Presentation of the destination
La Paz is the the largest city of Bolivia, in South America. It is located high above the ground and is spread out between 3000 to 4100 meters in altitude. A city rich in the heritage and culture of the local Indians. It is built in a canyon where the Choqueyapu River runs gracefully from north to south. A beautiful sight when seen from above, as it clings to the sides of the mountain slopes with the majestic Mount Illimani at 6402 meters in the background. The best time to visit La Paz is between April to October. Due to the altitude, it is always cold in the evenings throughout the year. The summers are the time it rains and it can be windy and slushy. May to October can be cooler, but the altitude makes the UV rays strong. Temperatures hover at 60 F during the day and dips below freezing at night. The currency used is the Bolivia.
Points of interests / things to see
The Calle Jaen is La Paz's posh colonial street, on this street are four small museum. You will see the heritage of this beautiful city at these museums. The Museo del oro or the Mueo de Metales Preciosos has a rich collection of different kinds of precious metals from the period before the Colombian era. There are impressive artifacts of gold, silver and copper from Tiwanaku. The quaint Museo del Litoral displays relics from it's war with Chile in 1884. Bolivia became landlocked after losing it's Litoral department during the war. This exhibition showcases historical maps that highlight Bolivia's claims to Antofagasta and Chile’s Segunda Región. The Museo Costumbrista Juan de Vargas has on display the photographs and art of La Paz, it also has some ceramic figurine dioramas and there is a figure of Akulliko, the hour of coca-chewing. On display are the hanging of Murillo in 1810 and colonial artifacts. You will notice colorful dolls in traditional costumes of this region at this museum. The Casa de Murillo has on display a fabulous collection of colonial art and furniture. This was the home of Pedro Domingo Murillo, a revolutionary leader in the La Paz Revolution of 1809. Walk around and you will learn about the musical instruments, cutlery of silver and glass that belonged to Bolivian aristocracy and some Alasitas miniatures.
An interesting visit to this unusual market will make the visitor understand the local superstitions, costumes and beliefs. The Mercado de Hechiceria is near Calles Jiménez and Linares, you will find it between Santa Cruz and Sagarnaga. A bustling market with many local handicrafts and local remedies for ailments. There are many herbal medicines with unusual ingredients that will help to alienate spirits of the Aymara world. You will see dried toucan beaks that is popular to protect one from bad spirits. Investing in a llama fetus to bury beneath a new house cornerstone will appease the Mother Earth and will bring good luck to the inhabitants of the house. Even today, the locals follow this traditions, as you walk around the market look out for the wandering Yatiris, these are witch doctors. They will be wearing dark tall hats and they will have coca pouches, these are used to tell fortunes. There are medicines for all types of sickness and unexplainable aches, depending on the symptoms they will use seeds, different types of herbs and spices to make a portion to help you. A trip that will make you understand the cultural beliefs of the people of this city, but they may not like being photographed, do ask permission.
The Iglesia de San Francisco is a beautiful 16th century Spanish architecture basilica. This church was founded in 1548 by Fray Francisco de los Ángeles, but a heavy snowfall destroyed it. They reconstructed it usind stone that was quarried near Viacha. Notice the intricately decorated facade that has artistically blended native and catholic art, you will see carvings of tropical birds, pine cones, chirimoyas- custard apples and indigenous symbols like snakes, dragons and masked figures. The rock pillars and the stone facade of the upper portion of the Plaze de San Francisco in front of the church, honors the three magnificent cultures of Bolivia, Tiwanaku, Inca and the modern era. The gardens and surrounding of the Museo San Francisco is adjacent to the basilica and it showcases the rich heritage and history of this city's landmark monument. Notice the religious paintings, ancient historical artifacts and the amazing anteroom at the roof. From this room, you can see breathtaking view of the courtyard and the city of La Paz. The interiors of this beautiful church are in a Neoclassical style, walk around the see the small cedar altars that is decorated with gold leaf designs. This area is one of the city's important points and the plaza is the ground that the citizens gather to protest and hold rallies.
Muela Del Diablo is a half day walking trip from La Paz, it is a scenic trail that gives picturesque views of the valley of La Paz and the city. The Muela Del Diablo is a rugged rock outcrop that is known as the Devil's Molar. It is an extinct volcanic plug that is between the Río Choqueyapu and the suburban area of Calacoto and Pedregal. Make a stop at the cemetery in Pedragal and notice the decorated crypts. The trails to Muela Del Diablo begins from here. The trail is steep, but you will enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding areas. It takes an hour to reach the area where the 'tooth' appears from the ground. A charming grassy outfield that is cool and windy. The pinnacles are further east from this site. The walking track joins the road and you will begin your descend through the hamlet. Make your way to the double summit where there is a large cross, take a breather and take a decision if you would like to return the path that you took or another way that will be longer, but you get to see the other side of the valley and the zoo in Mallasa. Walking higher is not advisable without the appropriate equipment.
Tiwanaku is a day trip from La Paz, an ancient civilization that began in 600 BC, but mysteriously disappeared in 1200 AD. Though this site is not as popular as Machu Picchu, it still has some outstanding monuments. At this village of Tiwanaku, there are a few carved monoliths, arcades and archways. Visitors will enjoy the museum, which will help them to understand the myths, religious beliefs and culture of this ancient civilization. There are many restaurants and a 16th century church that was built with the stones from the Tiwanaku site. Archaeologists cannot explain the disappearance of this civilization, but the artifacts found on this site reflect the influence that this civilization had on the culture of this region. The treasures of Tiwanaku were raided by the Spanish. All their gold were stolen, the early age pottery and stone work were destroyed as the Spanish thought them to be paganism. A few of the masterpieces were smuggled to Europe, the Church kept a few artifacts and the stonework of the temples were reused in other construction projects. Walk around and admire the few large anthropomorphic stone statues that are still on this site and the museum showcases more of the artifacts of this rich and diverse civilization. Most of the important artifacts are on display at the museum in La Paz.
Valle de la Luna is about 10 km from the canyon of the Rio Choqueyapu from the city center. It is away from the urban layout of La Paz and it is a beautiful region to visit early in the morning. Visitors normally take a hike to Muela del Diablo from Valle de la Luna and make it a day trip. A stunning landscape of eroded hillside maze of canyons and a pinnacles that are recognized as badlands and not a valley. Walk around and enjoy the panoramic views and the different varieties of cacti that grow here and you can even see the hallucinogenic chroma or the San Pedro cactus.
This museum is one of La Paz popular tourist attraction. On display are an eclectic collection of modern art that is spread across three floors. Walk around and you will see international and local artists works on display. This museum is housed in a stunning 19th century mansion and is just one among the four remaining antique buildings in this town. Notice the breathetaking glass roof and artistic stained glass panels that were designed by Gaustave Eiffel. A truly beautiful monumental building with an average display of artwork. Address: Av 16 de Julio 1698, Prado Entry fee Opening hours: 9:00am to 9:00pm
The adventurous visitor will enjoy the high altitude in the city of La Paz. Set at an altitude averaging approximately 3580 meters in a picturesque location surrounded by the high Altiplano, La Paz offers tourists an exhilarating mountain biking experience. This trip is conducted by knowledgeable and highly qualified professionals. They have the mountain bikes and there will be a guide to take you through the trails that are stunning and dangerous too. Enjoy the panoramic scenery of your surroundings with the towering triple peak of Illimani overlooking your trip. Address: Av 16 de Julio 1490 No 10, Edificio Avenida, Prado. Telephone: +591 2 231 3849
A perfect way to learn about this beautiful city is on a tour of 'La Paz on Foot', it is conducted by the ecologist Stephen Taranto. A fascinating way to learn about the customs, traditions and the history of this town. The half day tours take you through La Paz, the Yungas, Apolobamba, Madidi, Chulumani and Titicaca, you will enjoy the interactive tour by this passionate guide. There are tours that take you on the trek from the heights of El Alto to Zona Sur down below. The living history and the mural tours are interesting and fun. The adventuurous will enjoy the Yungas coco tour and other nature trails. Address: 400 Prolongación Posnanski, Miraflores Telephone: +591 2 7154 3918
Vacation rentals in La paz (La Paz Department)
How to get there ?
The El Alto Airport is about 25 minutes from the city center of La Paz. This scenic airport is at an altitude of 4100 meters. The airport is on the Altiplano overlooking the city. Most of the hotels arrange for pick up from the airport into the city. The transport system is good, you can get a taxi just outside the airport, but do fix the rate before you enter the vehicle. There are many minibuses, this is a cheaper option, but the journey is longer as they will stop along the way. Trains are well scheduled in Bolivia, but they are very slow and an inexpensive option to go between cities. Around the city Walking is the best way to see this city, but the altitude makes it difficult to walk fast. Do get acclimatised before venturing out on hikes. Taxi are available around the city and it is a better to use them than to drive in a rented car.
Hotels in La paz (La Paz Department)