What to do in La Paz
Bolivia has this name in honour to Simón Bolívar, the liberator (El Libertador, in Spanish). Actually, the first name assigned was República de Bolivar (Bolivar’s Republic). This country has an historical and constitutional capital, Sucre, divided geopolitically in departments, but the headquarters of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary powers are all located in the city of La Paz. Bolivia is also a country where evidence of human presence has been traced back to 12.000 B.C.
Back to the city of La Paz, the official name is Nuestra Señora de La Paz, in Aymara it’s “Chuquiago Marka”. It’s the 3rd most populated city in the country, and it sits on a valley at an average altitude of 3650 mamsl, almost 12.000 feet. If you just arrived to the country and your first destination is this city, we’re going to tell you what you can’t miss!
First of all, in this link you’ll find a typical walking tour around the city.
Murillo Square (Plaza Murillo)
This is the main square in the city. After the Federal War of 1889 it transformed into the political centre of power in Bolivia. Right in the middle of the square you’ll find the Neptuno Fountain, and you might wonder why: this place shows the installation of the first water fountain, connected to an aqueduct in 1587 (doesn’t mean that this is the original!!). The name of this square honours Pedro Domingo Murillo, a precursor of the independence, that’s why you’ll see a sculpture of him done by italian sculptor Ferruccio Cantella.
It’s very likely that as you walk around you’ll see a person disguised as a zebra and you’ll wonder what’s going on…basically their job is to educate and protect the people who are not crossing the streets properly.
The Witches Market
It doesn’t matter where you are in La Paz, for sure at some point you’re going to come across a market or two. This one in particular is located in Linares Street, right in the central area. It’s a place dedicated to potions, lucky charms, ingredients and elements to be used in different rituals. So, not a typical market really, although you will find plenty of crafts too. The “santeros” or witches are called Yatiris. You can ask the vendors different elements to offer to the Pachamama (Mother Earth), especially during August. Be careful and don’t be surprised by the huge amount of llama fetuses!
If you’re feeling hungry, you can walk down the street eating a hot Jawita (a typical bread filled with salty cheese, delicious!)
If you’ve been already in one of these maybe this doesn’t sound like such a plan. But here it is quite a tradition. Usually, the best man at a wedding will give the bride and groom and their bridal party a ride on the cable car as a present. So as you’re waiting for your turn to enjoy the view, you might end up caught in the middle of a wedding. The cost of the trip is 7 bolivianos to get to the top (Price of year 2020).
Valley of the Souls (Valle de las Animas)
This is a great park of rock formations to visit, an activity that will take half a day approximately. There are several entry points to the park and you can do a 3 hour walk to get to the valley. It’s recommended to bring some snacks. To get there, you can take the bus in Chasquipampa direction. It costs 26 bolivianos (Price of year 2020), and the ride is an hour long. Of course, there’s also the chance of taking an Uber, by taxi, or by car.
Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna)
400 million years ago, there was a lagoon here that dried up, leaving behind this amazing reserve with a truly special energy. The valley is located at an altitude of 3100 mamsl, 10170 feet above sea level. If you suffer from altitude sickness, remember to chew coca leaves as you walk around. The name of this place was chosen by North American astronaut Neil Armstrong in a visit to La Paz in the 60’s. It’s located about 30 minutes away from the city, and as you walk you’ll bump into a 100m deep abyss (328 feet). The view really looks like it’s out of this world.
To get there you can take a taxi, hire an Uber or go with a private tour. If you’re using public transportation, take bus number 11 Trufi and tell the driver where you’re going. You’ll be paying in cash so remember to have some bolivianos with you (bolivianos is the currency, right now one boliviano is 0,14 USD – year 2020). Once you’re there you have different tours of 15 minutes, 45 minutes or an hour.
Killi Killi Lookout Point (Mirador Killi Killi)
The name comes from the hawk Falco Sparverius that lives in the area. From there, you get an amazing 360° view of La Paz. It’s a spectacular place to see the sunset, which you can access for free!
Auquisamaña Lookout (Mirador Auquisamaña)
This is a small forest in the south of the city. You’ll need to take some water and snacks with you as this is a long walk!
-You can also walk through the colonial area and the Gold Museum in Jaén Street. It’s an old street from the republican times, filled with art galleries.
-If you like adrenaline sports, you should check this out: rap- jumping from the President Hotel.
Map of Atractions