As we went through the border from Puno in Peru to Copacabana in Bolivia we changed from Peru Hop to Bolivia Hop.
The border crossing went well greased by representatives of the companies. There was a minor incident when the Bolivian immigration official decided that the USD100 visa fee should now be USD120! Quickly resolved at USD100 with a terse “it’s all I’ve got”.
- Bolivia visas for Category 2 visitors (includes South Africa) are free if you get them at an Embassy and USD95 (make it USD100 or USD120!) at the border.
- US citizens pay USD160 wherever they get their visa.
Copacabana, like Puno, is situated on the banks of Lake Titicaca. It's a tourist town with the afternoon trip to Isla de Sol being the feature event.
Copacabana to La Paz Bolivia
The final leg of our trip was up to La Paz. We left Copacabana at 6pm and were scheduled to arrive in La Paz at 9:30pm.
As we settled down for the journey we were suddenly interrupted by the guide, “we now get off the bus, take a ferry and meet the bus on the other side of the lake”. The bus was warm and cosy. Outside it was freezing cold, the icy wind gusting over the lake. We climbed out the bus and were lead across to the “ferry.”
Ours was a very suspect looking motor launch battered and dented with peeling paint! There were few anxious moments as we were cast off. The captain vainly ripped at the starter cord as the "ferry" drifted into the lake. The engine spluttered into life on the seventh pull. His success was followed by sighs of relief and some nervous laughter.
Soon replaced by gagging as scarves and jackets were clutched over noses and mouths as the exhaust gushed evil smelling diesel fumes into the partly enclosed seating area.
The trip was short and after arriving we huddled around on a bleak windswept plaza waiting for the bus to come across. The area was busy with street food vendors, small shops and other passengers also waiting.
The rest of the trip was uneventful until we arrived in La Paz. The streets were crowded with taxis. There were people everywhere and it looked quite intimidating. The bus stopped on the corner of a busy street. At this point the guide started calling out names of hostels and hotels that were out of the drop off zone.
Ours was one so we were offloaded with our bags onto the pavement. Fortunately the guides stayed and negotiated our transfers with the taxis … at an agreed and reasonable trip cost.
Our accommodation in La Paz was at Luxstone Executive and Suites.
Bolivia Hop Summary
This was an enjoyable, interesting and good value for money. We met fun people, enjoyed outings and meals with them. And then meeting up again when your schedules crossed.
If you are planning to go to Peru to visit Machu Picchu investigate Peru Hop and Bolivia Hop. You can get to Cusco either from Lima or La Paz and this hop on hop off adventure will be a fun addition to your vacation.
- When taking tours try to select companies that are owned and managed by locals. The guides have added passion and local knowledge that makes them more engaging and unique.
- Arriving in La Paz was the only part of our Peru Hop and Bolivia Hop experience that wasn’t clear. At the start in Lima it is clearly communicated the pickup hostels and hotels. In La Paz this was not specified so at the last minute you’re informed whether you’re in or out!
- Peru Hop and Bolivia Hop run very tight and disciplined schedules with the guides and local staff coordinating visits and drop offs and pick-ups with Japanese precision!