The capital of Bolivia is situated at a respectable altitude: 3,700 metres above sea level. We didn’t stay long in La Paz as it was cold and wet during our trip. When we arrived by night bus, we even had a lot of snow on the way. Because it kept raining, we flew on to Santa Cruz after two days. So, we can’t tell you much about La Paz.
What we have done and certainly can recommend, is to take a tour with “Mi Teleférico”, a cable car system in the city with a red, green and yellow line (the three colours of the national flag). The total route is about 10 kilometres long and is therefore the longest cable car in the world. The tickets cost very little and you have a great view over the city. The funny thing is that when you get on board you are put in place by several inspectors, so that the balance in the cabin is optimal. The population uses the cable car to quickly move around in a city where traffic is often stuck in the middle. With the cable car, they get to the other side of the city much faster.
The different markets of La Paz
However, a peculiarity of La Paz is the presence of many different markets in the city. Especially at weekends, very long streets are completely taken up by market stalls, where colourful merchants (often women) sell their goods. Literally everything can be found here. From fabrics, clothing, vegetables, fruit, fish, meat and much more. Every market often has a specialty. Some are on the street, others can be found in large market halls. Mercado Lanza, just north of Plaza San Francisco, is probably the largest market for vegetables, fruit, food and drinks. There is also a beautiful flower market here. The Mercado Negro (black market) is also worth a visit. You will find many leather goods, bags, shoes, etc.
Finally, you must of course go to the Mercado de Hechicera too, the witches’ market. Here you will find all sorts of herbs with a medicinal effect. Even medicines that ensure your wife or husband will remain faithful to you. You can also buy aphrodisiac powders here. Even llama fetuses are for sale. The Bolivians use them to sacrifice to Pachamama when building a new house. The fetus is then buried under the ground where the house should appear. For every complaint imaginable there is a herb or ointment at this market. We only advise you not to use it. We heard from our guide that some things are so strong that they can even topple an elephant. So be a real Dutchman at this market: look, look, don’t buy!
Free walking tour
There are many more markets for all kinds of things. Your hotel can tell you which markets you can find where. When visiting the market, it is wise to pay close attention to your belongings, there are many pickpockets around. A fun way to visit the markets is by a so-called “free walking tour”. A local guide, usually a student, takes you to special places and tells you a lot about the city and its inhabitants. You often hear very nice details that you otherwise would never have known. The free tour usually lasts two to three hours and is often concluded with a drink in a nice cafe. After the tour, you leave a tip to express your appreciation for the guide and the tour.