Getting Around Bolivia

Countries  »  Bolivia  »  Getting Around

Getting Around Bolivia

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. There are different types of buses: "bed bus" with fully reclinable seats and leg platform (bus cama), "semi-bed bus" (semi cama), normal. 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. There is a negligible tax for using bus terminals, you pay it as you leave.

Usually you have to "check-in" your big bags for the travel - they get a tag and get to the baggage compartment and you get a copy of tag. Overhead reading lamps and air conditioners on buses rarely work (if at all). There usually technically is a WC on board, but is never open. Rather the bus stops in some predefined "stations" for WC (baño) and eating. On longer journeys they'll start some movie on TV in the bus - most are brutal ones. Sometimes (usually when leaving) people gather around or enter the bus to sell food (cuñape, salteña, pollo) to the travelers. At times "brainwashers" enter the bus to sell some books (i.e. health-related) - they tell (using their "plastic" voice) people different things to persuade them to buy their stuff.

On average, bus companies are not-that-great to decent, but some are just really bad. It is recommended not to travel with Urus, as they drive less safely than others, and include many many stops which unnecessarily prolong the ride.

By Plane

Flying within Bolivia is quick and fairly economical.

  • Aerocon - flies from Trinidad to the harder to reach places of in northeastern Bolivia like Cobija, Guayaramerin, Riberalta and Santa Ana (La Paz region). They also fly to La Paz, Cochabamba, Tarija, Yacuiba, and Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz, their office is in Aeropuerto El Trompillo.
  • Amaszonas, Av. Saavedra Nº 1649, Miraflores, La Paz, ☎+591 2 222-0848 (info@amaszonas.com). Most famous for their La Paz to Rurrenabaque route but also fly to Uyuni, 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  - 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 50 10 fax: +591 4 4116477
  • Gol, ☎+55 11 3169-6100 - has a nightly flight from Santa Cruz into Campo Grande, Brazil for just US$100.
  • TAM (Transporte Aéreo Militar), Montes n 738, La Paz, ☎+591 3 352-9669 (+591 2 284-1884). Not to be confused with the homonymous Brazilian-Paraguayan airline, this airline is operated as a civilian service of the Bolivian Air Force and 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. Among internal airlines, 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.

By Taxi

Shared taxis are common for longer trips between towns and cities that aren't served by bus. Shared taxis are not safe for tourists, especially solo female travelers.

The content on this page is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. It has been written by the users of WikiTravel and gapyear.com cannot not accept any responsibility for its accuracy. For any critical information you require, please be sure to check with the relevant embassy for the most up to date information before you travel.