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Bolivia - Getting there & away, getting around

Bolivia - Getting there & away

Only a few airlines offer direct service to Bolivia and fares are high. Many people fly into another South American country, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile or Peru, and travel overland to Bolivia, which generally works out to be cheaper. Border crossing points include Villazón-La Quiaca and Yacuiba-Pocitos (Argentina); Quijarro-Corumbá and Guayaramerín-Guajará-Mirim (Brazil); Charaña-Visviri and Abaroa-Ollagüe (Chile); Yunguyo-Puno and Desaguadero-Puno (Peru).

The national airline is Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB), which offers both domestic and international service. International airfares purchased in Bolivia are subject to a 19% tax. International airports in La Paz and Santa Cruz charge a $US25 departure tax for those who have spent fewer than 90 days in the country; those who've stayed longer than 90 days pay $US50.

Getting around Bolivia

Domestic air services are provided by LAB, TAM (military airline) and AeroXpress. Be prepared for delays, cancellations and general unreliability. Bolivia's road network is not good, mainly because of the lack of paved roads. Most long-distance buses depart in the evening and travel through the night. If you want to see the countryside between towns, you're better off catching a truck, a popular mode of transport among campesinos. Trucks are half the price of buses, but can be rough going. Bolivian railways have been recently privatized and passenger services have been drastically cut back. There are two rail networks: one in the west and one in the east. The eastern network is completely chaotic; the western network is just disorganized. Don't be fooled by trains called tren expreso and other zippy names; all trains apart from the ferrobus are excruciatingly slow. The Ichilo, Mamoré, Beni, Madre de Dios and Guaporé rivers are the main thoroughfares in the Amazon Basin.

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