Border Crossing Guide in South America – Peru, Bolivia and Chile
One of the favorite traveler routes through South America starts in Lima, Peru, snakes down the coastline through beaches, deserts and dunes before entering the Andean mountains of Cusco and Machu Picchu. From there it’s only a short bus journey to the border of Bolivia, onward to La Paz; the highest capital in the world, and the world’s most dangerous road.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Lima, Machu Picchu and La Paz / La Paz.
After La Paz, move onto Uyuni and take a 4×4 tour through the salt flats, desert rock formations, and flamingo lakes, before crossing the border into Chile and San Pedro de Atacama. After a tour of Central and Southern Chile head northwards through the desert to the border city of Arica to cross back into Peru. It’s an amazing journey through different landscapes, cultures, and traditions, one of those greatest traditions is the border crossing. Each one is different and comes with its challenges and peculiarities. Here are all the little ‘need-to knows’ about crossing the borders between Peru, Bolivia, Chile and back again.
CROSSING THE PERU AND BOLIVIA BORDER (PUNO-COPACABANA)
Crossing the border is very easy on Peruvian side, you simply go to the immigration so they can check if you overstayed (you have to pay 1 USD per day of overstay) and got your stamp. A short walk up the hill and you reach the Bolivian Immigration Office to cross the border into Bolivia. The mood of the Bolivian officials is notably different from the Peruvians, far less friendly, but crossing should be simple enough. If you’re a US citizen, the bad news is that you are the only nationality that has to pay to enter Bolivia – $120 USD to be exact. You can thank your government for that one. There are few money exchange stalls there, and you might consider exchanging your few Soles to Bolivianos. The rate isn’t the best, but it’ll get you to Copacabana.
Related Article: Looking for affordable accommodation? Check out our Ultimate List of Best Hostels around the World!
CROSSING THE BOLIVIA and CHILE BORDER (UYUNI- San Pedro Atacama)
If you plan to leave Bolivia after your Uyuni Salt Flats tour, then the 4×4 will deliver you directly to the border and make sure you get on your bus connection. Bring a few extra Bolivianos as Immigration will most likely charge you for the exit stamp. It’s one of those ‘unofficial charges’ so it’s up to you if you argue it or not. At 20 Bs each most people just pay it to keep moving.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in San Pedro de Atacama.
CROSSING THE CHILE and PERU BORDER (ARICA-TACNA)
After a long ride from Santiago up to Arica, 36 hours to be exact, the bus will drop you at the Arica national bus station, from where it’s only a short walk around the corner to the International Terminal. From here you have choices, take a bus which will take you to the border and across to Tacna for about $3-4 USD, or you can take a collective taxi for about $7-10 USD, and the driver will take you to the border, guide you through the process and drop you exactly where you want to go in Tacna. From the local bus station, you can get any bus you need to most parts of Peru.
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