Leaving La Paz by Night Bus

Bolivian buses can be a nightmare. You will often be the only foreigner on board. How lucky was I that I didn’t have a single real dramatic hitch on my many buses trips within and out of Bolivia. Well except for twice getting on the wrong bus from La Paz…(by the way I was loving the Christmas Tree. I’m a big kid at heart and to see this one was a nice wee bit of Christmas Spirit)

I arrived in La Paz station late one night, it would be an overnight bus up to Potosi, the world’s highest city. I walked to the station from my hostel at Loki in downtown La Paz. The walk was through a market and there were so many people out and about. They say La Paz is a hard city to love, but I found a real love for it. Hard to even explain, but it’s a rockingly vibrant city.
I actually got lost on route to the bus station and it was dark, but La Paz is well lit up and busy so I eventually I found the Terminal de Omnibus and already had my voucher for my bus ticket, which I had booked at Wild Rover the night before. It was all a bit of a rush.

I didn;t see any other foreigners when inside La Paz bus station and there are a lot of poor local tramps lurking around. That really didn’t take any of the charm of La Paz away from me. After collecting my actual bus ticket and booking in with the company Cochabamba, I joined the queue to leave the city.

A nice photo of the mayhem at La Paz bus station, surely the world’s highest busy bus station. There was a bit of further drama ahead.

Even though I had my bus ticket, they wouldn’t let me through the terminal to the bus departure point, the reason being you have to pay departure tax to leave La Paz by bus/train/plane. So I had to pop back and get my departure tax token. It cost me only 2 Bolivianas (about 20 pence) and they stamp it.

Then when I got through there were people everywhere, buses packed tightly and bags lying around. There wasn;t much space to move but I saw 2 buses to Potosi and mine was meant to be red and white, a semi cama and was leaving at 8.30. It was a company called Trans Copacabana. It was only a few minutes away so I got on one of the buses with the same name. Nobody checked my ticket and I sat in Seat 3 on the top deck of a double decker bus. It was next to a young local lady and I knew the bus went to Potosi, so asumed all was fine. 
However just to confirm I showed her my ticket and she told me that the bus I was on was a different bus and due to leave at 8.45. So I got off. It was now after the time my bus had left, it was 8.31 pm and if that bus wasn’t the right one I thought I’ll just get on the next bus to Potosi, I have a ticket, so the above bus said Cosmos and 21.00 on it, I got on it.
My view from the “second wrong bus” of the night. No sooner was I on the Cosmos bus to Potosi when a guy got on telling me I was in his seat, which I was, so off I got. In essence this move was a bit stupid, as I knew it was the wrong bus, it was on another platform with a different name, but on my travels before sometimes the name on the bus company ticket is different from the one on your bus (especially in New Zealand, Taiwan and South America). However, you have got to love the view over the bus station wall of La Paz at night.
Then I met a guy and his son, all from Potosi, both booked on the same bus as me, so we waited together and then third time lucky, our bus turned up. It was only about 10 minutes late in the end, but seemed longer as I was eager to make sure I was on the right bus. I was on seat 3 for the second time tonight, but on the correct bus. It was a single seat! So I could put my feet up and sleep for a bit. The iPod got a nice play on this part of the journey and the view looking back down on the city of La Paz was nothing short of sensational.

I also got talking to the passengers in seats 1,2,4 and 5. I was surprised to hear they were all German and also travellers! That made me feel quite at ease as I drifted to sleep, and away from the mayhem of La Paz, for now…
Transport Used – Night Bus

Company Used – Trans Copacabana

Seat Number – 3

Buses I Got On – 3

Buses I Should Have Got On – 1

Departure Time – 9 pm ish…

Scheduled Departure Time – 8.45 pm (boarding at 8.30 pm)

Next Stop – Oruro (on route to Potosi)

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