Arica-La Paz, step by step
La Paz is one of the safest cities on the world, street violence is almost unexistent and there are zillons of touristic atractions in such fascinating and diverse country as Bolivia is.
Follow is a description step by step from the road Arica- La Paz starting
From Bolivia to the border:
Carretera Internacional La Paz-Arica. Integrated Road Bolivia-Chile
KM. 0: The city of La Paz is the administrative capitol of Bolivia. With 1.118.870 people in metropolitan area. Is located into an "Hoyada" (caynon) along a great path surrounded of "serranías" (hills) where urban spaces are located. La Paz is usually a cold place (one of the highest cities in the world) but in his neigboardhood you can find all kind of weahter (eternal snow, puna, sub tropical yungas and valley). La Paz is about 3600 mt above sea level and "El Alto" the highest part of the city where the airport is located is about 4000 mt high. At the airport you can see several old DC3 and C47 wich are still widely in use in Bolivia.
KM 57: Calamarca wich his old church from century XVI with one of the most interesting pictorial colections of andine art.
KM.81: Ayo, It also has an monumental church from century XVI, with "portada retablo" (century XVII) and the pictoric works of Leonardo Flores
KM. 97: Viscachani, termal waters
KM. 101: Patacamaya, is a crossroad from several routes from altiplano and has a agricultural "feria" (street market), near is located the Astronomic Observastory of Pacatamaya.
KM.146: Viluyo de Umala, nice silver craftmanship, and an interesting church also
KM.160: Puerto Japonés, craftmanship of alpaca and vicuña wool products
KM.202: Curahuara de Carangas, his church from century XVI is regarded the "capilla sixtina" from Bolivia, due the abundance of colonial painting on walls
KM.242: Ojsani, interesting samples of andine architectural in adobe, remrkable church
KM. 262: Tomarapi, also andine archiitecture in adobe and caña, interesting church
KM. 280: Sajama, the urban trace is prehispanic: the church of Virgen de la Natividad de Sajama is very venerated in andinean countries
Parque Nacional de Sajama, one of the most attractive places of the route, reservoir of de flora and fauna autóctones, andinism, trecking, mountain sports, and severl touristic circuits
KM.294: Estancia Lagunas, church of Virgen de los Remedios de Lagunas, declared by Unesco as cultural historic valued and under absolute protection
KM.313: Tambo Quemado, frontier town with inca ruins, last point of bolivian road, border with Chile.
From Chile to the border:
Carretera Internacional Arica-La Paz. Integrated road Chile-Bolivia
The international route 11-ch, Arica-Tambo Quemado, starts on route 5 Norte (Carretera Panamericana), 10Km. at north of Arica.
KM.10:Valle de Lluta, agriculture and experimental cultives zone, the railroad line runs at the border of road, between kms 13 to 15 sigth of "geoglifos" at hills (100-1400 d.c.)
KM.38: 480 mt. over sea level, Poconchile, small town of pre-incaic origin, its church from century XVII, you can obtain the keys of the church at the restaurant on front to visit. At this point there are an road police (carabineros) checkpoint
KM.52: Cuesta El Aguila, bends and strong climb zone vehícles loss strength unless they are specially carburated, highly recomended to drive with 1st and 2nd and climb with calm. Between km 75 to 85 you can see enormeous cactus candelabro, at Km.73 you had climb at 2.700 mt above sea level
KM.100 Pukará de Copaquilla (Pukará=fort, 950-1350 d.c.) Restaurant and camping, his owner is the hippie Alexis, very nice place to taste an "mate de coca" and get acclimated to heigth, nice attention from Alexis and his family, good homemade kitchen (tortillas, sopaipillas, homemade bread, etc.).
KM.121: Tambo de Zapahira (Tambo=place for rest), national monument, warehouse center from inca era
KM.111: Zapahira, crossroad to the beauty town of Belén and several other small altiplano towns
KM.116: Desvío a Sooroma, chappel and urban trace from 1560, spectacular sigth from terrace cultives
KM.140: Bends sector, sigth to pueblo de Putre, capitol of Provincia de Parinacota, ideal place for acclimating with hosteria (niot good service), boarding houses, restaurants, Banco del Estado, Etc.
KM.145: Termas de Jurasi, branch 11 Km. to Parque Nacional Lauca, Touristic information office Sernatur
KM.156: Guardería Las Cuevas de Conaf (4.310 metros above sea level), puna becomes some hard at this point, slow motions and not efforts reccomended
KM.166: Bofedal de Parinacota, sigth of Payachatas (twin peaks), frontier vulcanoes with heigth above 6000 meters
KM.170: Brigde over Lauca
KM.181: Branch to Parinacota, Caquena, Nasahueto y Visviri (altiplánic towns) 4.400 meters above sea level, beware of sudden movements puna (heigth sickness) is strong here.
KM:190:Lagunas Cotacotani, cámping de Conaf, lago Chungará 4.517 meters above sea level Complejo fronterizo Chungará (border with Bolivia)
Alternatives to trip Arica-La Paz
The cheapest and most advisable alternative is trip by bus. In the best buses (pullman) it cost about USD 16 but if you are traveling in a budget can obtain the same by even lower fares. Chile Bus is the best company wich covers this trip in 8 hours where you can apreciatte all the altiplano landscape, the bolivian buses are cheaper but not confortable at all "Litoral" is the best bolivian transport company.
Train service is not regular for passengers and I dont reccomend it because is not cheap and landscape is not so interesting. Anyway if you love trains maybe can foun some itinerary, but the service is mainly for cargo, not passengers.
Plane is very fast, about 3 quarters hour, but you miss all altiplano landscape wich is really impressing and worth to see.
Finally if you are really interested to know the altiplano there are specializated tours from Arica depending on your specific interest (i.e. bird watching, etc.). Also you can explore all the small towns wicha have every one a fiesta at the day of his patron saint. These fiestas are very, very interesting to participate and every house of the town open his doors to visitors. Is a barely know event so the few tourist that reach there pass a nice time. The calendar of main fiestas are:
jul 25 fiesta de San Santiago in Belén, aug 15 fiesta de la Asunción de la Virgen in Putre, nov 30 fiesta de San Andrés in Pica.