A Visit Gone Sour – Cochabamba, Bolivia


Route Sucre, Bolivia – Cochabamba, Bolivia (RN5,RN4)
Distance 366Km
Travel Time 9.5 hours (2h night driving)
Road Conditions 90Km Tarmac, 40Km Riverbed, 80Km Stone road, 156Km Tarmac
Weather Clear, After Epizana stormy and drizzle
Terrain Mountainous, riverbeds
Food and Petrol Aiquile, Epizana
Accommodation Hostal Central, Cochabamba

In the morning we pack up to leave Sucre and some guy comes up to us to talk. Turns out Deepanker is from India and has been travelling in South America a few months as well, by motorbike. He got himself a 150cc and has rode it here from Brazil. We check out his bike and I give him some info on where to visit and practical tips about riding out here in the altiplano. He is doing something very interesting as well: he had been filming and interviewing travellers along the way with his camera and then editing them to produce interesting little documentaries, which he posts on youtube. Here’s the link. I think it’s pretty good. (And he’s been doing all this on borrowed laptop time whenever he meets someone with a Mac!)



The road from Sucre to Cochabamba (370Km) heads out on asphalt (90Km) and then we hit a diversion due to road works and we get to eat dust in a riverbed for about 40Km. It’s deep sand and gravel and small trickles of water have built up some big puddles in the track which can make for some hairy crossings. At Aiquile it turns into a stone/pebble highway for about 80Km through to a nice looking little village called Totoro. It’s bumpy and a you have to be careful going around corners but the scenery is beautiful as you skirt the sides of the steep mountains with no barriers to hold you back from the drop to the bottom.




After Totoro (before Epizana) it then turns into asphalt, and you can motor (160Km) along the s-bends to your heart’s content. However, I think it’s because it’s afternoon, the clouds are hanging thick and low in the east and they’re blowing in with a force which threatens to sweep us right off the road. Exciting stuff! Los Libertadores all over again! But at least it’s not arctic.


We arrive in Cochabamba after dark – 2 hours of driving in the dark – and filter our way through a horrendous traffic jam (which of course needn’t have been one) to get to the centre. We check out all the accommodations listed in the Lonely Planet and none of them will do. Either too dirty, too full or too expensive. We therefore end up in a place called Hostel Central on General Acha, which is partly under construction at the time but we have parking and a halfway decent place to sleep.

We hoped to stay in the Hilton at Epizana but we couldn’t afford it on a backpackers’ budget…


In the morning the city looks far less threatening than at night. In fact it looks quite pleasant, thought it’s quiet as a ghost town – turns out it’s another public holiday.. something about another virgin. We think we’re going to enjoy it here… However this expectation is quickly reversed after we have a breakfast at the thieving Cafe Buenos Aires just North off Plaza Colon. (Click this link to get the story…)



So, having had this experience we decide to duck out of Cochabamba promptly and go elsewhere.