La Paz, Bolivia is one of the most isolated and the highest altitude capitals in the world. However, getting there is far easier than some may think. Aeropuerto Internacional El Alto in La Paz has connections to airports throughout Latin America and Europe. Prices may not be as cheap as those to/from Lima, Buenos Aires, or Rio de Janeiro. El Alto airport sits about twenty-five minutes from the center of the city and can be reached from downtown via taxi.
Airlines that fly into El Alto in La Paz
Aerosur – Bolivia’s second largest air carrier flies to Cobija, Cochabamba, Lima, Puerto Suarez, Rurrenabaque, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, SÃo Paulo-Guarulhos, Sucre, Trinidad, Uyuni.
Aerolineas Argentina – Has flights to Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza airport, where connectuions can be made throughout Latin America.
American Airlines – Flies daily to La Paz from Miami.
LAN Airlines – South America’s largest air carrier flies direct to Lima, Santiago, Arica, Iquique, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (LAB) – Bolivia’s national airline has the most regional flights within and into/out of the country. Direct flights go to most national destinations and international places such as Lima, Cuzco, Sao Paulo, Havana, Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Salta, Bogota, Caracas, Miami, Washington DC, Panama, Cancun, Mexico City, and Madrid.
TACA – The Costa Rican carrier has its hub in Lima, where connections can be made throughout the Americas. They also fly to Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Flying to Bolivia from Brazil is not that easy considering that Varig airlines, along with Germany’s Lufthansa, no longer fly to El Alto airport.
La Paz by Bus
A significant number of travelers make the trip to Bolivia by bus from Peru, Chile, Argentina, or Chile.
La Paz to Peru – The most common route is via Puno, which sits on Lake Titicaca and has connections to Cusco and Arequipa. The journey takes about 5 hours from Copacabana and an hour from the border to Puno. Long waits at immigration are common and may take hours, although the majority of traffic gets through smoothly. A less common route is via Amazonian regions, although hopping on in frequent boats may be required.
La Paz to Chile – There are two main routes to Chile from La Paz. One goes through the northern part of Chile and Parque Nacional Lauca to Arica, while the other combines a 4-day romp through the Salar de Uyuni and ends/begins in San Pedro de Atacama.
La Paz to Argentina– The easiest route is via Sucre or Tupiza to Salta in Northern Argentina.
La Paz to Brazil – There are numerous bus routes to Brazil from La Paz. Some main stops on the other side of the border include Caceres, Campo Grande, Brasilia, and Puerto Velho. Some direct buses to Sao Paulo and Rio are also available.
La Paz to Paraguay – The most common route is to Mariscal Estigarribia, where connections to Asuncion can be made.
Note: Road blocks and protests in Bolivia are quite common and usually a few days notice is given before the transportation is shut down. If you have a departing flight, you may want to get to your destination airport sooner rather than miss the flight, even if you have to cut short your tour.
Note 2: Those from the United States should not forget that Bolivia now requires a visa for US visitors.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.