After La Paz, the next destination on my South American trip was Sucre, a 12-hour overnight bus ride from La Paz — which I wasn’t looking forward to. From the bus trip I learnt a few unpleasant things about Bolivian public transport:
The bus was only scheduled to stop once on that 12-hour ride, and the buses were not the kind of long-haul buses that are equipped with toilets. I was advised to stop drinking water a few hours before departure and not to have any during the trip, as the bus drivers normally turn a deaf ear to anyone’s requests to stop.
When it did stop that one time, it was at a dodgy roadside ‘restaurant’ whose toilets were slightly more tolerable than a hole in the ground. Tip: take hand sanitiser with you everywhere, and avoid buying food from the places where the bus stops.
Plus, I thought it was pretty unsafe for the driver to keep driving for six hours straight without resting.
Note #1: Cheap as it was, Bolivian public transport was very insecure and uncomfortable, and I won’t recommend it to anyone. Next time I would rather pay slightly more for a private car to share with other travellers, if the opportunity arises.
However, once I got to Sucre, I forgot about the bus ride from hell. It was morning on arrival, and breakfast was on my mind. If you are a solo female traveller, you may find yourself enjoying the following, as I did.
1. Have a local breakfast
The Bolivian tour guide I had met in La Paz recommended a place to eat a local breakfast – salteñas, which is similar to a juicy curry puff, filled with chicken or beef. These are widely available around Sucre, but you need to get there early as they sell out by about 10am.
2. Eat and sleep in a charming hotel
Not far from the hostel I stayed in, I stumbled onto the excellent La Postada, a quaint hotel with a lovely restaurant on the ground floor. Here for around USD$10 or less, you can have a delicious three-course meal, plus enjoy it in their cheerful courtyard and soak up the sunshine. If I had known about it earlier I would definitely have chosen to stay there instead.
3. Wander around the quaint cobbled streets
As a Unesco-listed heritage site, Sucre has many beautiful streets and lanes to wander around and get lost in. As Sucre is at a lower elevation than La Paz, the altitude of 2750m should not bother you. Be prepared to walk up many steep paths, but at the top you will be rewarded with wonderful vantage points from which to view the city or stop to admire the many local crafts sold at the street markets. Known as the ‘white city of Bolivia,’ Sucre is also home to stunning colonial architecture.
Note #2: If you plan to shop, Sucre is the only city other than La Paz that has a large variety of Bolivian products to choose from. For the solo female traveller, the silver jewellery is exquisite and cheap. The other main cities, like Potosí and Uyuni, don’t compare in terms of price or selection.
4. Go adventuring in the countryside
Right in the city centre is the Joy Ride travel centre and café/bar. Here you will find an activity or two to suit the solo female traveller, depending on how adventurous you are. When I visited the centre, I was greeted by a friendly customer service representative who recommended either paragliding or horse-riding. After that torturous bus ride, I chose the more peaceful activity. The four-hour horseride, led by a Bolivian ‘cowboy’ clip-clopped amongst the most breathtaking landscapes I have ever seen. Despite the stray pigs everywhere amongst the slums (unfortunately the route took us through them in the first half-hour), and the fact that I ended up with a sore bum, this turned out to be one of my most memorable experiences in Bolivia. After the ride, you can enjoy a comfy drink back at the travel centre, which also doubles up as a cafe/bar with a private cinema upstairs.
Overall, I really liked Sucre with its good mix of warm weather, good food, character, and things to see, do, and buy. Next stop, Potosí, the mining town.
This article was originally published on Art of Solo Travel.