Our La Paz City Tour began early in the morning at 8:30am as we waited for our guide in the lobby of our hostel. After a short 5-minute wait, we heard a man asking for “Isabelle?” That’s me! Yay, I thought, our guide is here and we’re ready to go start exploring La Paz.
Our guide, Juan, was very friendly and took us to meet the rest of the group waiting in Plaza Murillo. We headed off on foot for our tour since that day was the country’s National “Dia del Peaton” in which all transportation was prohibited, so everyone in the city had to get around on foot. The Plaza Murillo square where we began our trip was incredibly beautiful and situation right in the centre of La Paz. The Plaza is surrounded by the country’s most important buildings including the Presidential Palace, home to Evo Morales, the Bolivian National Congress and La Paz Cathedral. The plaza was named after Pedro Domingo Murillo, a Bolivian patriot and the country’s independence precursor.
Juan also explained that the clock that crowns the Bolivian National Legislature Building uses Arabic numbers rather than Roman numbers. We passed by the country’s largest prison in an indigenous neighbourhood on our way out of the centre. The Prison of San Pedro is particularly different from other prisons (unfortunately we were not allowed to photograph the prison walls). Juan explained that in this prison, inmates have jobs within the facility, receive payment and rent their rooms. Many live there with their families. In this district the environment is kind of tense, I was very happy to be accompanied by a guide and advise you not to go alone! It seems that there is a book “Marching Powder” written by Rusty Young, about his experiences during a four-month stay in this prison.
In the same neighbourhood, we also passed by the San Pedro Church, an indigenous church, which can be recognized by the altar situated outside.
While we walked along at a turtle’s pace (remember the altitude), Juan stopped our group at a bakery serving freshly made salteñas, a type of original spicy and sweet baked Bolivian pastel which are normally consumed by Bolivians between breakfast and lunch. They are worth a try!
After our short break, we headed to the famous las Brujas Market, also known as the traditional witchcraft market. This unique place hasdifferent stores that sell ingredients for all sorts of witchcraft, but the most bizarre offering is without a doubt a mummified llama fetus! As Juan said, the Aymara people believe that the llama fetus serves to bring luck, fortune and a new home. To build their homes, they bury fetuses as an offering to the Pachamama (Mother Earth).
Near the las Brujas Market there are also plenty of handicraft shops with great prices.
Nearby the Brujas Market, you can find the interesting Coca Museum which you should not miss! With our walk quickly coming to an end, we went to one of our last stops for the Cable Car ride to El Alto in La Paz. It was very nice this experience with wonderful views of the city and the surrounding mountains. You can observe the panoramic views of La Paz from the top. There are also lots of craft shops and food stalls.
The City Tour was amazing from the beginning to the end, rich in culture, traditions and beauty. We went on this trip in partnership with Bamba Experience, a company specializing in South America travel which I highly recommend. They work with excellent guides and are very competent! This tour is ideal for those who really want to know La Paz!
Source: Le Belle Tour