Bolivia, Part 1: La Paz

I landed in La Paz, Bolivia (elevation 4,000m), early in the morning on January 22nd.  La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, known for its distinctive geography and for being one of the highest capital cities in the world.  Hello lack of oxygen and gorgeous views.  Motto of La Paz: camine lento, come poco y duerme solo (walk slowly, eat little, and go to bed alone).  Check.

la paz, bolivia

I spent my first day in Bolivia in La Paz after landing at El Alto international airport.  I met a nice Swiss fellow working on his PhD at the university in La Paz and he showed me some of the city.

the view from my hostel

here's where I was:

 

La Paz is shaped like a big bowl: directions are either up or down.  Pray that where you need to go is down. 

taking the teleférico down from El Alto (top of the cliff) to La Paz (valley)

further down the route

 that's a lot of stairs...neighborhoods on the side of a hill // 16 February

that's a lot of stairs...neighborhoods on the side of a hill // 16 February

the view from above; descending down into the 'bowl' via cable car // 23 January

a bird's eye view

The system of cable cars in La Paz (El Teleférico) is pretty dang awesome.  It costs 3Bs (less than 50 cents) to go one way.  The red line was completed in early 2014, so it's still new and shiny, as well as fast and quiet.  And the views are amazing.

one of the red stations along the route to El Alto

beautiful old cemetery 

a wall of houses and apartments

it was a holiday so firecrackers echoed between the hills and families put out balloons and streamers

the mountains go on forever

 the view from a pedestrian catwalk in Parque Miraflores // 17 February

the view from a pedestrian catwalk in Parque Miraflores // 17 February

the valley at night

The second time I came back to La Paz I got pretty back altitude sickness again.  Rather than stay at altitude and go to the Salt Flats in Uyuni (up to 5000m in altitude), I went back down to Cochabamba (2300m) to get some air. 

Night scene in La Paz - it's a steep walk to get anywhere / 16 February

As a bonus, I found cheese ravioli in at La Luna café - not the best, but reminded me of home.

open-air street market

continue reading:

  • Bolivia, Part 2: Cochabamba here 
  • Bolivia, Part 3: Vinto here 
  • Bolivia, Part 4: Carnaval in Oruro here