Everything you need to know for your trip to Copacabana and Isla del Sol

This guide will give you all the information you need in order to plan your visit to Copacabana and Isla del Sol in Bolivia. You will find here bus and boat schedules and suggestions on what to do and where to go.

La Paz to Copacabana by bus

La Paz to Copacabana by bus takes about 4 hours. Buses leave throughout the day but the last bus to leave from the main terminal leaves at 13:30. There are no night buses to Copacabana because buses need to cross by ferry the strait of Tiquina which closes at night.

Schedule and prices for buses from La Paz to Copacabana:

Bus Company Bus Class Time of Departure Time of Arrival Price Additional Information
Vicuna Travel Normal 07:30 11:30 Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Turisbus Tourist 07:30 11:30 Includes the crossing of Tiquina. Programmed stops to take pictures and pick-up service.
Trans Titicaca Normal 08:00 12:00 Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Diana Tour Normal 08:00 12:00 Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Trans Titicaca Normal 13:30 17:30 Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)

Please note that this is the schedule for formal buses leaving from the main terminal in La Paz. The route between La Paz to Copacabana is also operated by informal transport companies (buses and minibuses) leaving from the General Cemetery in La Paz. These leave every day between 6:00 and 18:00 (depending on the time of year). There is no schedule as they leave whenever they are almost full and stop regularly along the way to drop or pick-up passengers. Because of the irregularity and lack of any guarantees regarding safety, we recommend traveling with an established company to avoid any problems. But they do provide the advantage of being more frequent and flexible. The price is about the same than buses leaving from the main terminal: 20/30 Bs.

View of Copacabana, Bolivia
View of Copacabana from the Calvario – Photo: sunny-upadhyay via Unsplash

Puno to Copacabana

Puno to Copacabana takes about 4 hours by bus. The journey involves crossing the border at the Kasani office. Depending on the time of day this process can take longer. since the border is closed at night, this trip can only be done during the day.

These two cities, each on the shore of Lake Titicaca but in different countries, offer a very different experience of the lake. Both touristic destinations Puno is a larger city with a more developed tourism industry while Copacabana is smaller and more relaxed. From Copacabana you can visit the Isla de Sol which is perfect for travelers who want to enjoy a more quiet, independent experience.

Schedule and prices for buses from Puno to Copacabana:

Bus Company Bus Class Time of Departure Time of Arrival Price Additional Details
Trans Titicaca Normal 06:00 11:00 US$ 10.22 Migration in Kasani
Tour Peru Normal 07:00 12:00 US$ 9 Migration in Kasani
Huayruro Tours Semi lie-flat 07:00 12:00 US$ 5.84 Migration in Kasani
Huayruro Tours Lie-flat 07:00 12:00 US$ 7.30 Migration in Kasani
Transzela Inca suite 07:00 10:30 US$ 15.00 Migration in Kasani
Trans Titicaca Normal 07:30 12:30 US$ 10.22 Migration in Kasani
Trans Titicaca Normal 13:30 18:30 US$ 13.14 Migration in Kasani

A guide to visiting Copacabana

Most people go to Copacabana to visit Isla del Sol, therefore it has the feel of a transit town, but if you take the time there are some interesting sights and things to do around depending on how much time you have.

If you only have a couple of hours in Copacabana, you can walk up the Cerro Calvario for amazing views of the lake (this is especially popular at sunset). The walk up can take 30 minutes to an hour and the hill is easily accessible from Copacabana. Look for the steps to the north of the city. You can also visit the Cathedral of Copacabana and enjoy some trout from the lake.

If you have at least a whole day in Copacabana, you can do a day-hike to Yampupata. This path is not a touristy one, very few people head that way but it provides a nice walk in the countryside with amazing views of the lake on a mostly flat-surface. This is perfect if you want to try high-altitude trekking and do something a bit different. The hike to Yampupata takes about 5 hours and from there you can hire a boat to Isla del Sol or a taxi back to Copacabana.

However, the absolute must-see for people is Isla del Sol. It is possible to go there for the day or even a few hours but ideally one should stay one night on the island to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the scenery. There are also pre-Columbian ruins on the island that are worth visiting.

Where to eat

There is an abundance of places where one can grab a bite in Copacabana, and like in any other touristy, transit town, it is difficult to pick the good places from the less reputable ones. Here are some options we recommend for those who want a quick lunch or a snack to take on their next bus. There are also plenty of more fancy sit-down restaurants where you can try the local trout, local or international dishes.

El Condor & The Eagle Cafe: For a good breakfast. It’s located inside Residencial Paris
They serve hearty homemade Irish bread, beans, porridge and organic coffee.

The Pit Stop: Located across from the main plaza where buses drop and pick passengers, it’s ideal for those who just want something small, tasty and convenient to go. They have empanadas, cake and other quick bites to go.

Pan America: For those who crave pizza. They have a simple menu and a rotating selection of fresh ingredients for toppings.

Where to sleep

Backpackers on a small budget will find very affordable accommodation for 20-30 Bs. These hostels will provide very basic rooms and it is recommended to have a sleeping bag as it gets very cold at night. You can find some of these hostels online but the majority doesn’t have an online presence.

As with food, the range of choice for accommodation is wide and with some research you can find what suits your needs best, there are hotels on the shore of the lake, others near the center, eco-lodges and more luxurious options. Prices range between 4 USD to about 150 USD per person per night.

How to get to Isla del Sol

The only way to get to Isla del Sol is by boat from Copacabana (or from Yampupata if you are hiking there). You can hire a private boat from Copacabana which could cost about 40-100 USD depending on your itinerary or you can take a public shared boat for 5-7 USD.

Please note: When arriving to Isla del Sol you will be charged an an admission fee of 10 bolivianos.

Shared boats leave twice a day at 8:30 and 13:30. The journey takes about 1:30 hours to the south part of the island and 2 hours to the north side. Boats stop on both sides so make sure to specify where you want to be dropped off and, if you are doing the trip in one day, where you want to be picked up.

For the last two years the island was experiencing a conflict between the north and south sides with the northern part being closed off to tourists. It has now been solved and tourists can access both sides again. However, there may be small changes of schedule so please take into account that the times given here might be subject to change.

Isla del Sol, Bolivia
Isla del Sol – Photo: Christopher Crouzet via Unsplash

What to do on Isla del Sol

Isla del Sol is often an underestimated destination where travelers wish they had staid longer. The views, tranquility and absence of motorized vehicles make it the perfect spot to relax between two tours/treks or long bus journeys. We would recommend spending one night there to have time to really appreciate how special this place is.

The north side of the island is where most of the touristic attractions are with pre-Columbian ruins such as: The Rock of the Puma, or Titi Kharka; the Inca Table, supposedly used for human sacrifices; and the Footsteps of the Sun. You first arrive at Cha’llapampa, the town on the northern end of the island. From there you can also visit the Gold Museum which displays Inca treasures discovered underwater off the island. 

In the south side is the Yumani community from where you can take the Inca steps down to the port and stop at the Fountain of Youth. Further down south from Yumani is the temple of Pilcocaina. There are not as many sights in the south side but there are plenty of accommodation choices ranging from backpacker hostels to luxurious eco-lodges. There are also more options for food and drinks there.

Explore: You can follow dirt paths and walk around the island to enjoy the views. Please note that the Cha’llapampa community charges about 15 bolivianos to access its archaeological zone but it is where the best beaches are. Walking around the island is generally safe but be careful of stray dogs.

A popular itinerary for a one-day trip to the island is to get dropped off on the north of the island and walk to the south side. The walk takes about 3 hours so you can take the first boat which arrives at about 10:00-10:30 and catch the afternoon boat leaving the south side at about 15:30.

Relax: Find a quiet spot or pick a room with a view, watch the sunset and enjoy the stars at night. To the west, you can see the Peruvian side where Puno is or you can look to the east and admire the Cordillera Real in the distance.

Isla de la Luna: While on Isla del Sol you can visit the smaller island Isla de la Luna next to it. You can take a boat from Yumani or arrange it from Copacabana. This island is home to the Temple of the Virgins and can be explored in an hour by foot. There is a small village to the south. The island doesn’t have any electricity.

To return to Copacabana you can take the boat back in the morning at around 10:00 or in the afternoon at 15:30. Normally, the buses leaving and arriving Copacabana take the boats schedule into account so you have time to visit the islands and take a bus to your next destination.

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From Puno to La Paz by bus

Updated 10 July 2019

Puno to La Paz by bus takes about 8 hours depending on how long it takes to cross the border. There are different options to do this route, directly or via Copacabana. Read on to make the most of this route, and to find the best option for you.

Isla del Sol
Island of the Sun, Lake Titicaca

Puno is one of the highest city in Peru, at around 4,000 meters above sea level. It is on the shore of lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world on the skirts of the Andes mountain range. In Puno you can take a boat trip to the Uru’s floating islands, visit the Cathedral of Puno and visit other archaeological sites.

1. Puno to La Paz by bus

The bus terminal in Puno is located here (see map below). Before boarding the bus every passenger has to pay a terminal tax that has a cost of around 0.4 $us and is not included in the bus ticket. From this bus terminal you can travel to La Paz and other destinations in Bolivia and Peru.

terminal de puno

Direct buses from Puno to La Paz go via the migration center near Desaguadero. Buses won’t stop in the town and the border crossing takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how many buses are ahead of you. The process is fairly straight forward. Get your passport stamped leaving Peru and stamp in again to enter Bolivia. US citizens and other nationalities requiring a visa should make sure to have all the necessary paperwork and documents available before traveling.

Schedule and prices for buses from Puno to La Paz

Bus Company Bus Class Time of Departure Time of Arrival Price  Additional Information
Tour Peru Semi lie-flat 6:45 15:00 US$ 15 Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero.
Trans Titicaca Normal 7:00 15:00 US$ 17.52 Direct service. Migration in Desaguadero.
Trans Titicaca Normal 13:30 22:30 US$ 20.44 Via Kasani. Change of bus iun Copacabana.

2. Puno to Copacabana by bus

The bus from Puno to Copacabana takes about 4 hours by bus. You will have to cross the border a the Kasani migration office.

Copacabana is a smaller and more relaxed town with many cultural and natural tourist attractions. Copacabana offers boat trips, hikes and the best trout in the region, as well as tours to the Islands of the Sun and Moon, where legend says the Inca Empire was founded. If you want to stop there on the way to La Paz, you can easily do so by taking one of the buses below:

Schedule and price for buses from Puno to Copacabana

Bus Company Bus Class Time of Departure Time of Arrival Price  Additional Information
Trans Titicaca Normal 06:00 11:00 US$ 10.22 Direct service. Migration in Kasani.
Tour Peru Normal 07:00 12:00 US$ 9.00 Direct service. Migration in Kasani.
Huayruro Tours Semi lie-flat 07:00 12:00 US$ 5.84 Direct service. Migration in Kasani.
Huayruro Tours Lie-flat 07:00 12:00 US$ 7.30 Direct service. Migration in Kasani.
Transzela Inca suite 07:00 10:00 US$ 15.00 Direct service. Migration in Kasani.
Trans Titicaca Normal 07:30 12:30 US$ 10.22 Direct service. Migration in Kasani.
Trans Titicaca Normal 13:30 18:30 US$ 13.14 Direct service. Migration in Kasani.

You will notice there are no night trips available. This is because the border closes at 20:00. Also please take into account that there is an hour time difference between Peru and Bolivia.

copa
Copacabana, Bolivia foto: worldynomads.com

Please take into consideration that some buses make several short stops along the way, picking up passengers 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.

There is no proper bus terminal in Copacabana, as it is a very small town, but buses stop at the main square near the bus companies’ offices. Here is the map:

terminal terrestre de copacabana

If you are interested in spending a day or two in Copacabana before continuing your trip, one of the most popular things to do is visit the Island of the Sun (Isla del Sol). The boats leave from the dock at 8:30 and 13:30 most days. It takes about an hour and a half to reach Isla del Sol. On the island you will be able to see pre-Columbian ruins and experience the peace and energy of one of the most sacred places of the Inca empire. The boats back to Copacabana leave at 10:30 and 16:00, reaching Copacabana before 18:00.

3. Copacabana to La Paz

Copacabana to La Paz takes about 4 hours. The journey involves crossing the Tiquina strait which costs 2 bolivianos and is not usually included in your ticket. The buses will stop on the shore, passengers will have to cross the strait on boat while the boat crosses on a ferry. Passengers must then wait on the other side for their bus to finish crossing. They will then resume their journey. This takes about 30 minutes. Because it is not possible to cross the strait at night, the last bus to La Paz leaves at 18:30.

Schedule and price for buses from Copacabana to La Paz

Bus Company Bus Class Time of Departure Time of Arrival Price Additional information
Trans Titicaca Normal 13:30 17:30 US$ 5.84 Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Vicuna Travel Normal 13:30 17:30 US$ 4.38 Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Diana Tours Normal 13:30 17:30 US$ 4.38 Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Turisbus Tourist 13:30 18:00 US$ 19.00 Includes the crossing of Tiquina. Programmed stops to take pictures and pick-up service.
Trans Titicaca Normal 18:30 22:30 US$ 6.57 Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)

If you want to plan ahead, remember to book your tickets through www.ticketsbolivia.com

Have a nice trip!

Why you should visit La Paz in July

Bolivia was, technically, the first Latin-American nation to declare its independence. This took place on 16th July 1809 in La Paz where insurgent and revolutionary Pedro Domingo Murillo took arms, somewhere around where the current Plaza Murillo stands today. However, this lasted about 6 months until the Spaniards took back the control of the capital and the country. Bolivia waited another 16 years to be independent again, on 6 August 1825.

This is why, July is a very special month for all paceños and the best time to visit Bolivia. The city is known to celebrate with concerts, theater and dance. Most of the celebration is held on the evening of the 15th, during what is called verbana. People celebrate in the streets of La Paz while drinking hot drinks such as sucumbe. Sucumbe is a tradition on its own, only available around this time of year. It is a Bolivian version of the eggnog with milk, eggs and singani, the Bolivian grape-base liqueur.

During the verbana, there is a huge street party at Plaza San Francisco where people can eat, drink and enjoy free concerts. Thus, tourists in La Paz will be able to enjoy much more than the usual breathtaking sights, cable car rides across the city and towering mountains.

Chola Pacena in La Paz, Bolivia

The celebrations include cultural events, with art and photography shows, food festivals, folklore and poetry readings. On the 16th there is a parade and the day is a local bank holiday.

But festivities don’t stop here. Since 1988, every year between July and August takes place the Entrada Folklórica Universitaria, it is a dancing celebration organised by the Unversidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA) in La Paz to honor local traditions. University departments all dance in a long parade that starts at about 8:30 in the morning and lasts all day turning eventually into a party.

Tourists and locals can enjoy watching traditional dances performed by the students in folkloric outfits: Suri Sikuris, Salaque, Tinku, Doctorcitos and the Morenada, Diablada and Caporales.

Usually this event is on the last Saturday of July. This year it will be held on August 3rd.

Because National Independence Day is on August 6th, the month of July and August are celebratory months, the streets are decorated with the colors of the department of La Paz (green and red), giving it almost a Christmas-y feel.

July and August may be winter months and the coldest of the year but the constant blue sky and warming sun make it a very enjoyable time to walk around La Paz and explore its surroundings.

Enjoy the sunny days and stunning views of the mountains around during which is arguably, the best time to visit La Paz.

View of Illimani from Mirador Killi Killi
View of Illimani from Mirador Killi Killi

 

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La Paz to Uyuni | A complete guide for visiting the salt flats

Updated: 02 July 2019

Here you will find a complete guide which will provide all the information you need to book your transport to Uyuni, what to do you when you arrive in Uyuni, how to get around, and how to plan for your salts flat tour, as well as information for after your tour.

If you’re traveling through Latin America, you surely do not want to miss these two destinations: Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flats on Earth with 12,000 km2 of salt extending in all visible directions.

This guide will cover the following:

  1. How to get to Uyuni
  2. What to do in Uyuni
  3. How to book your Uyuni salt flats tour
  4. How to choose the right tour for you
  5. Other useful general information
alone vicuna in the desert Sud-Lipez
A vicuna – Photo: Lesly Derksen via Unsplash

1. How to get to Uyuni

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).

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. 

giorgia-romiti-Ni0fXNmEPJ4-unsplash
Flamingos, Bolivia – Photo: Giorgia Romiti via Unsplash

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. Flights are scheduled early and later in the day so travelers can catch their tour the same day and return the same day after the tour ends. See below more information on the Uyuni tours. 

2. What to do in Uyuni

Buses arrive early in the morning – the first buses usually arrive at around 5:30 but it can be earlier. Passengers have time to charge their phones, eat something and buy whatever is needed before the tour, or book a tour if they haven’t done it. 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 open from 5:00 to accommodate early arrivals.

The train arrives later at night (Trains arrive either at 21:20 or 2:20 in the morning) so it is recommended to book accommodation before hand. The train station is located in the center of Uyuni so you can easily book a hotel nearby.

The airport is located very near the town, most tour agencies will pick up passengers at the airport directly before the tour and drop them off there after. Otherwise there will be ways of transportation available to take you to your accommodation.

Here are some good food options if you are in Uyuni and are looking for a place to eat while you wait for your next bus/train/flight:

Breakfast Nonis: Opens early in the morning so you can go straight here after the long bus ride and warm with a hot drink and some simple food. The WiFi works well and there are plugs to charge your phone.

Minuteman Revolutionary Pizza: Located inside a hotel in the center of Uyuni, this pizza place is the perfect stop after your tour while waiting for your bus. It has a good selection of pizzas which also happen to be very good.

Lliphi: This is another very good option to wait during the afternoon. This restaurant/cafe-bistro has food, music, drinks and board games which will keep you occupied while you wait.

Tika: A more upscale option, this restaurant has a nice atmosphere and good-quality dishes.

Extreme Fun Pub: Like its name, this is a fun place meet fellow travelers if you happen to spend the night in Uyuni and are looking for a party and good drinks.

Landrover in the desert, Bolivi
Photo: Peter Conlan via Unsplash

3. How to book your Uyuni salt flats tour

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. It’s best to have an idea of which tour agencies you want to go to and go there directly to inquire for availability and prices.

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.

In the case that 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:

  • 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 shared 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.
  • Car can carry 7 people maximum (including the driver). Do not pick a tour agency that says otherwise and who is willing take more people.
  • 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.

4. How to choose the right tour for you

There are about 4 different options for your Uyuni tour.

1 – One-day tour

First, and a very popular option is the one-day tour that can come with variations depending on the season with sunrise or sunset and even stargazing options. I would recommend this option only if your time/budget is limited and you absolutely have no other option. Tours will start at around 10:00 in the morning and return right after sunset. Most tours will take you to the train cemetery, Colchani, and then head to the salar for lunch. The afternoon is dedicated to taking the traditional fun pictures and a visit to the Tunupa volcano where there are good viewpoints and archaeological sites to explore.

2 – Three-day tour

The most popular option is the three-day tour. The tours follow the same route with small variations. On the first day you will go to the salt flats and spend most of the afternoon there before heading to your accommodation right after sunset. The first night is spent in a salt hostel at the edge of the salar with amenities varying depending on the tour booked.

The second is a lot of driving towards the National Reserve Eduardo Abaroa, you will see active volcanoes, lagoons and beautiful landscapes. The highlight of that day is the Laguna Colorada where tours stop the longest. This is usually the last stop of the day and accommodation the second is usually more rustic and at an higher altitude (around 4.700 meters above sea level) making it the coldest night of the trip.

On the third day you will most likely head before down to the geysers and then go to the hot springs where you can bathe, have breakfast and rest before the last stop of the tour. At Laguna Verde located very near the border with Chile the groups split; those wanting to continue to Chile will cross the border and the others will return to Uyuni. The rest of the day is mostly drive with stops for lunch and special sights. The cars take a different route to go back. Tours return to Uyuni at around 16:30-17:00.

3 – Two-day and four-day tours

These options are not always offered by agencies as a shared tour. If you are traveling in a group of 6, you can easily arrange a private tour and select what you want to see and do.

If you can’t afford a private tour, some companies do offer these as shared tours. You can find some of these options here. If you are interested in these options it is better to do some research beforehand and book it before getting to Uyuni as you may not be able to find what you want on the day.

Also please note that there are 4-day tours from Tupiza (instead of Uyuni) which are also a good alternative for those who want a slightly different and more complete experience. These tours are slightly more expensive since they can only accommodate groups of 5 per car. The tour comes with a driver/guide and a cook. Also because they are less popular, fewer agencies operate them but they are of generally good quality. They also have the advantage to hit all the touristic stops at a different time than the tours coming from Uyuni or San Pedro de Atacama, which means that you can enjoy them with significantly less people.

5. Other useful general information

  • Temperatures get really cold during the tour, especially if you do the 3-day tour on the second night. July and August are winter month and temperatures can drop to -20°C or -4°F. Tours can rent you a sleeping bag but bring warm layers.
  • You will be affected by the altitude, especially for those who recently arrived in Bolivia and didn’t adjust properly. On the second and third day, tours go up to 5,000 meters above sea level. This affects the body on different levels, starting with headaches and trouble digesting. It is all completely normal but to avoid getting sick during the tour it is recommended to eat light, drink a lot and avoid alcohol.
  • Bring protection from the sun, sunglasses are indispensable but also protect your head and skin.
  • Five liters of water are recommended per person for a three-day tour.
  • You can start the tour from Uyuni, Tupiza or San Pedro de Atacama. Tours from San Pedro de Atacama follow the same itinerary as the tours from Uyuni, except in the reverse order: the last day is spent on the salt flats and transfer is possible to Uyuni.
  • During the rainy season (November to April/May), parts of the salt flats can be flooded causing changes to the itinerary as it is impossible to access some sites. However, the rainy season has the advantage to have the mirror effect happen where the sky reflects on the inundated white surface.

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.

Sucre to Uyuni 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 schedule and prices 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 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.

Bus schedule from La Paz to Uyuni is 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

Updated: 30 May 2019

Here you will find all the information you need to know about the Route of the Sun between Cusco and Puno and how to get from Cusco to Puno by bus or train.

Discover the Route of the Sun

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 to La Paz by land

Updated: 29 May 2019

Here you will find all the information you need to know to go from Cusco to Puno-Copacabana-La Paz. We will also help you choose between Puno or Copacabana and provide you with all the bus and train information to plan your journey.

If you are traveling from Peru to Bolivia, you probably are going from Cusco 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.

From La Paz to Cusco by bus: Everything you need to know

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. You can also make stops along the way, in Copacabana or Puno.

We have put together all the information you might need in order to plan and enjoy your trip to the fullest. 

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

 

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.