Getting there & away
All long-distance buses use the bus terminal (527-9535; terminal fee US$0.20), a 15-minute walk or short cab ride northeast of the center. There’s a cambio (money-changing office), luggage storage and an office of the tourist police, who can sometimes provide maps and other information.
Numerous companies run buses to La Paz (US$1.25 to US$3, three hours) every half-hour or so. There are also several daily buses to Cochabamba (US$2.50, four hours), Potosí (normal/bus cama, sleeper, US$3.75/8.20, eight hours) and Sucre (US$5.75/12, 10 hours). Several nighttime services depart daily for Uyuni (US$3.20, eight hours) along a rough, cold route that is often impassable after rains. For Santa Cruz (US$12, 18 to 20 hours) you must make a connection in Cochabamba.
There are at least five daily services to Arica, Chile (US$10 to US$12, eight to 10 hours), via Tambo Quemado and Chungará (Parque Nacional Lauca). These continue to Iquique, but there are also several (quicker but less comfortable) services (US$10 to US$14, 12 to 14 hours) via the Pisiga border crossing.
Thanks to its mines, Oruro has one of Bolivia’s most organized train stations, but only has southbound services to Uyuni and beyond. Since 1996, the railway has been run by the Chilean Empresa Ferroviaria Andina (FCA; www.fca.com.bo). They run a relatively tight ship timetable-wise, but were a possible candidate for nationalization at the time of research, so check timetable information closely. Buy tickets from the station (527-4605; 8:15-11:30am & 2:30-6pm Mon & Thu, 8:15am-6pm Tue & Fri, 8:15am-noon & 2:30-7pm Wed, 8:15-11am & 3-7pm Sun); bring your passport, and try to buy them a day ahead. There’s baggage storage here.
The principal service runs south to Uyuni and on to Tupiza and Villazón on the Argentine border. It’s the most popular way of reaching Uyuni, as it avoids the cold, bumpy journey on the night bus. From Uyuni, there are slow rail services to Chile.
The Expreso del Sur offers reclining seats, heaters, videos, a dining car and a choice of popular, salón and ejecutivo classes. It departs Oruro at 3:30pm Tuesday and Friday to Uyuni (popular/salón/ejecutivo US$4.15/6.50/12.60, seven hours), Tupiza (US$7.25/11.50/25.25, 12½ hours) and Villazón (US$9/13.60/29.50, 16½ hours). It returns from Villazón at 3:30pm Wednesday and Saturday. A connecting bus service from La Paz leaves El Alto at 10am to meet this train.
The Wara Wara del Surruns Wednesday and Sunday at 7pm to Uyuni (popular/salón/ejecutivo US$4/5/10.75, 7½ hours), Tupiza (US$6.75/8.60/19, 13½ hours) and Villazón (US$8/10.75/23.10, 17 hours). It returns from Villazón at 3:30pm Monday and Thursday.