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How to get here & around

How to get there

By plane

Air travel is the obvious way to get to Bolivia, the main airports are located in La Paz to the western side of the country and in Santa Cruz to the east. The arrival plan must be based mostly in the purpose of your visit to the country; you have to remember that La Paz receives most of their visitors due to the immense culture and heritage from the Incas and other indigenous cultures from the Andean region, and therefore from La Paz it is easier to move to the Tiwanaku ruins, Oruro's carnival, Potosí's mines, Uyuni, Lake Titicaca, Los Yungas valley and the Andes Mountains; since La Paz is the seat of government all the embassies and foreign organizations have their headquarters in the city, which is useful in case of an emergency. On the other side, Santa Cruz with a warmer weather could become a good location for doing business visit other alternatives in tourism like the Misiones, the Noel Kempff Mercado national park or visit the eastern cities. There are also some foreign consulates in Santa Cruz. But don't forget that the cities in the south and central Bolivia, like Cochabamba, Tarija and Sucre also offer a very rich experience; there are several ways to get to these cities from La Paz or Santa Cruz.

From the USA

There are departures from Miami to La Paz and Santa Cruz on American Airlines, and the Bolivian airline Aerosur offers flights to Santa Cruz and Cochabamba with connections to other Bolivian cities.

From Latin America

Other airlines that fly into Bolivia from other Latin American countries include LAN from Santiago via Iquique and from Lima. TAM Mercosur flies from São Paulo, Brazil and Buenos Aires via Asunción. Copa Airlines has begun to fly to Santa Cruz from Panama City. Gol Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas also fly directly to Santa Cruz.

From Europe

Regular flights are booked from Madrid (Barajas) to the International Airport in El Alto, La Paz and Viru Viru in Santa Cruz service provided by companies like Aerolineas Argentinas and Aerosur; the last one only offering the route Madrid-Santa Cruz-La Paz, while the others stop directly in La Paz; the cost could go from 1000-1200€ to other higher prices depending on the class and duration. There are also less frequent flights to La Paz from other major European cities like London, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin but they may have scales in other European cities before crossing the Atlantic.

Once you have your international flight booked - it's far easier and cheaper to organize your internal flights from the point of departure.

By train

There are many train lines in Bolivia, each with varying degrees of quality and efficiency. However, adequate transportation via train can be found.

The FCA timetable can be found at their website .

Watch your belongings.

By car

It is common for tourists to travel through a land border at the north-east of Chile/ South-West of Bolivia.

Keep in mind that only about 5% of all the roads in Bolivia are paved. However, most major routes between cities are paved (Aka big cities, Santa Cruz, La Paz, Cochabamba, Sucre) . 4x4 is particularly required when off the flatter altiplano. Be aware that in mountainous regions traffic sometimes switches sides of the road. This is to ensure the driver has a better view of the dangerous drops.

An international drivers license is required but * most* times EU or US drivers licenses will be accepted. There are frequent police controls on the road and tolls to be paid for road use.

By bus

There are many options for traveling from Argentina to Bolivia by bus. Check out the Bolivian Embassy's website [2] in Argentina for specific options. There is also a bus that runs from Juliaca and Puno in Peru to Copacabana.

By boat

It is common for tourists to arrive in Bolivia by boat, by navigating from the port city of Puno, Peru, over Lake Titicaca.

Get around

Transportation strikes (bloqueos) are a common occurrence in Bolivia, so try to keep tuned to local news. Strikes often affect local taxis as well as long-distance buses; airlines are generally unaffected. Do not try to go around or through blockades (usually of stones, burning tires, or lumber). Strikers may throw rocks at your vehicle if you try to pass the blockade. Violence has sometimes been reported. Many strikes only last a day or two. There is a government website with a live map showing which roads are closed or affected by landslides.

By bus

Bus transportation in Bolivia is a nice cheap way to get to see the beautiful scenery while traveling to your destination. Unfortunately the buses often travel solely at night. Keep in mind that roads are occasionally blocked due to protests, often for several days. So ask several companies at the terminal if you hear about blockades, unless you are willing to spend a few days sleeping on the bus. Bus travel is usually pretty cheap. Estimate that it will cost you about 1 USD for every hour of travel (it's easier to find travel times online than actual price quotes). Prices do change based on supply and demand. Sometimes you can get a deal by waiting until the last minute to buy. Hawkers are constantly crying out destinations in the bigger bus stations cajoling potential riders to take their bus line.

By plane

Flying within Bolivia is quick and fairly economical. AeroSur connects most major cities.

Aerocon (www.aerocon.bo )- flies from Trinidad to the harder to reach places of Bolivia like Cobija, Guayaramerin, Riberalta and Santa Ana (La Paz region). They also fly to La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz, their office is in Aeroperto El Trompillo.

Aerosur (www.aerosur.com ), the best known national airline. Aerosur flies from Santa Cruz to Sucre, La Paz and Cochabamba everyday. You can book your ticket at any of the many Aerosur offices around the city of Santa Cruz or any travel agency. Flights can be booked as late as 1 hour beforehand if seats are available. On the other hand, they are the most expensive airline for internal flights. BOA and TAM offer far cheaper prices.

Amazonas (www.amazonas.com ), Av. Saavedra Nº 1649, Miraflores, La Paz, +591 2 222-0848. Most famous for their La Paz to Rurrenabaque route but also fly to Trinidad, Guayaramerin, Riberalta, Cobija, San Borja, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. Fares are listed under "tarifas" on their website, listed below. Their office in Santa Cruz is in El Trompillo airport.

Boliviana de Aviación - BoA (www.boa.bo )- the national airline of Bolivia. Provides economical and reliable travel between the main cities of Bolivia. You can book your tickets online or at BoA-offices in Santa Cruz, La Paz or Cochabamba. Main office in Cochabamba, Calle Jordán #202 esq. Nataniel Aguirre. email: ventasweb@boa.bo phone: +591 901-10-5010 fax: +591 4 411-6477

GOL (www.voegol.com.br ), +55 11 3169-6100. - has a nightly flight from Santa Cruz into Campo Grande for just US$100.

TAM Transporte Aéreo Militar (www.tam.bo ), Montes n 738, La Paz, +591 3 352-9669 (+591 2 284-1884). This airline is one of the most well organized and reliable. Their office in Santa Cruz is in El Trompillo Airport, where all of their planes leave from. They fly between La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, and Sucre daily. Of the three internal airlines (AeroSur, BOA, and TAM) they are usually the cheapest. Weight restrictions are 15kg checked and 3kg carry on. They will take bags heavier than this for 5 Bs. per kilo over.

By train

On some routes, the roads are in such a dire condition that the train becomes the alternative of choice. Trains are more comfortable than one would expect, having for example reclinable seats. The trip from Oruro to Uyuni is especialy beautiful, with the train going literally through an Andean lake on the way. The train is especially good for trips to the Salar de Uyuni and the Pantanal.

Coming from La Paz, you need to take a three hour bus ride to Oruro to catch the train. You best book your tickets a few days before your trip. In La Paz booking office is at Fernando Guachalla No. 494, at the corner with Sánchez Lima (between the Plaza del Estudiante and Plaza Abaroa). Main stops are Uyuni, Tupiza and Villazon, on the Argentine border.

Between Santa Cruz and the Pantanal it is more straightfoward to organize a trip. Just go to the Terminal Bimodal in Santa Cruz (see the Santa Cruz page for details), or the train station on the border in Puerto Quijarro. The train is also convenient for trips to the Jesuit Missions. Check the website for timetables.

By taxi

For longer trips between towns and cities that aren't served by bus, shared taxis are common. Shared taxi is not safe for tourist, especially if you are solo female traveller.

 

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