On Top of the Continent
Calle Jaen, La Paz, Bolivia. Photo by Paul Richter, December 2004. Copyright 2004 by Paul Richter, licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution Share-Alike.
La Paz, Bolivia offers the visitor dazzling beauty, dizzying altitude over 13,000 feet, and a South American Indian culture distinguishable from the rest of the world. The primary language is still Quechua.
This Bolivian cultural center is a vibrant, sprawling city of more than a million residents. From the top of the country, the spectacular scenery is second-to-none. Living structures adhere to the hills and canyon walls above, with panoramic views of the surrounding snow-covered mountains, and inviting valleys.
Although not the capital city, La Paz remains Bolivia’s largest city and as such is the heart of the commercial district. But it does take some getting used to, if one is to enjoy the full extent of its treasures. Don’t be fooled by the outlying shantytowns. Once travelers acclimate to the altitude, the city in the valley below presents an interesting, unique, upbeat, trendy atmosphere, chock full of cafés, open markets, and museums, arranged in a setting reminiscent of my home town of St. Augustine, with narrow paths and alleyways.
Weather in La Paz is an issue only for the unprepared. The city sits in a subtropical highland climate, with humid summers. However, visitors must dress appropriately and be prepared for afternoon torrential rain, with cool mountain nights.
Would you like to take that once-in-a-lifetime adventure you always dreamed about, but never thought you would experience? Give La Paz a try. It might be an inspiration that changes your perspective on life.