La Paz Travel Guide
La Paz © Donvittore
The air is indeed rare in La Paz, the world's highest capital city, at two and a half miles (4km) above sea level, or 11,910ft (3,630m). Living in La Paz is a bit bizarre because it is akin to living in a giant bowl. Around the rim are brick buildings and workshops, while the inside slopes are scattered with houses and across the bottom is the dense city centre. Rising up in the background is the most well-known of Bolivia's lofty peaks, Illimani, standing at 21,188ft (6,420m). The most pleasant way to explore the diminutive city centre is on foot; the alternative is to sit on a crowded bus in congested traffic. Expect your sightseeing to leave you breathless. Steep, narrow streets lead into an assortment of little alleyways while well-used staircases wind their way up between crooked houses and colourful hotels.
More than a million people live in La Paz, adding colour, culture and vibrancy to the otherwise dusty barrenness of a high altitude city. The most rewarding (and least exhausting) activity is to people-watch. Andean women dress in brightly coloured, multi-layered skirts and thick knee-length stockings with bowler hats perched jauntily over long, plaited strands of hair. There are also smartly dressed businessmen and scruffy street urchins wrapped in woven blankets, shoe shiners and fruit sellers, trinket vendors and alpaca wool weavers.
The city has some interesting museums, modern and comfortable hotels, and is an excellent place to purchase authentic local souvenirs. Beautiful hand-spun alpaca wool products, paintings, silver handcrafted jewellery, music and musical instruments are just some of the many things on offer.
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Tour operator G.A.P Adventures has for the past 14 years specialised in unique, small group, grassroots adventure travel experiences in the world's most wild places, going off the beaten track into the heart of the destination to meet the locals who call it home. G.A.P. Adventures offers several expeditions to the Bolivian Amazon and Andes.
Intrepid Travel, one of the world's leading suppliers of small group adventures, focuses on getting off the beaten track, interacting with the locals and having real life experiences throughout Bolivia.