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Getting Around

Take your life in your hands

Getting from one place to another in Bolivia is potentially one the most dangerous things that you can do with your life. There are no good busses and very few good roads. Bolivia is famous for having the world’s most dangerous road connecting La Paz to the northern jungle. No matter what a traveller is willing to pay, there are no real reputable bus companies in Bolivia.

Transport in the mountains is slow and dismal. A paved road connects about 5% of the country, the rest being dirt roads in bad condition. The general rule of looking for a sober driver is applicable, but that doesn’t mean that other drivers on the road aren’t loaded on coke and driving for 18 hours straight.

The jungle is worse. The roads are washed out and horrible, and if you ride one of the old double-decker ‘sleeper’ busses, you’ll often be wondering if the next huge pothole won’t send your bus tumbling to its side. They also travel about five miles an hour the whole way, so that a 300 km trip can last 20 hours. Once deep into the jungle, boats become the main form of transport. It’s best to bring a very healthy supply of fuel with you into remote areas, as petroleum isn’t available everywhere.

Planes are the best option for many a backpacker. The La Paz airport connects to most major cities and even some smaller towns like Rurrenabaque. Flying is safer than busses, for sure but also more expensive. The planes aren’t exactly the picture of luxury, either. Usually they are ancient, dating back to the pre-jet area but as they have to land on dirt or grass runways, they seem to get the job done one way or another.

There is, in theory, a train service from La Paz to Uyuni but no one seems to know when it departs.

M.J. Lloyd

James Tramplefoot has been, and will continue to be on the road indefinitely, for years and probably decades.