La Paz – Coldness, Altitude, Views and Cholitas

La Paz sits at an altitude of between 3600 to 4000 metres above sea level in the Bolivian Altiplano. It is the highest administrative capital in the world and home to over a million of people. It was also a first experience for us, being several thousand meters above the sea level.

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The first couple of days were pretty tough on us. First was the coldness. Coming from Santa Cruz after 28 degrees we had to adjust to temperatures dropping to freezing level in the nights. No heating in the houses so we were constantly shivering and using multiple sweaters. And oh boy, the taps have no hot water (except a little streams in showers if you get lucky). Brushing teeth with ice-cold water while wearing a winter coat – that was a first for me.

On top of coldness came the altitude sickness that essentially feels like a big hangover without having a huge party the night before. And a couple of severe headaches. My tip to anyone travelling to the region: reserve an extra few days to adjust and lie in bed.

Once we felt like people again we started to appreciate the beauty and unique character of this city. The Plurinational State of Bolivia can be seen here with members of 36 original Indian tribes still living in the city. First things you notice are big colourful skirts that women wear called cholitas. Ladies from different tribes wear they own characteristic cholitas. They also wear warm stockings underneath to keep warm.

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On top of colourful clothing one can see clearly Spanish colonial influence in everything from houses to churches. I can only describe it as a pretty city.

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The city is also modernising with recent introduction of cable cars (Mi Teleférico) which are part of public transport so a ride on top of city comes at a bargain BOB3. It also helps to ease congestion from the city and areas surrounding it. New lines are constantly being build.

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Another little thing is the boardwalk on top of the city in the Parque Urbano Central. Great views and feeling of ever modernising city.

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