a two-hour tour, others a full day. The choice is yours.
On the morning of our departure, we were picked up from our hotel, Suite Independencia, which was a Peru Hop pick up point. We were told to be ready for a pickup between 8 am and 8.30 am. At 8.20 am, a small minivan arrived to collect us. We were driven down to the port area where a larger Bolivia Hop bus was waiting for us. After our luggage was loaded, we found a seat and off the bus went!
Accommodation in Puno
You can use HotelsCombined to find your accommodation in Puno, searching across all major accommodation websites. We use it all the time.
Off to the border
The bus ride from Puno to the border took just over two hours. Along the way, we were treated to some lovely views of Lake Titicaca which made the time pass much faster.
I enjoyed watching the scenery go by, seeing the workers working in the fields and the Alpacas and Sheep munching grass along the side of the road. Peru’s varying landscapes continue to amaze me. It was sad that our five weeks in Peru were already over but we were excited to be on our way to explore yet another country.
During the journey, our Bolivia Hop guide Renzo explained to us the border crossing process. From what he told us, it didn’t seem that difficult but I still had some niggling worries. When it comes to border crossings, you never know what to expect!
Arriving at the border, the bus stopped right next to a red building. This building, Renzo explained, happened to be a reputable money exchange place where, if we needed to, we could change money into Bolivianos. We hopped off the bus and picked up all our luggage.
Simon and I changed our last Peruvian Sols into Bolivianos. The money exchange place also offered free toilets “Banos” for their customers which we took advantage of before hopping on the next bus.
The Bolivia Hop buses are smaller than the Peru Hop ones and do not have bathrooms inside. After exchanging our money and using the “Banos”, it was a quick, one minute walk to the Peruvian Immigration Office to get our exit stamp. The queue there was quite short and we were finished very quickly (which was such a difference from Ecuador). It only took about five minutes until an immigration officer gave us our exit stamp. Goodbye Peru!
On to Bolivia
Once we were done with the Peruvian side, our guide showed us the way to the Bolivian Immigration Office. Their office was only a short, five-minute walk through an archway. We said goodbye to Renzo. Another guide would be waiting for us on the Bolivian side.
After our short walk, we found the Bolivian Immigration Office and parked in front of it was our Bolivia Hop bus which was waiting for us. Our new guide Erwin told us to leave our heavy backpacks with him while we went to queue for our entry stamp. This made things so much easier.
In Bolivia, the queue was also quite short and it didn’t take long at all. A quick stamp and off we went again.
Once again, after loading our luggage on board the new bus, it was time to head to Copacabana, our first stop in Bolivia.
Please note: We are both Australian citizens and did not require any visa to enter Bolivia. However, this is not the case for every country, so double check your visa requirements before heading to the border. There are no ATMs at the border, only money exchangers. So, if you need money to pay for a visa, make sure you have it with you on the bus. Also, make sure you have the exact amount as they are unlikely going to have change.
Another fifteen minutes later, we arrived in Copacabana, where we hopped off for the night to enjoy the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. Copacabana was a nice little town and we strongly recommend spending at least a night there, perhaps two.
Accommodation in Copacabana
You can use HotelsCombined to find your accommodation in Copacabana using the search box below.
The Easiest border crossing!
This border crossing could not have been any easier! We were so relieved to have had no issues at all and were looking forward to exploring yet another country! If you are planning a trip to Peru and Bolivia and will be crossing the border overland, we highly recommend using Peru/Bolivia Hop.