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

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Bolivia travel blog by Mark Berman - June 2012 Sept 2015   » View Photoset (78 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
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.

The Township

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.

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.


View all photos in the Tiwanaku & Desaguadero Photoset

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Tiwanaku & 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!

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Tiwanaku & Desaguadero, Bolivia - The Quickest Way To Peru From La Paz. This is a great ride and is the quickest way to Peru from La Paz and you can stop to see the ruins in Tiwanaku!