2 million population and growing...

La Paz Travel Blog

 › entry 31 of 45 › view all entries
A new (in the air) walkway down the valley. Part of a big regeneration project in the area, which includes putting one of the major artery roads underground.

All tourists arrive through El Alto, which is the part of the city up on the altiplano .  They apparently started building this in 1985 and this is still in full flow; now with a population 1 million, with another 1 million in the valley of La Paz city.  It´s amazing to get the views of cities like La Paz and Cusco, looking down from surrounding hills and cliffs up here in the Andes, or even looking from the bottom up to all the buildings clinging to the steep sides of the valley.
La Paz is a lot bigger than we expected.  A lot busier too with, it appeared, the majority of the world´s supply of Toyota Hiace minivans acting as the city´s transport.

This is La Paz, and one of the infamous balaclava toting shoeshine 'boys'. Apparently worn due to reasons of pride and not wanting to be seen doing that job. Also note the Dublin Fire service sweater!
  There is quite obviously no emmissions testing on vehicles and often you´ll get choked by a cloud of fumes.  However despite this, we really quite liked La Paz.  This was helped by the friendly and clean place we were staying at. (Milenio)
We popped into an art museum and managed to catch the World Press Photo display in arguably the city´s most prominent landmark San Francisco.  Well recommended if you see it in a city near you.

We took a day trip to Tiwanaku, booked through our hostel.  The place is definitely a must do in terms of getting a full historical picture , but our tour wasn't that great due to the guide.  Anyway, briefly, Tiwanaku was a major site for the pre-Inca peoples and was occupied for far, far longer than the peoples known as the Incas were around.

Minivans are the primary form of 'public' transport in La Paz
  It was from here that Manco Capac, the first Inca King would have come from.  Oh and p.s. take a packed lunch unless you don't mind paying well over the odds for an average meal in a restaurant you'll be shepherded into and use the toilet (think there was one) at the museum before you leave.

Final thoughts:  La Paz is also The place to buy yourself a Llama foetus. Apparently you bury it under the doorstep of a new building for luck.  Anyone?

Extra Tiwanaku info if you're interested:  Just found this leaflet from our tour (Kanoo Tours) 70Bs pp.
This archaeological site is a little over 70km west from the city of La Paz towards the border town of Desguadero.  Tiwanaku (also spelt Tiahuanaco and Tiahuanacu) was founded around 200BC and after many years grew from a small village to a much larger city with population estimated anywhere between 200,000 to 1.

We were quite suprised when we discovered we had to cross Titicaca on the way to La Paz, and even more suprised when we saw there was a band competition taking place and they had all come over the water on the vehicle barges! An entertaining delay!
4million inhabitants in the period around 600 to 800 AD.  At its peak it was the most important city and civilisation centre in the whole continent and its influence can be seen in vast areas of modern Bolivia, Peru and Argentina.  It is believed that the people of the city were more advanced in pottery, astronomy and math(s) than the Incas whom they predated.

Although the site is still under investigation [obvious signs of recent digging while we were there - but no people as it was a weekend - T] large areas have been uncovered and many parts restored [how authentically, I'm unsure of e.g. "the faces"].  Your guide will talk you through the history of the site and in both museums.  For those who have visited sites in Peru you will be interested to find how Tiwanaku influenced many of the other civilisations futher north.

Tiwanaku is one of the most important ancient civilisations in the world and more is being learnt about it every day.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
A new (in the air) walkway down th…
A new (in the air) walkway down t…
This is La Paz, and one of the inf…
This is La Paz, and one of the in…
Minivans are the primary form of …
Minivans are the primary form of …
We were quite suprised when we dis…
We were quite suprised when we di…
Obviously a lot of pride in the co…
Obviously a lot of pride in the c…
Our coach.  Wed come over on a sl…
Our coach. We'd come over on a s…
Feeding the pigeons
Feeding the pigeons
Presidential building
Presidential building
One of the common buses around town
One of the common buses around town
Llama idol at Tiwanaku
Llama idol at Tiwanaku
Puerte del Sol, Tiwanaku (yes I kn…
Puerte del Sol, Tiwanaku (yes I k…
Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku
Kalasasaya, Tiwanaku
Kalasasaya, Tiwanaku
Template Semi Subterraneo - 26m x …
Template Semi Subterraneo - 26m x…
La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009