There are relatively few flights to Bolivia. At present, the only direct services to the country depart from Miami in the US, Madrid in Spain and from neighbouring South American countries – the most frequent connections are from São Paulo in Brazil, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Lima in Peru. In Bolivia itself the main international airports are in Santa Cruz and in the capital La Paz. The only alternative to flying is to make your way to South America and travel overland.
Airfares to Bolivia reflect the lack of competition, and are comparatively high. Prices depend on the season: high season runs from July to August and during Christmas and Easter; fares drop during the shoulder seasons (May–June & Sept–Oct) and even more during low season (Jan–April & Nov to late Dec).
If you are travelling to Bolivia from the US, there are direct flights from Miami with American Airlines (w aa.com) to La Paz and Santa Cruz. This route takes approximately seven hours and usually costs $800–950 return. There are regular daily flights to Miami from all major US cities. Alternatively, it’s possible to fly from other US cities to another South American city (such as São Paulo, Buenos Aires or Lima) with an airline like Delta (delta.com) and then transfer onto a flight to Bolivia; travelling via this route costs around $1100 return. Passengers from Canada will have to fly via the US and connect with a flight to South America from there.
There are no direct flights from Britain or Ireland to Bolivia. The most direct routes go via Madrid, Miami, Buenos Aires or São Paulo, each of which is connected by daily flights from London; British Airways (wbritishairways.com) flies to each of these destinations, and there are numerous other options for both Miami and Madrid; a return journey costs from around £1000. The most convenient routings from Ireland all entail flying through London. Another option is Air Europa (waireuropa.com), which has flights from London via Madrid to Buenos Aires and Lima, from where you can take a connecting flight.
The fastest way to reach South America from Australasia is to fly with either Qantas (wqantas.com) or Aerolineas Argentina (waerolineas.com) from Sydney or Auckland to Buenos Aires, in Argentina. The journey costs around Aus$2000 return. It is also possible to fly to Santiago in Chile via Tahiti and Easter Island with Qantas and LAN (wlan.com), but this route is significantly longer and involves lengthy stopovers. Alternatively, you can fly via the US from both Australia and New Zealand with an airline like Qantas or Air New Zealand (wairnewzealand.com).
You can enter Bolivia by land on regular bus services from all five of the countries with which it shares a border – Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay – which makes the country easy to include in a wider South American trip.
Crossing the Peruvian border The most widely used route – and also the easiest – is from Puno in Peru on the west shore of Lago Titicaca, via the Kasani border crossing near Copacabana or Desaguadero, south of the lake; both crossings are an easy bus ride (around 4hr) away from La Paz.
Crossing the Brazilian border From Brazil, the main entrance point is at Quijarro, in the far east of Bolivia close to the Brazilian city of Corumbá, which is the main base for visiting the Pantanal region and also well connected to the rest of the country. From Quijarro you can travel to Santa Cruz by train (13hr 30min–18hr 35min). There’s another minor land crossing from Brazil in the far east of Bolivia at San Matías, a day’s bus journey from the town of San Ignacio in Chiquitania. You can also enter Bolivia from Brazil at several points along the northern border in Amazonia, most notably from Brasiléia to Cobija and Guajarámerim to Guayaramerin.
Crossing the Chilean border From Chile there are three main routes, all of them passing through spectacular Andean scenery. You can travel to La Paz by bus along the well-paved road from Arica on the Pacific Coast via the border crossing of Tambo Quemado; take the weekly train from Calama in Chile to Uyunivia Avaroa; or cross the border at Laguna Verde in the far south of the Reserva Eduardo Avaroa on a jeep tour organized from the Chilean town of San Pedro de Atacama, a route which will bring you to Uyuni.
Crossing the Argentinian border From Argentina there are two straightforward crossings: from La Quiaca in Argentina to Villazón in the southern Altiplano, from where there are road and rail connections north to Tupiza, Uyuni and Oruro; and from Pocitos in Argentina to Yacuiba in the Chaco, from where you can travel by road and rail north to Santa Cruz or by road west to Tarija. There’s also a minor crossing at Bermejo, south of Tarija.
Crossing the Paraguayan border In the dry season (May–Sept) you can enter Bolivia on the arduous bus journey from Asunción in the south of Paraguay to Santa Cruz (roughly 1000km/24hr).