La Paz is one crazy capital city and after hearing all sorts of stories I was eager to get there and find out what all the fuss is about. Firstly, after being away from cities for a few weeks it was a welcome break. Having actual restaurants to visit and really good coffee and shops was a real treat but La Paz wasn’t like any city, it is 3,500m above sea level so spending the day walking around isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Here is what I got up to during my 4 days in La Paz
1. Get High
So although Bolivia is known for it’s cocaine production and consumption that’s not what I’m meaning! I mean actually high up in the sky for this one. La Paz has an amazing cable car network that connects the people who live higher up in the neighbourhood of El Alto to the down town area where lots of people commute to work. Not so long ago people would have to sit on buses for hours or do the treacherous walk up and down daily to get to work. It has improved pollution, is more cost effective and has made a huge difference to the local people.
2. Red Cap Walking Tour
This walking tour came highly recommend, I’m not usually into walking tours. I always find them too long and often a bit dull but I am glad that I did this one in La Paz as it was really interesting and a good way to see lots of places without getting too lost.
3. San Pedro Prison
It started in San Pedro square which is right in front of the famous San Pedro Prison from the book ‘Marching Powder’. A great read if you haven’t read it about an English guy who ends up taking travellers for tours in the prison back in the 90’s. Of course I was intrigued and I did have a fleeting moment when we were offered to take a tour to go for it but I passed and I’m kinda glad now.
A guard approached us while we were out the front to have a chat to us about the prison, he explain there were 2000 inmates and that families and children were allowed in but thats about all I could understand in Spanish. We watched as children and women walked in to the prison and we later found out that no prison officers actually enter the prison, they only surround the perimeter.
4. Food Market
I loved visiting food markets and picking up fresh fruit and vegetables all over South America but in Bolivia they seemed to be so great, probably because you could get a lot for a very cheap price. In La Paz we were encouraged to ask for our ‘yuppa’ which is a discount from the ladies who are selling. This is to encourage you to go back and visit the same lady to buy your fresh fruit and vegetables.
5. Main Square
A really busy spot in the city but worth a visit to see just how busy this place really is. A little tip, don’t stay anywhere near the main square as it is mental!
Bolivia is pretty notorious for having a corrupt government and we got to hear all about from our walking tour guides.
7. Cholita wrestling
A total tourist event but actually a really funny night out, this is womens wrestling but in traditional dress in front of a bunch of gringos. It was funny, random, a bit weird but not a bad way to spend the evening in La Paz.
8. Death Road
An absolute must if you are in La Paz but it is not for the faint hearted! Amazing scenery along the way, definitely scary at some points along the way but I felt a huge sense of achievement at the end. Having never mountain biked in my life I didn’t realise just how tough it would be but so glad that I did it.
9. Witches Market
The witches market is a great place to wander around, there are all sorts of potions and food to satisfy any quirky need. You will see a lot of baby alpaca skeletons hanging up as well, these bring luck (apparently). La Paz is a great place to go shopping as everything is so very cheap. The witches market is a great place to pick up alpaca jumpers and any other knick knacks.
10. Secret Bars
La Paz is well known for its night life and if you meet the right people you’ll find yourself in some pretty cool bars. After a live band played at our hostel one night, the owner then took us to a secret speak easy nearby. It looked like a run down old house from the outside but after knocking on a gate, entering and then going through another door we found ourselves in an eccentric bar.
Where I stayed : Greenhouse Hostel
Next stop: Copacabana, Lake Titicaca