Two Bus Rides and Some Decisions

It took two days and two bus journeys to get from 3800 metres to a more comfortable 2550 at Cochabamba.
The first journey, from Copacabana to La Paz, took four hours and was as good as it gets – comfy, clean bus, safe driver and the added bonus of a small group of Americans with their own guide who gave us all a commentary. The views of the lake and, later, the snowy mountains were stunning. She told us the names and heights of them all, which we did not take in, but all over 6000 metres. When we arrived at the narrowest part of the lake, San Pedro de Tiquina, we all got off the bus and onto a boat. The bus then crossed the channel on a raft powered by a very small outboard motor. The rafts seemed to be for commercial traffic or maybe they were just cheaper but as well as a minibus the bus was accompanied by two heavily laden women traders.
The approach to La Paz is unattractive, vast areas of half built properties, apparently unoccupied but how could we tell? The guide explained that people with precarious, irregular incomes cannot obtain mortgages and so,having purchased some land, building can only progress when funds allow – it can be years before things get finished and communities are established.
In La Paz we tried but failed to book the 7 hour trip to Cochabamba with one of the more expensive bus companies that had been recommended. El Dorado seemed to be offering a good substitute. Next morning we were impressed by the clean and efficient bus terminal and the El Dorado bus seemed pretty good.
We had some good views of La Paz on the way out. After that the countryside was continuous shades of brown, monotonous at this time of year, probably attractive and green in the spring. There were flocks of llama and alpaca at this altitude but taking photos from the bus window is never very successful
The bus journey itself was something else! The promised toilet remained locked for the duration. The 30 minutes lunch stop was at a place so grim it defies description. Worst of all the interior was hot and stuffy, heating on all the way, and the smell became progressively unbearable. On arrival the luggage of one young backpacking couple could not be found – at least ours was intact!
So what do we do next? With several long journeys ahead of us (Bolivia is a huge country) we have had to think hard about where we go and how. We need to stay below 3000 metres and that rules out the salt deserts and mining areas in the South West around Oruro, popular with visitors and originally part of our plan. So we’ll be travelling East to Santa Cruz, South to Sucre, then a big leap North of La Paz to Rurrenabaque in the Amazon Basin. We have booked a jungle tour! And, reluctantly, we’ve accepted we can’t take on any more unpredictable bus rides – we’ll be taking the plane.

2 thoughts on “Two Bus Rides and Some Decisions

  1. Wow! What a trip. And to think I might have been on those buses with you two. Hmm. It’ll all seem fabulous once you’re safe and sound back in Guildford. — By the by, I learned during my travels in Ecuador that many of those seemingly abandoned buildings are houses constructed with money from local offspring that had managed to move to the U.S. or Europe. With the best intentions, they were built for parents, grandparents and other family members who ultimately had no interest in living in big square blocks of concrete — they preferred their traditional homes! — In any case, have a marvelous time…

  2. So why are you not going to the salt flats? Is the altitude a problem?
    Enjoying your posts so much. Think we have decided to head for Ecudaor this winter.

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