La Paz is a bustling city full of local life, spread out in a canyon and overlooked by the Illimani mountain.
The world's highest capital fills a giant canyon in the valley of the Andes with chaotic and crowded streets, at a dizzying 3,660 metres above sea level. The snow-capped Illimani mountain provides an awe-inspiring and ever present backdrop to one of the most mis-appropriately named cities in the world - don't expect a lot of peace in La Paz. What you can expect though are brilliantly frenetic streets filled with sights, sounds and smells that will stay with you long after you leave. Once you have got your breath back, explore the Plaza Murillo, cathedral and San Francisco church in the very heart of the city, as well as colourful Jaén street and the weird and wonderful Witches Market. No visit would be complete without a trip on the world's longest and highest urban cable car, whilst just outside the city centre, the other-worldly Moon Valley makes for a convenient and surreal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you're looking to buy the potions, medical plants and dried frogs you need for your Bolivian rituals, then this is the place for you. Rid yourself of your money worries and love troubles with the help of the colourful and charismatic Bolivian witch doctors of the Mercado de las Brujas. For everyone else, just enjoy the beautiful chaos and bizarre merchandise of what is surely one of the most surreal and strange markets in the world. Just try to ignore the llama fetuses, purchased by Bolivians to place in the foundations of new houses as a sacrifice to the goddess Pachamama, in return for her keeping the workers safe.
Opened in 2014, the world's highest and longest urban cable car system whisks locals and tourists alike over the city at 4,000 metres above sea level. Far from a mere tourist attraction, the 443 cars are an active and crucial part of the city's transportation system. Currently operating over three different lines (several more are planned), they ferry up to 6,000 passengers an hour between the main city and El Alto, the poorer and more indigenous part of La Paz. As well as affording stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains, the project is intended to reduce the social and economic gulf between the different classes and ethnic groups, by dramatically increasing the mobility of those living in El Alto.
Located just at just 30 minutes drive from the capital, the Moon Valley is a collection of clay and sandstone spires which create a mini canyon. They took form many years ago thanks the harsh winds and rain of the area eroding what were once mountains, leaving behind this bizarre formation to which a rich mineral content lends a varied colour pallet, interspersed with several types of cacti. Two walkways have been created to help visitors explore the area, taking around an hour to complete, though caution is to be exercised in some narrow areas and uneven paths.
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