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La Paz

City in the Sky

The city of Nuestra Señora de La Paz is nestled in the Andes of Western Bolivia. Famously, this is high altitude living; the city climbs the Rio Choqueyapu Canyon from 9,800 to 13,450 feet above sea level. The historic core and financial district are located in the lower elevations. Income declines as slope increases, outward and upward from the level city center. Overlooking it all, Illimani, the city's guardian mountain shines under a triple-peaked crown of ice.

The city was founded in its current form in 1548, on the site of an Aymara gold mining settlement. La Paz's unusual, canyon location proved to insulate it from harsh Altiplano winds. The site was also a convenient intermediate point in the journey between the Spanish ports in Lima and the prolific silver mine of Potosi.

Today, this is Bolivia's largest urban area, and the de facto capital. (The constitutional capital and judiciary are located in Sucre, 350 miles to the southeast.) Central La Paz is the site of the Presidential Palace, cathedral, and clusters of small museums—favorites include the Museum of Precious Metals and the National Museum of Archeology. The famous Witch's Market or Hecheria, where folk doctors dispense talismans and traditional remedies, lines Calle Jiménez in jangling shops and kiosks.

Outside the city, visitors can tour the pre-Inca city of Tiwanaku, historic Lake Titicaca, the Valley of the Moon, and the Valley of Spirits. Full-day mountain biking and hiking tours can also be arranged.  Longer extensions are available to Madidi National Park in Bolivia's Amazon Basin.

Visitors to La Paz should allow time to acclimatize; settle in, avoid alcohol, eat moderately and sleep well. Temperatures are consistent year round, with highs in the mid-60s and lows near 40°F. Expect sunshine, even in the rainiest months (December to February); monthly precipitation rarely exceeds five inches and usually arrives all at once in afternoon cloudbursts.

La Paz, can be reached by daily flights from Lima, Peru (1 hour, 45 minutes). Flights to La Paz's El Alto International Airport (LPB) from the USA usually connect in Lima, simplifying combination Peru - Bolivia vacations.

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Bolivia and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

"This is a good place to pass one's life. Here the climate is mild and the view of the mountains inspires one to think of God."


Cieza de León (16th Century)