Hi, a friend and I are trying to organise a trip to Bolivia this November, and we're trying to work out the details: because it's so expensive to fly to La Paz, we thought we would fly into South America and then go overland into Bolivia (we're coming from Australia.)
The question is: do we fly into Santiago, Buenes Aires, or Rio de Janeiro? I've heard that to get out of Santiago airport you have to pay a fee, the cost depending on your country of origin ie as a Canadian it would be around a 100$US... Does anyone know anything about this? Also, would it be easier traveling from the Eastern side of South America because of the mountains? My other concern is the bad roads in November-December; I've read that the roads can be closed due to mud etc, and someone told me that Argentina is dryer than Brazil, and the roads from BA would be better than the roads from Rio. Has anyone experienced this? Are we crazy to try to bus/train it across South America during that season?
Basically if anyone has any advice on where would be best to travel from in the major cities to Bolivia, if anyone has any advice on whether we should bus or train, and if there will be any problem because of the weather, that would be fantastic! Thanks in advance!
The entrance tax for Chile when arriving is U$D56 for Aussies, U$D132 for Canadians (the same Chileans would pay when entering those countries; it's called taxation by reciprocity). I'm not entirely sure, but I seem to remember the same goes if you visit Chile overland.
Bear in mind that in Brazil and Argentina, you'll be charged an exit tax instead, though not as high as the Chilean impuesto de reciprocidad.
When visiting Bolivia, Brazil is not your most logical choice, as the quickest passage into Andean Bolivia would take you through Argentina anyway; on the other hand, entering from Brazil (Corumba - Santa Cruz de la Sierra - further west) makes for a nice though somewhat time-consuming trip.
I think your best bet would be the following. This assumes you don't have infinite time; if you do, more interesting routes are conceivable, the following is pretty much beaten tourist track. I've left Amazonian Bolivia out of consideration altogether.
Buenos Aires - Salta (can be skipped, but is very nice) - La Quiaca / Villazon - Uyuni - Potosi - Sucre - Cochabamba - La Paz (not particularly worth visiting) - Oruro (very nice) - Potosi (again; you have little choice if making a round trip, unless you like taking local busses via an unpaved road) - Tarija - Back to Buenos Aires (Veloz del Norte used to offer direct daily service via Bermejo and Orán).
The whole can be done within a month, although that would make it slightly rushed. Of course, extensions (and a limited number of cuts) are also possible. PM or reply if you have more specific questions.
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 21, 2008, at 6:17 AM by bentivogli ]
Thanks, that does help! We won't really have a lot of time for sight-seeing, we're just basically trying to get to Bolivia so the quickest way is best :D On our way out I think we'll bus into either La Paz or Lima (depending on flight prices,) and fly out from there - we hope to spend about 7 weeks working in an animal shelter in Bolivia, which doesn't really leave us much time elsewhere unfortunately!
Has anyone experience any problems busing around Argentina or Bolivia during their summer/rainy season?
No problems in Argentina with rain, as almost all major roads are paved these days. In Bolivia, roads becoming unsurpassable by rain is common in the lowlands, but not in the area you'll be travelling through when coming via Argentina.
btw, if it's all about getting to La Paz the quickest way possible, your best shot would be the connection BsAs - Tarija with Veloz del Norte, and then Tarija - La Paz (pretty sure you need only that one change of busses). There's even a direct bus connection BsAs - La Paz with Ormeñoz, but that is one long-haul busride, so imo not very recommendable.
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 22, 2008, at 5:41 AM by bentivogli ]
well I think that´s a good option going from Lima - La Paz, it will take around 18 hours by bus , but you will go trought Arequipa, Puno, Copacabana, that´s a nice way.
A good bus company is " Cruz del Sur " in Peru, if you want