La Paz, Bolivia

With a surreal landscape and beautiful scenery, La Paz is a hidden gem when it comes to traveling South America. It is the highest capital city in the world, with an altitude of over 3600-meters (11800-feet) above sea level. It was constructed inside of a deep valley, surrounded by the flat plains of the Altiplano and towering snow-capped mountains that are part of the Andes.  It is a sight to behold. Sometimes it will literally take your breath away – there are many steep hills to be climbed.

The city is defined by its geography, the setting is spectacular. It also has its challenges. The steep valley makes it difficult to have a functioning transportation grid, and most traffic funnels down one main road from the top of the valley to the bottom.  On the plains, sitting high above La Paz is the companion city of El Alto, which has grown above the valley, nearly rivaling La Paz for size. This is where most of the locals live. The city streets are generally quite narrow and built for a time before cars, which leaves the city with a mess of traffic situation, gridlock and sputtering exhaust everywhere.

Because of the cities unique layout, they have had to think outside the box when it came to moving people around. The city has invested into a unique mass transit system – the Telefrico – a series of Gondolas which connects the many key neighborhoods of the overall city. At the moment there are three complete lines, and in the next few years, the city is working to add more which will connect the whole city and hopefully eliminate some of the traffic problems.

Bolivia is modernizing and developing – despite being one of the poorest countries in South America – and things are booming. It has a vibrant and young energy flowing through the city. Tourism has grown exponentially in the last 20 years, and more of the local population have flocked to this city. Most of the architecture is colonial, and there are some very cool looking squares, churches, and colourful streets. There is politically charged graffiti and street art are everywhere.

One of the most popular activities in La Paz is mountain biking down the “World’s Most Dangerous Road”, one of the most adrenaline-filled adventures in South America. Riding along a dirt road from the mountains into the jungle is something only the craziest thrill junkies would undertake. We will be posting our stories and videos from that soon. Stay tuned!

Overall, Bolivia is an amazing country, surrounded by some of the most adventurous hikes and activities in the region, alongside some stunning natural beauty. La Paz has become a major stopover for people traveling between Peru and the Uyuni Salt Flats (and into Argentina or Chile) to the south, so there is much to be seen and done here as a tourist. We enjoyed wandering the city and exploring this unique place. It still has a very off the beaten track feel to it despite how popular it has become.

La Paz:

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View of the city and the mountains from the Telefrico. 2017.

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The views of La Paz and the surrounding mountains is best seen from above. 2017.

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Calle Jean. 2017.

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La Paz skyline from Below. 2017.

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La Pas is surrounded by mountains. 2017.

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Sunset above the city of La Paz. 2017.

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La Paz. 2017.

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Overlooking La Paz. 2017.

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Telefrico with surreal landscapes in the background. 2017.

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The Altiplano with ____ in the background. 2017.

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La Paz. 2017.

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Calle Jean. 2017.

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Taking pictures of La Paz at sunset. 2017.

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Calle Jean. 2017.

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La Paz is surrounded by a surreal landscape. 2017.

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The Colourful streets of Calle Jean. 2017.

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Backpacker supplies. 2017.

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Central Plaza in downtown La Paz. 2017.

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Leaving La Paz on the Telefrico en route to El Alto. 2017.

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Very cool Street Art on a bridge in La Paz. 2017.

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_____ mountain which towers over La Paz. 2017.

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The new Telefrico makes travel around La Paz much easier. 2017.

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Central La Paz. 2017.

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Adventurous travelers rappelling down a building in La Paz. 2017.

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La Paz sits in a valley below the Altiplano. 2017.

 

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