Domestic flights in Bolivia
Replies: 21 - Last Post: Oct 14, 2013 7:57 PM Last Post By: tunabagel
Jun 25, 2013 6:09 AM
Domestic flights in BoliviaIs it easy to book domestic flights in Bolivia (around October) last minute or is it necessary to book in advance. I like to keep a flexible schedule. In Colombia I was able to book flights the night before going several times, which was really nice. My plan is coming from Perú to Copacabana - La Paz - Sucre - Potosi - Uyuni and continuing to San Pedro. In that case I would like to go my plane from La Paz to Sucre. However I may want to go down to Rurrenabaque or Santa Cruz so more flight may be needed.
By the way, how is it with altitude acclimation if you go down from the heights for a few days or a week and back up? How fast do you loose the acclimation?
Jun 25, 2013 6:46 AM
1It's generally easy to book at short notice on most routes. I have flown La Paz-Sucre (TAM) and Tarija-Santa Cruz (BoA) and in both cases booked the flights less than 48 hours before travel, without problems. Some routes like La Paz-Rurre are going to be very popular with tourists during high season, but you'll probably be OK, especially in cases where more than one airline services a route.
Re. acclimatisation it depends how low you go. In Peru, I trekked happily in the Cordillera Blanca around Huaraz for 2 weeks, going up to 5,000m without any problem, then descended to Lima (sea level) for 3 nights. I then flew to Cusco at 3,300m and felt like I was back to square one. Acclimatisation is a complex process involving short, medium and long term changes to your physiology - but in my personal experience, I lose it quite quickly.
Jun 25, 2013 7:57 AM
2Re acclimatisation : I tend to agree with Polyglot - most people lost it very quickly if they descend far enough (unless you've lived your life at high altitude, I guess). An average person used to sea-level or thereabouts who spends a week or so at 4000 metres will lose acclimatisation in a couple of days. There are exceptions, and every person's physiology is different but that was my impression after 4 weeks in Peru and Bolivia in 2010.
On the Inca Trail I met a couple of guys from New York who'd spent a few days in Cusco then gone down to the Amazon basin for a couple of days, returned to Cusco and immediately started walking the Trail. They nearly didn't make it up Dead Woman's Pass (4215 metres) they were so wasted by the altitude (see my photo travelogue for the full story).
Jun 25, 2013 9:20 AM
3it is possible often to book 1 or 2 days before for many flights but of course there are certain times when they fill up faster. Those times are usually official vacations, when there are roadblocks stopping travel to the destination and also friday evenings/weekends are often a bit busier. Some lesser served routes such as cobija for example are also ones that fill up earlier (but you probably wont be using those). You need to bear in mind there are lots of official vacations in bolivia (seems like 3 or 4 a week sometimes) so worth checking that out when you have a better idea of your schedule.
For altitude - agree with the above . Very much depends on the person but it seems to me that people usually tend to declimitise about the same speed as they acclimitise so you ca nget a good idea from that.
Jun 25, 2013 1:38 PM
Jun 26, 2013 1:35 AM
Jun 26, 2013 4:55 AM
6there is a list here http://bolivia.usembassy.gov/holidays.html but the president does have a habit of creating new ones often with very little notice (sometimes the day before!) .For example he has done this shortly after very large protests by extending a current holiday by one day (his way of trying to get people back onside) He could well do that this year again being the year before an election year.
Bear in mind also that flights will be busier not just on the actual holidays but around that time. For instance if a holiday is on a thursday it is highly likely wed, thu, fri, sat, sun will all be busy because people tend to take the non holiday weekdays days off also to travel (either officially or just by simply not turning up to work)
Jun 26, 2013 4:57 AM
Jun 27, 2013 3:34 AM
8An average person used to sea-level or thereabouts who spends a week
or so at 4000 metres will lose acclimatisation in a couple of days.
Instinctively I would disagree , but that would be from normally spending longer periods at high altitude. The most relevant example would be going from Ladakh , most of the time around 3500 meters , to Tibet . I spent more than two weeks in the Indian plain and Kathmandu , just below 1300 , went directly to Nyalam ( 3750) , next nights around 4200 and felt ok all the way . Same as the others in my group , that all came from high altitude treks. On the return leg we met some greyish dudes that didn't succeed well with their breakfast , straight from Ktm.
You'll find good pointers on acclimatization from CDC ( deades of boots on the ground/rock experience docs ) here , and they speak of a completely different timescale in acclimatization : useful effects from even a few nights around 3000 lasting up to a month.
I've checked hemoglobin values ( which is an over rated factor in acclimatization ) at work a number of times after returning from the Himalayas : high first week , normalised after two.
high road to...
Jun 27, 2013 4:32 AM
Jun 27, 2013 4:44 AM
Jun 27, 2013 4:33 PM
11Well , that was predictable : both # 1 and # 2 has no experience of acclimatizing for a month , going down , and up again. No shortage of guesses on how that would play out , though.
Another constant : dismissing advice from docs with litteraly decades of experience in the field . Prime example is the CDC document , written mainly by Peter Hackett : one of the first docs working with the Himalyan Rescue Association , later member of the american medical Everest expedition ( did a solo summit ) in the eighties , now heads the Institute for Altitude Medicine in Telluride ( altitudemedicine.org ) . In between that a lot of research - 65 articles published in the specialist journal High Altitude Medicine & Biology , for starters.
Jun 27, 2013 4:40 PM
12Oh, vistet, untwist your knickers, OK? It was tongue-in-cheek. On the flip side, I was delighted to hear about your trips to Ladakh. Again. Again.
Jun 28, 2013 12:05 AM
131. Bolivian airlines' schedule is not reliable - based on my own experience - and they are prone to changing time flights or canceling flights altogether shortly before the flight. I think Amaszonas might sell tickets more expensive shortly before the flight vs bought in advance, but I don't think price changes appreciably for TAM, Boliviana or Aerocon.
2. If you spend a long time high and then descend, your ears might hurt for awhile after that. Like when you land with a plane, but for a much longer period.
Jun 28, 2013 12:35 AM
14Well, I did not say acclimatise for a month, I said a week and I said that was my impression after 4 weeks in Peru and Bolivia, so it was very clear that I was not offering rock-solid expert advice. Most people spend 3 days in Cusco before doing the Inca Trail (which is what we did and that was enough), but I saw the effect on 2 youngish guys who were in Cusco for a few days then went down to sea-level (not 1300 metres) for 2 days. That side trip pretty much destroyed their acclimatisation.
I would say that if people talk about "going down" in reference to losing acclimatisation it obviously means way down like sea level. It does not mean going down a little way then going up again as climbers do when climbing really high.
I ain't a doctor, make no claim to being an expert, am just an average Joe passing on what I experienced and saw.
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