Border crossing: from Peru to Bolivia
Border crossing: from Peru to Bolivia
If you travelled to Peru on a tourist visa, there is a good chance that you will want to stay in Peru longer than your initial visa permits. Perhaps to visit more of the country, to volunteer in Peru, or study Spanish in Peru. An easy way to extend your visa is by crossing the border with Bolivia, and thankfully the process is fairly simple! In fact, the most difficult part of the journey is the journey itself – the lengthy overnight bus ride!
What to expect at the Bolivian border
I took a weeklong Bolivia trip from Cusco recently, and I was lucky enough to do some traveling in the beautiful Bolivia before returning to Peru and updating my tourist visa – but you can do this as a quick turnaround as well if you wish. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the frontera, as I had never done a land crossing in South America, but even with no expectations I was still surprised at the simplicity. My friend and I took an overnight bus to Puno from Cusco, arriving in time to see the sun rise over Lake Titicaca, and then hopped the earliest bus to Copacabana. (Later we discovered that we could have taken a direct bus, but alas…the sunrise was lovely 🙂 We considered the InkaExpress tourist bus, a daytime bus from Cusco to Puno that stops at several cool tourist spots along the way –but decided against it to save time.
We entered Bolivia at a crossing called Kasani, and when we pulled up, we were told we could leave everything on the bus with the exception of course of our passports. This was unexpected as I had never in my life entered a country without having my luggage at least glanced at! We grabbed our passports and our valuables, and walked out of Peru and into Bolivia. I am sure that the Customs agents wouldn´t have even looked twice at us if we hadn´t held American passports. US citizens are required to purchase a Visa to enter Bolivia (Europeans and Canadians are not — lucky!) – a steep fee of $135US, which adds to your travel budget, but I learned that once you purchase the visa it is good for 5 years, for up to 90 days per year in the country. We received our visa and stamp, returned to the bus and voila… we were easily and legally on Bolivian soil. If you decide to spend a day in Copacabana, be sure to climb up the Cerro El Calvario, the steep hill overlooking the town and the lake –for some spectacular views! If you choose to continue on to La Paz, you can get a bus almost any time of the day for the very scenic 3.5 hour drive. If you prefer to be a little more comfortable and take a tourist bus, this too is possible but check the times – they depart only a few times per day.
The Best Tips
Crossing the border is simple process overall — but here are a few tips anyway. To save a bit of time, if you´re an American, bring a copy of your passport with you – you need it for your Visa. If you forget, you can make a copy in a small store right there, so it is really not big deal. Also, bring US dollars to pay for your Visa, as I was told that they won´t accept Bolivianos, oddly enough. And lastly, hold on to your Immigration card, you`ll need it to leave the country. There is a fine of 300 Bolivianos, I know this because I lost mine! Luckily the nice man waived the fee, perhaps because I only had 6 Bolivianos to my name at that point, but it´s not worth the hassle either way. Also, one last thing, if you stay longer than your visa allows, you will be fined on your departure from Peru. It should be about $1 per day, but check in advance because the fines are known to change without warning! And enjoy your trip to Bolivia and your trip to Peru!
If you are interested in a spending your holidays in Peru, please don’t hesitate to contact our Trip Counselors for tours in Peru and individual travel arrangments.