OK, so there are two things you need to know before finding and choosing the cheaper bus from Copacabana to La Paz.
First of all, the bus does not drop you at the La Paz city centre bus terminal but near the Cemeterio General located a short distance away from the centre.
Secondly, you will need to depart the bus and cross Lake Titicaca via a small (tiny!) passenger ferry, to then re-board the bus at the other end.
The above both cost and extra 4B (€0.50) in total; 2B for the ferry tax and 2B for the combi-collectivo from the cemetery to to the city centre, with the best drop off point being the Plaza San Francisco, should you need a hostel.
However, although it still works out much cheaper than a direct collectivo, bearing in mind that some of the collectivos also drop you a little outside the city centre (so always double check), it’s an easy 30 minute walk from the cemetery to the plaza. Just be mindful of the altitude in La Paz, you’re even higher than Copacabana!
Busses to La Paz leave Copacabana from the Plaza Sucre, or what the locals call the ‘second plaza’ found half way down ‘Gringo street’ a.k.a 6 de Augusto.
And with that comes Gringo bus prices. One of the other volunteers we worked with told us the going rate was 50B (€6.25). After asking a few other tourists, this seemed to be the general consensus but as always, we had a chin wag with the locals and discovered the real rate is 25B per person (€3.15).
The trick is to leave as early as possible, ignoring the more expensive collectivo option, and jumping on one of the old run down coaches that are parked around the plaza.
When approaching the driver or tout, be sure to tell them that you are looking for the 25B bus. Whatever you do, don’t ask for a price, tell them one. Maybe be a little cheeky and ask for the 15B or 20B bus. Sure, you never know!
Hopefully this will help:
#1 “¿cuál es el bus de veinte cinco bolivanos?”
Meaning: “which bus costs 25B?”
#2 “¿a que hora sale el bus de veinte cinco Bolivanos?”
Meaning: “what time does the bus for 25B leave?”
We know there is definitely a 6.30am bus for 25B, but alas, our lazy selves missed this one and caught the 7am one instead, also costing 25B. Other than that, the known departure times are every hour from 9am-7pm.
We grabbed the slightly battered and bruised green coach. With “Indomable” written on the side. The ticket itself, which we bought from the screaming tout with a clipboard (very fancy!) was also green and had the company name “Manco Kopac” written on it. If that helps.
A cheap 25B and 3.5hr bus ride, grab some snacks and enjoy the beautiful winding drive up, through and over mountains, and across a river. This is the interesting part.
After 1 hour, the bus will pull into a port and everyone transfers to a tiny passenger boat. Here, you need to pay a 2B (€0.25) ferry tax. You can leave your carry bag on the bus, if you want to. All the locals do, but go with your gut on this one. We left ours, thinking the less weight on the tiny boat, the better. Our bags were safe and sound as the bus crossed the river via a long wooden barge.
Like I said, interesting. The transfer itself only takes 10 minutes, depending on ticket queues. The bus will arrive shortly after you so wait outside the corner shop found on the right hand side (with your back facing the lake).
Since there is no toilet on the bus, here is a good chance to pee. On the left hand side, up the orange stairs, for 1B you can relieve yourself in extremely clean toilets. There are also food stalls, shop stands and a little cafe kiosk, selling all sorts.
Now, back on the bus it’s straight onto Bolivia’s capital city.
Once in La Paz where the bus drops you off, as mentioned, there are a number of combi-busses/collectivos direct to the centro, for as little as 2B (€0.25).
The bus from Copacabana terminates on Calle Aliaga so from here walk up to the end of the road (ask the driver of unsure), cross the road and park towards the church, markets and cemetery. Here, nearly all collectivos pass Plaza de San Fran. Do not pay more than 2B (€0.25).
To travel from La Paz to Copacabana, the above still applies when going the opposite way, obviously.
Feliz viaje and welcome to La Paz!
Don’t forget to breath or at least yawn when you have trouble doing so. Bloody Altitude!