Traveling by air is fast, convenient and, in recent times, tickets have become increasingly affordable.
But think about this for a moment – if you’re in a foreign country and you need to get to the airport, what is the safest and most convenient way to get there if public transport isn’t an option? A taxi. Perhaps the airport is on the other side of the city you’re visiting, the fare may not cheap in the end. And even if the place you’re visiting does have public transport, it may be time-consuming, uncomfortable and unsafe, considering you’re traveling with a heavy backpack and all of your belongings.
A rewarding alternative to flying is overland travel. Travelling by bus and train has many advantages – you get to see a close-up view of the countryside you otherwise wouldn’t be able to see from a plane, you get to experience how the locals travel and commute, if you can get over the language barrier, some of the most rewarding experiences can be found on an overland commute, and even if you don’t have a grasp of the local lingo, spending hours pulling faces with a child who’s on the bus can be the highlight of your day.
This section will give you a rundown on the major routes you can travel overland – the length of the journey, how much it will usually cost and any other tips that will make this part of your travel a fun and rewarding experience:
Overland Travel from Peru to Bolivia
Crossing the border is very easy on Peruvian side. It all takes place at the border town of Yunguyo – you simply go to the immigration so they can check if you overstayed (you have to pay $1 USD per day of overstay) and get 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 its nothing to be worried about – 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 – $160 USD to be exact. This visa will be active for ten years. 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.
There are some bus companies that travel through this border, including Panamericano and Tour Peru. The most comfortable and convenient way to cross this border, however, is by traveling with Peru/Bolivia Hop. This bus company is becoming an increasingly popular way to travel all over the south of Peru and to La Paz, with their own guide to help you through the process of border crossing, accommodation advice and more. You can also read this article to plan your Peru Travel Itinerary.
Overland Travel from Bolivia to Chile
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 Bolivianos each, most people just pay it to keep moving.
There are many companies that you can organize a tour with for Salar de Uyuni, check the Bolivia country guide for more details.
Overland Travel from Uruguay to Brazil
Punta del Diablo (Uru) to Port Alegre (Bra)
To travel between Uruguay and Brazil overland, this is a popular route to take. To begin with, there is a wooden shack in the middle of Punta del Diablo where buses heading for the border will leave from here between 9 am and 10 am. Ask around for the bus heading for Chuy. You can make your way to the bus terminal in Punta, but the bus will pass this wooden shack anyway. The as the Uruguayan border is five minutes outside of Chuy, make sure you tell the bus driver “immigracion” or “la Frontera” so he drops you at the border to make the proper arrangements.
The bus will terminate in a small plaza in Chuy. From here, you will need to walk a few blocks to the Chui bus station. The town is divided into two – the Uruguayan and Brazilian side, and you will notice you are in the right direction when you start reading signs in Portuguese.
It’s essential you arrive at the Chui bus station before 12 pm, as there are only a few buses heading for Porto Alegre – the next one is at 11 pm. Brazilian immigration is a five-minute journey from the bus station, so remind the driver again that you need to visit immigration as you are boarding. He will give you a small form to fill out and collect your passports. In most cases, you will not need to disembark, and a border agent will simply come on the bus to have a look, and the bus driver will give you back your stamped passports. You should arrive in Porto Alegre in about 7-8 hours, where you can travel onwards to Florianopolis by bus.
More detailed information on Overland Travel to Peru-Bolivia-Chile here.
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