Family interested in visiting La Paz area in November

Hello, My husband, brother, and 13 year old daughter are interested in visiting Bolivia in November and flying into La Paz. We wondered if it would make sense to go to Coroico right away to acclimatize and then to do some hiking. The el choro trail interests us. All the reviews I have read start from the top and come down. Do people hike it the other way? We are all fairly fit. Should we have a guide for this? I am also wondering about transportation to Coroico. Is it safe to take the bus from La Paz to Coroico and would you have a recommendation about which bus company to take for safety and comfort? As a mother I am concerned about safety traveling in Bolivia in general. Any advice would be welcome.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Becca

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Apr 07, 2014
safety
by:

I don't spend much time in Peru but my friends here would warn that it's probably a little more dangerous than bolivia.
Protests here have been blocking roads recently but it isn't much to worry about (in terms of safety) if you are using public transport. If the roads to a destination are blocked, the buses simply won't run.
The bus station in Villa Vatima isn't very dangerous, its open air (more or a less a large car park) and there is a Police presence.
Do beware of the bus terminal in central La Paz, its a large indoor terminal and many thieves lurk the area looking to take advantage of foriengers. If you put your bags down for a second, you will likely lose them. What they also do is throw something on you to distract you - chocolate, orange juice ect. Then either a "good samaritan" will come to help and pick pocket you or they will simply do a snatch and grab while you're wondering what happened.
Don't let this put you off however, keep your wits about you and you will have no problems.

Finally, if you do happen to see any protests beginning near you, it's best to calmly walk away and certainly not to get involved. But protesters have a particular agenda which is "usually" something anti government. It's not something to concern yourself with very much.

JH

Apr 06, 2014
Family interested in visiting La Paz area in November
by: Anonymous

Thank you J.H for your helpful response. I wondered also about how the political situation might affect travel in Bolivia as well. It can be frightening reading about political demonstrations and crime against tourists. One always has to be careful in cities especially around bus stations and at night, but we aren't planning to spend much time in the city. Does one have to be vigilant constantly when travelling in Bolivia. We travelled in Peru about 4 years ago. Would you say it is comparable?
Thank you again for any advice you may have!
Becca

Apr 03, 2014
traveling to coroico
by: Anonymous

Hi, I'm a British expat living in La Paz and worked at an animal refuge close to Coroico last year for a few months. I traveled between Coroico and La Paz often.

Firstly regarding the altitude problem, it's indeed wise to start somewhere like Cochabamba and take the bus to LP. It's cheap and relatively comfortable. The trip takes between 6 to 8 hours depending on road conditions. In November, the rainy season will just be getting started so it shouldn't be much to worry about.

I advise consulting your GP before travelling. They will probably prescribe something like Oxy-(something)... sorry, don't remember the full name. Take one before you take off and another when you land. Then 1 every 12 hours if needed. Altitude sickness can affect even the fittest people and whether you get it or not is luck of the draw. You also need some vaccinations before coming but your Doctor will know which.

As for Coroico, while I've never actually done the Inca trail myself, I do know people who have. I highly recommend against doing it in reverse.
The trip to Coroico takes you out of La Paz and VERY high into the mountains (often snow covered). You arrive at an altitude of around 5000 meters of I'm not mistaken. Then it's pure descent. I don't know Coroicos altitude off the top of my head but the valley below it is 1100 meters. To do the Inca trail in reverse (ie going up to La Paz) would be extremely difficult.
You can take small mini buses (15 people) or mini vans (6 people) to Coroico from the bus station in Villa Fatima. If the taxi driver doesn't know where that is (unlikely) it's up Avenida Busch amd straight on for a couple more miles.
I usually opt for the mini van though there isn't much space if you're taking luggage. Prices shouldn't be more than 40 Bolivianos though usually 30bs.
Safety-wise..... I won't try to scare you but the road is obviously mountainous. There has been lots of improvements to the roads in recent years and it's safer than it's ever been. That doesn't mean it's risk free. It's often very foggy after lunch time and the drivers rarely let the fog slow them down. That said, the number of accidents versus the amount of traffic on the road gives a pretty good figure and I have no hesitation using the buses.

I hope that answers your questions.

JH

Jan 28, 2014
altitude
by: Anonymous

Becca, If your concerns are adjusting to the altitude I would suggest arriving into Cochabamba and then travel on bus to LaPaz...Yes you can travel on a bus from LaPaz to Corioco...and yes i think it is safe..i have made the trip several times...usually most people encounter the altide problems as soon as you land in LaPaz...I suggest taking tylenol two to 3 hours before arriving and also drinking coca tea before arriving..it always helped me...Also your local dr can prescribe medicine for you to take....also there are sorochi tablets available at any pharmacy in lapaz....they also help......have fun and be safe...

Sincerely

JS Dunaway...Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia


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