Brazil to Bolivia by Land – Border Crossing and Transport Guide
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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 bus journey. This is a must-read for anyone traveling from Brazil to Bolivia (or Bolivia to Brazil) by land!
Brazil to Bolivia by Land – Bus, Train, and Border Crossing Guide
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 were the hardest to come by for information was getting from Brazil to Bolivia by land.
After spending a couple of 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
*Note: This guide can be used in reverse order if you’re traveling from Bolivia to Brazil!
1. Get yourself to Campo Grande, Brazil
We were in Rio de Janerio at the time and it was necessary to get ourselves to Sao Paulo first. From Sau Paulo, you can get a direct bus to Campo Grande.
Campo Grande is a city in which most people visit the famous wetlands called the Pantanal. For us, our budget and the 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 (for safety reasons.)
There are not a ton of options for places to stay in Corumba, but here are some of the best options:
- Pousada 4 Cantos – (low budget) We stayed here. This is a very simple, family-run hotel. It isn’t anything special but is comfortable and located only a couple of minutes walk from the bus station. Expect to pay about R$50 per person for a dorm or R$100 for a double room.
- Hostel Dom Alberto – (mid-range budget) For R$150 you can get a standard suite room for two people. This hotel is located right in town, has a pool, and includes breakfast!
- Santa Mônica Palace Hotel – (high budget) The centrally located hotel is perfect if you are looking for a bit of luxury. There is a pool and waterslide onsite and all rooms have air conditioning. Expect to pay about R$280 for a double room including a buffet breakfast.
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 for around 9 am. It is better to arrive earlier rather than later as the lines on the Bolivian side are infamous for being long!
The border between Brazil and Bolivia is fairly straightforward and similar to all other South American borders. Get your exit stamp, walk a couple of hundred meters, and get your entry stamp.
The entry part on the Bolivian side can be quite slow so 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. If you want a more comfortable journey then book the Ferrobus.
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.
For everything you could possibly need to know about The Death Train, check out our blog!
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 search for buses on Bus Bud.
If going from Brazil to Bolivia by land all sounds like too much effort, consider booking a flight instead. Use this link to browse the cheapest flights using our personal favorite flight search engine!
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.
There are some lovely places to stay in Santa Cruz. You can browse all of the accommodation available in Santa Cruz online here!
I hope you found this Brazil to Bolivia by land guide helpful and I 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
- Samaipata: Bolivia’s “Little Switzerland”
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
March 31, 2020