Bolivia travel blog by Mark Berman -
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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.
A Scenic Ride / Guaqui Checkpoint
La Paz to Desaguadero is 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 comes into view on the right-hand side and 10mins later
you arrive in Desaguadero. This day of travel for me was far from finished.
Bus to Arequipa via Puno
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.
Same Trip in Reverse 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 here during some street parades with dancing etc.
A Stop at Tiahuanaco Ruins
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. 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 here if you want or just pass by.
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.
The Countryside is the Best
The best thing about the trip between Desaguadero and La Paz
is seeing the countryside and communities that live around the area.