If you are reading this, you may very well know that having an Indian passport doesn’t lend you with much of a privilege while crossing international borders. The number of visa forms that I must have filed is a testimony to that. While I was in Peru, I decided on whim to enter Bolivia for a few days. Visa on arrival wasn’t an option, so I started searching for Bolivian consulates along my route. I had couple of options: the consulate in Cusco, or the one in Puno. I called the consulate in Cusco, – only to be told that they were not issuing visas any more. I was to figure out later that the Consulate General was ‘out of office’! They told me that I could get it at Puno though – close to the border across the lake Titicaca.
The Consulate in Puno is very centrally located, and I could get my visa in a matter of a couple of hours. Indian passport holders do not pay anything for the visa, so you would be required to make copies of the application form, and the approved visa.You would need to bring a copy of your passport, your itinerary in Bolivia, hotel reservations(if any), vaccination against malaria. I did not have any hotel reservations or the vaccination proof, but that wasn’t a deterrent. Being able to communicate in Spanish does help a little bit, as another Indian traveler I met at the Consulate had to make last-minute hotel reservations to secure a visa.
The buses for Copacabana is what you want to take for the border crossing coming in from Puno. They would stop at the immigration control, you get your exit stamp, proceed on foot to the Bolivian checkpoint, get an entry stamp, and board the same bus again to carry on to Copacabana. If you have left everything until last minute, like I did, it is likely that all the buses(leaving at 7:30 am and then 2:30 p.m.) are fully booked. Head to the Terminal Zonal – that is where all the local minivans depart from all the time. Hop on to any van heading toward Yunguyo, which is the final town on the Peruvian side at the frontier. The van takes around 2 hours to reach the border. This is a much better option while crossing the border, since you get off the van, and don’t have to wait for the huge traffic lined up to cross the border. You can walk from the terminal in Yunguyo to the Peruvian immigration office, walk to the Bolivian office, and once you are done with the formalities, take any shared taxi heading toward Copacabana for 3 Bolivianos. The immigration offices close at 6:30 p.m., so try to leave Puno latest by 2:30 p.m. to be able to cross the border on the same day. The border crossing was an interesting affair for me as there were huge Virgen del Copacabana celebrations at a church at the border, including a bull fight.
Tell me your border crossing experience, or ping me for any questions you may have.
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