We arrived in Puno from Arequipa on Peru Hop and on the trip through the border to Copacabana in Bolivia we changed from Peru Hop to Bolivia Hop.
The border crossing went well. Greased through by representatives of the companies. There was a minor incident when the Bolivian immigration official decided that my wife's $100 official visa fee should now be USD120! My wife resolved this attempted gouge with a terse “$100 is all I’ve got”. We were grateful to be travelling with a company as on our own the outcome may have been quite different.
- 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 well organised afternoon trip to Isla de Sol being the featured event.
Copacabana to La Paz Bolivia
The final leg of our trip was up to La Paz. We left Copacabana at 6pm with a scheduled arrival 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.”
The captain ripped at the starter cord. With every pull the engine spluttered and died. And the the "ferry" drifted further out into the lake. Sucess at last! On the seventh pull the engine spluttered into life. Accompanied by sighs of relief and some nervous laughter.
This relief was soon replaced by coughing and gagging as the motors gushed evil smelling diesel fumes. They poured into the partly enclosed seating area of the cabin. In a vain attempt to filter the fumes passengers clutched scarves and jackets over their noses and mouths. Despite the strong wind their was no respite.
It was fortunate that the trip was short and we were soon disembarked onto a desolate dock. We walked up to a bleak windswept plaza. The area was busy with street food vendors, small shops and other passengers waiting for their transport. After buying some food we huddled around waiting for our bus to come across.
The rest of the trip was uneventful until we arrived in La Paz. The streets crowded with taxis. Pavements teeming with people and from our cosy seat it looked quite intimidating.
The bus stopped on the corner of a busy street. Where the guide started calling out the names of hostels and hotels that were out of the planned drop off zone for the bus.
As ours was one of these we were then offloaded with our bags onto the busy 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 in a new apartment at Luxstone Executive and Suites. It was spacious and comfortable with a bedroom and a separate lounge.
Bolivia Hop Summary
The Peru/Bolivia Hop experience was enjoyable, interesting and good value for money. We met fun people, enjoyed outings and meals with them. With our varying schedules we parted and then met up again.
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 owned and managed by locals. The guides usually have added passion and local knowledge. This 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. The start in Lima was clearly communicated with regard to the pickup hostels and hotels. In La Paz this was not specified so at the last minute you’re informed whether you’re in in the bus or out the bus!
- 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!