La Paz - Death Road - Bolivia Travel Information
La Paz was established by the Spanish in 1548 in a high valley in the Andes. The city is surrounded by snowy peaks, and its houses cover the mountain slopes. The city's population is about 800,000.
La Paz is the biggest city in Bolivia, and is the administrative capital of the country. All the main governmental institutes of Bolivia are located here. A common mistake is to think that La Paz is the capital city of Bolivia. It is not - Sucre is the official capital.
Hotels in La Paz
Book your hotel in La Paz early to avoid last minute high prices, as hotels in Bolivia tend to fill up quickly.
(booking.com is our recommendation for the best prices and availability)
The city of La Paz is located over 3600 meters above sea level, which makes it the highest big city in the world. The visit to La Paz requires acclimatization to new altitudes due to the thin air in this height. If you are still not used to heights, then you should spend the first few days in La Paz resting and acclimatizing.
At first, La Paz may seems likes a modern city, but after a short walk through the narrow streets this impression vanishes. Different stands full of every item that a witch might need fill La Paz's little witch market. In case you are looking for dried llama's embryos, armadillo's bodies or frog powder, then you reached the right place.
What are those things used for? The llama's embryos are thrown into the foundations of every new house (99% of the houses!) in order to protect the house and those who lives in it. Burnt llama's embryos on a plate, together with herbs and sweets brings luck to business. Frog powder bring money and dry frog with a cigarette in its mouth brings even more.
Armadillo bodies are put on top of doors to prevent burglaries (won't a dog be more effective?)
The Death Road to Coroico
The distance between Coroico and La Paz is only 70km, but the road to Coroico starts on a summit near La Paz, 4633 meters above sea level, and heads down to 1700 meters above sea level, A 3300 meters descent. Not only that the road is extremely steep, but it is also narrow, muddy, and has steep drops of over 1000 meters instead of margins. A recipe for disaster! And disasters indeed occurre - and that is why the road got its name - the Death Road.
I traveled this road in 2001 by bicycle, a week before a young girl died riding a bicycle down the same road.
The Death Road got its name after 8 Israeli travelers were killed in a jeep accident on that road in December 1999.
The sceneries on the way, however, are breathtaking, and the adrenalin is pumping. In the future, a paved road is planned to replace the Death Road.
Moon Valley - Valle de la Luna
If you are stuck for an extra day in La Paz, and you have nothing to do, then you can go to the moon valley near La Paz. The valley is full of rock formations that suppose to remind the viewer of the moon's landscape. I must say that in my opinion you need a lot of imagination to see the similarity, but if everyone says so...
The valley is within a short distance drive from La Paz (about 12km) and you can get there by public transportation.