La Paz is probably best known as the highest capital city in the world. Other than that there isn’t really much else to the place! We did a hop on/off bus tour the name of which is misleading as it only runs twice a day and takes about an hour, fifteen minutes of that are spent at one viewpoint. One exception though is the cable car or Teleferico, it is a fairly new addition to the city and new lines are still being added. It’s intended primarily as a commuting option but is probably used more by tourists and locals for sightseeing. We boarded at the first stop on the line which was in a valley to the south of the city where the better off residents, a lot of the hotels, and our Airbnb, were located. The experience was not good for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of heights as it climbs quickly to a level that allows it to rise over the mountains that separated the area from the main part of the city. It then continues over the city and ultimately to the highest point on the other side, where we got out for a coffee with an amazing view.
In La Paz the richer people live at the lowest altitude with the poorer areas being at the highest. You could also see the split as being along ethnic lines as the indigenous people tended to live in the poorer areas whilst those of Spanish or mixed descent were generally in the better off areas.
Although the city was an improvement on the towns we had visited recently it was a long way behind even Lima and Bogota in terms of development. Having said that it has some charm of its own and it has preserved much of it’s colonial heritage.
Bolivia is a poor country and this is reflected in the lack of infrastructure. It does have massive unrealised potential as a tourist destination as there are many parts of the country that we would have liked to visit but trips to such places as the salt flats in Uyuni were described in terms of ‘adventures’ rather than a straightforward trip. Having had enough adventure on the Inca Trail we decided against visiting these places. That was probably our loss and some people would say that it’s all part of the experience, earlier in our trip we might have agreed and as a one off it would be fine but we were at a place where we preferred a warm room, comfortable bed and hot shower!