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Bolivia by Bus

Darwin opted for a sailboat. Che famously went by motorbike, but there are few crannies a rickety local bus won't take you. Nowhere gives a better flavour of the continent than its often scrubby, chaotic bus stations. And no cultural immersion programme can rival sitting shotgun with a local farmer or tradesman.

And a ride through the jungles of northern Bolivia is the most emblematic of the South American way to move.

A trip to Cobija, a town on the Brazilian border, will be advertised as taking 12 hours. Nothing though is said of the bolsa rafts to make the half dozen river crossings, nor the almost total lack of tarmac, nor the high probability of getting stuck in the mud. And not to mention the questionable sobriety of the bus driver!

It's true, you can fly. But then you’d miss out on the male bonding that is shovelling mud during a torrential storm and the delights of an old lady's homemade chirimoya flan. Nor would you have heard the live (and regularly repeated) version of Bolivia's top 50 all-time-classic folk songs.

For details of Bolivian buses log onto www.boliviacontact.com. A nine-day package with Imaginative Traveller including bus and train journeys, La Paz, Uyuni salt flats, Potosi and Sucre and accommodation, but excluding flights, from £509pp.

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