I chose to fly into the jungle.
The plane from La Paz to Rurrenabaque (on the fringe of the Bolivian Amazon) has a reputation for being quicker and safer than the bus ride, which is a 13 to 24 hour skitter over the country's least developed, most perilous roads.
A tiny tube with wings, the plane held perhaps thirty passengers. It quaked and juddered as it leapt into the air, clipping snowy peaks as it left Bolivia's mountain reaches and plunged towards the green trees and cloying air of the country's verdant tropical regions.
Still, I thought, as the plane lunged to a laboured stop on the ground at Rurrenabaque--skidding and skating to a halt beside an "airport" slightly smaller than some coffee shops. Still, I'm sure this is much safer than the bus.
The next day, the plane I flew in on was grounded.
During a routine flight, a bird had flown into one of the plane's propellers, very nearly bringing the whole thing down. No one was hurt in the resulting emergency landing, but dozens of passengers were stranded for a day or two in Rurrenabaque. There aren't many planes to go around in Bolivia's stretch of Amazon.
That's what you get, for relying on a tiny propeller machine.
>Since getting to Rurrenabaque, I've heard conflicting reports about how bad the bus is. Some people have managed to get from La Paz to Rurrenabaque enduring only 13 or 14 hours of perilous cliff-side driving. Others report 18 to 22 hours trapped on a juddering bus, with the windows serving as the only toilets.
>The plane, on the other hand, takes barely an hour. But watch out for birds.