By train from Bolivia to Brazil

Trip Start Dec 03, 2012
Trip End Aug 25, 2013

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Flag of Brazil  , Mato Grosso do Sul,
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The cheapest way to get to the Pantanal from Bolivia was to take a train. There wasn't much online information on how to do this, but It was quite straightforward. Hence, unless you plan to visit the border some time soon, this is going to be a rather boring post, but perhaps someone will find it useful one day.

We used the Ferroviaria Oriental train, which runs from the Bimodal (train and bus) Station in Santa Cruz. At night this is pretty chaotic, so we bought our tickets the day before. We bought cama (bed) tickets and for the 4 of us the 13.5 hr overnight train cost  900 Bobs (as Bolivian currency is known) with breakfast and dinner, the equivalent of about £ 90.

When we got to the station we had to buy an additional ticket, like an entrance ticket to the station, that we had to show before we could get onto the train (or bus). The train was the smallest 'real' train I've ever seen, just two short carriages! There were only 7 other people on board, mostly foreign tourists. It was clean and spacious, with a working liquids only toilet. The seats reclined but not as much as the cama bus. Dinner was pasta, cake and sprite (no water). Breakfast was black coffee and a ham roll, courtesy Copa airlines. They played loud Bolivian country music and then a film in English with Spanish subtitles. All the DVDs here are pirated, so luckily for us they are never dubbed. At night it was freezing cold thanks to the AC.

Arriving in Quijarro's modern-looking station we took a 10 minute taxi to the border (for which we were outrageously overcharged - though to keep it in perspective it was still only £3), then stood in line for Bolivian emigration for 1 hour and again for Brazilian immigration for 2.5 hours. We just walked between them which took a couple of minutes. We were cleared by 10.30am and because we had hardly slept we decided to stay at a hotel nearby. Nice new Hotel Vini (£ 18 for a spacious double with bathroom) is within sight of the border on the Bolivian side and so we simply walked back there. Weirdly you can freely walk back and forth between the two countries. On the Bolivian side are restaurants, market shops and a couple of hotels. There is nothing immediately opposite on the Brazilian side, you have to take a taxi to Corumba. There is also nothing to do... though we did see some nice parrots from the hotel resturant balcony in the evening.

The next day we had to walk across the border to Brazil and take a taxi from there, as taxis apparently cannot pass. We changed some Bobs into Reales at the hotel, which was just as well as neither of the 2 cashpoints we tried in Corumba worked. 

At the Brazil border a guy from Ecological Expeditions started talking to us and said he could organise a minibus for us from the border to Miranda, our destination that day. He said some other Europeans in the queue were going in the same bus and we should wait. And that the next bus to Miranda from Corumba was at 2.30pm - I had checked online that morning so knew perfectly well there was one at 11am, and when I challenged him he said that one didn't stop at Mirand (it did - we went on it). Then there was a kerfufle with a guy from the hotel because we lost a key, the upshot being we had to pay £30. (Of course we found it the next day...). That sorted, the minibus still wasn't there, and the people in the queue said they were NOT going with Ecological Expeditions, whose main opeing line seems to be "are you Jenny?". Not sure what their scam is, but we left and took a taxi to the bus station, bought a ticket to Miranda and took a very nice clean bus, tickets for our bags in the hold, free water, film and toilet.

Brazil is much more affluent than other places we've been, and more expensive.. They wear seat belts and obey traffic rules!!
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