With LAN Airlines we flew at noon from Santiago de Chile with a short stopover in Iquique to our next destination to La Paz in Bolivia.
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Our arrival in Bolivia
Our flight from Santiago de Chile to La Paz in Bolivia went over the up to 6,500 meters high mountain range of the Andes.
La Paz’s place in the world’s first
La Paz was founded in 1548 and is now the second largest city in Bolivia after Santa Cruz de la Sierra. La Paz is the seat of government of Bolivia and is located with the combined city of El Alto at an altitude of 3,200 to 4,100 meters. This makes the city the world’s highest seat of government. It is interesting to note that there is a clear relationship between the height of the residential areas and the social status of their inhabitants: the higher the situation, the poorer the inhabitants. The city is dominated by the mighty 6,439-metre-high Mount Illimani with its four peaks.
Altitude sickness in Bolivia
Arriving at the airport, we had a strange feeling immediately after getting off: dizziness and headaches. No wonder – La Paz airport is located in El Alto at an altitude of almost 4,000 metres, making it one of the highest airports in the world. Without previous slow acclimatization, 4,000 meters high are not to be underestimated and many suffer from altitude sickness here. Breathing is harder, your head is buzzing and you get out of breath super fast with every effort. Immediately after entering the country, passengers in La Paz were also waiting for an oxygen room, which could be used if necessary.
Our hotel in La Paz
After the last 5 weeks we usually had temperatures around or even above 30 degrees, the 15 degrees in La Paz once felt like the deepest winter. For 10 USD we went by taxi to our hotel LP Columbus. Hotel LP Columbus is located in a safe area. Nearby are supermarkets, ATMs, a pharmacy, fast food shops. Plaza Murillo is a 10-minute walk away, and Iglesia San Francisco is a 15-minute walk away. Rooms in the Superior category was renovated and clean. Heating available. Breakfast was great. Wifi worked fine. The staff at the hotel are very friendly.
After we checked into our hotel and got a nice room on the top floor, we had a little food, bought drinks and hit the Bolivian ATMs (the 5th then worked!).
A walk through the old town of La Paz
Since we had already booked a flight to Uyuni in the evening the next day, we set the alarm clock early the next morning to explore the old town of La Paz on our own. After breakfast, the first port of call was Plaza Murillo – the main square of La Paz and the seat of government of Bolivia. Here are the Parliament, the Presidential Palace, a large church and lots of pigeons. From there we went through the alleys of the old town to the Iglesia de San Francisco, a Roman Catholic church.
We were amazed how quickly you can be out of breath after a short city tour at an altitude of 3,500 meters. But you definitely notice that!
The Moon Valley Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna)
From Plaza de San Francisco we sat for 2 BS (25 cents) in the small bus 43 in the direction of Mallasa and 45 minutes later we stood in front of the Valle de la Luna. The entrance fee was 15 BS (about 2 euros). There is a short 15-minute and a 45-minute walk. We chose the long road that leads through a bizarre, almost vegetationless crater landscape.
Moon Valley is really a surreal landscape that we really liked.
The city’s cable car system
After an extensive tour with many photo stops we took the bus back towards La Paz and got off at the Teleferico station. For several months now, there have been three cable cars in La Paz (built by the Austrian company “Doppelmayr”) that connect different districts. In a city whose districts can already have a height difference of 1,000 meters, this makes perfect sense. We wanted to drive the yellow line because it was recommended to us as the best. Tickets cost 3 BS (about 40 cents) per trip and the route is about 3.8 km long. From the cable car you really have a great view of La Paz with its snow-capped mountains on the horizon. Unfortunately, it was just raining when we were sitting inside.
All travelogues from BoliviaNo matter if La Paz, the salt desert Salar de Uyuni with the railway cemetery or the magnificent mountain world of the Andes in the national park "Eduardo Avaroa" - our trip through Bolivia really inspired us and we could collect many new impressions!
La Paz – Things to Do & the Valle de la Luna (Bolivia)
Uyuni – The old railway cemetery in the desert (Bolivia)
Salar de Uyuni – The largest salt desert in the world (Bolivia)
Eduardo Avaroa National Park – Rock Valley & Laguna Colorada (Bolivia)
Eduardo Avaroa National Park – Sol de Manana Geyser Field (Bolivia)