Villamontes in detail

Flights & getting there

Buses, micros and trufis run to Tarija (B$100, eight hours) and Santa Cruz (B$120, eight to 11 hours) after 6pm from the terminal two blocks west of the El Pescadito statue. Trufis for Camiri (B$30, two hours) leave when full from the main road a block north of El Pescadito, and for Yacuiba (B$20, 1½ hours) from three blocks south.

The main reason for stopping in Villamontes, however, is to catch a bus connection to Asunción in Paraguay (B$300, 15 hours) via the border crossing at Infante Rivarola before continuing on to the Trans-Chaco Road. All companies have their offices on the main road close to El Pescadito and buses pass through in the early hours of the morning. You should buy your ticket in advance, but you will be allocated to a bus irrespective of which company sold you the ticket. Unfortunately, the quality of service varies considerably between companies and which one you get is pot luck.

The Ferroviaria Oriental (www.fo.com.bo) to Yacuiba (B$11, 2¾ hours) passes through on Friday morning at 5am and returns to Santa Cruz (B$38, 14 hours) on Friday evening at 7:45pm, but the route is painfully slow. The train station is two blocks north of the bus terminal.

Crossing the Border into Paraguay

Crossing the border into Paraguay is fairly easy. The infamous Ruta Trans-Chaco is paved along its entire length on the Paraguay side, though it takes a slight detour away from the original Trans-Chaco at La Patria; the detour crosses into Bolivia at the military checkpoint of Infante Rivarola. Several bus services from Santa Cruz via Villamontes now run this route to Asunción on a daily basis.

Bolivian customs formalities take place at Ibibobo. You will need to present your passport and visa to both customs and military representatives. Buses typically pass here around 4am or 5am, so don’t expect a tranquil night’s sleep. From here the Paraguayan border point, Infante Rivarola, is another hour or so away but Paraguayan customs formalities are not carried out until you are well beyond here, at the aduana (customs office) in Mariscal Estigarribia. Buses typically arrive here around 7am or 8am.

This is a notorious smuggling route so expect to be lined up with your bags as customs officials and sniffer dogs rifle through your private possessions. Once you are given the OK to proceed, you get your entry stamp from the small immigration office just outside the main compound. There is a service station here that sells food if you’re peckish and, provided you are not carrying anything you shouldn’t be, it is as simple as that!