The border crossing with Bolivia in the north of Argentina is a relatively easy one. In less than a day you can travel from Salta to the border with Bolivia, and further! We made it all the way to Tupiza before the end of the afternoon, only using public transport.
Let’s get in to the how, the what, and how much it all costs.
1. Getting to La Quiaca
We were coming from Salta, from where buses to the border leave every day. We travelled with Balut, if I remember correctly they only travel on the route to the border. Their buses leave early in the morning, at around 5:30 AM, and take around 7 hours to get to the terminal of La Quiaca. We paid $4,450 pesos per person (=12,50 in February 2023), but due to the crazy inflation in Argentina this price has more than likely already changed.
You’ll travel through amazing scenery, so after that initial nap (it is early morning after all), definitely take a look outside every now and then! Before you know it, you’ll arrive at the bustling terminal in La Quiaca.
2. The border crossing
From the terminal it’s a short walk to the border, about 10 minutes. You can of course also take a taxi. We decided to walk and it wasn’t super clear where we had to go, but we just asked for la frontera (the border) and got pointed in the right direction in no time.
After showing our passports on the Argentinian side (you don’t get a stamp), it was time for our border vrossing. We simply crossed the bridge to the town of Villazon, Bolivia. As we did, we saw a massive line come in to view and for a second we got afraid we would be waiting for hours. But, this (thankfully!) turned out not to be the case at all. That line was to enter Argentina, there was no line at all to enter Bolivia. Phew!
We crossed the border on a Sunday, so that might have been of influence here. Perhaps it’s a bit more quiet during the week.
Once we were on the Bolivian side, we asked the border officials where to get our entry stamp, they asked for our passports and we got them back with a stamp on a piece of paper. Make sure you keep that piece of paper, you will need to show it once you leave the country.
3. Getting to Tupiza (or other places in Bolivia)
Our first stop in Bolivia was Tupiza. From the border it’s a 10 minute walk to the terminal of Villazon. The ride to Tupiza is around 3 hours and costs 20 bolivianos (=€3) per person. Generally, collectivos only leave once they are full, thankfully we only had to wait a few minutes (on a Sunday!). If you’re one of the first passengers for a collectivo, that gives you some time to buy something to drink and some snacks.
It’s possible to travel to other places from Villazon as well, but Tupiza is a cute town only 3 hours away (from where you can take an amazing tour to Uyuni!). A great first stop in Bolivia, if you ask me.