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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 Sao 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 starting in Brazil, search Busbud.com or Bookaway.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 including Busbud 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 $170 BOB ($25 USD) and the cheapest was $100 BOB ($14.50 USD)!
You can also book this route online in advance with Busbud here.
Related Read: If you’ve wanted to go on an extented vacation but are on a budget read our blog to learn how you can afford long term travel!
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 at 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 minute’s walk from the bus station. Expect to pay about $138 BOB ($20 USD) for a double room.
- Hostel Dom Alberto – (mid-range budget) For $317 BOB ($46 USD) you can get a standard suite room for two people while a dorm bed only costs $124 BOB ($18 USD). This hotel has a lot of character in the building and is located right in town. It has a pool, bar, and a shared lounge, plus, it includes breakfast!
- Santa Mônica Palace Hotel – (high budget) The centrally located hotel is perfect if you are looking for something a little nicer. There is a pool and waterslide on site and all rooms have air conditioning. Expect to pay about $359 BOB ($52 USD) for a double room including a buffet breakfast.
Click here to browse accommodation in Corumba.
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 ATMs 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 ATMs and banks once in the city of Santa Cruz.
Related Read: Find out the things you need to know before backpacking in Brazil. We unfortunately had to learn the hard way on a lot of things.
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 to Santa Cruz. The Death Train’s schedule can change at a moment’s notice but when we were there the schedule was as follows:
Expresso Oriental: Tuesdays and Thursdays and Sundays at 1 pm is approximately $10 USD.
Ferrobus: Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays at 6 pm is approximately $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.
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 Busbud or Bookaway.
If going from Brazil to Bolivia by land sounds like too much effort, consider booking a flight instead. You can browse the cheapest flights on Kiwi.com, our personal favorite flight search engine!
Related Read: Did you know that you can read our story of when were robbed in Brazil at gunpoint?
6. Arrive in Santa Cruz!
And you made it from Rio all the way to Santa Cruz! The Death Train will stop right at 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 accommodations available in Santa Cruz online here!
Once here, there are lots of interesting things to do in Santa Cruz from waterfalls and beaches to deserts and markets to get lost in.
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
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!
If you liked this post you might like some of our other articles from Bolivia or Brazil. Check them out!
And if you’re traveling more in Bolivia check out these other blogs we’ve written:
Things to do in La Paz, Bolivia
Complete guide to Potosi, Bolivia
Monday 14th of February 2022
How much the whole trip cost for you guys (per pax)? I ask because you can by a bus ticket directly to Santa Cruz from Sao Paolo for about 85 dollars, which is expensive but still half the cost of a flight. Was the trip done your way overall nice enough to justify the hassle when it could all be arranged in advance for a (I assume) similar price? Thanks
Monday 14th of February 2022
I cannot remember the entire cost but we did have to spend one night along the way so our cost would have been close to $60. The journey was honestly a nightmare but it was such an adventure. I would only recommend it if you have lots of time to take your trip slow and enjoy the adventure of traveling. This is my job and I love this sort of thing but it's completely fine to also want to make the most of your time.
I hope this helps answer your question and if you do the journey yourself, please let me know how it went!
Wednesday 3rd of October 2018
Hello I am female solo traveller. I am in Brasilia city right now. And after that I would like to go Bolivia. Is that route you did is it safe for alone woman? What would you recommend me? Thanks for information.
Wednesday 3rd of October 2018
Hello, I felt very safe on the route. The only thing I would recommend is spending as little amount of time in Puerto Quijarro as possible. That town didn't feel as safe as the rest to me. You might even meet another traveller going the same way too! But yes, you should be just fine going alone, just be prepared for the LONG journey! Cheers, Bailey
Tuesday 25th of September 2018
How did you get from Santa Cruz to La Paz?
Tuesday 25th of September 2018
Hi Ava! We actually went the whole way by bus stopping in different places along the way! Our chosen route was: Santa Crus to Samaipata, Samaipata to Sucre, Sucre to Potosi, Potosi to La Paz! From La Paz we went to Copacabana and then crossed the border into Peru. We had a great trip, but in hindsight we wish we spent more time in Bolivia hiking! How long are you travelling in Bolivia for? Cheers, Dan and Bailey