On our recent trip across South America, there was one overland border crossing that we just could not avoid. We set off to explore Lake Titicaca, one of the highest navigable lakes in the world, home to unique islands with deep history and unique traditions.
The lake lies on the border of Bolivia and Peru, making it difficult to visit both sides without traveling overland. So we were in for an adventure!
As it turned out, crossing the Bolivia/Peru border was an absolute breeze! Here is how it all went down.
En route to the Border
We left Copacabana, Bolivia en route for Puno, Peru at exactly 5 o’clock in the afternoon. It took only about 20 mins to reach the border.
Our Peru Hop guide handed out immigration forms for us to fill out en route, which helped speed up the process at the immigration upon arrival.
We hopped out of the bus and lined up in front of the Immigration Office (i.e. a small building with a nothing more than a room with 3 desks). There were a few small stalls selling snacks and offering currency exchange next door to the Immigration Office. The set up looked pretty informal.
The officers at the immigration took our passports, looked through our stamps and without a single question, gave us a Bolivia exit stamp. We were one of the first ones to get through the line, so we had to wait for about 10 mins for the rest of the group to complete their exit process.
Our Bolivia Hop bus couldn’t drive across the border, so we grabbed all of our bags and were instructed to walk across the border on foot.
Once on the other side, we formed another line, this time, at a slightly more official looking Peru Immigration office. Ten mins and another stamp later, we were officially in Peru. Easy peasy!
We decided not to exchange money at the border, like a lot of others did. We didn’t have a lot of Bolivian currency on hand, and the rates didn’t seem very favorable and since we had our ride to Puno arranged and paid for already, we didn’t really need immediate cash. We took out money from an ATM upon arrival to Puno.
Another thing worth noting is that we were traveling on Canadian and UK passports and thus did not have to pay any visa fees. If you are traveling with a different passport, we recommend that you double check your visa requirements and come prepared with the exact amount of cash. Remember, there are no ATMs on the border.
Once the formalities were complete, we walked about 50 m down the road where a shiny Peru/Bolivia Hop bus was waiting for our arrival. We threw our bags under the bus, got comfy and settled in for another 2-hour ride to Puno.
Of all the border crossings we’ve experienced during our travels, this was by far one of the smoothest and easiest ones yet. If you are planning to cross the Bolivia/Peru border overland, we highly recommend doing it with Peru/Bolivia Hop.
Do you find border crossings to be stressful? Do you have a not-so-smooth border crossing story to share? Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Our trip from Bolivia to Peru was provided courtesy of Peru Hop, but all opinions expressed in this article are our own.