Travel overland from Iguazu to SucreBen Line - Travel Expert
Our Real Latin America Expert
Ben Line - Travel Expert
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.
Firstly, I’m afraid whichever way you choose to go, this will be a long and arduous journey!
From looking at a map you might reasonably think that the quickest way to get there would be straight through Paraguay. This is possible, but not to be recommended (the journey through desolate Paraguayan chaco landscape to Santa Cruz in Bolivia takes close to 24 hours and is described by my Bradt Paraguay guidebook as ‘only for the hardy or the impoverished!'). The buses are not reliable in this area, there's nothing in the way of scenery and the heat can be stifling – I wouldn’t even think about it unless you really want a frontier experience in very challenging conditions.
Another option would be via Brazil – a route that one of our group tours used to follow, in fact. At the midway point in this journey are the towns of Puerto Suaréz and Corumbá, on either side of the border between Brazil and Bolivia. You can reach this border area from Iguazú in one of three ways:
1. Take a bus from the Brazilian side of the falls to Campo Grande and then on to Corumbá (it’ll take you at least 24 hours).
2. From Puerto Iguazú (Argentina), take a bus to the Paraguayan capital Asunción via Ciudad del Este, then continue on to Corumbá via Pedro Juan Caballero, Ponta Porã on the border with Brazil, and Dourados (Brazil).
3. There’s a boat that goes direct from Asunción to Corumbá, but it only runs every few weeks.
Then once you’ve made it to Puerto Suárez (on the Bolivian side of the border), you can travel on what is reassuringly known as the ‘train of death’ to Santa Cruz. I’ve done this journey myself, and the whole thing, from Iguazú to Santa Cruz in Bolivia, took about two days. You would still then need to get between Santa Cruz and Sucre, itself another long journey – we used to fly between the two cities on our group tour to save time.
If I were you I would probably choose a third option, via Argentina. On a map this looks the longest, but there’s a much better infrastructure here so it would be a more comfortable journey, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it worked out quicker in the end too. You would travel from Puerto Iguazú to Corrientes – a scenic route through the Iberá marshes – and from Corrientes you could get a bus to Salta (not a scenic route this time, unfortunately), then another to the Bolivian border, on to Tupiza and finally to Sucre. It would still take a long time but would probably be a slightly less tortuous experience than the other two options! Take your time travelling from Salta to the border, as the villages of Purmamarca and Tilcara are well worth a quick visit. Once in Bolivia, you may also wish to stop and see the mines of Potosí.