We made the direct bus trip from La Paz to Sucre with El Dorado, one of the better operators running the route.
El Dorado buses depart La Paz daily from La Paz bus station to Sucre at 7pm, 7.30pm and 8pm, and the trip from La Paz to Sucre takes around 13hrs. They are relatively punctual (ours left around 10 minutes after the scheduled departure). It can be a bit chaotic at the departure bay and not always clear when or where the bus is going to come in, but if you keep your eyes out for the El Dorado bus, it should eventually appear near to your scheduled departure time.
Tickets cost around US$23, and can be purchased from the El Dorado desk in the La Paz bus station. Alternatively a tour operator such as Kanoo Tours (on Av. Illampu in Zona Rossario, La Paz) can make the booking for you and print your tickets off there and then. You’ll need to take your passport with you when you go to make the booking. Kanoo can also take bookings online. It is advisable to book a day or two in advance to ensure seat availability.
An important thing to note is that you must pay a 2 boliviano departure tax at the “boleta” stand in the center of the station. This is not well advertised and your receipt is checked as the bus is pulling out of the station.
El Dorado’s full-cama bus is not brand new, but in good condition. The seats recline fully to form a spacious and comfortable bed, separated from other rows by wooden partitions for privacy.
While it is prudent to bring warm clothing for trip as Bolivian buses are notoriously cold, the temperature in the bus is actually very comfortable, even slightly too warm. The bus has windows which can be opened by the passengers, though, so your experience may depend on the preferences of your fellow travelers and your distance from the windows (which are located towards the front of the upper-level).
The bus has a toilet, but when we traveled, the door was locked. This is a common occurrence on Bolivian buses as drivers are responsible for cleaning the toilets and would rather you go at the designated stops. We were able to get the key off the driver and gain access, though we’ve heard tales from others where they were unable to use the on-board toilet and had to relieve themselves at the side of the road while the bus slowly crept along – you’ve been warned. In our case, the toilet was in decent condition, except for the light which was not working.
The bus was comfortable, but not luxurious. There were no niceties included such as blankets, WiFi or food. On our trip a film was played at the start of the trip, then after Oruro the lights were switched off and the bus remained quiet and dark for the rest of the trip, so it was actually possible to get quite a good night’s sleep. The bus made a 20min stop half-way through the journey, in Challapata, at 2am. It then stopped again at 7am for a 10min toilet stop. Other than that, the bus made no other stops and reached Sucre at 8am, though it then proceeded to slowly work its way round the outskirts of the city to eventually reach the bus station at 8.30am.
Throughout the trip our driver drove slowly and carefully. There was no evidence of the past issues El Dorado has had with accidents – reports are that they have improved safety significantly of late. It is also worth watching your stuff as we’ve heard a few reports of petty thefts on the route.
All-in-all, our bus trip with El Dorado from La Paz to Sucre was a comfortable and convenient way to get between the two cities.