Tuesday, June 26, 2018

First Time in Bolivia : Itinerary, Expenses & Travel Tips

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There is no direct flight from Mexico to Bolivia so I had to cut trips to get to La Paz. I took an Interjet flight to Lima, Peru then a Peruvian Air flight to La Paz. My layover was more than 10 hours but I decided to just stay in the airport because I had an early morning flight.


I thought I had a direct flight to La Paz from Lima but it turned out, I had to connect to Cusco. What's weird was the flight was considered domestic so I was only issued a boarding pass to Cusco and the person at the check in counter told me that I should get my Cusco - La Paz boarding pass at the gate counter.


Passing through the final security check was also a bit confusing. I tried to pass through the international flight section but I was told to pass through the domestic section. I asked where would I get my immigration exit stamp and I was told it will be in Cusco. I was a bit worried if I got the right info so I asked the lady at the gate counter and she confirmed the information given by the security personnel.

I arrived in Cusco after an hour flight. It was colder than Lima. There was a system in the plane, the passengers going to La Paz went out first. We had to literally go out of the airport to pass through security check again then immigration counter. We boarded the same plane. So, I don't really understand why can't they just have the immigration exit clearance in Lima? I bet it's either security or money issues.


I arrived in La Paz in the morning. The altitude sickness kicked in. I had shortness of breath and had a terrible headache after. I took a cab from the airport to my hostel in El Alto which has the same altitude with the airport. I didn't book an accommodation in the city center because I had another flight the next day and I wanted to be closer at the airport.


It was still early but my host allowed me to check in. I left my bags and went to the city with a headache. I explored the city a little bit - I went to the Witches' Market, Plaza Murillo, San Francisco Market then I took the yellow line cable car to go back to El Alto.




My headache was getting worse so I had to go back, take a medicine and slept. I honestly wanted to sleep more but I had to take an overnight bus to Uyuni. I took the Todo Turismo bus instead of the regular bus for a more convenient journey. The bus as an on-board entertainment, hot meal for dinner, breakfast, toilet and a bilingual guide.





After about 8 hours, we arrived in Uyuni. It was cold. I checked the temperature and it was below zero, but I was prepared since I wore a thermal jacket I bought in Mexico. A guy from the travel agency where I booked my Salar de Uyuni tour picked me up at the bus station and he brought me along with the other guests to a nearby coffee shop. We waited for almost 3 hours then we went to their office for a short briefing. By around 10:30, we departed the town proper and headed to our first stop, the Train Cemetery. [Read: Salar de Uyuni : Heaven's Mirror on Earth]





The train cemetery is a train graveyard situated in the outskirts of Uyuni, Bolivia. Several trains were abandoned and were left to rust after the fall of the mining industry in Bolivia.




Our next stop was the town of Colchani where we had a quick look at the small-scale salt processing plant. We also had a chance to check the town's market to buy for some souvenirs.




After Colchani, we headed straight to Salar de Uyuni where we had our lunch near Playa Blanca Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in the Salar.






We then explored the vastness of the Salar and had our photo session in the middle of nowhere. Our guide was so creative that he was able to do some really good group photos. It was of the most memorable parts of the tour.




Our last stop was at the Incahuasi Island where we had photos of the giant cactus in the middle of the Salar.





Before returning to Uyuni, we had a quick stop somewhere in the middle of the Salar to have a glimpse of the amazing sunset. it was spectacular. It's one of the best sunsets I've seen so far. It was magical!




It was already late when we left the Salar so I decided to just go to the airport directly to catch my flight back to La Paz. It was a 45-minute flight. I arrived in La Paz before 10pm.




I stayed for another night in La Paz then took a Bolivia Hop bus to Cusco the day after. The good thing about Bolivia Hop is you will be able to hop on and hop off from different places depending on the ticket you purchase. I stopped in Copacabana and availed of a tour to Isla del Sol - the Island of the Sun. The tour started at around 1pm and ended at around 4pm just in time to get to the 5pm bus to Puno, Peru. [Read: Copacabana to Isla del Sol : Pilgrimage to the Ancient Inca Holy Site]





Travel tips:
  • Take a Peruvian flight from Lima, it's cheaper but be prepared of the short legroom.
  • Book your bus ticket in advance when traveling around Bolivia and get a tourist bus with heater during winter.
  • If you have a limited time, take a plane to Uyuni instead of bus. BOA and Amazsonas have direct flight from La Paz to Uyuni.
  • Take the cable car for an amazing view of La Paz.
  • Take the communal taxi if you are traveling on a budget.
  • Buy a ticket with Bolivia Hop if you plan to visit Copacabana, Puno, Arequipa and Cusco.
  • Be prepared of the high altitude. Bring some Ibuprofen in case you will have a severe headache. El Alto Airport in La Paz is one of the highest commercial airport in the world.

Itinerary and Expenses

Day 0
Plane fare from Mexico City to Lima via Interjet - USD250 / 817 PEN
Dinner in Lima - 18 PEN
Water - 5 PEN
Total Expenses Day 0 - PEN840 / Php13,715 /BOB1,775

Day 1
Plane fare from Lima to La Paz via Peruvian Air - USD133 / BOB920
Taxi from La Paz Airport to Accommodation - 50 BOB
Communal taxi from hostel to City proper - 3.5BOB for 20 mins
Postcard - 8 BOB
Ref Magnets - 20 BOB
Lunch (Lomo Saltado) - 30BOB
Taxi to Plaza Espana - 15 BOB for 35 mins
Cable Car - City proper to El Alto - 3BOB
Water - 7 BOB
Taxi to Todo Turismo bus station - 30 BOB, 35 mins
Overnight bus to Uyuni - USD39 / BOB270
Hostel - USD15 / BOB105
Total Expenses Day 1 - BOB1,461.5 / Php11,295

Day 2
Coffee - 10BOB
Salar de Uyuni tour - USD74 / BOB512
Entrance Incahuasi Island - 30BOB
Guide tip - 50BOB
Airport Tax - 11BOB
Plane fare from Uyuni to La Paz via Amaszonas - 520BOB
Accommodation - USD15 / BOB105
Total Expenses Day 2 - BOB1,238 / Php9,562

Day 3
Taxi to Adventure Brew Hostel for bus pick up - 30BOB
Bolivia Hop (La Paz-Copacabana-Puno-Cusco) - USD54 / BOB375
Breakfast - 40BOB
Lunch - 25BOB
Isla del Sol Tour - USD10 / BOB70
Total Expenses Day 3 - BOB540 / Php4,170

Total Expenses from Day 0-6 in Bolivia - BOB5,014.5 / Php38,745 (For expenses prior to this leg, click here)


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