The most challenging way of crossing the border from Peru to Bolivia

By Tijana Radeska
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The most challenging way of crossing the border from Peru to Bolivia

Tijana Radeska
 
Crossing borders
Crossing borders
 
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Most of the travelers in South America visit Peru which is, of course, a delightful destination. But a bit further south there is scenery like nowhere else in the world. If you are seeking for more, you should extend your trip down to Bolivia. Only there might be a few issues such as visa and finding a way to cross the border. If you don’t want to take the easy route and want a bit of adventure and a challenge, then read on.

The easiest way to get into Bolivia is by plane from Lima or Cusco. Flying from Lima is easier as there are a couple of flights to La Paz, while from Cusco there is one every second day. However, getting into Bolivia without trouble is not part of the spirit your journey is supposed to be. Flying in is boring compared to all the other things you can do to cross the border.

Lake Titicaca map – Author: es:Usuario:Haylli – CC BY-SA 3.0
Lake Titicaca map – Author: es:Usuario:Haylli – CC BY-SA 3.0

There is also the major crossing border by road at Desaguardero. Every day there are several coaches from either Puno or Arequipa. It takes six hours to get from Puno to Desaguardero and eight from Arequipa. This option has many advantages. It is cheap. It is a nice trip cause you can see Lake Titikaka. And it is convenient. It’s just not very challenging.

A more challenging route is crossing the border from the town of Juliaca which is north of Puno. It is more adventurous because you will have to test your skills for dealing with the bureaucracy. And not just any bureaucracy, but South American bureaucracy which is never a good idea. Even the Peruvians try to avoid these place because of the many bandits and smugglers. As a matter of fact, the main reason for the existence of this border is for smuggling goods in and out of Peru and Bolivia.

Lake_Titicaca_on_the_Andes_from_Bolivia. – Author: Anthony Lacoste – CC BY 3.0
Lake_Titicaca_on_the_Andes_from_Bolivia. – Author: Anthony Lacoste – CC BY 3.0

If you manage to make a deal in Juliaca, then you will also be smuggled into Bolivia. There are small local buses driving on unpaved roads up to the Bolivian border at Puerto Acosta. The thing is that you might or might not get a Bolivian entry stamp. In case you don’t get one, you will spend some time in La Paz looking for someone to give you a stamp in your passport.

Maybe the best option to get into Bolivia would be catching a boat across the fifty shades of blue of Lake Titicaca. Nothing would be more enjoyable. If you decide to find yourself a ride across the lake, you will make lifelong memories because Titicaca is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

And that’s not all folks. You can also spend a night on Isla del Sol, on the Bolivian side of the lake and see the Titicaca sunset. And sunrise. This is probably the most expensive option, but it is worth it.

Sunrise in the Lake Titicaca, near Puno, in the Peruvian Andes, not far from Bolivia. – Author: Diego Delso – CC BY-SA 4.0
Sunrise in the Lake Titicaca, near Puno, in the Peruvian Andes, not far from Bolivia. – Author: Diego Delso – CC BY-SA 4.0

The last option is also across the lake. But it would require all your adventurous spirit and skills for making friends with the Uru people, a local ethnic group so that they would teach you how to make your own reed boat.

You really need to have a lot of time and traveling should be all that you are interested in. Otherwise, you won’t be able to do it. You will need time to make friends with the Uros, and only then, maybe, they would be willing to teach you how to navigate across 8,372 square kilometers of lake.

Reed Islands of Lake Titicaca -b – Author: Thomas Quine – CC BY 2.0
Reed Islands of Lake Titicaca -b – Author: Thomas Quine – CC BY 2.0
The last one is not a common option and certainly, there aren’t many that have done it. However, maybe only swimming would be more challenging and adventurous. But of course, it is impossible to swim the icy width of Titicaca.

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