We’ve crossed the border between Yunguyo, Peru and Kasani, Bolivia (on the edge of the town of Copacabana on Lake Titikaka) many times in both directions and the following information draws from all of our experiences at this border.
From: Yunguyo, Peru
To: Kasani, Bolivia (Copacabana)
Date: December 26, 2018 (most recent crossing)
Lay of the land: This is a tiny, quiet crossing compared to the border between Peru and Bolivia at Desaguadero where we’ve also crossed many times. Officials are generally laid back and efficient. Our truck is usually quickly inspected on the Peru side (VIN checked, contents glanced at) before leaving.
Technically, Bolivian officials only have to give you a vehicle permit for the same number of days you are given at the border, which is maximum 30 days. However, play dumb and wait for the official to ask you how many days you want for your vehicle, then say 90. That will save a LOT of hassle. While it’s relatively easy to renew your personal Bolivian entry just by visiting the immigration office in any Bolivian city, renewing your vehicle importation permit requires a slog with the vehicle to the customs office at the airport in El Alto above La Paz or to one of the few other aduana (customs) offices in major cities.
During all of our crossings at this border, officials on the Bolivian side have never inspected our truck and never even checked the VIN. There may or may not be a policeman ready to check your paperwork before you drive into the town of Copacabana.
See this border for yourself in our video, below, which was shot by our Brinno timelapse camera mounted to the dashboard of our truck.
Elapsed time: Usually about an hour, unless you get stuck in a long line behind a bus full of travelers.
Number of days given: Tourists entering Bolivia are normally given 30 days at the border which is extendable in any city. During our most recent entry into Bolivia in December 2018, we were given just 16 days because that was the number of days we had left out of the 90 days we are allowed to be in Bolivia (as US citizens) in any calendar year. We were told by immigration officials at the border that we would simply have to visit the immigration office in La Paz on or after January 1, 2019 in order to begin receiving the 90 days we are entitled to in the new year. However, when we-we visited the immigration office, the official told us that because our entry stamp was in 2018 (when we crossed) he could not initiate our 2019 days until we crossed out of Bolivia, then back into Bolivia to receive an entry stamp dated 2019. So we made an unexpected emergency border run to Desagaudero.
Vehicle insurance needed: You must carry SOAT insurance in order to drive legally in Bolivia (though we’ve never been asked to show it) and it can be purchased in La Paz at the UNIVida office, which is right across the street from the immigration office in the city.
Where to fill up: Fuel in Bolivia is cheap for locals (less than 4 bs, or US$0.50, per liter) but expensive for foreign drivers (almost 9 bs,or nearly US$1.30, per liter) unless you can find a station worker willing to sell you fuel “sin factura” at a price somewhere between the two. If you don’t want to pay the high foreigner price for fuel or play the haggling game with station attendants, then fill up in Peru but not right at the border. During one crossing, diesel was more expensive in Yunguyo, Peru than it was in Bolivia.
Need to know: The aduana (customs) facility on the Bolivia side of this border, where vehicle permits are handled, closes between 1 pm and 2 pm for lunch. There are money changers on both sides of the border. ATMs are available on the Bolivia side a few miles down the road in the town of Copacabana. You will gain one hour when crossing from Bolivia into Peru (or lose an hour when crossing from Peru into Bolivia), so check the local time in your final destination. If you plan to stay in Copacabana, check out our full post about where to sleep and eat in Copacabana and our full post about exploring Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna.
Overall border rating: Dingy, but generally hassle-free unless you count the always-surly attitude of the immigration officials on the Bolivian side.
Here’s more about travel in Peru
Here’s more about travel in Bolivia