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Published: December 21st 2013
La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, is situated high up in the mountains, and at 3650 meters it easily gains the title as the world’s highest capital. On advice of our hostel in Copacabana we booked our trip there with Diana Tours who turned out to be a tour organizer, not a regular bus company. This meant we got a ride all the way to the center of the city instead of going to the bus terminal. As we didn’t know where to go from there we then had to take a cab that drove us a staggering 2 blocks to our hostel.
Our first day in La Paz we decided to take a walking tour recommended to us by some fellow travelers in Copacabana. It was again a walking tour where the guide worked for tips, usually these keep a very good standard. Also this tour was good, but not nearly as good as the one in Medellin. During our tour we went to markets and saw a few important buildings while learning about the city but there was only a little of the explaining how Bolivia has become what it is and who the Bolivians actually are.
La Paz - witches market
And yes, the white things are dried lama babies
What was evident already when we arrived and become more evident the more time we spent in the city is that it is a really chaotic city. The most visible was the traffic; cars drive how it suits them, there are traffic jams all the time and there is no or very little guidance for pedestrians. Also, a lot of streets where lined with gravel, apparently from some unfinished building projects, and during our taxi ride when we arrived to town our driver had to stop to move some trash out of the way so the taxi could continue. There are however projects to change this, the most visible was a project with students in zebra costumes directing the traffic and trying to teach people traffic rules.
We were also interested in the areas surrounding La Paz, so the next day we took a tour to Chacaltaya, a mountain near La Paz, and Moon Valley, a valley with strange rock and mud formations in the lower parts of La Paz. The tour was mostly by minibus, but at the top of Chacaltaya we got to hike a few hundred meters, a lot when you consider that this was at
over 5000 meters altitude. The bravest (including yours truly) also climbed the last 100 meters to 5400 meters altitude, while it was challenging with 5 cm of snow, hard winds and thin air it gave a spectacular view of the area.
The second attraction for the day was the Valley of the Moon. According to the legend told by our guide the name was from when Neil Armstrong visited the place and declared it looked like the moon. This was the same guide who claimed that the mountain next to Chacaltaya, Huayna Potosi, had been the model for Paramount picture’s logo, so this is probably not a fact. What is a fact is that wind and water have shaped the mud in the valley into shapes that reminded us of Göreme in Turkey and Bryce in Utah, however on a much smaller scale and in the color of, well, mud. After the tour we unsuccessfully tried to publish our blog (we didn’t manage to publish any blogs in Bolivia) and then took the night bus towards new adventures on the salt fields of Uyuni in southern Bolivia.
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