Traveling overland, meaning traveling only by land, could be the best way to travel to and through Bolivia. We took an overland tour starting from Rio de Janeiro Brazil to Lima Peru.
One of the countries in between our journey was Bolivia and I’m glad we decided to travel overland to Bolivia because of these reasons:
When we got to the Bolivian border, from Salta Argentina, I noticed I had to take deep breaths. The sun was also really intense. After the border crossing, we drove to Tupiza which is about 3000 meters above sea level, about 9800 feet.
During the drive, some people in our group weren’t feeling too well. I was feeling fine until dinner when I had a headache, which is one of the signs of altitude sickness. Normally when I have headaches, after I sleep, they go away by morning. The next morning, the headache was still there. Also in the middle of the night I woke up and had to take deep breaths. Some of us in our group had similar experiences.
Next, we drove to Uyuni, which is 700 meters higher than Tupiza at 3,700 meters, which is 12,139 feet and stayed there for two nights. Then we went to Potosi which is one of the highest cities in the world and the highest we got up to during our trip at 4,090 meters or 13,420 feet above sea level.
Lastly, we descended a little to the highest capital city in the world, La Paz at 3,650 meters or 11,97 feet above sea level.
We were told some people don’t get affected by the altitude and on the other hand, some have a hard time adjusting. You won’t know whether you will be affected or not until you get to a high altitude. Just flying right into La Paz, our last destination in Bolivia, from sea level would have been very hard to adjust. Since we gradually drove to the highest point, we had some time to adjust in between and still enjoy all the main attractions.
2. The Views
The second reason why it’s best to travel overland to Bolivia is because of the views. If you were to just fly in, you would miss most of these views. Words can’t describe how amazing the landscape is when driving. Here’s a post about the views with pictures: http://ontaskva.com/views-driving-through-bolivia
3. Culture Experience
Since we pretty much drove south to north of the whole country, other than the views, we saw how people really lived. We saw how people dress from day to day, in their traditional outfits, while herding their animals of mostly llama and alpaca.
I remember also seeing men and women farming and using a lot of physical labor. Sometimes we’d pass by a small community of a few houses, some of which didn’t look like they had electricity. In addition, we saw school children running around. And we also passed by schools which was normally a random building surrounded by the mountains.
It was interesting to see how these people lived. We would have missed that if it had not been for traveling overland.