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Bolivia: La Paz and the altiplano

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Driving along the flat, windswept plains of the high-altitude altiplano, you are taken by surprise when you find yourself on the lip of a broad canyon brimming with the Lego-land of closely-packed buildings of Bolivia’s capital. At a dizzying 3,632m and overlooked by the ice-jacketed Mount Illimani, the city is a busy place with a compact historic centre from which endless quirky street markets fan out, selling everything from dried llama foetuses to cameras and Levi jeans. There are also modern boulevards with cool bars and ice cream parlours, where Aymara Indian ladies shuffle by in their traditional ponchos and bowler hats.

Our holidays to La Paz and the altiplano

View all holidays
Market life in Bolivia

Signature Bolivia: The final frontier

Private journey

14 days from £3,708pp

Lake Titicaca

Andes and Altiplano: Cusco, Lake Titicaca and La Paz

Private journey

14 days from £2,609pp

Salt flats, Bolivia

Andean Flamingo: Andes laid bare

Group tour

17 days from £4,475pp

sacred valley of the incas

Signature Peru, Bolivia, Chile: Explorations and adventures

Private journey

16 days from £6,161pp

Things to do in La Paz and the altiplano

Female wrestlers

See the Bolivian fighting cholitas

Visit Tiwanaku Ruins

Visit Tiwanaku ruins


Choro trek mountain

Choro Trek to Las Yungas

La Paz people

La Paz city tour

Our insider tips for La Paz and the altiplano

Isabelle

Isabelle Mazille

Go local, and ride through town on one of the colourful “micro” public minibuses, always fun if somewhat of a squeeze! Alight at Calle Jaen, a picturesque cobbled street with graceful colonial buildings and intriguing museums (the Costumes Museum and the Gold Museum are great places to discover more about Bolivia's rich culture and pre-colonial history).

Konrad M

Konrad Mludzinski

Peruse the stalls in La Paz's witchcraft market, one of the continent's most fascinating. All sorts of weird and wonderful things are for sale here, from perfumes that promise to make you rich to llama foetuses for burying under your newly built house for protection. If you need warming up then order a Chuflay cocktail, a mix of Bolivia's national liquor Singani with ginger ale!

Jim

Jim Ashworth

At first sight La Paz is an anarchic jumble of buildings clinging to craggy slopes and marching down a sinuous valley bottom. To appreciate the scale and setting of this great city, and for stupendous views, join the locals and jump on the relatively new cable-car that links the city centre with the city of El Alto, on the canyon rim hundreds of metres above.

Chris Parrott

Chris Parrott

Take a trip out of the city to nearby Chacaltaya Mountain, where the world’s highest ski resort once stood: the old wooden chairlift chalet is still there but they glacier has now melted away, However, the panoramic vistas are (literally, at 5,200m) breathtaking making it a very much worthwhile visit.

What our experts say

In the historic core of La Paz you’ll find many craft shops, but the most unique shopping experience can be found in the famous ‘Witches’ Market’. It’s better if you read a little about Andean culture before you go, because this market sells much more than souvenirs – many of the items are related to Andean cosmology and ancient belief systems. You’ll find amulets for love and fertility, medicinal plants and crystals for use in shamanic practices.

Isabelle

Isabelle Mazille

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