Brazil to Bolivia by Land – Border Crossing and Transport Guide
April 7, 2018
Traveling from Brazil to Bolivia by land can be difficult without the right information. That’s why I wrote this guide with everything you need to know before you tackle this long journey. This is a must-read for anyone traveling from Brazil to Bolivia (or vice-versa) by land!
Brazil to Bolivia by Land
Traveling by land is the most common way to navigate the continent of South America, and although the vast distances between destinations mean days of travel, it is better than the expenses which come with flying. While on my recent South America backpacking trip, one of the routes which was the hardest to come by for information was getting from Brazil to Bolivia by land.
After spending a couple months traveling in Brazil and completing my trip with two weeks in Rio for the Carnival celebrations, my wallet was demanding that I get somewhere cheaper. The solution? The neighboring country of Bolivia of course!
However, getting from the far east coast of Brazil all the way to Bolivia posed to be a long journey and one in which information was not widely available. For this reason, I have written this guide on getting from Brazil to Bolivia by land.
How to get from Brazil to Bolivia by land
1. Get yourself to Campo Grande, Brazil
Campo Grande is a city in which most people visit the famous wetlands called the Pantanal. For us, budget and weather weren’t going to let touring the wetlands be an option this time, so Campo Grande was simply just a stopover en route to Corumba. However feel free to explore the largest wetlands in the world to break up your journey!
From wherever you are in Brazil, search on busbud.com the best route to Campo Grande. Expect a lengthy night bus to be your solution
2. Get from Campo Grande to Corumba
Once we arrived at the bus station in Campo Grande we were able to book a bus to Corumba straight away. Several bus companies do this route and it is frequent. The bus time is about 5-6 hours.
Shopping around at the station (there are only a few booths) can save you a lot of money. The most expensive bus was R$170 and the cheapest was R$100!
3. Stay the night in Corumba
Corumba is the city in Brazil closest to the Bolivian border. I would recommend spending the night here as the border is only open during the day and you won’t want to get stuck on the Bolivian border town for a night (safety reasons.)
4. Cross the Border
Wake up early and grab a taxi to the border. The border opening times seem to vary and nobody really knows when it opens exactly so I would suggest heading there around 8:30 to be at the border around 9. It is better to arrive early rather than later as the lines on the Bolivian side are famous for being long!
The border is fairly straightforward and similar to all other South American borders. Get your exit stamp, walk a couple hundred meters and get your entry stamp. The entry part on the Bolivian side can be quite slow s0 bring your patience and water for standing in the heat for hours. The Bolivian town you will be in once you’re done with immigration is called Puerto Quijarro.
Tip: Bolivian ATM’s are fussy. We had three different bank cards and ALL of them wouldn’t work in any ATM at the border. To avoid being stuck, I would recommend bringing some extra Realis from Brazil and exchanging them at the border for Bolivianos. You will have more luck with ATM’s and banks once in the city of Santa Cruz.
5. The Death Train
There is no reason to stay in Puerto Quijarro so make your way to the train station called Luis Salazar de la Vega Avenue to catch The Death Train. The Death Train’s schedule can change at a moments notice but when we were there the schedule was as follows:
Expresso Oriental: Tuesdays and Thursdays and Sundays at 1 pm = $10 USD approx
Ferrobus: Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays at 6 pm = $35 USD
Note: The price difference is because Ferrobus is more comfortable offing a sleeping style train. We took the cheapest option of the Expresso Oriental and were given bus style seats, which was just fine. If you are very budget conscious then I would suggest planning your journey to coordinate with the Expresso Oriental Bus.
Tickets for The Death Train can be bought at the station (recommended in case the border takes longer and you miss the train) or online in advance at https://www.ticketsbolivia.com/travel-by-train/puerto_quijarro-santa_cruz.php
It isn’t the most comfortable ride but you won’t die. That being said, I would not recommend this route for anybody who gets motion sickness as the train rocks back and forth very badly and continuously. If motion sickness is a problem for you then consider taking the less unique option of the bus.
Fun fact: The Death Train is not called “The Death Train” because it is dangerous. Its name is from when it used to transport people who had yellow fever many years ago.
There is another option if the train doesn’t sound enticing. Instead, you can take a bus that leaves at a similar time and costs around the same. This would mean you would travel from Brazil to Bolivia by bus only. You can check this option out on the website link mentioned above.
6. Arrive in Santa Cruz!
And you made it from Rio all the way to Santa Cruz! The Death Train will stop right the Santa Cruz Central station. There you will find malls, ATMs, hostels with pools, and transport to your likely next destination of Samaipata or Sucre.
I hope you found this Brazil to Bolivia by land guide helpful and wish you safe travels! Please, if you have any questions or have any feedback, let us know in the comments below!
Are you traveling more in Bolivia? Check out these other blogs we wrote:
- La Paz: Meeting a Drug Trafficker and the World’s Most Dangerous Road
- The Salt Flats
- Potosi and the dangerous mines
- Skydiving in Santa Cruz
- Samaipata: Bolivia’s “Little Switzerland”
- Studying Spanish in Sucre