Internal flights in South America cost a fortune, especially if you book last minute tickets. I had blown up so much cash flying from Brazil to Bolivia that flying internally in Bolivia wasn’t an option for me. There are no train routes in the country for passengers; rail is used to transport minerals. The only option I had was to hop from one place to another by bus, as most tourists do. So, I hopped on a bus…run by Bolivia Hop.
I just did one trip with the bus service of Bolivia Hop, which had two legs – La Paz to Copacabana, followed by Copacabana to Isla del Sol and back. I paid Bs 200 for the round trip, including the bus ride from La Paz to Copacabana and the boat ride to Isla del Sol. While I chose to come back to Bolivia, most tourists use Bolivia Hop to cross the border to Peru from Copacabana in Bolivia to Puno in Peru, continuing their journey further to Cusco.
I had heard horror stories about buses in Bolivia and hence, I choose to book Bolivia Hop, even though it was a little more expensive than booking various legs with local operators. I am so glad that I did… and here are the reasons why I would recommend Bolivia Hop:
1. Few hours in Bolivia, and you will figure out that if you don’t know Spanish, communicating with locals will be a challenge. There is always a guide in the Bolivia Hop bus who knows English very well. This is such a saving grace if you do not know Spanish!
2. When you enter the bus, your guide notes down your tentative plans and gives you a wrist band of a specific colour that indicates your route. All you have to do when you hop on the bus/boat the next time is show your wrist band… no cash transactions required if you are sticking to your destination.
3. Your schedule is flexible. You can simply log into your booking code (which is provided when you make the reservation) and make changes 12 hours prior to the journey.
4. The bus is clean and the seats have seat belts, making you feel safe and secure.
5. They have clean duvet like blankets in case it gets too cold… and that happens ever so often at higher altitudes in Bolivia and Peru.
6. The buses stop every 3 odd hours for a coffee and a toilet break. They also stop at view points for a couple of minutes to let you take pictures.
7. The buses have a video and play movies to keep you entertained during long journeys. I watched Mrs. Doubtfire during the ride.
8. The boats that Bolivia Hop has tied up with are very comfortable and clean. There is ample leg room and I slept like a baby while it gently sailed from Copacabana to Isla del Sol.
Bolivia Hop’s motto is Safe-Flexible-Fun… and I was very happy that I had chosen to hop with them!
PS: This wasn’t a free ride! I paid for my ticket … and loved the experience!