Calling all music lovers; from Santa Cruz to the Chuiquitos Circuit by bus or train

If you are a lover of music and travel, if you are keen on getting to know those places still off the international tourist radar, then this post is for you. I’ll tell you all about the Chiquitos Circuit, the amazing music festival held there every two years, and how you can travel easily from Bolivia’s largest city, Santa Cruz, to the Chiquitos Circuit by bus or train.

The ancient Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, towns founded between 1691 and 1767 in the territories of the chiquitano indigenous people, are some of the most important monuments of Bolivia´s cultural and historic heritage. It is not only the amazing churches that mix indigenous and European imagery, showing off the intricate artistry of indigenous hands, nor the joy of watching children play in an orchestra with instruments they made themselves, nor the lush green forest surroundings that make the Chiquitos Circuit a destination to discover.

chiquitos iglesa II
A church in the Chiquitos Circuit

It is also the fact that, during the process of restoration of the Jesuit temples in the 70s, an enormous musical treasure was discovered: more than 9,000 sheets of religious music written between the XVII and XVIII centuries, both by European and indigenous composers. 

This amazing discovery gave way to turning Chiquitos into the epicenter of the celebration of baroque music in South America, with the creation of the International Festival of Renaissance and Baroque Music “Misiones de Chiquitos”, which is organized by APAC and held in April  every two years since 1996. And you can attend the festival easily, by traveling from Santa Cruz to the Chiquitos Circuit by bus or train. 

afiche festival chiquitos
Poster for the festival held in 2018

For the international musicians of baroque music that come from all over the world to play at this festival, it is like going back in history in a cross-cultural experience. The music played is often arranged or composed by local indigenous musicians, a magical moment because of its cultural implications. Most of the concerts are held at no cost to the public and the the local communities participate actively in the Festival, as well as many music lovers who come just for the concerts. In fact, there are special tours offered for those who want to get to know the natural, cultural and historic richness of Bolivia and  experience a tour for people who don’t like tours.

The towns of Chuiquitos are very special. Founded between 1696 and 1760, most of the churches have their original structure and facades and the works of art inside made by European and indigenous artists. But it is not just the temples that live on; despite the expulsion of the Jesuits in the year 1767 and the passing of time, the teachings, language, religious and pagan customs, the temples and the music have been kept intact. Thus, the towns are not ruins or museums, but live communities with the inheritance of a rich, complex historic past and a thriving mestizo culture. 

chiquitos niños violín
Children musicians in Chiquitos

In 1990, UNESCO declared six missions of Chiquitos Cultural Heritage of Humanity, naming them “living towns” for the living and thriving customs that have been kept alive by their communities. These towns are:

But there are other mission towns that, despite not being named in UNESCO’s declaration, are part of the Chiquitos Circuit and also extraordinary destinations. These are:

There are two main ways to travel from Santa Cruz to the Chuiquitos Circuit, and here we tell you all about it.

mapa circuito de chiquitos
The Chiquitos Circuit

Santa Cruz to San Jose de Chiquitos by train

The trip from Santa Cruz to San Jose de Chiquitos by train lasts around 6 hours, covering a distance of 272 km. San Jose is the capital of the province of Chiquitos, and it was the third town founded as a ministry of the Jesuits on March 19th, 1697. This town is well-known for its church, built of stone in the 17th century.

To travel from Santa Cruz to San Jose de Chuiquitos by train, you take the train at the Station in Santa Cruz, located on Montes Av. Trains leave every day except on Saturdays. They arrive at the Train Station in San Jose, located on Gallardo Av. If you want to reserve the tickets and heck out times of departure and arrivals, click here: Santa Cruz to San Jose de Chiquitos by train

chiquitos catedral-concepcion
Traditional dancing at the church of Concepcion

Santa Cruz to San Ignacio de Velasco By bus

San Ignacio de Velasco is one of the largest towns in the Chiquitos Circuit, and it lies at a distance of 471 km from the city of Santa Cruz. Trip data:

The bus company Pionera Trans Bolivia offers USB chargers, coffee & water bar and Wi-Fi. If you want to check prices and availability, click here:  Santa Cruz to San Ignacio de Velasco by bus

San Ignacio de Velasco was founded in 1748 by Jesuit missions at the foot of beautiful mountains and close to the Paragua River. The town is strategically located, making it the receptive center for tours to the Missionary Triangle: San Miguel, San Rafael and Santa Ana de Velasco.

chiquitos niños musica
Children musicians in Chiquitos

We hope this information was useful and that you will plan your trip from Santa Cruz to Chiquitos by bus or train. If you are rather a nature lover than a megalomaniac, look out for our next blog, where we explain how to explore the Noel Kempf Mercado Park, one of the most remote and exotic national reservations, located at just 198 km from San Ignacio de Velasco. Cheers and good travels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to cope with altitude sickness in Bolivia and Peru

Should you be worried by altitude sickness? When does it start to become dangerous and how to prepare for it?

When traveling to Cusco or Puno in Peru, or La Paz and Uyuni in Bolivia it is important to come prepared as adjusting to the altitude can take some time and could affect your trip in Bolivia and Peru. Here are some tips to help you with this and some useful information.

Altitude sickness typically occurs only above 2,500 meters (8,000 ft), though some are affected at lower altitudes. Risk factors include a high degree of activity, and a rapid increase in elevation.

1. What are the effects of altitude

Altitude can affect anyone in some way. Your physical fitness has no impact on how the altitude difference will affect you so there is no need to go to the gym to prepare. The symptoms are roughly the same for everyone but it will impact people on different levels.

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Slow digestion
  • Out of breath

Severe altitude sickness is rare but if you think you are not adjusting well to the altitude, go see a doctor and travel to a lower altitude if required.

2. Can you prepare before?

The best way to prevent altitude sickness and be prepared for high altitude locations is by climbing slowly, by steps, allowing the body to adjust to the new altitude. If that is not possible and you are planning to trek or want to attempt a climb soon after arrival, taking acetazolamide can be used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Acetazolamide is also known as Diamox. Please consult with your doctor before taking it.

How to use Diamox Tablet

Acetazolamide should be taken 1 to 2 days before starting to climb. Continue taking it while you are climbing and for at least 48 hours after you have reached your final altitude. You may need to continue taking this medication while staying at the high altitude to control your symptoms.

3. What to do when you arrive

However, it is not absolutely necessary to take Diamox, or acetazolamide, before coming to Peru or Bolivia. In most situations, you can adjust by taking some time when arriving to a new height and avoiding certain things:

  • Do not exert yourself
  • Avoid smoking and drinking, and other intoxicating substances
  • Eat light meals

Some companies advertise over the counter medicine against high altitude sickness, these medicine (Sorojchi pills for example) only treat some of the symptoms, such as the headache and are made of aspirin, acetaminosalol (Salophen) – which is an analgesic – and caffeine. These pills don’t cure altitude sickness and you should check the composition before taking them.

Coca tea is also believed to help with altitude sickness, though there isn’t any evidence to support this. However, drinking coca tea wouldn’t hurt and coca’s analgesic properties would certainly help.

Ultimately, it is important for travelers arriving to Peru and Bolivia to understand the difference between Diamox, Sorojchi Pills and coca tea.

  • Check with your doctor before taking Diamox.
  • Sorojchi pills can help with the symptoms when you first arrive but are not a treatment for altitude sickness.
  • Like the pills coca tea may help alleviate some of the symptoms
  • If you are planning to trek or climb a peak, make sure to plan time to acclimatize to the altitude. And if it is not possible do check with your doctor for the best way to deal with it.
  • If strong symptoms of altitude sickness remain after a few days please check with a doctor.
  • The only treatment for high altitude sickness is to descend to a lower altitude.

Five tips for traveling in Bolivia by bus

Updated on January 2020

Bus travel in Bolivia, or in flota, as it is called here, is one of the best ways to get around while on a budget. Buses cover most of Bolivia’s destinations and the most popular routes have frequent departures. Of course, bus travel in Bolivia is not without complications but the views and landscapes you will go through are well worth the effort. Here are our five tips for getting around the country safely and affordably.

Travel by bus in Bolivia: what you see
Bolivian Altiplano www.panoramio.com

1.Be prepared

Pack layers

Being prepared is important in order to enjoy traveling in Bolivia by bus. For example, know that if you will be traveling at night, especially through the altiplano, it can get very cold at night. Even if buses claim to have air conditioning or heating, they sometimes don’t. Or it isn’t working, so be sure to have blankets and/or warm clothes at hand if you need them. Likewise, if traveling by day through the lowlands it may get really hot and stuffy.

Bring snacks

Also, be sure to always have water and some food when you travel. Snacks are rarely included with the bus ticket, so most buses stop at least once so passengers can go to the bathroom and buy food in small towns along the way. But, when traveling in Bolivia by bus there are many circumstances that could affect the length of your trip. For example road blocks, traffic or the bus breaking down. These issues are usually resolved within a few hours, but it is always best to be prepared in case you end up stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Bus travel in Boliva
http://www.sucrelife.com

2. Know what to expect

Random stops

Bus companies and drivers are trying to make the most profit from each trip. And there are many people who live in villages along the highway who need to travel. So don’t be alarmed if the buses stop once in a while to pick up passengers off the road, even if there is no space on the bus. People are used to sitting on the floor or stairways. It’s cultural, it responds to a social and economic reality and this won’t change in the near future. There are also sometimes people who get on the bus in order to sell food, drink, candy, and miracle remedies. 

Rainy season

Unfortunately, when traveling in Bolivia by bus, there a different types of situations that can cause a delay or the cancellation of your trip. The rainy season, between November and February/March can cause landslides, flooding and other complications on some routes. Accidents are rare but to avoid them companies and transit authorities will cancel departures. There is not much that can be done other than waiting for better conditions or taking a different, longer route. This is why, if you are traveling in Bolivia/Peru/Chile/Argentina during the rainy season be aware that this could happen and plan sufficient time to get to your destination, especially if you have a flight to take. Please note that during the rainy seasons it is common for flights to be cancelled too so, wherever your destination, don’t book close connections.

Roadblocks

Bolivia has a strong protest culture. This can be particularly problematic when traveling Bolivia by bus. Long strikes (24 hours and longer) are usually announced but sometimes small communities will block major roads for a certain number of hours and without warning. Sometimes there is no alternative road and no other solution than to wait for the roadblock to lift. It may be possible to cross the blockade by foot and then take another method of transportation but only do that when there is no other solution. These situations vary a lot and the bus company will do what they can to help you get to your destination.

Be patient

It is also common for buses to wait past their scheduled departure time to fill with passengers. This is especially the case for informal bus companies who do regional routes (La Paz-Copacabana for example). If this will upset you, ask before you buy or go to the bus terminal where formal companies operate on fixed schedules. You can consult approximate journey times and departure times at the counter of the bus companies, and also in websites like this one, but be aware that these can change on short notice. Never plan a connection with less than 2 hours between the trips .

Bus terminal in La Paz
Bus terminal of La Paz

3. Know where you’re sitting

Types of seats

There are three types of buses in Bolivia: Lie-flat (cama), semi-lie-flat (semi cama) and normal. Buses with lie-flat seats are the most comfortable, and are usually only available for long trips, more than three hours long. The seats recline between 160 and 170 degrees, depending on the bus. We definitely recommend these for long trips. Semi-lie-flat buses have seats that recline between 120 and 130 degrees, and are great on trips that cover shorter distances. Normal buses have seats that recline no more than 110 degrees, and are okay for traveling short distances on a budget. VIP buses with personalized TVs, WiFi, USB plugs and food are not very common in Bolivia yet, unlike its neighboring countries. Only a few bus companies have these types of buses.

Where to seat in the bus

When selecting a seat, know the pros and cons of each. Seats in the back of the bus may be warmer, good if you’re traveling along the highlands, but the trip may be bumpy, since you’re practically sitting on the back tires. You may have a smoother ride in the front but it can be colder. Also, if you select window seats, there is a chance a draft may slip through, so make sure to have warm clothes.

At the moment few bus companies have online systems that allow to select a seat at the moment of the purchase. This means that when you book a bus ticket online, you can’t select a specific seat on most routes. When buying your tickets through TicketsBolivia, you can write to us after the booking and let us know your seating preference. If possible the bus company will do everything possible to accommodate each passenger.

bus terminal in Bolivia

4. Be safe 

All arrival and departure times shown on our website correspond to local times. Whenever your bus leaves the terminal or arrives at night, between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am, be cautious. Do not take a taxi that does not have the proper registration and identification. Here is some information on how to recognize and avoid common scams in Peru and Bolivia.

Usually, the terminals have taxi companies that work with them and are certified. Sometimes, when your bus arrives very early, like 3:00 am, you have the option of staying on the bus until a safer time to leave, like 6:00 am. If you have any doubts about the location of the bus terminal you are leaving from or arriving at, you will find the complete list of terminals and maps on this link: https://ticketsbolivia.com/travel-board.php

Bolivia is a generally safe country where the same logic and common sense applies as anywhere else in the world and traveling around Bolivia by bus can be a real enriching and fun experience.

5. Enjoy!

Look out the window, listen to some music, eat some snacks you wouldn’t otherwise, take the time to finally read that book or listen to that podcast and don’t be rushed to arrive at your next destination.

Have a nice trip!

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.

From Arequipa to La Paz by bus

Updated January 2020

Getting from Arequipa to La Paz by bus takes about 13 hours. There are no direct buses between Arequipa and La Paz so buses will stop in Puno where passengers need to board a different bus. Puno is located 292 km from Arequipa and the trip takes around 6 hours. The bus from Puno to La Paz takes another 6 hours.

Nonetheless, there is also a tourist service offered by Bolivia Hop which includes stops along the way.

Since there is a border crossing, usually in Desaguadero, make sure to have all the necessary documents ready when arriving at the migration office and be aware of the paperwork needed. For more information on the entry requirements for Bolivia, check our blog post here.

Route Arequipa to La Paz – Photo: Google maps

This guide will cover the following:

  1. Book your transport from Arequipa to La Paz
  2. What to do after your arrival?
  3. Plan a tour in La Paz
  4. Other useful information
Typical Andean women dancing – Photo: user 677920 via Pixabay

1. Book your transport to La Paz

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are two ways to travel from Arequipa to La Paz by bus. First, the trip can be done with a stop midway the route in Puno. On the other hand, you can travel with a bus company that offers a tourist experience, with stops where you can hop-on and hop-off, such as Bolivia Hop.

Trip with stopover

The fastest option to travel from Arequipa to La Paz by bus is to go via Puno. Puno, on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, is famous for the Urus floating islands.

Arequipa to Puno by bus

Bus companyType of busDeparture timeArrival timeAdditional information
4M ExpressTourist bus12:00pm7:00pmStops in Pampa Cañahuas and Lagunillas.
Includes: Transportation, and tourist stops.
Guide on board in English and Spanish.
Tour PeruSemi lie-flat and lie-flat10:30pm04:30amDirect service
TranszelaLie-flat10:30pm05:00amDirect service

The bus company doing the trip from Arequipa to Puno is 4M Express, a touristic bus company. From Puno to La Paz there are different options with Trans Titicaca (normal bus), Tour Peru (semi lie-flat bus) and Bolivia Hop (tourist bus).

Puno to La Paz by bus

The buses from Puno to La Paz leave every day between 07:00am and 1:30pm. This trip also takes around 6 hours, depending on the route and bus company you choose. Some buses are direct, crossing the border at Desaguadero and others go via Copacabana where travelers need to change buses.

Bus companyType of busDeparture timeArrival timeAdditional information
Tour PeruSemi lie-flat06:45am3:00pmDirect service. Migration in Desaguadero. This ticket does not include the boat trip cost in Tiquina.
Trans TiticacaNormal7:00am3:00pmDirect service. This ticket does not include the boat trip cost in Tiquina.
Trans Titicaca Normal 7:30am6:30pm Migration in Kasani and change of bus in Copacabana.
This ticket does not include the boat trip cost in Tiquina.
Trans Titicaca Normal 1:30pm10:30pmMigration in Kasani and change of bus in Copacabana.
This ticket does not include the boat trip cost in Tiquina.
Bolivia HopTourist bus8:30am10:30pmHop-on/Hop-off service
Floating islands in Puno – Photo: Jerson Goicochea via Unsplash

Tourist bus from Arequipa to La Paz

You also have the option to travel with Bolivia Hop from Arequipa to La Paz in a tourist bus. The journey takes about two days with multiple stops in Lagunillas, Juliaca, Puno and Copacabana. Bolivia Hop provides a personalized service with guides and assistance with border crossing paperwork.

2. What to do after your arrival?

Witches market

Located in downtown La Paz, behind the San Francisco church, it is one of the most visited places by tourists. Here you can find amulets, potions and other various products used to make offerings to Mother Earth, known as Pachamama. There you can also find clothes, accessories and ornaments with indigenous motifs that you can bring back as souvenirs.

Street vendor at Witches Market in La Paz – Photo: Bolivia Hop website

Valle de la Luna

Located on the way to Mallasa, it is located 40 minutes from the city center of La Paz. You can get there by taxi or public transport.

Valle de la Luna – Photo: WaSZI via Pixabay

Cable car – Mi Teleferico La Paz

A transport service consisting of over 8 lines with different routes that will help you to know the whole city of La Paz from above. La Paz is located at 3,650 meters above sea level. You can board any of the lines in the areas of Irpavi, Sopocachi, Obrajes, Alto Obrajes, Av. Arce, Plaza Villarroel, etc.

Cable car in La Paz – Photo: Gabriel Alenius via Unsplash

Viewpoints

The most visited viewpoints are the viewpoints of Pura Pura, Killi Killi and the viewpoint of Laikakota located on Avenida del Ejército.

Children on slide at Laikakota park in La Paz – Photo: Pagina Siete newspaper website

Museums

The city hosts numerous cultural spaces and museums. Some highlights are:

Precious Metal Museum (also known as Gold Museum): This museum holds an impressive collection of Pre-Columbian pieces showcasing jewelries and ceramics.

MUSEF (Museum of Ethnography and Folklore): This museum contains archeological pieces from around Bolivia, ranging from textiles, feathers, masks, metal and stone.

Museum of National History: Showcases fossils of animals from different geological eras. Located in the South Zone of La Paz, in Cota Cota (street 26).

Museum Tambo Quirquincho: Contains collection of colonial and republican silver artefacts. There are also old photographs of La Paz, traditional masks and costumes.

Food

There is something to eat for all tastes and budgets in La Paz. If you want to taste local delicacies, we recommend the delicious salteñas. For more typical and traditional food, you can find many options around the city, especially behind San Francisco church, on Calle Murillo.

Typical salteñas food in La Paz – Photo: Opinion newspaper website

3. Plan a tour in La Paz

For instance, if you want a quick although complete look of this wonderful city you can book a tour with Qantuxcape. Certainly, this sightseeing city tour is the perfect way to discover La Paz and, with stops where you can hop-on and off, it is easy for you to visit the best that the city has to offer.

Sightseeing bus – Photo: Qantuxcape via TicketsBolivia.com

Discover La Paz’s most important landmarks on a bus tour led by experienced tourist guides. Book online here today!

4. Other useful information

We hope the information is useful. Check our other travel guides for Bolivia. If you have any doubts and want advice regarding your travel plans, feel free to contact us at info@ticketsbolivia.com.

From San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni by bus

Travel from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni by bus

Getting from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni by bus takes around 14 hours. The distance between both cities is 520km. There are buses that leave the station everyday at 3am and 9:45am and arrive to Uyuni at 3pm and 8pm.

Here you will find a complete guide to:

  1. Book your transport to Uyuni
  2. What to do after your arrival?
  3. Plan a salt flat tour
  4. Other useful information

San Pedro de Atacama is a Chilean town located at the edge of the Salar de Atacama. An increasing number of tourists are interested in visiting the native ruins nearby, trekking, climbling and even sand boarding in the desert. But because of its altitude (2.400m), a brief period of acclimatization may be required.

Salar of Atacama – Photo: Kurt Cotoaga via Unsplash

On the other hand, Uyuni is a must visit destination if you are traveling through South America. It’s a Bolivian city which serves primarily as a gateway for tourists traveling to the wolrd’s largest salt flats. The Salar of Uyuni has an elevation of 3656 meters above sea level and a surface of 10.582 square kilometers.

Salar of Uyuni – Photo: Diego Fernandez via Unsplash

1. Book your bus from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni

Through Tickets Bolivia you can book your trip from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni by bus with trustworthy and reliable companies that offer clients good quality services. Cruz del Norte and Trans Salvador work on this route. Their schedules are the following:

CompanyBus classRouteTime of departure and arrivalPrice in US Dollars
Cruz del NorteSemi lie-flatDirect service03:00 / 16:30$32.12
Trans SalvadorSemi lie-flat Direct service 09:45 / 22:00$28.91
Cruz del NorteSemi lie-flat Direct service 10:30 / 21:00$32.12
Bus schedule San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni by bus

Tips during the journey

  • Buses from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni stop in Calama. Calama is 100 kilometers from Uyuni and it takes about 1:30 hours to do the journey by bus.
  • 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.
  • The buses that travel during the day will do a stop in Calama, while the night bus will go through this town, located on the border between Ollague and Avaroa.

These are the Cruz del Norte semi lie-flat bus.

Cruz del Norte buses – Photo: Cruz del Norte via Flickr

This is the Trans Salvador semi lie-flat bus.

Trans Salvador semi lie-flat bus – Photo: transsalvador.com via Google Images

2. What to do after your arrival?

Buses arrive in the afternoon around 16:30 or at night around 21:00-22:00. Passengers who arrive earlier will 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.

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.

3. Plan a salt flat tour in Uyuni

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.

Tour car on Uyuni’s “mirror” salt flat – Photo: Lucas Metz via Unsplash

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.

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.

Brown lama facing body of water – Photo: Mariana Proenca via Unsplash.

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.

4. Other useful information

  • The high season is in December-January and July-August. Prices can be higher due to the high affluence of tourists during these months.
  • 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.
Body of water under cloudy sky during daytime – Photo: Boyan Lepoev via Unsplash

If you are traveling from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni by bus, you can find the information bus schedules here. Buses have day and night departures.

We hope the information is useful. Check our other travel guides for Bolivia. If you have any doubts and want advice regarding your travel plans, feel free to contact us at info@ticketsbolivia.com.

All you need to know to travel from La Paz & Puno to Copacabana by bus

Puno to Copacabana by bus takes about 4 hours. From Bolivia, La Paz to Copacabana also takes about 4 hours by bus. This guide will give you all the information you need in order to plan your trip from La Paz and Puno 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.

Bus from La Paz to Copacabana

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 La Paz to Copacabana bus:

Bus CompanyBus ClassTime of DepartureTime of ArrivalPriceAdditional Information
Vicuna TravelNormal07:3011:30US$
4.38
Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
TurisbusTourist07:3011:30US$ 19Includes the crossing of Tiquina. Programmed stops to take pictures and pick-up service.
Trans TiticacaNormal08:0012:00US$ 3.94Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Diana TourNormal08:0012:00US$ 4.38Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Trans TiticacaNormal13:3017:30US$ 3.65Doesn’t include the crossing of Tiquina (2 Bs)
Bus from La Paz to Copacabana

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 by bus 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 buses from La Paz to Copacabana 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. However 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

Bus from Puno to Copacabana

The Puno to Copacabana bus takes about 4 hours by bus and 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. They are both touristic destinations: Puno is a larger city with a more developed tourism industry while Copacabana is smaller and more relaxed. But, 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 bus from Puno to Copacabana:

Bus CompanyBus ClassTime of DepartureTime of ArrivalPriceAdditional Details
Trans TiticacaNormal06:0011:00US$ 10.22Migration in Kasani
Tour PeruNormal07:0012:00US$ 9Migration in Kasani
Huayruro ToursSemi lie-flat07:0012:00US$ 5.84Migration in Kasani
Huayruro ToursLie-flat07:0012:00US$ 7.30Migration in Kasani
TranszelaInca suite07:0010:30US$ 15.00Migration in Kasani
Trans TiticacaNormal07:3012:30US$ 10.22Migration in Kasani
Trans TiticacaNormal13:3018:30US$ 13.14Migration in Kasani
Bus schedule Puno to Copacabana

A guide to visiting Copacabana

Most people go to Copacabana to see Lake Titicaca and 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 and 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 and 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 also 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 and others near the center. There are also 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). However, 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.

Boat from Copacabana to Isla del Sol

Shared boats leave twice a day at 8:30 and 13:30 and 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.

Please note:

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 finally been solved and tourists can now 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. While you are there, we would recommend spending one night there to have time to really appreciate how special this place is.

Suggested itinerary for visiting Isla del Sol

  • 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.

Another 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

If you want to 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 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 or 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 and please note that the island doesn’t have any electricity.

Finally, 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.

You can find here more information on bus from Copacabana to La Paz or Copacabana to Puno.

Check our other Bolivia Travel Guides!

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.

Bus from La Paz to Copacabana

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 La Paz to Copacabana buses:

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

Bus from Puno to Copacabana

The Puno to Copacabana bus 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.