Friday, 1 November 2013

Puno to La Paz. An epic bus journey.

With Angel sick with one of the several bugs we got in South America, we decided just to head straight to La Paz without stopping in Copacabana as we were also running out of days and had not read any great reasons to actually stay in Copacabana.

Here's where the adventure started. Ellen had read about Tour Peru, a reputable company to take you from Puno to La Paz, as many, many companies here are more than dodgy - some are down-right dangerous.
We get to the bus station the day before we want to leave to buy our bus tickets. We get to the booth of Tour Peru and there is no one there. About 15 minutes later a bloke turns up at the booth in a Tur Peru shirt, we book 2 tickets for the 8.15 bus to La Paz, via Copacabana (there is no other way). We are told the ticket machine is not working and he gave us vouchers for the bus, and said be there at 7am to change our vouchers for tickets for the bus. Happily we walked away knowing we had been given vouchers for tickets before and everything worked out well.

7am the following day we arrived at the station, went to the booth to collect our tickets and waited for the bus. We were standing around and got chatting to a lady who was also on the 8.15 to La Paz and after a few moments the bloke who sold us the tickets came up to us and told us we were on the 'other 8.15 bus', we thought there must have been a large number of reservations so they were putting 2 busses on. No. this was not the case, we had been sold, by the Tur Peru bloke, tickets on a competitors bus which was leaving at the same time. We were annoyed as we had carefully researched the bus companies knowing they were dodgy, but we were also relieved as Angel was so ill that we were still getting to La Paz today. We got on the bus and found our seats. It wasn't too bad and we settled into the journey.

Peru-Boliva border
At the border of Peru and Bolivia you have to get out of the bus, take your passport to the police station, get a stamp on the card you got when you entered Peru, then take these to the border guards, who take the paper and stamp your passport, then you walk up the hill across the border crossing ant then go into the Bolivian border guard office and get an entry stamp, and another piece of paper you need to keep with your passport. Then you get back on the bus (which has come through with no passengers) and you need to pay about 40 pence in Boliviano to a man who comes on the bus and gives you a ticket. This whole process takes about 40 mins.

What the bus travels on!
After this we got to Copacabana without any problems (well, nothing but a but of puking from Angel), when we booked the trip we were told there would be a 30 min stop in Copacabana, so we were a little annoyed to hear there was a 2 hour stop before the bus would continue again, and that we would be put on another bus. 2 hours later we headed back to the bus company's office to find a small coach, and that a tour of Australians had been allowed to leave their bags on the bus and reserve all the good seats, so crammed up the back of the very hot bus with no air conditioning we left Copacabana and headed to La Paz.

About half way through the 3.5 hour journey the bus stops, no one tells you this is going to happen but you are asked to get off the bus while the bus is put on a ferry, and you have to queue up at a ticket booth to pay (about 20p) to catch a small motorised boat across choppy water to the other side where you wait for the bus to arrive by it's small punt and you get back on and continue your journey.
The crossing is quite an adventure.
La Paz Traffic

You get back on the bus and then about 2 hours later, after being stuck in an epic confusing traffic jam on the entry road to La Paz you reach the top of the hill down into La Paz. This view is amazing. You then descend into the city. Luckily Angel noticed our hotel as we passed it and when the bus stopped for the Australian tour to get off at their hotel which was just around the corner. Bonus.

No comments:

Post a Comment