Running in Peru & Bolivia

Hi All

I am going on holiday next month to Peru & Bolivia. I'm going to want to do a few runs at least, so as not to lose too much fitness. I'll be spending some time in Cuzco and La Paz. Both are above 10,000 ft in altitude, which will be fun.

My question is, has anybody been to either place, and if so, would you recommend anywhere in particular to run, or conversely not to run?

My main concern is finding somewhere I can run without being hit by a car or having to stop/start too much. I'd be looking to run upwards of five miles. I'm pretty fit so terrain/heat/altitude shouldn't be a problem.


  • Johnny J
    Yep, I tried it in the Rockies (also 10k ft) and found it OK after I got used to sucking in what I thought was air and finding it was a bit thin!
  • I've been to bolivia but before i started running. I can't imagine it being very pleasant running in la paz centre just because you will have to dodge people all the time. Will you be going out to the more remote areas? You would have no problems with that there apart from the odd herd of llamas in the road. You have to go to the south west to see the salt flats and lakes around there because it is the most amazing place in the world ever. My main concern would be people looking at you like you're a wierdo for running but if you don't mind that then i think it would be fanastic running round there. I am quite jealous..mmmmm...coca tea.
  • L x
    Thanks for the reply. I'm used to running in odd places, and people looking at me like I'm a weirdo. Running through the back streets of Phnom Penh was one of my more scary moments!

    I'm going to some of those places you mention but the problem is that I'll be doing them as organised escursions with a group of people so I won't be able to head off for runs.

    I'll be staying in La Paz and that's where I'm hoping to do a few runs. Ditto in Peru - based mostly in Cuzco.
  • I was there in the middle of last year... I did a little bit of running - not least as I was interested in the altitude effects.... However I'm afraid I didn't run at all in the two towns you mention (but I did in other bits of Bolivia and Peru - like in Rurrenabaque and in Arequipa).

    When we first got to La Paz, I spent a week off ill - due to altitude sickness combined with some very dodgy chicken I'd eaten... Definitely allow yourself time to acclimatise to the altitude! One really excellent thing to do while you're there is cycling the death road - 3000m of altitude drop makes the cycling fun... Then there are also jungle trips and mountains to climb and...

    For running in La Paz - the main town centre would be quite hard to run in because of the general bustle. Early mornings were emptier on the streets (and cooler) and on Sunday the main street is traffic free so that might be an option? Also there were some areas near the zoo and craters of the moon (a bus ride away) where you could have a pleasant run if you wanted to - you could even run around the zoo if you paid the 6 pence fee to go in... There's also an "olympic stadium" in town which might be open for runners... On Sunday's you'll find a lot of people doing exercise in the streets (I remember football and line dancing in particular...)

    For running in Cusco - there are some absolutely killer footpaths and stairs to run - if you head out to the main tourist ruins (sacsayhuaman, qenco and tambomachay) there are some really tough hills to tackle and some real nice flatter footpaths once you've climbed out of Cusco itself - early morning is probably best again (avoiding the heat) - and take a camera to get some photos of the views while you're running (but be careful to skirt around the ruins so that you don't do any damage and so that no-one can sting you for a ticket).

    In both Cusco and La Paz there's plenty of warnings about petty crime. We didn't have any problems and I think in general the risk is pretty low - you are much more likely to have an incident with a chav (or old lady) running here than to have a robbery occur in Bolivia and Peru. Ask your hotel/hostel and some fellow visitors when you get there - they'll tell you if there are any specifically dodgy areas at present.

    Have fun!
  • Hollywood
    Thanks for the info. I saw that stadium on the map and wondered whether it might be OK. Sunday looks like it might be a good day to hit the streets of La Paz. I arrive there on Sunday evening so I might try and get out then. The heat doesn't bother me at all and, by then I'll be used to the altitude.

    Sounds like I'll need to be a bit more careful in Cusco as that'll be the first time I hit altitude and heading straight up a steep hill sounds risky! I'll be avoiding meat of all sorts whilst there.
  • Everyone says they'll avoid the meat, but once you get the smell of that BBQ'ed guinea pig...

    If you are staying overnight in Agua Calientes near Macchu Pichu (all names spelt wrong - sorry!) then I'd imagine running in the valley there would be excellent - and again you could challenge yourself to run up the hill to the ruins. Alternatively if you're walking the trail then forget running for a day or two!
  • Yes, I'm spending a night there, so I'll give the valley a try. I'm doing some, but not all of the Inca Trail. Thanks
  • Hia, I know this is an old post, but I am planning on going to Bolivia/peru in march (I am on a gap year) and would love to do lots of running out there. What was your experience? Did you find people to run with? Are there clubs? Did you feel safe running? etc

    Thanks !

  • Also planning on going out there soon, so this thread is great. Running_Bear - I've als run the back streets of Phnom Penh....that was certainly an experience...

  • I spent 4 months in Cuzco and Urabamba some years ago and I worked in Chinchero. Running in the town of Urabamba would be fine but gets you strange looks as they're not used to really seeing people run for the fun of it. (they wernt then anyway) There are pavements in the town there. Be very wary of running along the big roads out of the centre, they're very hilly - and buses drive up and down the crazily sharp corners at breakneck speeds - often race each other up infact. Theres certainly no pavements out of town and tbh it'd be taking your life in your hands and NOT recommended. Cuzco (and urabamba) is very safe but its a big bustling city and Im not sure how fun it would be running in the streets to be honest. Its hilly, uneven ground and the altitude makes it hard hard work. Le Paz is less safe - I wouldnt advise running there in the dark at all. But thats just my personal opinion. 

    The way forward I found if you can cope with the altitude (and I cant stress enough how hard that is...!) is to run up from the town centre early morning. Most Peruvian cities have a cross on the hill above the city. Infact almost every Peruvian town or village has this!! Look up and you'll see one. There's a footpath that will wind its way up thats well walked but usually pretty quiet. Beautiful views at the top. Hard core though - steep, altitude... hard going hill run!!! 

    The other thing I'd recommend is finding the salt flats. For the life of me I cant remember where this was. West of Urabamba - perhaps 10mile away bus ride on the main road towards ollantayambo then a further 10K footpath or so to them each way. Beautiful and a lovely run along those footpaths. Also on the top of the hill towards Chinchero theres a bizzare stone water drainage Incan "pipe" system that runs overground through the most beautiful scenery. Advice is take a map, get off at Chinchero and run east or west and enjoy!!! Theres load of footpaths and back roads everywhere thats much much safer and nicer.

    One word of advice - it's COLD at night there. I got caught out one beautiful day up there at a party at the school in chinchero. The sun dropped below the mountains and suddenly it seemed to turn from 20C to -10C in a matter of few hours. By the time we went to leave at 1am there were no busses or taxis. And boy it was cold. Mild hypothermia set in, lips turned blue and out of sheer desperation we ended up knocking on a random house asking for a help in broken Spanish. Old lady of 90 or so took us in and gave us all of her blankets, including the one off her back and led us to a "bed" where we spent the night. Just warning you of my idiotic mistake but am sure you would be much better prepared than I was but get off the hills early. Its a different world at night. (socially very safe but not weather wise!!)

    Im really jealous, have a wonderful time!!! Theres loads of Western gap- year students about - you'll soon learn the haunts where they hang out and ask around about runing buddies. 



  • 15West15West ✭✭✭

    I've been Peru and Bolivia - amazing countries - and there would be some beautiful running to be done. You will need a few weeks to acclimatise to the altitude before trying any running though, and even after that take it easy to see how you get on. If running in La Paz or Cusco prepare for some hills! If anywhere near Uyuni in Bolivia then running on the salt flats and surrounding areas would be amazing.

  • I have run a 10k in Cochabamba which is only at 2600 meters. La Paz is at 3600 meters and El Alto is at 4200 meters. If you can I would recommend running at the lower altitude first then moving to La Paz. If you can't then slow down! 

    If you are in a car in Bolivia I think the rule is "Don't Stop for anyone in the road" so WATCH OUT FOR CARS!

    Here are some routes you can try in La Paz

    Have a great trip, I will be there again in a month or so 

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