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From Costa Rica to Bolivia -- need some advice please!

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean From Costa Rica to Bolivia -- need some advice please!

1. Posted by AKINOM (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Hello! I am trying to find the best way to get from San Jose in Costa Rica to the La Paz area in Bolivia. I have two and a half weeks to make the trip. I'm hoping to take buses, but I'm wondering about the safety. I am a 20 year old girl and do not look latina at all -- blonde and small. Is it safe for me to travel by myself or with another person?

Also, what are good buses and boats to take? I don't know anything about traveling in SA. Any advice is much appreciated!!

What are good connections to take? What are beautiful and interesting places to see on the way? And about how long do you think it will take?
I'm hoping to stop a few times on the way!

I have read a little about taking a boat from Colon to Cartegana. Is this safe? Does anyone have any experience with this? And do I need to book this in advance? If you do not recommend taking the boat over the Darien Gap, what is another inexpensive & safe option?

Thank you! :o)

2. Posted by trainrider (Full Member 95 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!


I haven't travelled S. America yet, hoping to soon! However I've travelled from Costa rica into Panama before. I spent 3 weeks travelling around Panama and then went back to Costa rica for 2 weeks to relax on the beach at Dominical. I wouldn't attempt to make a trip like you are talking about in 2 and a half weeks, you simply wouldn't see anything.

You can travel by bus from San Jose into Panama. We flew from San Jose to David in North Panama and then did the rest by bus. We flew with panama air because all the buses were fully booked when we wanted to travel as it was christmas.

I would say that parts of Panama are definitely not safe for a lone female traveller. The Darien Gap is a very dangerous area and you are advised to only approach the area with a police escort! Seriously!
You mention Colon. We travelled to Colon on the Panama Canal railway. Colon is up there with one of the top 3 scariest places i've visited. A very poor, crime riddled, dangerous place. The Taxi driver made a point of showing us his collection of handguns in his glove box.

If you're going to do this trip in 2 . 5 weeks then you will need to fly possibly from San Jose to Panama city, spend several days in Panama and then onto Bolivia. But I wouldn' recommend it. Do a smaller trip or find more time and try to find a travel buddy or two, safety in numbers.

3. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 984 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

The boat will take too long for your needs. You have to fly. You have NO time to accomplish what you want unless you are on a plane at one point.

4. Posted by Amimi (Budding Member 9 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

yes i would recomend flights as well... I've just been in peru bolivia and argentina.... believe me it's not that close as it looks like...
a little example for you
from lima to cusco it takes more as 20 hours... and I' m sure you dont want skip machu picchu... then you have to be minimum (absolutely minimum 2 days)
so if you come directly from ecuador border... this would add (I'm just guessing) around 17 hours more... so if you have perfect connections and you will sleep nearly a day in cusco and then visiting one day machu picchu....
this would be allready 4 to 5 very tired days.... so a big part of your time budget if you just use buses and want cross all this countries
I hope this example helped (because I overdidi me as well a bit with the distances in Argentina)

5. Posted by fraluchi (Full Member 131 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

My advice: if you don't want any trouble, just fly from San Jose to La Paz. Period.

6. Posted by Amimi (Budding Member 9 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

please fly a "big" part

7. Posted by judai (Budding Member 26 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

a few years ago i traveled from Lima to Ecuador by bus, it takes about thirty hours
with three scales Lima- tumbes, tumbes - Guaquillas, Guaquillas - quito(ecuador).
it was little heavy. it depends how organize your trip. but not suggest all way by bus.