As air travel is expensive for most bolivians, and trains do not reach most destinations, bus travel is essential for the transportation of passengers and products in this country. In fact, bus travel is the most common form of public transportation in Bolivia and in South America, both for short-distance and long-distance travel.
South America is a region of contrasts, and road conditions, too, vary between countries and regions, and even within a country. In Bolivia there are roads that are paved and in good condition, and others that, due to the landscapes they cross, are subject to landslides or flooding, and are more difficult to maintain, especially during rain season (December-February).
Just as road conditions vary, so does the quality of bus services, depending on the destination to which you are traveling. The more popular destinations tend to have better buses; more remote or less “touristy” destinations may not have very good quality buses to take you there.
All things considered, traveling by bus is one of the most affordable ways to get around Bolivia, and it offers the view of landscapes and cultural experience that you would otherwise miss. So here are our top 4 reasons for traveling through Bolivia by bus:
1. The environment
Did you know that buses have the smallest carbon footprint of all transportation services? Its true. Cars, trains and planes are all more costly to the environment than buses. One bus can replace 3 cars and spends 60% less energy per passenger mile than trains. In recent years, Bolivia has experienced a modernization of its transportation services, so the buses offered by transportation companies are every time more energy-efficient and environmentaly friendly.
Traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get around South America in general, but this is even more so in Bolivia, where bus tickets are way cheaper than in countries like Argentina, Chile and Peru. Although bus companies raise their prices during high season, and prices can even sometimes change from one day to another according to demmand, the prices of tickets are consistently cheaper than in neighboring countries. For example, bus tickets from Uyuni (one of the hottest tourist destinations in Bolivia) to Potosi can cost around 5 dollars in a good-quality bus. So, traveling bolivia by bus helps you save cash you can spend on something else.
There’s also been a control over the prices for the main destinations in Bolivia. The ticket has a price limit stablished by the goverment for each route. Say what you want about buses, but at the end of the day, bus tickets are much cheaper than any airfare you will find and with buses, what you see is what you get; everything is included in the price you originally paid.
Pretty simple: If you travel by bus you will see landscapes you would miss if you traveled by plane. You get to enjoy the great scenery while traveling: the incredible mountains of purple and green and pink stone on the way from La Paz to Uyuni; the Bolivian Altiplano flatlands with faraway snowcapped mountains; the valleys of Sucre; the tropical jungle you cross on the way from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz; the tropical mountain forests of the Los Yungas regions. Traveling by bus is the only way to take in many of these sights.
Unlike in airlines, a bus travel allows you to view the beauty of the countryside while traveling. When using an airplane, you will not have much of a scenery apart from the clouds that you will see all through your journey.
Bus travel is ideal for the adventurers at heart. There are so many small towns with a rich history and national parks that are just waiting to be explored and you can’t easily get to most of those by plane.
So you want to get off the beaten path? Are you interested in going places that most tourist haven’t even heard of? Then going there by bus may very well be your only choice. Air travel in Bolivia is pretty limited, and trains only reach very few destinations. But if there is a road, there is a bus. So plan your bus travels and go where (not many) have gone before!