On Top of the Continent

450px-La_Paz-Calle_Jaen
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 caf├ęs, 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.

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Comments

  1. I always envied Butch and Sundance going to Bolivia! It looked like such a cool place.

    I'm a little behind right now for obvious reasons. We are heading out on Monday, but I did manage to do two posts this week. It will be a while before I can post again.

    After we get there, we'll make plans to get together and have dinner.

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  2. Judie: I am a little like Butch. Dinner will be a pleasure. Have a safe trip across. Talk to you soon.

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  3. My friend went to La Baz, I think to hear some music festival. But her nose started bleeding when she got there and didn't stop - she spent quite a lot of her time in hospital! (Unexpected problems when travelling #2)

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  4. Jenny Woolf: Not exactly a good vacation. Altitude sickness can also be a problem. It does take getting used to at those heights. Just like athletes, it is always better to acclimate before any activity.

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  5. Well La Paz read well, but there seems to be some drawbacks that could set you back. My own drawbacks travel with me these days. I'm going to have to miss Bolivia. Have fun at dinner with Judy.

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  6. L.W.Roth: Yes, it is definitely not for everyone, and it is certainly not as good as having dinner with Judy, but I do like to go off the beaten path.

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  7. The closest I got to Bolivia was Puno, Peru, just across Lake Titicaca from Bolivia. That altitude is something else. We crossed a pass at 14,000 feet on the train. Several people had to use the oxygen masks provided on the train.

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  8. Galen: I have not been to South America since I moved to Florida. However, I previously lived in the mountains of New Hampshire and although they were not quite as high, perhaps I was more acclimated.

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  9. I have not ever been to South America. It is on my list. I am sure I will at least walk a few steps on each continent at some point in my life. But for the next few years at least i think I shall have to be content with exploring the U.S. The kids and I were counting, I have yet to make it to 8 states...

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  10. Sounds like my kind of place...I love going off the beaten track!

    C x

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  11. CailinMarie: That is exactly how I started. When our kids were growing up, we took them on trips throughout the USA using the 50 states as a checklist. To avoid the problem of high cost, we began camping, fishing, and hiking, until we had visited all the states. Only after we accomplished our goal did we begin to travel internationally. Once again, to avoid the cost, I signed up to teach internationally. My life has been a billion dollar experience, without the billion dollars.

    Carol: 'Tis the only way to fly!

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  12. I want to go to La Paz! ME!! Now if only someone would take me. LOL!

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  13. Alleged Author: If you love adventure, you'll love La Paz. I would start looking for a traveling companion today!

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  14. Miriam: It is, especially for adventure, but I love the Rockies.

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  15. Hi JJ .. I've always wanted to visit La Paz - the geography lessons were good! I suspect I might not get there now - but perhaps I'll get to South America sometime ...

    Interesting post - thanks - Hilary

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