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quikflikchiq La Paz - A travel report by tara
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La Paz,  Bolivia - flag Bolivia -  La Paz
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quikflikchiq's travel reports

Donkey sitting on a Gold Mine

  11 votes
Page: 1 2
La Paz is the highest administrative centre in the world at a maximum of 4100m. The capital of Bolivia is Sucre and is the seat of the government. This has meant that there is a rivalry between the two cities that is quite fierce.

catching the bus into La Paz
catching the bus into La Paz
Now I have to be honest - I did not really enjoy La Paz.
By the time we arrived, I was getting sick of the cities and really wanted to get out and into the countryside. I did, however, have the chance to spend 3 or 4 days exploring La Paz and going after the weird things that I had heard about.

But listen to what others tell you - and be aware and careful !
In crowded areas be careful for pickpockets and bagslashers. A common trick is that one person spills something on your clothes, and while you or he wipes it off another person lifts your wallet or slashes your bag. Be vigilant when checking into a hotel or hostel. Keep a hand on all your bags/belongings at all times. Acting as if they work for the hotel, opportunist thieves will create a diversion and snatch the nearest unattended bag.
If you are approached by plain-clothed police officers don't show any valuables or your passport. And certainly don't get in a taxi with them. Undercover police are strictly ordered not to hassle tourists. There have been several cases of muggings and things going missing from bags or luggage after drug searches. Insist on being taken to the police station before giving them access to your things. If you can, call the 110, which is the Bolivian number for emergencies

Favourite spots:
markets and sellers near Plaza San Francisco
markets and sellers near Plaza San Francisco
I enjoyed strolling through the markets - and taking photographs of people doing their daily business.

The Witches' Market (Mercado de Hechiceria or Mercado de las Brujas) is on Calle Linares. Vendors sell llama fetuses and dried frogs for Aymara rituals, as well as soapstone figurines and aphrodisiac formulas. This street is also the best place to pick up a charango or other Bolivian musical instrument.

The Mercado Negro (Black Market), though not very clandestine, is quite comprehensive, selling clothing, household items, liquor, and other products in its many blocks.

Getting around in La Paz is a bit of fun as well. Hang on to your backpack - put it on your knee and grab your coins.

What's really great:
mountain biking the Worlds Most Dangerous Road
mountain biking the Worlds Most Dangerous Road
The bike ride down the world's most dangerous road or Death Road.
It's a 64km long scenic ride downhill to Coroico.
There was an average of 100 motor fatalities a year (though in the eight years that companies have been biking down the road, there have only been 10 biking fatalities), a world record, mostly due to the Bolivian driving style than to the road itself. Although it's a narrow, winding road with big drops on the side, going down by bike is probably the safest way to get to Coroico and there are several tour agents in La Paz offering the trip.

not Arthys, but the castle in the Yungas - El Castillo
not Arthys, but the castle in the Yungas - El Castillo
When we got to La Paz, we had arranged accomodations in a cheap hostel - one of the Hostelling Internation Hostels. We thought that it was just a cheap place to stay (we didnt realise how cheap Bolivia was at that stage). We only spent one night there as it wasnt very clean or comfortable - but as your read in another part of this report, they were very helpful.
We moved into Arthys Guesthouse which was awesome.
The bathrooms in Arthys are some of the best I have come across in all of South America. They have a midnight curfew - so there are other hostels that are better if you want to party - but they are right in the middle of town and really close to the bus station and everyone there is really helpful.

Other recommendations:
children of the Yungas, the son of the houseman of the castle
children of the Yungas, the son of the houseman of the castle
The day after we arrived, we went to the tourist information run by Hostelling International and told them we just really wanted to get out of the city for a couple of days.
They organised for us to go down into the Yungas (the subtropical region) and stay in El Castillo. This castle was built by the old President of Bolivia and is just amazing. For 5 days and 4 nights, we paid $100USD each.
Staying at the castle involved reading, playing cards, hanging out with the kids, walking, trekking and lots of exploring the rivers and waterfalls.

Published on Sunday February 3th, 2008

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Sat, Feb 09 2008 - 03:51 PM rating by eirekay

The bike ride sounds spectacular! Wow! Terrific report with some nice detail!

Sat, Feb 09 2008 - 04:39 AM rating by downundergal

Really interesting especially your trips to El Castillo and your death defying cycle trip. I would love to read some more info and can't wait to see your pics.

Mon, Feb 04 2008 - 10:16 PM rating by rangutan

Compared to this, my own La Paz report is only a ** brief destination description. Your enthusiasm to accept and write about a place when you wanted 'out' is a true help to others and you sharing your many solutions with us makes you a valuable member. [4.6] Psst - I rather forget describing the food there, we found hairs in our 2 million Peso lunch but by then considered such findings as normal.

Mon, Feb 04 2008 - 12:28 PM rating by davidx

With something on restaurants/foods, this would be 5*. A lot of information and good advice.

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