One of the countries that you cannot leave out of your Latin American tour is Bolivia. One of only two landlocked countries in Latin America (the other being Paraguay), you won’t be coming here for ocean beaches, but you will get to visit the highest lake in the world. In addition, there are a lot of places to visit in Bolivia’s diverse landscapes that range from the driest of deserts to the highest mountains and to the deepest of the jungle.
To get around the country, you have nothing to worry about. All corners of the country are connected by land transportation, including one of the very few countries in Latin America that has an extensive rail network. This makes it both accessible and affordable for those foreign tourists who want to leave flights and airports behind and enjoy seeing the landscape and people on the road. If you are looking for an economical trip, you can certainly count on buses and trains to reliably get you from one place to another.
AndesTransit serves your needs of getting advance tickets to secure your spot on land transportation across the spectrum of Bolivian cities and regions so you can immerse yourself in its incredible history, landscapes, cultures, and gastronomy. From the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world, to the breathtaking Lake Titicaca, to the wineries of Tarija, or primeval beauty of the northern Amazon, you will take home unforgettable memories of your time in Bolivia.
Bolivia has two main forms of land transportation, the popular buses (also referred to as omnibuses), and trains. Although buses and trains are different experiences, either will securely get you to your destination and without great cost.
Design your transportation according to your budget
Bolivia is remarkably inexpensive, so you might do better trying to upgrade to higher quality options where they are available to ensure you travel most comfortably over the long distances. Being a large country, buses and trains are the best and cheapest option to travel different routes and even reach remote places that are often only accessible by train and may have just intrigued you spontaneously.
If you are less enamored with the public transportation options and are not as limited by budget, there is a third option which is private transportation. The difference is that public buses or trains are more pocket friendly, while private buses cater to your or your group’s specific itinerary without the addition of a tour guide. Private transportation is obviously going to more expensive, but not as expensive as a guided tour and the service is safer, flexible, and personalized.
How to get to Bolivia from other countries?
On the other hand, if you are looking to visit La Paz and you want to enter the country from Chile, you can do it by traveling from the Chilean city of Arica, a journey of eight hours that takes you to the capital, La Paz. But if you are looking for a more backroad route through an even more rural landscape, start your departure from Chile in Calama (near the famed San Pedro de Atacama), which will eventually come to the destination of Oruro in Bolivia, which will also land you closer to Uyuni.
One of Bolivia’s most beautiful sights is Lake Titicaca, and the fascinating small town located on its shores, Copacabana. The easiest trip to Copacabana is a cross-border trip from Puno, Peru, a mere three hours away.
For travelers from neighboring Argentina or BraziI, while there are towns along the border, the only tickets you can reserve in advance are from the major cities in those countries like Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, which is a trip that takes a few days to get to the eastern Bolivian destination of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
It is important to point out that to enter Bolivia, most tourists only need to have their passports up to date. A visa is no longer required and most can stay up to 30 days in the country, some as long as 90 days.
Short trips within Bolivia
If you are staying in La Paz, make sure to take a day trip to visit Tiahuanaco (also pronounced Tiwanaku), a site that not only stands out for its archeology but also for its astrological significance. Tiahuanaco was and is still regarded as the center of the world and its complex of temples like the Gateway to the Sun and the Gateway to the Moon stretch over four square kilometers.
Within the city of La Paz, one of the major tourist attractions is the Witches Market. And if you are drawn to stunning views from atop the world, you cannot miss the Killi Killi viewpoint. Also check out the imposing Simón Bolívar Plaza in the south of the city.
Other highly regarded secondary cities in the western region are Cochabamba, one of the most biodiverse destinations in Bolivia, where you can visit the nearby Carrasco National Park; Sucre, which is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and an important place to learn about the events surrounding the founding of the Bolivian state; Potosi, for a long time a major source of Bolivia’s wealth from the surrounding silver mines; and Uyuni, a small town from which there are regular expeditions available to visit the Salar de Uyuni salt flats.
If you are in the east of the country in the modern metropolis of Santa Cruz, definitely take a day trip out to Samaipata, considered a jewel of colonial architecture, vineyards, and waterfall hikes.
Quality of transportation in Bolivia
The comfort of the different means of transportation varies, based mostly on what you can afford. As buses are the mode of transportation of many of the locals, it is recommended that you buy your bus ticket in advance to ensure your seat is reserved, and that you arrive at the bus station comfortably ahead of your departure time.
Sleeper buses are designed for long-distance trips where you can comfortably sleep overnight while on the way to your destination. While Sleeper Buses are usually more expensive in the range of buses, travelers love them because they allow savings in lodging costs, and of course, they are much more comfortable than the other classes of buses.
Semi-bed buses (semi-camas) allow you to stretch out your feet. The seat also reclines a little so that you can get a more relaxing position for your back. Semi-camas are the mid-range option as they provide a mix of comfort and affordability in comparison to the higher-priced sleeper buses.
As veteran travelers attest, saving on transportation is a key strategy for staying longer in a country than the usual two-week stint. That is why they, along with a majority of locals, choose economy buses to get around Bolivia. Economy buses do not have reclining seats and they may be designed for locals who are shorter in height and so the leg room is cramped for taller foreigners. But, economy buses meet the basic function of getting you to your destination just as efficiently as the other types of buses.
Trains in Bolivia
Unlike other countries where the train is considered a luxury form of transportation, in Bolivia trains have always been inexpensive and for rural folk getting to places where other forms of transportation are not present. A train trip may be a great option to enjoy some more unusual sights that Bolivia has to offer, as well as a good choice for tourists who want to make long-distance trips. These trains reach most of the country except the Amazon and central regions of the country, and have both morning and afternoon schedules.
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A trip to Bolivia just would not be a trip to Bolivia without seeing its two most iconic sights. The first is Lake Titicaca, which is an enormous body of water that is shared with neighboring Peru. Most see it from the town of Copacabana, and once you get there, you won't be able to take your eyes off the majestic color of the lake and the many cultures and histories that lay claim to it. Sailing in its waters at dawn is an excellent way to start the day and then venture out to the islands of the Sun and Moon, populated by native communities and important archaeological sites.
The second must-see is located in the southwest in Uyuni, about four hours from Potosi. Here you will encounter a geological world wonder called Salar de Uyuni, where even though you are in the desert the ground looks like a mirror of the sky. The ideal time to visit this magnificent place is between the months of December and March when the rains create the perfect conditions.
Our purpose at AndesTransit is to offer you secure reservations on a range of transportation options when it comes to travel throughout Latin America, especially in the highland country of Bolivia. Our bilingual team is here to give you customized guidance and updated information to help you make the most of Bolivia’s unique experience.