Friday, May 24, 2013

Chile-Peru border crossing & bus from Arica, Chile to Tacna or Arequipa, Peru

Tacna Peru Arica Chile Border Crossing
We made quite a number of border crossings during our South America trip, seven to be exact. One of them was the border crossing between Chile and Peru via the border towns of Arica (Chile) and Tacna (Peru). Direct buses to Peru are difficult to find in Chile's northern cities. At the bus stations, we were advised that we might have a stronger chance of finding buses to Peru from Chile's border town Arica. So we took an overnight bus from San Pedro de Atacama via Calama to Arica.

Arriving in Arica the next morning, the surprise was there were no bus routes from Arica (Chile) even to Tacna and further on to Arequipa (Peru)! After asking around and struggling with our broken Spanish, we were finally pointed to one of the bus counters which offered a service to Arequipa from Arica. But it involved taking a taxi from the bus terminal in Arica to Tacna, and catching the bus to Arequipa at the bus terminal in Tacna. The total cost of the service was US$40.

Tacna Peru Arica Chile Border Crossing
Tacna Peru Arica Chile Border Crossing
There were four of us foreigners who did the trip plus another local since taxis take in five people before they leave. The trip between the bus stations in Arica and Tacna is about 56 kilometers and takes an hour or two depending on Immigration lines.

Tacna Peru Arica Chile Border Crossing
Passport stamps from Chile and Peru. Peru is the 50th country/territory I've visited!
The taxi service assisted us through Immigration control for Chile and Peru and prepared our arrival cards for Peru. In Peru, we had to take our luggage down for Customs. But it was quite straightforward and not much of a hassle.

We were dropped off at the bus terminal in Tacna where the taxi driver purchased our onward tickets to Arequipa. It was convenient alright. But I did the math after observing tariff signs posted in the taxi and the bus terminal.

The commuter taxis called colectivos charge CL$40 (US$8.20) per person for the trip between Arica and Tacna or v.v. The local who was with us paid that amount directly to the driver. The bus from Tacna to Arequipa was S./20 (US$7.50). So the total cost, if we knew how to do it on our own, was just US$15.70. We were overcharged US$24.30 per person! But we also felt the taxi driver purchased cheaper bus tickets since we were assured by the agent in Arica that the bus would serve us lunch which unfortunately was not the case.

So to make the long story short, if you want to travel from Arica (Chile) to Tacna or Arequipa (Peru), exit the Arica Bus Terminal and look for the colectivo taxis right beside it and find a ride to the Tacna Bus Terminal. At Tacna, you have more choices and can easily purchase bus tickets for your onward travel to other cities in Peru.
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