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From La Paz to Cusco by Bus

Updated: 28 May 2019

The trip by bus from La Paz to Cusco is one of the most popular among tourists from all over the world who come to Latin America, especially in he months between June and August. There are many ways to make the trip; you can take a direct bus between the two cities, or stop in Copacabana (Bolivia) and/or Puno (Peru), which are popular tourist destinations on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

machu-picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru

A direct bus takes about 14 hours, depending on the bus company and the time of departure, while the trip with stopovers can vary according to the traveler’s needs.

We know that planning such a long a trip by land can be overwhelming, so we have put together all the information you might need in order to plan and enjoy your trip to the fullest. After all, the trip itself is just as important as the destination!

Several companies offer a service from La Paz to Cusco by bus. There are two possible routes: the one that crosses the border in Desaguadero for migration, and the one that goes through Copacabana, crossing the border in Yunguyo or Kasani. All buses to Cusco from La Paz briefly stop in Puno. You can also travel in a touristic bus such a Bolivia Hop which does this journey allowing travelers to hop-on and hop-off in different locations. See here their different passes and options.

1. Direct trip from La Paz to Cusco

The buses leave from the main bus terminal in La Paz, located on Peru Avenue. Here is the address of the bus terminal:

Before you board the bus, you need to pay a small fee charged by the bus terminal, which costs 2.5 bolivianos per passenger. Look at the table below to see which companies provide this service and all the necessary information.

The migration paperwork at the Desaguadero migration center is simple: you just need to show your ID/Passport at the migration office, and depending on your nationality there might be additional documents you may need to present. To learn about Bolivia’s entry requirements, check our blog post.

La Paz teleferico
La Paz, Bolivia

Direct buses from La Paz to Cusco  

Bus company Seat class Time of departure  Time of arrival  Price in US$ Extra info
Nuevo Continente Internacional Lie flat 7:30 21:30 $21.90 Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero
Trans Titicaca Normal bus 16:00 6:00 (+1 day) $27.94 Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero
Trans Salvador Lie flat 3 rows 16:30 5:00 (+1 day) $24.09 Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero
Tour Peru Lie flat 16:30 5:30 (+1 day) $27.74 Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero

2. Trips with stopover

For a longer trip, but with nice rests stops along the way, and one that allows you to enjoy the tourist attractions of Copacabana, you can first travel from La Paz to Copacabana, and from there to Cusco. The buses also leave from the La Paz bus terminal (see map above) at 07:00, 07:30, and 13:30 in normal buses, which have seats that recline to 120 degrees. The bus company Turisbus offers a tourist service, with minibus picking passengers at their hotels and offering a more personalized experience.

We recommend booking your journey from La Paz to Copacabana in an established bus company such as Turisbus, Diana Tours, Vicuna Travel, Trans Titicaca, instead of the more informal minibuses and buses which leave from the general cemetery as these are loosely regulated and stories of drivers falling asleep while driving have been reported. These have no fixed schedule and leave when they fill up and price is about the same as the buses from the main terminal (20-25 bolivianos).

For these reasons, if the option is available, book ahead your trip to Copacabana with a recommended bus company.

The cost of the tickets between La Paz and Copacabana starts at 25 bolivianos (us$3.65), depending on the time of departure and the bus company. The trip lasts around 4 hours and has to go across through the Tiquina Strait, where passengers must get off the bus and cross in boats (the boat trip lasts around 15 minutes and the cost of 2 bolivianos is not covered int he price of the ticket).

Being a small town, Copacabana does not have a bus terminal. The bus stops in Plaza Sucre, in the center of town. It is here that buses arrive to and depart from. It is located here.

From Copacabana to Cusco

Copacabana is a small town with colonial architecture and many cultural and natural tourist attractions. At the shores of the sacred Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, Copacabana offers boat trips, the best trout in the region in its restaurants on the shore, and tours to the Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna.

copa
Copacabana, Bolivia. Photo: worldynomads.com

After a stay in Copacabana, the traveler can continue the trip to Cusco. Please check the table below to see which companies travel from Copacabana to Cusco and all the relevant information. 

Direct trips from Copacabana to Cusco

Bus company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival Price in US$ Extra info
Huayruro Tours Semi-lie flat 18:00 5:30 (+1 day) $16.06 50 minute stop in Puno. Migration in Kasani
Huayruro Tours Lie flat 18:00 5:30 (+1 day) $21.90 50 minute stop in Puno. Migration in Kasani
Trans Titicaca Semi-lie flat 18:30 4:30 (+1 day) $21.90 Direct service. Migration in Kasani

However you have planned your trip, nothing compares to the moment you finally reach your destination: the city of Cusco. All the buses arrive at the Bus Terminal of Cusco, located on Av. Vía de Evitamiento #429. Here is the map.

We hope the information has been useful and that you have a wonderful trip through the lands of the Incas.

To purchase tickets online, visit our site: www.ticketsbolivia.com

 

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Everything you need to know to plan your trip to Uyuni from La Paz

Updated: 4 June 2019

If you’re traveling through Latin America, you surely do not want to miss these two destinations: Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat on Earth, an otherworldly landscape; on the other hand, La Paz is the highest capital in the world, recently named one of the 7 Wonder cities of the world due to its unusual topography and rich cultural life.

There are 3 ways to travel from La Paz to Uyuni:

  1. Making a direct trip by bus.
  2. Going by bus from La Paz to Oruro and then from Oruro to Uyuni by train.
  3. By plane (direct flight).
View of La Paz
View of La Paz

Direct bus from La Paz to Uyuni

There are many bus companies that make the direct trip from La Paz to Uyuni. Tickets Bolivia works with Panasur, Trans Omar, Cruz del Norte and Trans Titicaca, all trustworthy and reliable companies that offer clients good quality services. Their schedules are the following:

Company Bus class Route Time of departure and arrival Prices in US Dollars
Trans Omar Semi lie-flat/Lie-flat 3 rows Direct service 20:00/6:00 (+1 day( $14.60/21.90
Panasur Lie-flat Direct service 20:00/6:00 (+1 day) $14.60/21.90
Cruz del Norte Semi lie-flat/Lie-flat Direct service 20:30/6:30 (+1 day) $14.60/21.90
Trans Titicaca Lie flat Direct service 22:00/7:00 (+1 day) $29.93

All the buses leave from the main bus terminal of La Paz, located between Avenida Peru and Avenida Uruguay. This is the map: https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_la_paz.php

Uyuni has no proper bus terminal, but it has a street where buses depart from and arrive at. Here is the map and street address: https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_uyuni.php

Tips:

  • These companies don’t offer food or refreshment during the trip. Sometimes they will take sellers on board offering drinks or food, this is a common custom for buses in Bolivia. Sometimes they will also stop to pick passengers or packages along the way.
  • Buses should come with heating and blankets as the journey gets cold at night on the altiplano but it is better to always come prepared. It will also be very cold (whatever the time of year) when arriving in Uyuni at 5:30-6:00 so better have warm layers.

From La Paz to Uyuni by train (via Oruro)

With this option, passengers have to travel first from La Paz to Oruro by bus (the cost is around 5 US$) and then take the train to Uyuni. 

1- Buses depart from La Paz to Oruro every 30 minutes from the bus terminal of La Paz (see map above). The trip lasts around four hours and the buses arrive at the bus terminal of Oruro, located on Gregorio Reynolds Av. The cost of the bus should be about 30-35 bolivianos. Here is the map: https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_oruro.php

2 -Once you are in Oruro, you must take a taxi to the train station, located on Avenida Velasco Galvarro.

The trains that travel from Oruro to Uyuni are Wara Wara del Sur and Expreso del Sur, they are both owned by Ferroviaria Andina and people can choose between two different classes: 2nd class and Executive.

Wara Wara del Sur leaves on Wednesdays and Sundays at 19:00, arriving in Uyuni at 02:20 in the morning. Expreso del Sur leaves on Tuesdays and Fridays at 14:00, arriving in Uyuni at 21:20. 

This option allows the traveler to enjoy the trip by train and to travel during the day so to enjoy the views of the altiplano. It is a longer journey but it also allows passengers to rest the night before their tour. The trains also have a restaurant wagon where they can purchase drink and food during their journey. 

Daniel Kordan laguna colorada
Photo: Daniel Kordan. Laguna Colorada, Uyuni

Flying to Uyuni from La Paz

There are two Bolivian airlines doing this route with the following departure times:

  • BoA – Boliviana de Aviacion : 8:40
  • Amaszonas: 06:30, 09:50, 19:15, 20:30

The flight lasts about an hour and departure are in the mornings and the evenings. The prices start at about 95 US$ and up to 170 US$ for one way. Flying has the advantage of being the fastest option.

Uyuni, Train cemetery
Train cemetery, Uyuni – By Pedro Henrique Santos via Wikimedia Commons

 

What to do when you arrive in Uyuni

Buses arrive early in the morning so passengers have time to charge their phones, eat something and buy whatever is needed before the tour. Agencies open at around 7:00 and tours leave at around 10:00. Until then there are options of coffee shops with Wi-Fi and hot drinks/food.

Tours can be booked online, in La Paz or directly in Uyuni when arriving in the morning. When in Uyuni, from as early as 5:00, tour agents will come forward trying to sell you a tour.

If you haven’t booked a tour yet, there are over 100 tour agencies and it can be overwhelming to have to choose between all the choices. Here are some tips to help you choose which company to travel with in Uyuni:

  • But first, should you book your tour in advance? You can book your tour online or in La Paz or any travel agency in the country. If you want to have your trip planned and not worry about it, it is the best option. It is also recommended to book ahead if traveling in a large group. (Cars can carry up to 6 passengers – not including the driver). If you are travelling solo or with one other person, you can easily find space directly in Uyuni as agencies will be trying to fill their cars and bargain the prices due to the high competition.
  • Do some research about the tour agencies online, TripAdvisor is a reliable source of information as well as other traveler’s forums. When you have found some options go around and check for prices, tour descriptions and availability, compare the different operators before making a decision. If you are in Uyuni, tours will leave around 10:00 so there is plenty of time to choose. Don’t feel rushed to decide on the spot.
  • The average price for a 3-day tour with a Spanish-speaking driver is about 750-800 bolivianos (115 US$). It is not recommended to go for a cheaper option as this could mean unsafe travel conditions. If you are paying for a more expensive tour make sure to know what are the added extras (usually English-speaking driver and private rooms). Paying more could just mean slightly better food and a bottle of wine in the evening so make sure to know exactly what you are paying for and decide if it’s worth it.
  • You will need to have water, good sunglasses, a hat, warm clothing, a sleeping bag which can usually be rented with your tour agent.
  • Bring cash with you as ATMs don’t always work in Uyuni and there is no place to exchange money. Tour agencies will accept US dollars and Bolivianos but the exchange rate may not be as good as in La Paz.
  • If you are spending more time in Uyuni, here is a guide on things to do while you are there, where to eat and sleep.

We hope the information is useful. You can buy tickets online and with plenty of time beforehand in order to plan your trip at www.ticketsbolivia.com. If you have any doubts, please contact us at info@ticketsbolivia.com.

Uyuni, Sucre and Potosi by bus

Updated: 12 June 2019

Bolivia is a land of amazing contrasts, where the magnificence of the natural landscapes are only matched by the beauty of its cultural attractions. If you are attracted by the out-of-this-world formations of the Uyuni salt flats, you will be a stone-throw away from the amazing cities of Sucre and Potosi, both named Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO due to their rich historical wealth and well-kept colonial architecture. Walking the streets of Sucre and Potosi is like stepping into another time, just as a walk through the Uyuni salt flats is like a stroll on another planet.

Capture

If you want to get to know all three destinations, you can go from Sucre to Potosi and from there to Uyuni, or vice-versa. We´ll walk you through the routes, time tables and all the information you need to know to reach these cities.

potosibol
A view of Potosi from the colonial rooftops

Sucre to Potosi by bus

Sucre is the actual capital of Bolivia, where the Constitution was signed, although the seat of government was moved to La Paz in the 18th century. Today, the city is one of Bolivia’s main tourist destinations due to its numerous white walls and red rooftops, the churches and convents of  colonial times and the mild, sunny weather. Sucre is considered one of the most beautiful colonial cities in America.

potosi
Cerro Rico, Potosi

The distance between Sucre and Potosi is 156 kilometers. Both are very important tourist destinations, both colonial cities rich in history. The trip between these cities is around 3 hours. The route is highly popular with both tourists and locals, given that the two cities are connected not only historically but also by cultural and economic ties.

Departures are available all day, as buses leave once every hour between 06:00 am and 19:00 every day.  In order to travel from Sucre to Potosi, you must take a bus at the main bus terminal in Sucre, located on Avenida Ostria Gutierrez. You will be asked to pay a small fee called Uso de Terminal (Terminal use), which costs 2.5 Bs. The buses from Sucre arrive at the “new” bus station in Potosi, located on Avenida Las Banderas.

sucre-3
A view of Sucre from the air

Potosi is an important mining center, famous for its Rich Mountain, which provided the silver for the Spanish Colony for centuries. In fact, it was in Potosi that the silver coins were made for the entire Spanish empire. Today, the city preserves its colonial architecture and tourists can visit the Casa de la Moneda (the colonial mint), as well as the mines of the Cerro Rico, which looms over the city.

sin-tc3adtulo2
Uyuni Salt Flat, covered by a layer of rain water

Potosi to Uyuni by bus

After spending a few days in Potosi, you can continue the trip on to Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. Uyuni is located at 204 km from the city of Potosi. The trip takes 4 hours by bus through a paved highway.

In order to take a bus to Uyuni from Potosi you must go to Potosi’s “old” bus terminal, on Avenida Universitaria.  The buses leave at 9:30, 16:30 and 17:30 in semi lie-flat buses with the company Expreso 11 de Julio. Again, you will have to pay a small fee of 2.5 B.s before boarding the bus. 

Please note that Potosi has two bus terminals, one for regional trip, which includes Uyuni, and another for national trips (La Paz, Sucre, etc.)

Uyuni is the foremost tourist destination in Bolivia, a landscape that will leave you in awe. Formerly a salt-water lake, the Uyuni salt flats is a desert of salt in the middle of the Bolivian highlands. Tours include the train cemetery and the red and green lagoons, with possibility to transfer to Chile.

Sucre to Uyuni by bus

You can also visit the salt flats on a trip directly from Sucre. The journey takes around 8 hours covering a distance of 360 kilometers. You can depart at three different hours from Sucre: at 9:30, 20:00 and 20:30 with the bus companies 6 de Octubre or Exp. 11 de Julio.

You can visit the site https://www.ticketsbolivia.com to book bus tickets online.

How to Get from Cusco to Uyuni

Updated: 03 June 2019

One of the most frequent questions we get this time of year is how do I travel from Cusco to Uyuni? Being two of the most popular tourist destinations in the region, and located relatively close to one another, it is amazing that there is no bus or train that offers the direct trip. But not all is lost. You can travel from Cusco to Uyuni by land affordably and comfortably. This is how:

1920px-Cusco-c01
View of Cusco – via Wikimedia Commons

Getting from Cusco to La Paz:

The fastest and easiest way for getting from Cusco to Uyuni by bus is reaching La Paz first. There are many options for making this trip by bus. Sadly, there aren’t trains that cover this route. It is possible to fly directly with Latam and Amaszonas which costs about 80-100 US$ one way. The bus is a popular option among travelers with many bus companies doing this route at night, the journey takes about 14 hours. The route from Cusco to La Paz goes also via Lake Titicaca where tourists can break their journey and visit Puno and.

On the direct route between Cusco and La Paz, Tickets Bolivia works with Trans Salvador, Tour Peru and NC Internacional, which are reliable and quality bus companies. These are their schedules and reference prices (prices may vary according to the season):

Bus company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Trans Salvador Lie-flat 3 rows 22:00 13:00 (+1 day) $24.09 Migration in Desaguadero
Tour Peru Semi-lie flat 22:00 15:00 (+1 day) $29.00 Migration in Desaguadero
NCI Lie flat 22:30 14:00 (+1 day) $26.28 Migration in Desaguadero

Additionally now you can also choose to do this route with a tourist bus such as Bolivia Hop for $59.00. It departs at 22.00 and arrives 22.30 the next day stopping along the way in Puno and Copacabana for optional tours.

Except for Bolivia Hop which has a private terminal in Cusco, the buses depart from the Cusco bus terminal, located at the following address:

https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_cusco.php

Llamas_en_las_pampas_de_Florida
Altiplano Bolivia – Dr. SANTOS QA via Wikimedia Commons

From La Paz to Uyuni by bus:

Once you arrive in La Paz, you can continue your journey directly since most buses from Cusco will arrive at around midday and all buses leave La Paz from Uyuni in the evening. This gives you a few hours to explore La Paz. Here you can find ideas regarding what to do and where to eat in La Paz in one afternoon. If you have more time, you can take this opportunity to discover La Paz and its surroundings in a few days.

There are many bus companies that offer direct services to travel from La Paz to Uyuni. Tickets Bolivia works with Panasur, Cruz del Norte, Trans Titicaca, and Trans Omar. Their schedules are as follows:

Company Bus class Route Time of departure and arrival Prices in US Dollars
Trans Omar Semi lie-flat/Lie-flat 3 rows Direct service 20:00/6:00 (+1 day( $14.60/21.90
Panasur Lie-flat Direct service 20:00/6:00 (+1 day) $14.60/21.90
Cruz del Norte Semi lie-flat/Lie-flat Direct service 20:30/6:30 (+1 day) $14.60/21.90
Trans Titicaca Lie flat Direct service 22:00/7:00 (+1 day) $29.93

Seats in a lie-flat bus recline 160 degrees, and semi lie-flat recline to 140 degrees. These services do not include meals, but the bus stops along the road so passengers can buy food and drink. All buses depart from the bus terminal of La Paz, located at the following address: https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_la_paz.php

Uyuni doesn’t have a bus terminal but it is a couple of streets and avenues where all the bus agencies are located. The bus will drop you off in front of their agency and departure will take place in the same location. Buses will arrive early in the morning, sometimes even earlier than scheduled. This is not a problem as coffee shops and restaurants open around the bus schedules. Passengers who arrive early in Uyuni will have the option to get a hot drink, charge their phones and check their messages, until the travel agencies open.

Salar de Uyuni
Salar of Uyuni – Lucas Galuzzi via Wikimedia Commons

From La Paz to Uyuni by train (via Oruro):

With this option, the passenger travels from La Paz to Oruro by bus and then from Oruro to Uyuni by train. This option allows you to enjoy the scenery with views of the altiplano and Cordillera Real. Buses from La Paz to Oruro depart every 30 minutes practically all day from the La Paz bus terminal (see map above). The trip takes 3-4 hours and you arrive in Oruro at the Bus terminal located here.

Once in Oruro, you must take a cab to the train station, located on Av. Velasco Galvarro on the corner of Aldana. The trains that travel from Oruro to Uyuni are Wara Wara del Sur and Expreso del Sur.

  • Wara Wara del Sur leaves Wednesdays and Sundays at 19:00, and arrives in Uyuni at 02:20 in the morning.
  • Expreso del Sur leaves on Tuesdays and Fridays at 14:00, arriving in Uyuni at 21:20.

To learn more about the trains from Oruro to Uyuni check this blog.

The train station in Uyuni is located here. Tours to the Salar and Sud-Lipez all leave around 10:00 in the morning so passengers arriving by train will have to secure a night of accommodation in Uyuni.

With all this info there is no reason to miss Uyuni if you are traveling to Cusco and making the most of your trip. If you want to buy bus or train tickets online just click here: www.ticketsbolivia.com

Have a nice trip!

How to get from Cusco to Puno: Discover the Route of the Sun by bus or train

Updated: 30 May 2019

One of the most overlooked routes for tourists that travel in bus around Latin America is the trip from Cusco to Puno by bus, also known as Ruta del Sol, or Route of the Sun. This trip by land takes you across 386 km of scenic view and ancient Inca sites, connecting two of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru: Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca.

There are different options to do this route. You can either take a direct bus which will take about 7 hours, or you can opt for a more touristic option that will let you enjoy the different archaeological and cultural sites along the way but takes about 10 hours and has a higher cost. There is also a luxury train going from Cusco to Puno. Here we will explain in detail these options in order to help decide which one is the best for you.

puno
Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru

 

1. Direct buses from Cusco to Puno

Due to high demand from tourists from all around the world, there are many bus companies that offer this route, especially during the high season (December-January and June-August). The table below shows the times of departure, the different bus companies and prices available for this trip. If your schedule is tight and/or you would rather save money for other sites later on during your trip, this is the best option for you.

Direct options from Cusco to Puno

Bus company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Tour Peru Semi lie- flat/lie-flat 22:00 5:00 (+1 day) $13.14/$18.25 Direct service
Transzela Inca suite 8:30 15:30 $15 Direct service
Transzela Inca suite 22:15 5:15 (+1 day) $15 Direct service
Huayruro Tours Semi lie-flat/lie-flat 22:30 5:00 (+1 day) $11.68/$16.08 Direct service
Trans Titicaca Semi lie-flat 22:30 5:30 (+1 day) $14.60 Direct service

The “lie flat” seats recline to 170 degrees, while “semi lie-flat” seats recline to 140 degrees. All buses have air conditioning and bathroom. The buses traveling to Puno depart from Cusco at the main bus terminal, located on Via de Evitamento. See map below:

terminal terrestre de cusco

Puno, on the other hand, is a city with an important cultural and natural heritage, such as the floating islands of the Uros on Lake Titicaca, one of the most important tourist attractions in Peru and Bolivia. The city of Puno is also an important passage point between Bolivia and Peru, and tourists traveling between the two countries are bound to pass through on the way to or from Copacabana or La Paz. Buses arrive in Puno at the bus terminal, located on Primero de Mayo.  (See map below).

terminal de puno

2. What to see along the Route of the Sun

The route from Cusco to Puno goes through scenic landscapes, Inca ruins and archaeological sites worth visiting. Most direct buses leave at night which won’t let you appreciate the scenery around you. If you just visited Machu Picchu it is a logical continuation of you trip and you can do so with a tourist bus service which includes stops in each of the major location, an English-speaking guide, and lunch. 

Bus-trip-from-Puno-to-Cusco_map

Andahuaylillas (3,122 masl): Sometimes referred as the Sistine Chapel of America, the church of San Pedro Apostol de Andahuaylillas was built by the Jesuits in the 16th century. It was built on top of an Inca sacred site.

Raqchi (3,175 masl):  Here you can visit the Wiracocha temple built by the Inca in honor tof their god Wiracocha. The temple is a great construction .

La Raya (4,338 masl): La Raya Pass offers stunning scenery as the highest point in the trip. The buses will stop here to allow passengers to enjoy the view and take photos.

Pukara (3,575 masl): Pukara is an ancient cultural center, dated as early as 1,800 BC. This was the first large urban center in the region. The archaeological site also gave its name to what some archaeologists refer to as Pukara culture.

Touristic options from Cusco to Puno

Company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Inka Express Bus 7:00 17:30 $65 Stops along the way. Buffet lunch
Wonder Peru Expedition Bus 7:00 17:30 $55 Stops along the way. Buffet lunch
PeruRail Titicaca Train 7:10 17:30 $265  Lunch

Inka Express stops in the following sites: Andahuaylillas, Raqchi, Marangani (for the buffet lunch), La Raya and the Museum of Pukara. Buses leave Cusco from their private terminal located Avenida Alameda Pachacuteq 499.

Pukara, Peru
Pukara, Peru –  By David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada via Wikimedia Commons

Wonder Peru Expedition offers the following itinerary:

Departure from Cusco 7:00
1st visit 8:10 Andahuaylillas 35 min
2nd visit 10:20
Raqchi
45 min
Buffet lunch 11:20 Lunch 50 min
Photos
13:00
El Paso La Raya 10 min
3rd visit 14:30 Pucara 35 min.
Photos 14:55 Kalassaya 10 min
Arrival in Puno 17:30 End of trip

Wonder Peru Expedition buses leave from their private bus terminal located Avenida 28 de Julio R-2-1.

3. The luxury experience: PeruRail Titicaca

Peru Rail Titicaca offers a luxury experience in their train from Puno to Cusco, travelers can enjoy unrivaled service aboard a beautiful train, dining in 1920s-style Pullman carriages and absorbing breathtaking landscapes. The train has open-air observation cars ideal for capturing unique panoramas.

The journey in train lasts approximately 10 hours 30 minutes. At the start of the journey, passengers are welcomed at the Wanchaq Station in Cusco where local musicians will provide background music as you board the train. There are two dining cars with the finest gourmet food and afternoon tea.

Departures:  Sunday, Wednesday and Friday

Cost: Starting at 245 USD

Tickets Bolivia offers the sale of tickets online for traveling between Cusco and Puno. The online tickets at the best prices, and with the most reliable companies offering the service. Have a great trip!

Cusco-Puno-Copacabana-La Paz: what you need to know to travel from Peru to Bolivia by bus

Updated: 29 May 2019

If you are traveling from Peru to Bolivia, you probably are coming from Cusco and are heading to La Paz. The easiest and cheapest way to do this journey is by bus. But there is another reason to choose bus travel over plane for this itinerary. The journey from  Cusco to La Paz by bus goes via the Lake Titicaca where you can decide to break your trip and visit Puno or Copacabana. After Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca is one of the most famous and popular holiday destination in South America. It’s the highest navigable lake in the world and provided some of the most beautiful sunsets and views you can imagine.

Here we will help you decide what is the best itinerary for your trip and how to get there.

1. How to get directly from Cusco to La Paz by bus

Direct buses from Cusco to La Paz leave in the evening, after 22:00 hours, in order to reach the Desaguadero border in the morning when it opens thus avoiding lines.

Buses leave from the main terminal in Cusco located here. The journey takes about 14 to 16 hours depending how long it takes to cross the border. The bus goes via Puno where it stops briefly.

Direct bus schedule from Cusco to La Paz

Bus company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Trans Salvador Lie-flat 3 rows 22:00 13:00 (+1 day) $24.09  Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero
Tour Peru Semi-lie flat 22:00 15:00 (+1 day) $29.00  Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero
Nuevo Continente Internacional Lie flat 22:30 14:00 (+1 day) $26.28  Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero
640px-024_People_Uros_Islands_of_Reeds_Lake_Titicaca_Peru_3075_(14995322808)
Uros Floating Islands – Photo: bobistraveling via Wikemedia Commons

2. Puno or Copacabana, which one is better?

A common decision that travelers who want to see Lake Titicaca have to make is to choose between Puno, on the Peruvian side of the lake, or Copacabana, on the Bolivian side. Both options are worth exploring but sometimes due to time constraints, it’s one or the other.

Why Puno?

Puno is a good sized town on the shore of the lake with archaeological sites nearby and where you can learn about colonial history and stay in the homes of the people native to the area:

  • Visit the Catedral de Puno, an 18th-century Baroque cathedral that towers over the city center.
  • Museo Municipal Carlos Dryer: The museum holds a solid selection of regional artifacts and textiles, including a collection of mummies with deformed skulls.
  • Uros Floating Islands: Founded by the Uros people, the islands have been artificially made from the native totora reed. The Uros meticulously maintain their traditional homes and welcome visitors.
  • Amantani Island: Further away than the Uros Islands, Amantani Island provides a fascinating and authentic insight into local indigenous culture. Tourists can choose to spend a night there thanks to community-run initiatives which will allow you stay in a family home.
  • Another island worthy of a visit is Taquile. Smaller yet more developed, the island is famous throughout Peru for its textiles. You can also visit archaeological sites and enjoy breathtaking views of the lake.
  • Back on the mainland, Sillustani is an intriguing pre-Inca burial ground. The tombs, which are built above ground in funeral towers called chullpas, are the vestiges of the Qulla people, who were conquered by the Inca Empire in the 15th century.

Why Copacabana? 

Copacabana is known for its mystique and beauty, and for the best trout you’ll ever eat. It’s smaller and more quiet than Puno but has a unique charm and allows for some small hikes around the lake.

If you don’t have much time and want to make the most of your visit, you can choose one or several of these options:

  • Climb Cerro El Calvario: A 30 minutes-walk up the hill to panoramic views of the lake. It is a popular spot to watch the sunset.
  • Spend a night on Isla del Sol: One of the most popular things to do when you are in Copacabana is visit the Sun Island. The boats leave from the dock at 8:00 and 13:30 every day. It takes about an hour and a half to get to the island. On the island you will be able to see Incan ruins and experience the peace and energy of one of the most sacred places of the Incan empire. It is a very picturesque place where one can enjoy panoramic views of the lake, sights of the Cordillera Real, and hikes trough ancestral terracing and Pre-Columbian ruins.
  • Moon Island: Legend has it that this is where Viracocha (the Inca Creator deity) commanded the rising of the moon. It is a tiny island located near the Sun Island on Lake Titicaca, it is home to the ruins of the Temple of the Virgins. Hiking the entire island takes about an hour.
  • Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana: A 16th-century Spanish colonial church that houses the image of the Virgen de Copacabana.

The verdict

Both cities are transit places to go visit more picturesque sites on or near the lake. Copacabana is more relaxed than Puno but has less to offer in terms of cultural and touristic activities, and is smaller in size. Isla del Sol is less developed but, being free of cars, and protected by the local communities, it is a peaceful place to enjoy nature and amazing views of the lake. On the other hand, the Urus Floating Islands, near Puno will offer a different experience where tourists can stay in traditional houses and learn about the culture of the area. The choice will depend on each one’s personal preference, Puno and Copacabana could either be skipped but generally it is worth spending at least one night on an island on the lake.

640px-Copacabana_-_panoramio_(10)
View of Copacabana

3. Getting to Puno

To do the route from Cusco to Puno, also known as Ruta del Sol (Sun Route), there are two main options. The first one is to take a direct bus that takes about 7 hours. The second option is to take a tourist bus or train that will make stops along the way and provide guided explanations on the different sites.

Direct options from Cusco to Puno

Bus company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Tour Peru Semi-lie flat/lie flat 22:00 5:00 (+1 day) $13.14/$18.25 Direct service
Transzela Inca suite 8:30 15:30 $15 Direct service
Transzela Inca suite 22:15 5:15 (+1 day) $15 Direct service
Huayruro Tours Semi-lie flat/lie flat 22:30 5:00 (+1 day) $11.68/$16.08 Direct service
Trans Titicaca Semi-lie flat 22:30 5:30 (+1 day) $14.60 Direct service

 

Touristic options from Cusco to Puno

Company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Inka Express Bus 7:00 17:30 $65 Stops along the way. Buffet lunch
Wonder Peru Expedition Bus 7:00 17:30 $55 Stops along the way. Buffet lunch
PeruRail Titicaca Train 7:10 17:30 $265  Lunch

From Puno, there are direct buses to La Paz and Copacabana (see below).

4. Getting to Copacabana

Buses from Cusco to Copacabana usually involve a stop or a change of bus in Puno. Buses from Puno to Copacabana are then direct. The border crossing point is Yunguyo-Kasani. Stories of tourists being scammed have been reported at this border point, you can read our blog on how to avoid and deal with scams when traveling by bus in South America.

Isla de la Luna, Bolivia
Isla de la Luna – Photo: Chtiwiki via Wikimedia Commons

Direct options from Puno to Copacabana by bus

Company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Trans Titicaca Normal bus 6:00 11:00 $8.76 Migration in Kasani
Trans Titicaca Normal bus 7:30 12:30 $8.76 Migration in Kasani
Trans Titicaca Normal bus 13:30 18:30 $11.68 Migration in Kasani
Transzela Inca suite 7:00 10:00 $11 Migration in Kasani
Huayruro Tours Semi-lie flat/lie flat 7:00 12:00 $7.30 Migration in Kasani
Tour Peru Normal bus 7:00 12:00 $9 Migration in Kasani

5. Getting to La Paz via Puno or Copacabana

Whether you are leaving from Cusco, Puno or Copacabana, there are direct buses for each route. Copacabana to La Paz takes about 4 hours. The journey involves crossing the Tiquina straight, which costs 2 bolivianos, a cost which is not usually included in the bus ticket. Buses can’t cross at night so buses don’t leave after 18:30.

If taking a direct bus from Cusco or Puno, migration takes place at Desaguadero.

Most buses to La Paz arrive at the main bus terminal on Uruguay Avenue. Tourist buses sometimes drop passengers at their hotels. This is the case for companies such as Turisbus and Bolivia Hop.

Direct buses from Puno to La Paz

Company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Tour Peru Semi-lie flat 6:45 15:00 $15 Migration in Desaguadero
Trans Titicaca Normal bus 7:00 15:00 $14.60 Migration in Desaguadero

 

Direct buses from Copacabana to La Paz

Company Seat class Time of departure Time of arrival (estimated) Price in US$ Extra info
Diana Tour Normal bus 13:30 17:30 $4.30 Does not include crossing fee in Tiquina (2Bs)
Trans Titicaca Normal bus 13:30 17:30 $5.11 Does not include crossing fee in Tiquina (2Bs)
Vicuna Travel Normal bus 13:30 17:30 $4.38 Does not include the boat cost in Tiquina (2Bs)
Turisbus Tourist bus 13:30 18:00 $19.00 Pick-up from hotel.

Includes crossing fee in Tiquina (2Bs)

Trans Titicaca Normal bus 18:30 22:30 $5.84 Does not include crossing fee in Tiquina (2Bs)

Please take into consideration that some buses make several short stops along the way, picking up passengers and sometimes women from local communities who make a living by selling food and beverages on the buses. Since these stops are not in the official itinerary, they may be upsetting for tourists.

Another option to travel from Cusco to La Paz and take the time to explore Puno and/or Copacabana would be to travel with Bolivia Hop which offers passes to hop-on and hop-off in both cities and comes with some optional tours. You can book online any of the buses presented above as well as the Bolivia Hop Cusco to La Paz pass.

Please also note that the bus schedules are subject to change by the bus companies and that these are not an exhaustive list, we’ve selected the most reliable an safest bus companies for your convenience. More options exist at the bus terminals with more informal bus companies that cannot be booked online.

Book your bus and train tickets online at www.ticketsbolivia.com.

The most common scams to avoid when travelling in Peru and Bolivia

Travelling in South America is often associated with a number of dangers and scams targeted towards travelers. Especially if travelling in South America by bus. These fears can be somewhat exaggerated turning into urban myths which spread an image much scarier than reality. However, when travelling, you should always be careful and take some necessary precautions. Scams can occur in South America (as in any other places in the world), and unaware travelers can easily fall victim to them. Here is a list of the most common ones in this part of the world and how to spot and avoid them.

Bolivian Taxi, La Paz

Taxi scams

There are different types of scams involving taxis. The general rule is to not get a taxi that doesn’t have a working taximeter. However, most taxis, even radio taxis from reliable taxi companies in Bolivia and Peru don’t have them. For this reason, it is better to check the price and agree with the taxi driver before getting in the car.

Sometimes the driver will pretend that the accommodation you picked is already full or that it’s really bad and will give you suggestions of places you should go. Which end up being way more expensive. Tell the driver that you have a room booked (even if you don’t) and insist on being driven there, they rarely insist more.

What to do:

  • Check beforehand the range of prices from and to your destination. Always agree on a price and a currency. For instance, you may agree on a 50 soles ride in Lima from the airport but the taxi driver ends up charging 50 usd. If things are not clearly established before going in the taxi or you sense something dodgy then pick a different taxi.
  • People arriving late at night or very early in the morning are easy targets for scammers as they know that travelers will be more vulnerable and anxious to get to their hotel/accommodation. Always have the address/telephone number written on a piece of paper and the location pinned on your phone on an offline GPS application.
  • Bus terminals can feel less safe than airport terminals and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when people are approaching you from all directions trying to get you into their cab. Don’t follow the first driver that comes towards you, make sure to ask prices first.
  • If possible, use an app-based application to travel or call a recommended radio-taxi company.
  • Don’t get into taxis that already have passengers in them and don’t accept to take other passengers in route, even if they pretend to be police officers (see next scam).

No change

Generally in South America, people don’t like when you pay with large bills for small items. If you go to a market or a small tienda, it’s better to always have small change but people will find a solution. However, sometimes taxi drivers can use this as their advantage hoping that they end up with the larger bill as they don’t have change and it’s the middle of the night. It’s hard to say when it’s legitimate or if the driver is lying in order to get more.

What to do:

If you can’t break the large bills, ask the driver after the price has been set if he has change (‘Tiene cambio de XX?’). This way there won’t be a bad surprise when you arrive at your destination and the driver announces that he has no change and makes you give him the 50 bolivianos or 100 bolivianos bill you have.

Police impersonator

In the street or sometimes in a taxi, a fake police officer will ask you for your documents and/or will ask you to follow him somewhere in order to get you to give him your money.

Sometimes the police officer will have an accomplice to legitimize him as a ‘real’ police officer. There is no reason why a police officer would randomly ask you for your documents or why you should follow anyone anywhere.

What to do:

Always have a copy of your passport printed with you when traveling. Don’t give your original passport to a stranger. Ask to see their badge number or any proof that they are who they say. Do NOT follow anyone, even if you think they are a real police officer. Say that your papers are in your hotel and that they can accompany you there, they won’t.

Corrupt officials

A variation on the police officer impersonator is the one where actual police officers/custom officers or anyone with a legitimate position, will take advantage of this in order to make some money on the side. (more on this in the Border Crossing Scams section)

What to do:

As a general rule, don’t break the law as it will be an opportunity for any corrupt official. Make sure to be aware of the country’s rules on specific issues and use good judgment to not get into situations where you could be taken advantage.

Inside a bus in Lima, Peru

Spills/Pickpockets:

A very common technique around the world is to distract someone by spilling (throwing) something on them. While you are confused, someone will try to help you clean the stain and an accomplice/or that same person will be emptying your pockets.

What to do:

Don’t stop, and don’t let anyone help you, go to a bathroom and clean it yourself. When walking in crowded areas don’t put anything of value in your pockets and wear your backpack in the front. Make sure none of your valuables are easily accessible.

Fake goods

Especially when buying electronic goods in a market, there is a risk that the products won’t work.

What to do:

It is not recommended to buy phones/computers/anything electronic from a street market, always go to an official seller or from someone you can trust. But if you must buy it always ask to try it. They should have an outlet to let you turn on the device you’re buying and make sure it works. The same applies for cheaper devices like earphones, cables and anything electronic. If you can’t try it, don’t buy it.

ollague
Ollague Border Crossing

Border crossing scams

This a sub-category on the corrupt official scams and take very different forms depending on the border. These can change and adapt as people always find new creative ways to scam people. They are becoming less common as countries are building well-regulated migratory centers between Peru/Chile/Bolivia where the process is extremely straight-forward and scams haven’t been reported. At the less formal border crossing points this can happen, especially Desaguadero (when going through the city and not the migratory center outside which is for larger buses), Yunguyo/Kasani (when going from Copacabana to Puno), Ollague (Calama-Uyuni).

Some of the ones we’ve heard about in the last year are:

  • Stamp on passport: Tourists have reported that they are not receiving the migration stamp when entering Bolivia and have to pay a hefty fine when leaving the country. Scams usually involve some instant bribe or immediate reward for the scammer so it is not clear how this constitutes as a scam. In any case when entering and leaving a country, especially by land, always make sure that you have a stamp from each country.
  • Sin tarjeta: Upon entry in Bolivia, some passports are given an additional migratory form that has to be kept and given to the migration officer when leaving the country. Not everyone gets one (depends on the passport) and in this case the passport gets the letters S.T. written on the stamp. However, sometimes officials pretend there is a fine for not having the form and charge travelers with a fake fine.
  • Bolivia/Peru: Pornography found on phone. When leaving Bolivia, officers may ask to check your phone and will find ‘pornographic content’ which they will claim is illegal in Bolivia, making you pay a fine instead of sending you to jail. This is clearly a scam. Don’t let anyone look at your phone.
  • Straight-forward bribes: Sometimes, because it is late at night or they can sense you are in a rush, officers will create some excuse and make it clear that with some money they will let you go. There is not much to do if this is happening to you other than paying the bribe. You could try asking for a receipt and depending on the situation you may be able to get away with it but that will depend very much on the person you’re dealing with. You can also try to report this later on.

What to do:

It is difficult to stand up to officials, especially if late at night in a isolated border crossing post, or if you don’t speak any Spanish and if you are in a rush. The safest option sometimes is to comply and report it later in the capital city. You can also try asking for a receipt which could scare away the official. This would mostly happen on some border crossing sites so be aware these could happen.

Fake notes

In Peru and Bolivia, there are accounts of counterfeit money being used. It is hard for newcomers to recognize immediately which ones are legit and can be hard to avoid. Try to familiarize yourself quickly with what a real bill looks and feels like, and don’t hesitate to check the bills given to you.

General tips

  • Use common sense, if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. Don’t do anything you are not comfortable with and don’t put yourself in a situation where you could be taken advantage of (this applies anywhere in the world, even at home).
  • It’s always good to know some of the country’s language as it will make you less vulnerable and less prone to be targeted by unscrupulous people trying to take advantage.
  • Based on one’s experience a country can feel more or less safe. Bolivia suffers from a bad reputation but La Paz is one of the safest cities in Latin America, just stay in the central areas. Petty theft is rare, as long as you follow common sense. The same is true for Peru, even if Lima, due to its size, will have more problems. Pickpockets may operate in public buses and walking at night in some areas is strongly discouraged.
  • Express kidnappings are mentioned frequently as a risk when traveling South America. These involve being taken and held up at an ATM for a period of time until you have withdrawn all the money you could. These are rare and would only happen in secluded areas at night. Only use ATMs during daylight hours or in busy areas.

Discover La Paz in 3 Hours

The city of La Paz (Our Lady of Peace in English) has a lot to offer, you can discover it by joining one of the walking tours on offer, by riding the cable-car lines, or by taking the new sightseeing city tour bus. From the center of La Paz to the Valle de la Luna in the south of the city, you can comfortably enjoy the different sights around you while learning about the city’s history.

View of La Paz from mirado Killi Killi

La Paz has a rich history, architecture and culture to explore and there is no better way to do it than by bus. Because of the altitude, 3,600 meters above sea level, it can be difficult and tiring for newcomers to walk the steep streets, especially when one has only a few days in La Paz and there is so much to see, eat and learn. From inside the bus, whether it rains or not ­– which it does a lot during the rainy season between November and March – you can appreciate the colonial buildings, the Art Deco architecture, the vibrant street life and the beautiful panoramic views of Illimani (the 6.438-meters-high mountain protecting the city of La Paz).

Along the way you will pass through:

  • Calle Sagarnaga: Home to the famous Witches Market where local and tourists alike can buy traditional clothing and ancient remedies.
  • Plaza Murillo: This is where the patriot Pedro Domingo Murillo declared Bolivia’s independence in 1809, the first in South America to do so. It took six months for the Spaniards to get the control again and Bolivia had to wait until 1825 to finally be independent and proclaim the Republic.
  • Mirador Killi Killi: One of the seven miradors of La Paz, this one has some of the best views, facing the Illimani and allowing people to appreciate how the city spreads south.
  • Miraflores: This whole neighborhood was built in the 1920s by the Bolivian architect Emilio Villanueva Peñaranda who conceived it and connected it to the Avenida Camacho. Here you can see the Hernando Siles Stadium, Plaza Uyuni and Avenida Busch.
  • Sopocachi: A bohemian neighborhood, Sopocachi is filled with coffee shops, street art and interesting architecture, mixing styles and giving it a very unique feel.
  • Valle de la Luna: After Sopocachi, The bus drives down to the south of La Paz to Mallasa where the Valle de la Luna or Moon Valley can be found. It was named by Neil Armstrong himself in 1969 who, while visiting La Paz, found an uncanny resemblance between the rocky structures south of the city and the Moon.

Valle de la Luna, La Paz, Bolivia

You can see all of this and more in the newly refurbished double-decker buses which are now available for tours around the city. The trip lasts approximately three hours, departing twice daily from Tuesday to Sunday at 10am and 2pm. Departure is from Hotel Qantu on Calle Illampu in the center of the city. There are three stops for passengers to hop on and hop off: Plaza Murillo, Plaza Isabel la Catolica, and Las Cholas. The bus drops passengers back at the Hotel Qantu or gives them the option to get off at the cable-car station Curva de Holguin where they can take the yellow or green line. The yellow line goes all the way up to El Alto where it connects to the silver line and then to the red and blue lines.

A bilingual guide in each bus will provide information on the different buildings and places on the way, enriching each travelers’ experience with local knowledge.

STOPS AFTERNOON
Illampu 740 Hotel Qantu 14:00
Plaza Murillo 14:30
Plaza Isabel la Catolica 15:00
Kiosco de las Cholas 15:45

Sightseeing City Tour La Paz

 

INCLUDED

  • Tourist guide (Spanish-French-English)
  • Energy bar

NOT INCLUDED

  • Tips
  • Entrance to the Valle de la Luna (3 Bs – Nationals/15 Bs – Foreigners

For more information and to book tickets online, visit our page on www.ticketsbolivia.com

Everything you Need to Know about Carnival in Bolivia

Diablada, Carnival of Oruro

Every year around February-early March comes Carnival. A festive Christian tradition which takes place the days leading to Lent. Carnival is celebrated around the world with parades and public celebrations. Rio de Janeiro is one of the most famous parties around the world but Carnival is celebrated in most Christian and Orthodox countries with each its own traditions. Here in Bolivia, Carnival comes with its own set of customs and is well worth the visit.

The best place to enjoy Bolivia’s carnival season is in Oruro. Located in western Bolivia, 230 km south of La Paz, this small mining town is fairly quiet the rest of the year but turns into one of the largest and most visited places in South America. This year, Carnival of Oruro will take place between Saturday 2 March and Tuesday 5 March. The Oruro Carnival takes place over four days from Saturday to Tuesday, with the main celebrations taking place Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday is the Great Pilgrimage to the Socavón and the Entry of the Corso is on Sunday.

Carnaval, Oruro, Bolivia

The main dance performed, originally from Oruro, is the Diablada – the dance of the devil – which is performed alongside other traditional Bolivian dances including morenadas, caporales and tinkus. The parade runs from morning until late at night, until Shrove Tuesday. Over 50 parade groups dance, sing, and play music over a four kilometer-long course. The Carnival parade passes through the Plaza 10 de Febrero square. At the different sectors there are stands where you can get a seat after paying a fee.

The 2019 Carnival procession in Oruro will start on Bolívar Street, maintaining the route of the previous years: Calle Pagador, Aroma until 6 de Agosto, Calle Bolívar, and then will continue to La Plata, Adolfo Mier and Presidente Montes, Bolívar to La Petot, Adolfo Mier, Avenida Civica “Sanjinés Vincentti”, Junín and finally culminating at the Socavón Sanctuary. The procession finishes inside the Socavon cathedral in the center of town.

Diablada de Oruro, Bolivia

Oruro’s carnival was declared in 2001 “Masterpieces of Oral Heritage and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO and attracts more than 400,000 people each year, involving 30,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians. The city of Oruro receives almost twice the number of inhabitants come for Carnival. For this reason, it is highly recommended to reserve the accommodation with months, if not a year, in advance. During these days the hotel occupancy reaches 100%. It is also possible to sleep in rooms rented by local families. The prices of any accommodation during the carnival is a lot higher than during the rest of the year and you may have to share accommodation.

In the rest of the country, celebrations are held involving traditional dances and water wars. Prepare yourself for being randomly targeted (or not so randomly if you are a foreigner) and being attacked with water balloons and water guns. This tradition started over a century ago when people started filling eggs with water and throwing them at other people in weirdly violent displays of fun. The warmer the weather, the more popular are these games, and nowadays, cities like Sucre and Cochabamba turn into full-on water wars. La Paz and Oruro are not excluded from the fun despite the colder weather. In Santa Cruz de la Sierra, on the east side of the country, tropical weather allows a Brazilian-type Carnival, with Comparsas dancing traditional songs in matching uniforms.

Expreso del Sur train, Bolivia

How to get there

Carnival can be experienced all around Bolivia, and wherever you are, you will have the opportunity to watch dancing parades and to be attacked by strangers with water balloons, but if you are looking to experience the frenzy and overindulgence of Oruro’s carnival, there are many ways to get there.

Most cities will have direct buses to Oruro. La Paz to Oruro is a 3.5 hour long journey. You can also take the train from Uyuni. The train leaves on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

There is another option for this year’s celebration. Ferroviaria Andina announced that the ‘Tren Carnavalero) (Carnaval Train) will be made available this year and includes throughout the day (in the train and in Oruro):

  • Pick up from different locations throughout the city of La Paz and El Alto
  • Seats in Executive Class, with reclining seats, blankets and pillow
  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/Snacks
  • Open bar with beer, fernet, rhum, singani, vodka
  • Individual and covered seats to watch the parade in Oruro on Av. 6 de Agosto y Bolívar
  • Two of the wagons will be turned into a Discotheque
  • Security/Guides/First Aid/Cloakroom/Teas and coffee
  • 30 additional bathrooms
  • An exclusive fireworks show and the possibility of dancing with the ‘Diablada ferroviaria’

The train leaves from Viacha but the journey includes the transfer from La Paz and El Alto. Departure is on Friday 1st March at 11pm to arrive at 6am in Oruro. The train then leaves Oruro on the Sunday at 12am.

For more information and to book bus and train tickets, visit Tickets Bolivia.

Everything You Need To Know About Alasitas

miniaturas_de_alasita_
Caleidoscopic – via Wikimedia Commons

Every year on 24th January starts the annual Alasitas festival which takes place in La Paz and lasts for a month displaying stalls covered in miniature versions of houses, money bills, cereal boxes, passports, iPhone, diplomas, and all the items one may aspire to acquire during the year.

Alasitas is a place where one can also look for love in the shape of a rooster or a hen. To ensure that you will find love during that year, the rooster/hen has to be given to you. You cannot purchase it yourself. The birds have come to represent love and they come in different colors, each representing something: black ones are for widowers, yellow (or gold) are for people looking for a rich partner, white ones represent purity and the red ones are more passionate. Some of them even have professions and different qualities depending on what you look in a partner.

ekeko_2
juhauski72 – via Wikimedia Commons

Everything purchased at the fair needs to be blessed by priests and then offered to the Ekeko, the Andean God of Abundance. He’s easily recognizable by the bags of goods he carries, the chullo (traditional hat) and the cigarettes he’s smoking.

Other traditional and typical items people purchase are golden toads which represent Pachamama (Mother Earth) and are meant to bring fortune and prosperity to your home. Suitcases filled with money are also popular implying that money won’t be missing and that there will be opportunities to travel during the year. Food is another common purchase people make, with miniature boxes of pasta, rice, quinoa and other staples that you can buy.

vista_de_alasitas_2010,_la_paz,_bolivia_-_panoramio_-_lilapagola
lilapagola – via Wikimedia Commons

Alasitas is popular festival that mixes indigenous beliefs and Catholicism, tradition and modernity, illustrating perfectly Bolivia’s complexities and idiosyncrasies. On the first day of Alasitas, at around 12:00pm people gather in and around the churches to have their items blessed by the Catholic priests in a vibrant display of syncretism. And it’s also more than that; Alasitas is a fun, convivial place with food and games, enjoyable for the whole family, where one can also find hand-crafted and artisan goods. Make sure to go and try the plato paceño, a local specialty with corn, cheese, meet and fava beans, and the unmissable api con pastel, a purple-corn drink accompanied by a deep-fried cheese empanada.

Alasitas can be enjoyed throughout the city during 30days, especially on the first day but the fair is held in Parque Urbano in La Paz. The fair then moves to Santa Cruz in September, where it also stays for a month.

If you are travelling in Bolivia in January/February or September make sure not to miss the Alasitas fair. You can easily travel to La Paz and Santa Cruz and plan ahead your trip with Tickets Bolivia.