A complete guide to train travel in Bolivia

There are two train companies in Bolivia. Ferroviaria Andina and Ferroviaria Oriental. They only operate on a few routes in the country but provide a convenient alternative to buses on these routes. Villazon to Uyuni and Oruro to Uyuni by train are particularly popular routes In Bolivia. On the eastern part of the country, Ferroviaria Oriental covers Santa Cruz – Puerto Quijarro (border with Brazil) and Santa Cruz – Yacuiba (border with Argentina).

Find here all the train terminals in Bolivia and Peru.

Ferroviaria Andina

Ferroviaria Andina railroads in Bolivia

Villazon to Uyuni by train

The city of Villazon is located on the border of Bolivia and Argentina. It is a commercial town, very busy with economic activity.

There are two types of trains

  • Wara Wara del Sur
  • Expreso del Sur

Please note that the Expreso del Sur train only has a Ferrobus class available at the moment. The business class is no longer available.

You can take the train from Villazon to Uyuni, there are four departures per week and the journey takes between 8 and 10 hours.

TrainDays and time of departureArrival timePrice (in bolivianos)
Expreso del Sur – FerrobusWednesday and Saturday – 15:3023:5072 (normal)
Wara Wara del SurMonday and Thursday – 15:3001:15 (+1)38 (popular)
56 (normal)
118 (executive)
Train schedule Villazon – Uyuni

Villazon to Tupiza by train

If you have time you can break your journey from Villazon to Uyuni by stopping in Tupiza. The train stops in Atocha and Tupiza but Tupiza is charming small town known for its warm climate, beautiful landscapes with spectacular rock formations such as the cañón del Inca. The train takes about 3 hours covering a distance of 91 km.

To travel from Villazon to Tupiza by train you must go to the train station located on Avenida Antofagasta. The Tupiza train station is located on Avenida Serrano and Calle Avaroa.

If you don’t want to take the train from Villazon to Tupiza, you can take a bus or a colectivo. Colectivos (shared taxis) leave every 30 minutes from the old bus terminal in Villazon.

Tupiza to Uyuni by train

The trips from Tupiza to Uyuni by train take around 6 hours crossing a distance of 207 km.

And back: Uyuni to Villazon by train  

The train station in Uyuni is located there:

For your return trip, schedules and prices from Uyuni are the following:

TrainDays and time of departureArrival timePrice (in bolivianos)
Expreso del Sur – FerrobusTuesday and Friday – 21:4006:05 (+1)72 (normal)
Wara Wara del SurMonday and Thursday – 02:5012:05 (+1)38 (popular)
56 (normal)
118 (executive)
Train schedule – Uyuni – Villazon

Ferroviaria Oriental

Travel bolivia by train
Ferroviaria Oriental
Ferroviaria Oriental railroad in Bolivia

Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro by train

Trains in Bolivia

The train between Santa Cruz and Puerto Quijarro is sometimes called the ‘Death Train’. You can read here more about that particular route and origin of the name.

TrainDays and time of departure Arrival TimePrice (in bolivianos
Expreso Oriental – Super PullmanMonday, Wesdnesday, Friday – 13:2006:00 (+1)100
Ferrobus – Lie-flatTuesday, Thursday, Sunday – 18:0007:00 (+1)235
Schedule and prices from Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro

The train from Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro stops in San Jose de Chiquitos, Robore, Rivero Torrez and arrives in Puerto Quijerro at around 6:00 in the morning. The trip lasts between 13 and 16 hours depending on the train.

San Jose de Chiquitos

San Jose de Chiquitos, most commonly referred to as simply San Jose, is famous for being part of the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos. The Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos are part of six of these former missions which were all designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. The International Festival of American Renaissance and Baroque Music takes place once every two years in over 20 Jesuit Mission towns of the Amazon jungle regions around Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

The next festival will take place from April 24 to May 3, 2020. the festival features over 1,000 musicians from Europe and Latin America in 100 concerts.

Border with Brazil

The train will stop in Puerto Quijarro a few kilometers from the border with Brasil. The Brazilian town on the other side of the border is Corumba.

Puerto Quijarro train station to Corumba

To cross the border you will have to go to the border control post on the Bolivian side to leave the country and then cross over the border and repeat the process to enter Brazil. Make sure that you get your passport stamped on both sides.

Santa Cruz – Yacuiba by train

Yacuiba is a Bolivian town near the border with Argentina. To cross the border you will have to first go to the border control post on the Bolivian side to leave the country and then cross over the border to the Argentinian town of Salvador Mazza and repeat the process to enter Argentina.

The train takes about 16 hours and stops in Charagua, Boyuibe and Villamontes.

RouteTrainDays and time of departure Arrival time Price (in bolivianos
Santa Cruz – YacuibaMixto Thursday – 15:3008:05 (+1)47
Yacuiba – Santa CruzMixto Friday – 18:0009:55 (+1)47
Schedule and prices between Santa Cruz to Yacuiba

Calama to Uyuni by bus : all you need to know

Calama to Uyuni is a popular route for tourists traveling from Chile to Bolivia in bus. Additionally, the fastest and easiest way to travel between the two cities is by bus. The bus from Calama to Uyuni takes about 8 hours covering a distance of 427 kilometers. The border crossing takes place in Ollague. Find here all the information you need to plan your trip.

Calama to Uyuni by bus
Calama – Uyuni

Calama, at an altitude of 2,260 meters above sea level, is on the shores of the Loa river in the Antofagasta region. The city is located 2 hours from San Pedro de Atacama, a city famous for the nearby Atacama Desert, and numerous other tourist attractions. Calama is one of the driest cities in the world with an average annual precipitation of just 5 mm (0.20 in). Tourists who want to go to Uyuni from Chile without doing the three-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama usually travel from Calama.

Calama to Uyuni by bus
Road to Calama

Uyuni, on the other hand, is Bolivia’s most famous tourist destination. It is the largest salt flat in the world and provides amazing views. Also, this salt desert was even featured in a Star Wars film. From Uyuni tourists can visit the National Park Eduardo Abaroa.

Uyuni Salt Flats during the rainy season
Uyuni Salt Flat during the rainy season

From Calama to Uyuni

There are two bus companies doing this route and leaving from different bus terminals in Calama:

Cruz del Norte

  • Departure: Every day at 5:30 am and 12:30 pm
  • Arrival: Buses arrive in Uyuni at 4:30 pm and 9:00 pm
  • Prices from: us$ 24.85
  • Departure bus terminal: Office Cruz del Norte: Calle Antofagasta between calles Abaroa y Latorre No 2046
Cruz del Norte office in Calama
Cruz del Norte office in Calama

Trans Salvador:

  • Departure: Every day at 12:00 pm
  • Arrival: Buses arrive in Uyuni at 9:00 pm
  • Prices from: us$ 24.10/us$ 40.15
  • Departure bus terminal: Turbus terminal, Avenida Granaderos
Trans del Salvador stop in Calama
Bus terminal Trans Salvador in Calama

The buses cross the border through Ollague, where passengers can clear customs and migration. You then arrive in Uyuni at the office of the bus company between Avenida Arce and Avenida Cabrera.

You will arrive in Uyuni in the afternoon/evening. If you don’t already have a tour booked it is easy to find one in Uyuni. There are also a growing choice of dining alternatives. Read everything you need to know about Uyuni and how to pick a tour in our guide.

calama, chile
Calama, Chile

From San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro is another popular destination in northern Chile with attractions such as the Valle de la Luna and Tatio Geysers. From there there are three day-tours to Uyuni crossing the National Park Eduardo Abaroa, however, if you want to go directly to Uyuni you can take a bus from San Pedro to Uyuni. Buses from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni will go via Calama. Moreover, the buses between the two cities are very frequent and the journey from San Pedro to Calama takes about 2,5 hours.

To book your tickets online for this route you can just click on this link: uyuni to calama.

How to get from Uyuni to La Paz: a complete guide

Uyuni to La Paz Bus

Uyuni to La Paz by road
Uyuni to La Paz by road

The most popular way to travel from Uyuni to La Paz is in bus. Buses offer comfortable night buses with reclining seats, heating and blankets. Tickets Bolivia works with Panasur, Trans Omar, Cruz del Norte and Trans Titicaca:

CompanyBus classRouteTime of departure and arrivalPrices in US Dollars
Trans OmarLie-flatDirect service20:30/6:30 (+1 day)$21.90
PanasurLie-flatDirect service20:30/6:00 (+1 day)$21.90
Cruz del NorteSemi lie-flat/Lie-flatDirect service20:30/6:30 (+1 day)$14.60/21.90
Trans TiticacaLie flatDirect service22:00/7:00 (+1 day)$27.74

Uyuni has no proper bus terminal, but it has a street where buses depart from and arrive. All the buses leave from the bus company office in Uyuni which are all located in the same street: https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_uyuni.php

Buses arrive at the main bus terminal in La Paz. The terminal is located here: https://ticketsbolivia.com.bo/googlemaps/terminal_la_paz.php

Useful information:

  • All the direct buses between Uyuni and La Paz are night buses.
  • 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 the morning so better have warm layers.
  • There are other bus companies doing this route, another very good company that offers this service is Todo Turismo with buses leaving at 21:00 every day and tickets costing about 37 us$.

Train from Uyuni to La Paz

With this option, passengers have to travel first from Uyuni to Oruro by train and then take the bus to La Paz. 

1- Buses depart from Uyuni to Oruro four times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The trip lasts around seven hours and the trains arrive at the train station located on Avenida Velasco Galvarro.

The trains that travel from Uyuni to Oruro 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. 

2 – Once you are in Oruro, you must take a taxi to 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

With this option you can enjoy the trip by train and to travel during the day so to enjoy the views of the altiplano. The trains also have a restaurant wagon where they can purchase drink and food during their journey. 

Flights from Uyuni to La Paz

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

Schedule flights Uyuni - La Paz
Schedule flights Uyuni – La Paz

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.

Alternative itineraries

Via Potosi or Sucre

Depending on your plans, budget and planned itinerary you can decide to visit Potosi and/or Sucre before heading to La Paz. Sucre and Potosi are relatively close so it is easy to visit both in a few days. Potosi is famous for its history and silver mines which can be visited, it’s also packed with museums worth visiting such as Casa de la Moneda.

Buses from Uyuni to Potosi leave at 7:30, 8:00 and 16:00 with Expreso 11 de Julio. It takes about four hours by bus. There are no trains or direct flights available.

Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, it’s a charming and pleasant city with colonial architecture. There are also plenty of museums to explore and is located near cretaceous sites where you can observe dinosaur footprints.

To travel directly to Sucre from Uyuni, you will have to take a night bus. You can travel with Exp. 11 de Julio (not to confuse with Expreso 11 de Julio which goes to Potosi) at 21:30, or with 6 de Octubre at 22:00.

There is no train or direct flight from Uyuni to Sucre.

Uyuni – Potosi – Sucre – La Paz

You can travel to Potosi or Sucre but if you have the time, you can go to Potosi first before continuing to Sucre and then taking a night bus or flight to La Paz. Buses to La Paz are regular with the bus company Trans Emperador and the journey takes 4 hours.

Via Oruro

If you are planning to take a train from Uyuni or want to travel during the day to La Paz then you will have to stop in Oruro and change transport before continuing to La Paz. There are regular departures between these cities.

Where to stay in La Paz

If you are planning more than one day in La Paz, which we recommend, you can stay either in the city center near the bus terminal or in the south zone which is at a lower altitude and warmer conditions.

What to do in La Paz

Travelers may stop in La Paz after Uyuni and before heading to Cusco. La Paz can be overlooked sometimes but there are plenty of activities, restaurants and bars to go to. Here is a guide on things to do in and around La Paz:

Things to do in and around La Paz

And if you only have a few hours there is this option so you don’t miss on the best things La Paz has to offer:

Discover La Paz in three hours:

To buy tickets online from Uyuni to La Paz, visit Tickets Bolivia.