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La Paz to Desaguadero, Bolivia - The Quickest Way To Peru From La Paz

Bolivia experiences and stories by a backpacker - June 2012 Sept 2015   » View Photoset (113 Photos)

2012 The quickest way from La Paz to Peru is through Desaguadero, the trip takes just 2hrs in a minivan, 2hrs 40mins including passport control to step into Peru. Desaguadero is a joint Bolivian/Peruvian town with the border crossing running straight down the middle of the 50m bridge over the river. It's a bit like a circus with all the bicycle-taxis carrying people and goods back and forth. It's one of the easier border crossings in South America. Once you arrive, just get a bicycle-taxi to take you up to immigration, then walk over the bridge to the other immigration, there are buses leaving to other destinations from there regularly. On the Peru side there is a monument and the Park of Intergration, you can sit down at one of the street kitchens and have a good feed also. La Paz to Desaguadero was a scenic ride with big grassy mountains dotted with little communities called Laja, Tiahuanaku, Wila Collo and Yanari. Wide fields with animals and small hay stacks are everywhere. I saw at least 6 small country churches on the hillsides. 24kms before Desaguadero is the Guaqui Checkpoint, we all had to get out of the van and walk down the path beside the road before getting back in and continuing on. There is a statue of a military guy outside. Just after Guaqui, Lake Titicaca came into view on the right-hand side and 10mins later we arrived in Desaguadero. This day of travel for me was far from finished. From the Peruvian side of Desaguadero I spent the next 9hrs 30mins on a bus to Arequipa via Puno and Juliaca, the bus didn't stop for food at all, so have a big meal in Desaguadero before traveling further into Peru.

2015 I did this trip again but in the opposite direction after arriving in Desaguadero from Tacna (southern Peru), a 6hr journey by shared van. I spent the night in Desaguadero this time, it is freezing at night believe me! I was lucky to be there during some street parades with dancing etc. Next morning I took a van for 25mins (40kms) to the Tiahuanaco Ruins, a Pre-Columbian archaeological site between Desaguadero and La Paz before continuing 90mins more to La Paz. Tiahuanaco is 3870m above sea level and costs 80 Bolivianos ($12USD) for foriegners to enter, it's just 10 Bolivianos for locals and is open from 8:30am until 4pm. This place actually has a whole bunch of ways they spell it: Tiwanaku, Tiahuanaco, Tiahuanacu and Tiahuanaku, take your pick! For your money you get to see 2 archaeological sites - Kalasasaya and Puma Punku plus 2 museums - Monumental Lithic and Ceramic. I didn't find the archaeological sites to be very exciting in all honesty, there is not really that much to see. Museums are not really my cup of tea either. What I enjoyed the most was having a look at the town itself - the Tiwanaku Village, plaza and San Pedro colonial church, there is actually no cost in doing this at all. The church was built between 1580 and 1612 and is a national monument while the plaza is full of stone sculptures and artworks scattered around it, a green frog sits at the top of the plaza's fountain. If you have been to any of the great ruins in Peru like Machu Picchu, Kuelap, Marcahuamachuco or Chan Chan, you may not find the Tiahuanaco Ruins to be very mind-blowing at all! Anyway, it's on-route between Desaguadero and La Paz so it's easy enough to stop there if you want or just pass by. The best thing about the trip between Desaguadero and La Paz is seeing the countryside and communities that live around the area.

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for La Paz to Desaguadero, Bolivia:

Hostal Corona, Desaguadero, Bolivia - Large Photo
Hostal Corona, Desaguadero, Bolivia (September 2015 - 1 night) - Desaguadero is extremely cold at night! Much colder than La Paz. All the hostels and hotels here are cheapish and not fancy. None have wifi. I payed $50 Bolivianos ($8USD) for a double room. The beds had 5 thick blankets on them that keep you warm but weigh a lot. The curtains were thick which helps a little. I had a TV and private bathroom. They said they had hot water but I didn't bother trying it, too cold when you get out. Just one hostal out of a big bad bunch of them here. Take your pick!

Distances & times (if available) from a point on the journey from La Paz to Desaguadero (Bolivia) to:
 A : Puno to Bolivian Border - Peru 31 kms 31 kms straight distance | 56mins 56mins by car (56 kms) | 1hr 7mins 1hr 7mins by bus (56 kms) (56 kms)
 B : Copacabana - Bolivia 44 kms 44 kms straight distance | 1hr 9mins 1hr 9mins by car (56 kms) | 1hr 22mins 1hr 22mins by bus (56 kms) (56 kms)
 C : La Paz - Bolivia 94 kms 94 kms straight distance | 1hr 56mins 1hr 56mins by car (105 kms) | 2hrs 19mins 2hrs 19mins by bus (105 kms) (105 kms)
 D : La Paz to Copacabana - Bolivia 61 kms 61 kms straight distance | 2hrs 4mins 2hrs 4mins by car (109 kms) | 2hrs 28mins 2hrs 28mins by bus (109 kms) (109 kms)
 E : Puno / Juliaca - Peru 133 kms 133 kms straight distance | 2hrs 33mins 2hrs 33mins by car (153 kms) | 3hrs 3mins 3hrs 3mins by bus (153 kms) (153 kms)
 F : Moquegua to Desaguadero - Peru 215 kms 215 kms straight distance | 4hrs 15mins 4hrs 15mins by car (297 kms) | 5hrs 6mins 5hrs 6mins by bus (297 kms) (297 kms)
 G : Oruro - Bolivia 253 kms 253 kms straight distance | 4hrs 20mins 4hrs 20mins by car (306 kms) | 5hrs 12mins 5hrs 12mins by bus (306 kms) (306 kms)
 H : Tacna - Peru 210 kms 210 kms straight distance | 5hrs 21mins 5hrs 21mins by car (330 kms) | 6hrs 25mins 6hrs 25mins by bus (330 kms) (330 kms)
 I : Chile Border to Tacna - Peru 243 kms 243 kms straight distance | 6hrs 2mins 6hrs 2mins by car (367 kms) | 7hrs 14mins 7hrs 14mins by bus (367 kms) (367 kms)
 J : Arica - Chile 253 kms 253 kms straight distance | 6hrs 13mins 6hrs 13mins by car (379 kms) | 7hrs 27mins 7hrs 27mins by bus (379 kms) (379 kms)
 K : Cochabamba - Bolivia 313 kms 313 kms straight distance | 7hrs 6mins 7hrs 6mins by car (449 kms) | 8hrs 31mins 8hrs 31mins by bus (449 kms) (449 kms)
 L : Arequipa - Peru 269 kms 269 kms straight distance | 7hrs 7mins 7hrs 7mins by car (510 kms) | 8hrs 32mins 8hrs 32mins by bus (510 kms) (510 kms)
 M : Rurrenabaque - Bolivia 286 kms 286 kms straight distance | 10hrs 57mins 10hrs 57mins by car (525 kms) | 13hrs 8mins 13hrs 8mins by bus (525 kms) (525 kms)
 N : Iquique to Arica to Peru Border - Chile 344 kms 344 kms straight distance | 8hrs 5mins 8hrs 5mins by car (550 kms) | 9hrs 42mins 9hrs 42mins by bus (550 kms) (550 kms)
 O : Camana - Peru 392 kms 392 kms straight distance | 7hrs 55mins 7hrs 55mins by car (557 kms) | 9hrs 30mins 9hrs 30mins by bus (557 kms) (557 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.
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