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As many of you know, I have recently traveled to Bolivia. These are some of the highlights together with some pictures of my cute puppy Bong Gu~
Food And Drinks in Bolivia.
The Bolivian Cuisine is Quite Diverse. The List of Most Typical Bolivian Drinks.
Due to the various climatic zones, the Bolivian cuisine is quite diverse. The fare of the Altiplano tends to be starchy and loaded with carbohydrates. Potatoes come in dozens of varieties, mostly small and colourful. Freeze-dried potatoes, called chunos or tuntas, often accompany the meals. In the lowlands, the potato and its relatives are replaced by yuca (cassava), and other vegetables figure more prominently.
As for meat, beef, chicken and fish predominate. The poorer campesinos (country people) eat cordero (mutton), cabrito (goat) and llama. The most popular fish on the Altiplano is trucha (trout) from Lake Titicaca.
The lowlands have a great variety of freshwater fish of which the surubi is the most delicious. The most popular typical Bolivian dishes would include chairo, a kind of lamb or mutton broth with potatoes, chunos and vegetables; sajta, chicken served in hot pepper sauce; saice, a spicy meat broth; pacumutu, beef fillet kebabs; silpancho, pounded beef with egg on the top; and pique macho, chopped beef served with onions.
Among snacks, the most delicious speciality of Bolivian cuisine is the saltena, a football-shaped meat and vegetable pie. It is stuffed with beef or chicken, olives, egg, potato, onion, peas, carrots and whatever else may have been on hand.
Apart from the diversity of the regional cuisine, there are set meals, almuerzo, or lunch, and cena, or dinner. These are complete meals consisting of a soup, the main course and tea or coffee.
They are served at lunch and dinner by a wealth of restaurants ranging from backstreet cubbyholes to classy establishments, and in better places a salad starter and a dessert are included. Almuerzo and cena are cheap, roughly half the price of any dish from the regular menu, and cost somewhere between US50c and US$2 depending on the class of the restaurant. If you are on a strict budget, set meals will be the principal way to fill yourself up. Your bargain-basement alternative is the market; these exist in every city and town and have food stalls where filling, usually tasty meals are served.
Apart from the usual black tea, coffee and chocolate, the more typical local hot drinks are mate de coca (coca leaf tea) and api. Api is a sweet drink made of maize, lemon cinnamon and served mainly in markets. Many of the usual soft and bubbly imports like Coke, Sprite, Pepsi and Fanta are available. Bolivia also produces locally invented soft drinks of which Inca Cola is the best example – it’s a high-calorie sugar fluid which tastes like liquefied bubble gum.
Grapes are grown around Tarija and some acceptable wines are produced. The same companies also make singani, a spin, obtained by distilling poor quality grace wine. There are several very good Bolivian beers available. The favourite alcoholic drink of the Bolivian masses is chicha obtained by fermenting maize, fruits or grains. It is made all over Bolivia, especially in the Cochabamba region
HEALTH and ACCOMMODATION
Bolivia is no more or less disease-ridden than the neighbouring countries. Sanitation and hygiene are poor and you should pay attention to what you eat. Unboiled water shouldn’t be drunk but bottled water, available commercially in larger cities, is free of contaminants and is safe to drink.
The feature that distinguishes Bolivia from other South American countries is its altitude. Most people live between 3000 and 4000 metres, and at this height altitude sickness can occur. If you come to La Paz directly by air from the lowlands you may feel a bit dizzy for a couple of days; the best remedy is rest.
Drinking large quantities of water, about 2 or 3 litres daily, is essential. You can also try the traditional remedies, ie chewing coca leaves – a good introduction to the local way of life. A yellow fever vaccination is legally required for travel in the Santa Cruz department, though you’11 probably never be asked for one. If you head from Bolivia into Brazil, however, Brazilian authorities will not grant you entrance without one.
The Bolivian hotel rating system divides accommodation into categories which, from bottom to top, are posadas, alojamientos, residenciales, casas de huéspedes, hostales and hoteles.
This rating system reflects the price scale and, to a certain point, the quality. Posadas are the bottom end – the cheapest basic roof and bed you’ll be able to find. They cost somewhere between US$1 and US$2.50 per person and vary in quality but usually that means from bad to worse. Hot water is unknown, and some don’t even have showers.
Alojamientos are also basic budget accommodation, but they’re better than Posadas and cost a bit more. Though they generally don’t have private baths, some have hot water in communal showers.
The value ranges widely; some are clean and neat while the others are disgustingly dirty and seedy. Residenciales, casas de huéspedes and hostales all serve as finer budget hotels. Their quality also varies a great deal. Although not all have spotlessly clean and airy rooms, on the whole most of them are acceptable and reasonably good.
You will often have the option of the shared or private baths, usually with hot water. These places cost between US$3 and US$5 per person without a private bath and about 50% more with one. Going up-market, you have a whole constellation of hotels which also vary in standard but are more expensive than the rest. Throughout Bolivia, the prices and value of accommodation are not uniform.
The cheapest places you are likely to come across are in Copacabana, while the most expensive are in the Amazon region. The best value for money is also in Copacabana while Oruro probably offers the worst. The vast majority of hotel owners are friendly, honest people and they demand the same of their staff. Competition is such that a hotel can’t afford to get a bad reputation, so your belongings should be safe left in the room.
However, use your common sense, as not all the hotel guests need be honest. Just about all hotels, if you stay for 1 or 2 days, will watch your luggage free of charge if you plan to be away for a few days. Room availability should be no problem at all except during major fiestas, when prices double and rooms are quickly occupied by visiting nationals.
Bolivia is a good country for camping. That obviously doesn’t mean that there are organised camping sites everywhere, but if you have camping gear, you can pitch your tent nearly anywhere outside the centres of population. Remember, however, that nights are freezing on the Altiplano.
Tarija is sitting in a fertile valley, close to the Argentine border
Founded in 1574 and sitting in a fertile valley where grapes are grown, close to the Argentine border, Tarija is the largest town in southern Bolivia. Over the centuries it was influenced more by Argentina than by Bolivia; this can be seen and felt. Although there are no overwhelming attractions, it is a peaceful, clean and friendly town, well known for its wine, fiestas and local colour.
Information Tourist Office The office at Calle General Trigo N-662 is open Monday to Friday from 8.30 to noon and 2.30 to 6 pm. The staff will give you a brochure of the town and its surroundings, and a street map. Money Only a few places change travellers’ cheques. The best seems to be the Internacional Tarija at Sucre N-721.
Alternatively try the Organización Pulido at Bolívar O-226. As for cash dollars, there’s no problem at all; at least five casas de cambio on Calle Bolívar between Sucre and Campos give a competitive rate. Shop around, as the exchange rate differs from one to another. Street moneychangers hang around the corner of Bolivar and Campos. Post & Telephone The post office is on the corner of the main plaza. The ENTELL office is on the corner of Virginio Lema and Campos. Consulate The Argentine consulate is on the corner of Bolivar and Ballivián and will usually issue visas on the spot.
Things to See
Tarija still retains some of its colonial atmosphere; it’s worth spending some time strolling around the centre. The Museo Universitario, on the corner of General Trigo and Virginio Lema, one block from the main plaza has good archaeology and paleontology sections. It displays remains of prehistoric animals found in the surrounding area as well as ancient tools, weapons and pottery from the early cultures of southern Bolivia. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 8.30 am till noon and 3 to 6 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8.30 am till noon; entrance is free.
Tarija was the home of the wealthy merchant Moisés Navajas who left behind two curious buildings: the Casa Dorada, on the corner of Ingavi and General Trigo, today the Casa de la Cultura, and the Castillo, a sort of castle at Calle Bolívar E-644, at present under renovation. There is a zoo on the western outskirts of the town but it is small and run-down. Nearby there’s a hill with a panoramic view over the town. The surrounding region is known for its wines, so you are in the right place to sample some of them and to visit the sites where they are produced.
The most important companies are Kohlberg, whose office is at Calle 15 de Abril O-275, Aranjuez, on 15 de Abril O-241, Casa Real on 15 de Abril O-246 and Rujero, on the corner of Madrid and Suipacha. In the offices you can arrange a visit to the vineyards. Only Aranjuez is close to the town; Kohlberg and Casa Real are in Santana, 15 km from Tarija, and Rujero is near Concepción, 27 km from town.
The management is friendly and you can sometimes get a lift out there with the staff. The offices have small shops attached where they sell their wines at factory price. Rujero has its shops separately at Ingavi E-311 and O’Connor N-642. Apart from wine, they also produce singani. Tarija is also a town of fiestas. The most important one, the Fiesta de San Roque, celebrating the town’s patron saint, begins on the first Sunday in September and continues for 3 days with parades of costumed dancers and musical groups and a large quantity of local wine and singani.
Places to Stay
The cheapest place in town is the Alojamiento El Hogar, opposite the bus terminal across from Avenida de Las Americas. It is a small, basic hotel charging US$2.50 per person and sometimes has hot water. It’s more pleasant to stay in the centre of town where you will find several cheapies on Calle Sucre near the market. The cheapest is the Alojamiento 8 Hermanos, Calle Sucre N-782, costing US$3 per person. It has hot water, but otherwise is nothing special. The Residencial Miraflores at Sucre N- 920, is more agreeable with rooms overlooking a pleasant courtyard and costing US$3.50/ 5.75 for singles/doubles. It has hot showers and the staff is friendly. Of slightly better value is the Residential Zeballos at Sucre N-966 with bright comfortable rooms, hot water and similar prices as the Miraflores (but the rooms with private baths cost almost double the price of rooms without). Three blocks away from the market area you will find two more hotels: the Residencial Bolivar at Bolívar E-256 and the Residencial América at Bolívar E-257. Both have rooms with and without private baths costing US$5.50 and US$3.50 per person, and are more or less of the same standard; they are just across the street from each another.
Places to Eat
There is not much to choose from, but a few places are really good. The market, as usual, is a cheap option and Tarija has one of the cleanest you’re likely to come across in Bolivia. As for restaurants, the best is the Carenahi (with no sign at the entrance), on the Sucre side of the main plaza, a nice and clean place with very friendly staff. They have set lunches (US$1.50) and a large variety of Bolivian and international dishes.
It’s one of the very few places where you can sample several kinds of local wines without necessarily having to buy a whole bottle of each. You can also try your luck in taba, a regional game. Another very highly recommended place is El Solar, on the corner of Campero and Virginio Lema. This is a vegetarian restaurant with very good, inexpensive food. For cheap typical dishes of the region, go to the Villamontes at Belgrano E-1054, a rustic place popular with locals. Probably the best or at least the most formal and expensive restaurant is the Gringo Limón on the 15 de Abril side of the main plaza. For snacks, try either the Snack Te Ve at Sucre N-624, or the Snack Pío Pío at Sucre N-476; the latter is good for chicken.
Getting There & Away Air
The airport is just out of town, past the bus terminal along Avenida de las Americas. LAB, whose office is at Virginio Lema O-615, flies to/from La Paz for US$40, Santa Cruz US$31, Cochabamba US$35 and Sucre US$25. TAM (office at La Madrid 0-472) flies to/from La Paz for US$33, Santa Cruz US$23 and Villamontes US$14. Bus The bus terminal is on the outskirts of the town, on Avenida de las Americas, a 20 minute walk from the city centre. Buses to Potosí run on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 4.30 or 5 pm. Expreso Yacuiba, 10 de Noviembre and San Lorenzo service this route (US$9, 12 hours).
Buses to Villazón (Argentine border) depart daily at 7 or 8 pm with Yacuiba or Veloz del Sud (US$5.75,7 hours). To go to Tupiza, take either Trans Cristal (better service) or Gran Chaco, which leave at 7.30 (US$6,8 hours). There are four buses (Guadalquivir and Padcaya) per day to Bermejo (US$5.75, 8 hours). To Yacuiba, the Bolivian border town across from Pocitos (Argentina), there are two buses daily, run by Expreso Yacuiba and Gran Chaco, leaving at 6 pm. Unfortunately, this spectacular journey is done at night (US$9,12 hours). Expreso Yacuiba also goes to Villamontes, on Tuesday and Friday at 5.30 pm. This is mostly the same beautiful route, again done during the night. If you want to see something, your alternative is to hitch a ride in a truck.
Copacabana – is a Sunny Town on The Border With Peru
Copacabana is a sunny town on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca, on the border with Peru. In the 16th century, miracles began happening after the town was presented with a statue of the Virgin Mary, and since that time, Copacabana slowly became the destination for pilgrims from all over the country. Today the Virgin is the patron saint of Bolivia. Copacabana has a couple of fiestas during which it springs to life. For the rest of the year it is a sleepy little town, a pleasant stopover between La Paz and Puno in Peru and a convenient starting point for visiting Isla del Sol. The climate is generally pleasant and sunny, with most of the annual rain falling in December and January, but remember that at an altitude of over 3800 metres the nights can be bitterly cold.
Information Tourist Office. The information kiosk, in the centre of the main plaza, is helpful. It is open daily from 10 am to 2 pm and 4 to 8 pm. It has plenty of brochures on other regions of the country, most are for sale. Money It’s unlikely that you will be able to change travellers’ cheques here.
Cash dollars can be exchanged in some of the shops on the main plaza as well as in several better hotels. The rate for dollars is relatively poor, so, if you are heading for La Paz, change only the amount you need to get there. Peruvian intis are also changed and if you still have any, this is the last place to convert them into bolivianos at a reasonable rate (it’s better to have done this in Yunguyo on the Peruvian side).
Things to See
The huge sparkling white Cathedral built between 1668 and 1678 dominates the town. The famous statue of the Virgen de Copacabana, carved in wood by the Indian artist Francisco Tito Yupanqui, sits on the main altar. Usually the Virgin is turned to face the Camarín, a chapel built behind the altar. The entrance to this chapel is from the church, on the left-hand side of the main altar, and is open all day long. Copacabana is set between two hills which offer spectacular bird’s-eye views over both the town and the lake. The much more popular Cerro El Calvarlo can be reached in less than half an hour from the town and is well worth a visit, particularly in the afternoon, to get a superb view of the sunset over the lake. If you are interested in Inca relics, there are a couple of unimpressive rocks around the town: the Tribunal del Inca, Horca del Inca and Baño del Inca. You’ll find more interesting Inca ruins on Isla del Sol.
Copacabana hosts three major fiestas during the year. On the first 2 days of February, the Fiesta de la Virgen de Copacabana is celebrated. Indians and dancers from both the Peruvian and Bolivian shores of the lake show up and perform traditional Aymará dances; there’s much music, drinking and feasting. On Good Friday the town is full of pilgrims who join a solemn candle-lit procession at dusk. The major fiesta of the town is held on Independence Day but it goes on for a whole week (from 3 to 10 August) with parades, brass bands, groups of Indian flautists, fireworks and plenty of chicha.
Places to Stay
The accommodation in Copacabana is something exceptional. For a town of its size there are a surprising number of places to stay – there are more than 30 alojamientos, residenciales and hotels altogether. Most of them are clean, friendly and have hot water. They are also unbelievably cheap – the cheapest you are likely to come across anywhere in Bolivia. On weekdays, it is possible to bargain as most places stay virtually empty and take advantage of every opportunity to attract a tourist.
The only times that the hotels fill up are during the fiestas, and then the prices can double. It’s difficult to recommend something overwhelming as most alojamientos offer similar conditions and value: a simple but clean room, a shared bath with hot shower and friendly staff. They charge from US$ 1 to US$150 per person. In this price range and in approximate order of standard are Kotha Kahuana, Tito Yupanqui, Imperio, San Jose, Emperador and Urinsaya. Just check a couple of the above listed, and try to bargain before deciding. It is best to check whether they have tanks with sufficient water as the supply in Copacabana is often cut for several hours a day. If you plan on spending a couple of days away, for example, on Isla del Sol, it’s also worth asking if they can store your luggage as most places will.
On weekends, when tourists come from La Paz, the prices rise slightly and are more fixed. Portenita, Patria and Copacabana are slightly better than the places previously mentioned, but this doesn’t justify the US$3 Per person that they ask for. If you want a room with a private bath, the Ambassador is the cheapest (US$3.50 per person) hotel that offers these facilities. There are two up-market hotels in Copacabana, the Playa Azul and the Prefectural, each costing some US$7 per person or US$13 with full board. If you have a sleeping bag and some sort of protection such as an ensolite pad, you can stay in the Hospedería for as little as 40c. It is an old mansion with plenty of rooms over-looking a marvellous courtyard with flowers – undoubtedly the nicest house in town. The rooms are gloomy medieval cells and don’t have beds, but the beauty of the house in itself and its patio make up for everything. The communal bath only has cold water.
Places to Eat
There is not much variety of food in Copacabana; a standard list of most restaurants doesn’t go further than lomo, churrasco, cordero and trucha (trout), and of course the normal set lunches and dinners. As usual, the bargain basement of the food scene is the food stalls inside the market hall, where you can get a choice of meat, stews, rice, potatoes and salad. The market opens at 6 am and continues well into the afternoon. As for the restaurants, the best (and not at all expensive) seems to be Aransaya, especially for trout. Other reasonable places are Tito Yupanqui (the hotel’s restaurant) and Puerta del Sol. The Residencial Patria also has an attached restaurant with acceptable meals.
Getting There & Away
There are four buses to La Paz, with Manco Kapac at 7 am and 1 pm, and with Transtur 2 de Febrero, which has better buses, at 8 am and 3 pm. The spectacular trip costs US$2.50 and takes 4 hours. The cheapest way to get to Puno in Peru is to take a bus from Plaza Sucre to Yunguyo across the border (40c) where you get transport to Puno (US$1.50). Colectivos to Yunguyo also leave from Plaza Sucre (70c). To go to either La Paz or Puno you can also catch any of the numerous tourist minibuses (coming through from Puno or La Paz respectively) which gather on Copacabana’s main plaza between 12 and 2 pm. They charge US$3.50 to either destination, are faster and more comfortable, and will usually drop you at the hotel of your choice in La Paz (or Puno).
Although there are plenty of them, sometimes all arrive full, so if you want to be absolutely sure to get a seat, book it in advance with Condor Tours in Copacabana. The tours from Puno to La Paz (or vice versa) are very popular with travellers. Since all pass through Copacabana, you can arrange with the agent in Puno (or La Paz) to break the journey in Copacabana for a couple of days and then continue on by minibus with the same agency. It’s best to do it with Condor Tours, however, as it is the only agency which has an office in Copacabana.
Who requires visas for entry into Bolivia
Citizens of Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, Uruguay and West Germany do not require visas for entry into Bolivia. In theory you can stay for up to 90 days. Nationals of all other countries need a visa, which can be obtained, usually without hassles, at Bolivian consulates. No onward tickets or ‘sufficient funds’ are required. The cost of the visa seems to depend on the consulate; in some it’s free, in others it can cost up to US$30. When entering Bolivia your passport is stamped with an entry stamp indicating the permitted length of stay.
Unfortunately, most immigration border posts will give you only a 30 day entrance stamp as this is the only one they have. You can extend your 30 day visa three times, each time for another 30 days. The first extension costs US$25, the second US$35, and the third US$50. While in Bolivia, you must carry your passport with you at all times. Police checks are not unusual, especially in lowland regions where drug trafficking is rife. If you can’t produce one you’ll end up at the police station, will pay a penalty (which is left largely to the whims of the officials) and waste several hours while paperwork is shuffled.
The unit of currency is the boliviano (B$) divided into 100 centavos. There are coins of 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos, and 1 boliviano. Paper notes come in 2,5,10,20,50,100 and 200 bolivianos. After a catastrophic decline of Bolivian currency in the first half of the 1980s and austere measures undertaken in 1985, the boliviano has remained (for 5 years now) one of the most stable currencies on the continent with an average annual inflation not exceeding 15%. The official rate represents the currency’s actual value.
The figure given was current at March 1990. As a rule, stick exclusively to US dollars as they are virtually the only foreign currency accepted throughout Bolivia. Currencies of neighbouring countries may be exchanged in border areas. If you’re carrying travellers’ cheques, American Express seems to be the most widely accepted, though you won’t have significant problems with other major cheques. The place to exchange money in Bolivia is not in banks but in casas de cambio.
You can find them in the larger cities and they all change cash dollars. Some will also change travellers’ cheques. Apart from the casas de cambio, you can exchange money in some travel agencies, jewellery or appliance stores, pharmacies, etc.
These establishments deal mainly with cash, though so are also interested in travellers’ cheques finally, there are street moneychangers wif operate in most major towns and cities practically round the clock. They only chane cash dollars and pay roughly the same as the casas de cambio and other establishments The rate for cash is approximately th same all over the country except in border areas where it’s slightly lower.
The rate for travellers’ cheques is best in La Paz, where it is almost equal to the cash rate; in other large cities it’s 3% to 5% lower, and in smaller urban centres it’s either very low or impossible to change at all. In La Paz, several casas de cambio exchange travellers’ cheques into cash dollars for a 1% to 3% commission. It’s a very good idea to get hold of cash dollars if you are heading into the interior, especially off the La Paz-Cochabamba-Santa Cruz axis. When you exchange money, always ask to be paid in small denominations as there are permanent problems with change – nobody has it. Another problem concerns mangled notes; bills with tiny pieces missing, repaired with tape, sewed with thread or even in separate halves are common, but don’t accept them or you’ll end up using them as toilet paper.
The tourist information is run by the Instituto Boliviano de Turismo (IBT) which ha offices in all the largest cities. The still very young Bolivian tourist industry has developed significantly over the last few year and provides fairly good service. There is still little printed matter, such as guides, brochures and maps, but the often young and enthusiastic staff are usually friendly and will do their best to help you. The best tourist offices are probably those in La Paz and Sucre.
How to Get to Bolivia by Air And Overland From Other Countries
Only a limited number of airlines offer services directly to Bolivia and the fares are high. On the whole, it works out cheaper to fly into a neighbouring country, such as Peru, Chile, Brazil or Argentina, and then worry about getting to Bolivia. It’s a relatively simple matter to travel overland from any of those countries. If you don’t plan to travel overland, however, the airfares from Peru and Chile into Bolivia are the cheapest, and justify landing there.
Bear in mind also that, although you can enter Bolivia without an onward ticket, if you decide to fly back home, it’s next to impossible to buy a discount ticket out of the country. The only interesting bargain to be found in Bolivia (and it’s a very good deal) is the La Paz-Lima-Luxembourg flight with LAB/Aeroflot for US$620. You can buy tickets at the TAWA tour agent at Sagamaga 161 in La Paz.
Air LAB (Lloyd Aereo Boliviano) has flights on Tuesday and Friday from Buenos Aires to La Paz via Santa Cruz. The Tuesday flight lands in Salta and Tarija. The fares from Buenos Aires to Tarija are US$187, to Santa Cruz US$215 and to La Paz US$260. From Salta these fares are US$70, US$107 and US$152 respectively. Overland The most popular border crossing is via La Quiaca and Villazon.
Several trains leave daily from Buenos Aires to Tucuman, from where you can continue to Salta or Jujuy. Prom either of those cities, there are several buses daily to La Quiaca, across the Rio Villazon from the Bolivian village of Villazon. The other frontier crossing is via Pocitos and Yacuiba. Again, you depart from Tucuman in Argentina and take a bus to Tartagal. Another bus from Tartagal goes to Pocitos on the frontier.
You can cross the border on foot (about a 10 minute walk) to Pocitos in Bolivia, and then take a shared taxi to Yacuiba, 5 km away. From Yacuiba, there are daily trains to Santa Cruz and daily buses to Tarija. There’s also a border crossing at Bermejo, not often used by travellers.
Air LAB and Varig fly between Brazil (Manaus, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte) and Bolivia (La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz). From Sao Paulo it costs US$229 to Santa Cruz and US$277 to La Paz; from Manaus, it is US$180 and US$240. Overland Most travellers cross the border between Corumba and Quijarro. Corumba has both rail and bus connections from Campo Grande. From Quijarro on the Bolivian side your only alternative is to take the train to Santa Cruz (more details are given in the Santa Cruz section). There are three border crossings from northern Brazil into Bolivia. The only relatively popular one with travellers is from Guajara Mirim in Brazil to Guayaramerin in Bolivia.
Air LAN Chile has flights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Santiago via Iquique and Arica to La Paz. The fare to La Paz is US$175, US$105 and US$81 respectively. LAB flies between Arica and La Paz on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and costs US$81. Overland There are two border crossings: in Charana on the route between Arica and La Paz, and in Ollague/Abaroa on the Antofagasta-La Paz way.
Both routes run high across the Altiplano and it gets bitterly cold at night, making plenty of warm clothes absolutely essential. There are two trains per month between Arica and La Paz, supposedly departing on Tuesday in either direction; the fare is US$ 17 and the journey takes at least 20 hours if things go well. Expect long delays on the border, where you have to change trains and pass through customs. There is also a sporadic ferrobus (fast train) service, theoretically scheduled twice weekly (US$36, 12 hours). The schedule, fare and time of journey are all only official data. Flora Litoral has two buses weekly, but sometimes they leave only once; the fare is US$18. The second route is in many ways similar to the first: long, cold and unreliable. From Antofagasta, you take a bus to Calama. From there, one train per week leaves for Ollague at midday on Wednesday and takes about 8 hours to do the uphill run to the frontier.
In Ollague, you have to walk across the border, passing through immigration and custom posts to Abaroa in Bolivia, from where the connecting train leaves on Thursday at 12.30 am to go to Oruro via Uyuni. The journey between Abaroa and Uyuni offers spectacular views over the dry salt lakes and volcanoes but, unfortunately, if the train runs on schedule, it’s done at night. The journey in the opposite direction is also partly done during the night. The total time from Calama to Oruro is about a day and the fare is US$ 17. From Oruro, you can continue by bus to La Paz, Cochabamba or Potosi.
Air LAB and AeroPeru both fly between Lima and La Paz. There is one flight daily except Monday by either carrier and it costs US$141. LAB has flights between La Paz and Cuzco for US$100, on Wednesday Saturday. They are normally booked well in advance. Overland There are basically two routes from Peru Bolivia: both originate in Puno and head to La Paz.
The northern route leads Via Yunguyo, Copacabana and the Tiquina Strait, and is very spectacular. This route is in better shape and most of it is paved. There is fairly good public transport but you have to change buses in Yunguyo and Copacabana. From Puno, take a micro (minibus) to Yunguyo, the last Peruvian village. From there, buses and colectivos (shared taxis) go across the border to Copacabana, which is a very nice place.
There are four buses daily from Copacabana to La Paz. Alternatively, take a tour from Puno to La Paz; all tour operators run along the northern route. For more details, see Copacabana in the Lake Titicaca section. The southern route, via Desaguadero is rougher as the Bolivian portion of the road is unpaved. The main attraction on the way is the ruins of Tiahuanaco. This route, like the northern one, can be easily done on your own. Take a micro from Puno to Desaguadero, cross the border, take another micro or bus to Tiahuanaco and, after visiting the ruins, continue on to La Paz.
Air Eastern Airlines and LAB fly between Asunción and La Paz for US$184. Overland The route overland from Paraguay into Bolivia is very rough and isn’t worth considering unless you have plenty of time and stamina, and don’t mind long waits for infrequent trucks. It’s much easier to get to Bolivia either via Brazil or Argentina.