The way from La Paz, Bolivia to Cuzco, Peru – or vice versa – is a one of the most commonly traveled routes for travelers visiting South America. La Paz, in the highlands of Bolivia, offers unique experiences, from the World’s Most Dangerous Road to Valle de la Luna; Cuzco, the ancient Incan capital, is the gateway to Machu Picchu.
Getting to Cuzco from La Paz By Bus
Leaving from Terminal de Buses in La Paz, tickets to Cuzco can be purchased any day of the week; leaving early in the morning or in the afternoon with direct routes or a stops in one of the main cities on the way: The prices are fairly standard: 130-140 Bs. (around $20 USD). The buses will pick passengers up from hotels in La Paz, heading northwest for Copacabana and Lake Titicaca. The route takes about 3-4 hours and is a beautiful display of Bolivia’s landscape as the bus travels along the Cordillera Real and famous Condoriri visible throughout the route – offering some great views of the snow-covered mountain peaks of the Andes.
Once in Copacabana, travelers can either stay for a visit to the popular Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna for the day (spending the night in Copacabana), or hop a connecting bus to Puno in Peru –located on the opposite side of Lake Titicaca. Approximately 25 minutes after leaving Copacabana, the bus arrives at the Peruvian border, where passengers must go through immigration. Being dropped off at the police station, you will need to acquire a stamped document before walking 300 meters downhill to the immigration office, where your passport will be stamped and you are free to enter Peru. After re-boarding the bus, the remainder of the journey to Puno will take a total of 3-4 hours, following the blue shores and small fishing communities of Lake Titicaca. Once in Puno, visitors (depending on your itinerary) can opt to stay in the city for the night and visit the floating Uros islands in the morning, or continue on straight to Cuzco.
The final leg of the bus trip will take roughly 8 more hours, passingly through the vegetated valleys and mountains of the Andes headed for the beautiful colonial city of Cuzco, Peru. Once at the terminal in Cuzco, travelers can meet awaiting taxis outside where about 5 Peruvian Soles ($1.80 USD) will bring you to your hostel or hotel in the heart of the historic valley.
Getting to La Paz from Cuzco takes the same route, where a bus ticket can be bought for the same $20-25 USD at the Terminal de Buses in Cuzco. The total time required to make the trip will involve between 13 and 16 hours; depending on the weather and punctuality of connecting buses. Though the time needed to travel by road is much longer than plane, it is certainly much less expensive.
Getting to Cuzco from La Paz By Air
El Alto International Airport is the highest airport in the world and home to the longest runway on earth, and the only way out of La Paz to Cuzco. Flights can be purchased online by travelers, through a travel agency in La Paz or through helpful receptionists at the front desk of your hotel or hostel. A round trip ticket costs anywhere between $450-$700 USD, while a one-way trip will be around $340-575: Prices will vary depending on the airline and amount of time between arrival and departure dates (for a round trip ticket). Planning ahead and booking your flight well in advance will surely save you some money in the long run when making the trip.
Most flights will make one stop in Lima before heading to Cuzco; taking a little over 5 hours. Some flights with a layover in Lima can take as much as 24 hours, so be sure to spend a little time researching which flights best fit your travel itinerary. Direct flights are relatively hard to come by, but will involve 50 minutes to an hour to arrive at your destination. Upon arrival in Cuzco many taxis wait outside the airport willing to bring travelers to their hotels or hostels. Flights from Cuzco to La Paz generally cost the same amount and involve similar travel times.
Regardless of which city you plan to depart from, La Paz is one hour ahead of Cuzco; so don’t forget to change the time on your watch! However you decide to travel between these two wonderful cities, the experience of visiting two of the most important and historic places in the Andean Mountain Range leave travelers with an unforgettable experience. Both offer much to do and see all the while surrounded by the warm, unique people and cultures that call these mammoth mountains home.