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La Paz Bolivia

sunny 12 °C

A good way to describe La Paz is made in the book that I am reading. Basically the auther is writing how the city is really built in the wrong place. It lies in a valley or more like a gigant hole, 3,700meters about sealevel (making it the higest capital in the world). Almost nothing grows there, the fumes from cars and the dirty water that runs through the city has nowhere to go. He also writes that being in La Paz is like having a nagging hangover constantely. The last part was especially true and even though we spent over a week in La Paz we really never got fully aclimatised.

Still it’s an amazing city. The center and the richer areas are in the lowest part of the city. The further up in the valley you go the poorer it becomes. Once you come up to the altiplano at over 4000meters above the sealevel, the poor area El Alto starts. El Alto has grown so much that its nearly 1million people living there, almost all of them indinginuous.

We spent the first couple of days just wondering around town checking out markets (which are basically covering half of the city). Everything is hilly in La Paz so we tried to follow the rule of “walk little, eat little and sleep by your little self”. In addition I think we had 2 beers in 10 days and we set several new “go to sleep” records (most nights we were actually sleeping before 22pm) still the hangover feeling was not leaving us.

I read about a moutain peak called Huyana Potosi (6088m) which sounded climbable even for people without experience (with a guide off course). It is still extremly demanding and painful. To test if we were able to do it and to aclimatise more, we went up to another peak called Chacaltaya (5420m). This use to be the highest skiiresort in the world before all the snow (from the glacier) melted away. Thanks to that there is a road going up almost to the top. All we had to do was to walk the last 150 vertical meters. Still at that altitude it took us 40min or so to get to the top. Its just increadable how hard it is to walk on that altitude (think exercising while breading. One of the guys in our group (who was by far the fittest of all of us) had tried to climb Huyana Potosi twice and failed. He pointed out about 5 other peaks around it that he had done. Now we started to be really concerned if climbing Huyana Potosi would be possible for people like us.

Even so we had already booked a trekk/climb up to another peak the next day. Since we had paid for it and it was not possible to cancel up we went. The peak is part of the 3 day Cordillera trekk which most people do to practise for Huyana Potosi. This would be the final test if we would do it or not. We were actually feeling pretty good during the first part of the ascent up to 4900meters or so. However, after that both of us, but mainly Laura started to get really exhausted. With some encoragement from our guide, Laura still made it to the peak of Pico Austria. Hurray! 5250 meters about sealevel and I was feeling good (this is the high camp on Huyana Potosi). However, once we started to descend things went from being tired to feeling like we´ve been beaten up and thrown in a washing machine for an hour. Laura got really bad on the way down and could not even stand up some times. We both felt really bad even back in La Paz and a decision had to be made… Laura was obviously not doing the climb. Unfortunaly I felt that I just could not bear going through this pain for 24-48 hours that you would have to take when climbing Huyani Potosi. Being about 6000meters was a small goal that I had set out for SouthAmerica, but achieving it just cost a bit too much to be worth it.

We were not sad at all for the decision and still we were proud to had made a climb up to 5350 meters, which is pretty high after all. In the end there are many more fun things that we could do. We started fixing things for the famous El Choro trekk instead. A trekk that would take us from 4800 meters down to 1800 meters…too be honest we could not wait to get down to lower altitude. I think we have not had a deacent conversation in over a week thanks to our heads feeling like we´ve just came back from four days partying at a festival.

Before we left La Paz we went up to El Alto to see the crazy La Lucha, basically Boliviens version of WWF (wrestling). Obviously everything was extremly low budget in comparission, but it was actually really good and absolutely hillerious. Did not think that Bolivians, especially indinginous Bolivians would have this sense of humor. They really took the piss out of themselves. Traditionally dressed “cholitas” women were up in the ring fighing eachother, massive dressed up male wrestlers etc. They managed to put a lot of theater into it, classics such as the corrupted referee being on the evil fighters side against the good figher. All gringos in the audience were laughing so much., A gringo that must have been really drunk managed to enter the barrier and get a kiss from one of the fighting cholitas. However, quite a few of the Bolivian (all indingenous) adudience were getting into it for real, buhing and throwing vegetables at the "evil" fighter.

View down on La Paz from El Alto

View down on La Paz from El Alto

La Paz market with ordinary household stuff like dryed lama featus which you bury under your house before you build it

La Paz market with ordinary household stuff like dryed lama featus which you bury under your house before you build it

Lamas and Huyana Potosi in the background

Lamas and Huyana Potosi in the background

View of Huyana Potosi 6088m taken from Chacaltaya 5400meters, can´t imagine climbing another 688 vertical meters

View of Huyana Potosi 6088m taken from Chacaltaya 5400meters, can´t imagine climbing another 688 vertical meters

Laura resting up after getting to the top of Chacaltaya 5420 meters above sealevel

Laura resting up after getting to the top of Chacaltaya 5420 meters above sealevel

Valle de La Luna

Valle de La Luna

Moonlandscape in Valle de La Luna

Moonlandscape in Valle de La Luna

Posing up at this beutiful mountain lake on the Cordillera trekk

Posing up at this beutiful mountain lake on the Cordillera trekk

Laura managed to force a smile after an exhausting climb up to Pico Austria 5250 meters

Laura managed to force a smile after an exhausting climb up to Pico Austria 5250 meters

Some would call it a bit unfair when a beefy guy beats up a little woman...surprise surprise...she won

Some would call it a bit unfair when a beefy guy beats up a little woman...surprise surprise...she won

Catfight a la Bolivia style, Cholitas kicking eachothers ass

Catfight a la Bolivia style, Cholitas kicking eachothers ass

Jason was visiting Bolivia too

Jason was visiting Bolivia too

Posted by hmontonen 16:40 Archived in Bolivia

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Comments

Enjoyed your well-written report on your time in La Paz, Bolivia. Always wanted to go there. Appreciated your honest descriptions and photos.
I understand there isn't much in the way of fire
engines there because there is so little oxygen to start a fire in the first place. I assume you felt safe walking around the city wherever you went. I would have assumed El Alto was a dangerous place to go because of its dire poverty.

Thanks again for your glimpse of life there.

by PasadenaBob

what a beautiful pcture..
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by sports123

A very well written description of La Paz. You have fired my interest in visiting. I'll add it to my list. Thanks

by Bob Penna

Nice collection of pictures. Pictures are very attractive and appealing to visit this beautiful place.

by Alice00

Really the place is very appealing and beautiful. This is a fabulous place to travel.

http://www.busonlineticket.com

by Jack00

Nice Honeymoon destination for couples! You both are looking too beautiful.

by Stanko00

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