Passing on La Paz

At 3650 meters above sea level, the altitude in Bolivia’s capital city of La Paz is the only thing taking your breath away. Appointed as the country’s capital city in 1898, La Paz lacks the colonial charm and Spanish influence of Sucre and is overrun by an ever expanding population of over 2.3 million, cars and pollution.  La Paz is a major hub of transportation and you’ll likely have to spend at least a night in town breaking up a long bus journey or sorting out the next leg of your trip. If you do find yourself in La Paz for a few days, the major tourist attraction if you are feeling up for an adrenaline rush is a bike ride down The World’s Most Dangerous Road. Officially closed to cars after a new much less deadly road was constructed in 2006, the old road is now mainly used for tourism where willing participants can mountain bike down the winding, cliff side road and earn themselves a t-shirt and a tick on their bucket list. It’s important to note that tourists still die each and every year on this biking experience, so if you haven’t been mountain biking before this may not be the place to start.

Downtown La Paz
Downtown La Paz

If you’re looking for a less action-packed experience, you can visit the touristy “Witches Market” where you can buy everything from herbal home remedies to llama fetuses to bury under the porch of your house for good luck.  Numerous other handicrafts are for sale on the neighbouring streets including all of your hand knit alpaca scarves, sweaters and legwarmers making it a good place to stock up on warm clothing and souvenirs. There are a few museums in town worth checking out as well, although opening hours are sporadic and many are closed on Sundays.

Llama fetus, La Paz, Bolivia
Llama fetus anyone?

The rest of my time in La Paz was spent in bed recovering from food poisoning, although I’m not sure that I missed out on a lot of the action. Many movies were watched and as soon as I was able we booked a bus out of town.

Laz Paz Main Square
Laz Paz Main Square

Jen’s Overall Recommendation: Unless you plan on biking the World’s Most Dangerous Road, there are better places to spend your time and money in Bolivia. Convenient for breaking up a long bus ride, but after that, keep moving.

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