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Gran Chaco to Santa Cruz, Bolivia - 18hrs In A Bus On A Border Cross

Bolivia experiences and stories by a backpacker - June 2012   » View Photoset (27 Photos)

The Trans-Chaco road from Paraguay north/west up to Santa Cruz is now paved and takes a lot less time than it used to. I boarded the bus in Pozo Colorado which is 5hrs north of Asuncion at around 11pm, by around 6am we crossed the border into Bolivia on highway 9. This border crossing is about as remote as you can get in South America, there is not much there and the passport control office is really just a shack. In front of the office there were several money changers - I changed my Guaranis to Bolivianos. There also were a few small food stalls outside the office but the bus actually had food onboard for the passengers, little packets of things and basic sandwiches. In total it took 18hrs from Pozo Colorado to get up to Santa Cruz, from Asuncion you are looking at about 24hrs. We arrived in Santa Cruz at around 4:30pm. I started taking a few photos of the journey during the day after we crossed into Bolivia. On the Bolivian side the road becomes Ruta Chuquisaca-Chaco. There is nothing really man-made to see which is a nice change (apart from peoples houses and farms), just nature - rivers, hills, trees, crops growing, cattle, powerlines, fences, dirt side-roads, a train track, open plains and grassy fields. It's definitely not the worst road I have travelled on in Bolivia, that prize goes to the road between Tarija and Potosi = 12hrs of hell. Ruta Chuquisaca-Chaco is in good condition and is quite scenic, but at one point we detoured off highway 9 on a road to the east of Camiri and passed over the Parapeti River. This is actually the place I started taking photos, the river has a lot of small boulders. Later we crossed over the Rio Grande O Guapey, it's quite beautiful around this area with wide plains and sandy river banks. An hour and a quarter later we were on the outskirts of Santa Cruz, a city I had been to a couple of times before.

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Distances & times (if available) from a point on the journey from Gran Chaco to Santa Cruz (Bolivia) to:
 A : Filadelfia - Paraguay 310 kms 310 kms straight distance | 5hrs 4mins 5hrs 4mins by car (341 kms) | 6hrs 4mins 6hrs 4mins by bus (341 kms) (341 kms)
 B : Tarija - Bolivia 268 kms 268 kms straight distance | 11hrs 4mins 11hrs 4mins by car (468 kms) | 13hrs 16mins 13hrs 16mins by bus (468 kms) (468 kms)
 C : Santa Cruz - Bolivia 329 kms 329 kms straight distance | 8hrs 16mins 8hrs 16mins by car (485 kms) | 9hrs 55mins 9hrs 55mins by bus (485 kms) (485 kms)
 D : Gran Chaco - Paraguay 491 kms 491 kms straight distance | 7hrs 40mins 7hrs 40mins by car (526 kms) | 9hrs 12mins 9hrs 12mins by bus (526 kms) (526 kms)
 E : Bermejo & Aguas Blancas Border - Bolivia 311 kms 311 kms straight distance | 8hrs 38mins 8hrs 38mins by car (540 kms) | 10hrs 21mins 10hrs 21mins by bus (540 kms) (540 kms)
 F : Sucre - Bolivia 352 kms 352 kms straight distance | 15hrs 6mins 15hrs 6mins by car (624 kms) | 18hrs 7mins 18hrs 7mins by bus (624 kms) (624 kms)
 G : Villazon & Argentinian Border - Bolivia 371 kms 371 kms straight distance | 14hrs 48mins 14hrs 48mins by car (653 kms) | 17hrs 45mins 17hrs 45mins by bus (653 kms) (653 kms)
 H : Tupiza - Bolivia 359 kms 359 kms straight distance | 14hrs 53mins 14hrs 53mins by car (674 kms) | 17hrs 51mins 17hrs 51mins by bus (674 kms) (674 kms)
 I : Santa Cruz to Quijarro on the Death Train - Bolivia 352 kms 352 kms straight distance | 11hrs 13mins 11hrs 13mins by car (743 kms) | 13hrs 27mins 13hrs 27mins by bus (743 kms) (743 kms)
 J : Tupiza via Atocha to Uyuni - Bolivia 399 kms 399 kms straight distance | 17hrs 27mins 17hrs 27mins by car (771 kms) | 20hrs 56mins 20hrs 56mins by bus (771 kms) (771 kms)
 K : La Quiaca to Jujuy - Argentina 421 kms 421 kms straight distance | 11hrs 45mins 11hrs 45mins by car (793 kms) | 14hrs 6mins 14hrs 6mins by bus (793 kms) (793 kms)
 L : Potosi - Bolivia 371 kms 371 kms straight distance | 16hrs 28mins 16hrs 28mins by car (809 kms) | 19hrs 45mins 19hrs 45mins by bus (809 kms) (809 kms)
 M : Uyuni to Potosi - Bolivia 399 kms 399 kms straight distance | 17hrs 40mins 17hrs 40mins by car (886 kms) | 21hrs 12mins 21hrs 12mins by bus (886 kms) (886 kms)
 N : La Quiaca & Bolivian Border - Argentina 371 kms 371 kms straight distance | 13hrs 35mins 13hrs 35mins by car (949 kms) | 16hrs 18mins 16hrs 18mins by bus (949 kms) (949 kms)
 O : Uyuni & the Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats) - Bolivia 462 kms 462 kms straight distance | 19hrs 19mins 19hrs 19mins by car (993 kms) | 23hrs 10mins 23hrs 10mins by bus (993 kms) (993 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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