Mi Teleferico in La Paz, Bolivia

Public transportation using cable cars in the highest capital in the world, La Paz, is certainly quite interesting. When you consider the fact that city is literally built on the sides of a mountain as well as a dense population, getting around the city wasn’t easy until the cable car system was built. Now, instead of winding through narrow streets with steep inclines, people soar over the rooftops to one of the different destinations. There are 3 interconnected lines, just like most transit systems, with red, yellow, and green lines. Although it is a method of transportation that allows citizens to move throughout the city, it is also an incredible way for tourists to truly see this amazing city from a different standpoint.

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Colorful Buildings
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Riding in the Cable Cars
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Rugged Scenery
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One of the Few Bridges

During our trip to La Paz, we took a combination of the yellow and green lines as a round trip that let us see a majority of the city. Between all of the lines, there are a total of 11 stations or stops that you can enter or exit from that each head to different areas within the city. The cable cars run between 5:00 am until 10:00 pm and, although we only went during the day, the views would be amazing in the evening as well. One of the things that stands out as you ride above the city is that La Paz is a very colorful city with interesting architectural details.

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Interesting Architecture
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One of the Green Line Stations
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Mountainous Backdrop
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City Sprawling Across the Valley

La Paz is certainly an fascinating city with very friendly people and is definitely worth visiting if you are going to Bolivia. If you do visit La Paz, we’d recommend taking time to see the Valley of the Moon in addition to riding on Mi Teleferico as the cable car system is known. Seeing the city from the heights of the cars is certainly one of our favorite memories of our time in Bolivia. We also took a couple of day trips from La Paz to do Death Road as well as went to Tiwanaku, Copacabana, and Lake Titicaca where we went to Sun and Moon Island.

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Above the Rooftops
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Heading Towards the Station
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Great View of La Paz

 

Valle de la Luna in La Paz, Bolivia

In addition to being the highest capital in the world, La Paz also has a very unique topography. Buildings cover almost every inch of the mountainous hillsides and the heart of the city sits down in a valley. On the outskirts of La Paz is a very interesting place called the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) with an almost other-worldly landscape. Erosion of the clay in the mountain has resulted in huge spires that cover the area, creating a rugged and stark environment.

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Jagged Peaks
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Flute Player
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Entrance to the Park
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Amazing Scenery

If the scenery wasn’t surreal enough, there was a flute player that climbed to the top of one of the jagged peaks playing very haunting, traditional music. The sounds of the music echoed throughout the valley, creating a very haunting atmosphere. There were very few people there on the day that we visited, which also added to the overall experience. We have seen some very unique geology, but visiting the Valle de la Luna is certainly one of the most fascinating.

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Haunting Music and Scenery
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Bridge Amongst the Rocks
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Cactus on a Peak
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Very Surreal

There is a path with wooden stairs that wind their way throughout the park.  There are also observation decks that overlook some of the more interesting features of the valley. As we walked around the valley, the flute player continued to move from one peak to another, almost as if he was shadowing our movements. For anyone who visits La Paz, the Valley of the Moon should definitely be on your agenda.

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Silhouette of the Flute Player
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Looking Down
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Trail Through the Valley
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Mountains in the Background

 

La Paz – City in the Clouds

In many ways it is hard to describe the city of La Paz, Bolivia. It is a city of contrasts built literally on the steep hills of the Andes mountains. It is considered to be the highest (unofficial) capital in the world at 3,660 meters (12,000 feet) and many tourist suffer the effect of altitude sickness when visiting, although we were fortunate to not have any problems adjusting to the altitude.  There are some very nice areas with beautiful homes and modern skyscrapers, but the majority of the city is still living in poverty.  It is very much like any major city in a developing country that has pockets of wealth, but most people are in need of necessities.

Flying into La Paz
Flying into La Paz
City of La Paz
City of La Paz
Soccer (Futball) Field in La Paz
Soccer (Futball) Field in La Paz
Walking the Streets of La Paz
Walking the Streets of La Paz
Moon Valley
Moon Valley

The best way to see the city is to take the cable cars that carry people over the rooftops of the city.  When you consider that the cities buildings are literally built on the canyon walls and the city itself spans a 600 meter (2,000 foot) altitude, having cable cars is an obvious way to scale the heights.  There are plenty of taxis, shared taxis, radio taxis, and dishonest taxis, but navigating the traffic of the city can be difficult at best.  So the cable cars serve as an airborne transit system taking you from the center of the city to the top of the surrounding suburbs.  It is the one thing that you must do when you visit La Paz.

View from the Cable Car
View from the Cable Car
View of La Paz
View of La Paz
La Paz Spread Across the Hillsides
La Paz Spread Across the Hillsides
Amazing Views of La Paz
Amazing Views of La Paz

One thing that you will quickly notice when you visit any city in Bolivia is that there are a lot of dogs roaming the streets.  Many, but not all, of them have owners who simply let them out in the morning and allow them to wander the streets to find their own food and then open their doors to them when they return at night.  There are packs of dogs protecting their territories brutishly punishing any dogs who attempt to cross into their neighborhoods.  And during the heat of the day, there are dogs sleeping in any shaded area that can be found.  It seems as though everyone has come to a happy coexistence as the people seemingly ignore the dogs around them and the dogs pay no mind the people unless they happen to set their food down momentarily unattended.

Hiding from the Heat
Hiding from the Heat
Do You Have Something for Me?
Do You Have Something for Me?
Walking Bridges through Moon Valley
Walking Bridges through Moon Valley
Another View of La Paz
Another View of La Paz
Statue in La Paz
Statue in La Paz

One of the more interesting things that we saw while in La Paz was the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley).  It is a fascinating natural landscape that very much looks like it could be in outer space.  There was even an Aymara, the local tribe of the La Paz area, musician standing on the peaks of one of the giant pillars playing a flute and a banjo-like instrument.  It was a little odd, but at the same time very interesting.

Entrance to Valle de la Luna
Entrance to Valle de la Luna
Us Enjoying Moon Valley
Us Enjoying Moon Valley
Musician Playing Flute
Musician Playing Flute
Incredible Landscape in Moon Valley
Incredible Landscape in Moon Valley
Breathtaking Views
Breathtaking Views

With its proximity to Lake Titicaca, Tiwanaku, Uyuni Salt Flats, and the Amazon River, La Paz is an ideal starting point for any Bolivian adventure.  Be sure, though, to take time to explore La Paz itself, with Mt Illimani looming in the distance, it is definitely worth it.  We had been warned several times before heading to Bolivia to be wary of petty theft and pickpockets.  We always take normal precautions such as only going to out-of-the-way places during the day and trying not to act like a tourist, but we found everyone to be very nice and had no incidents while were there.  It was definitely an interesting city to visit.

More of Moon Valley
More of Moon Valley
Mt Illimani
Mt Illimani
Colorful La Paz
Colorful La Paz
Amazing Backdrops
Amazing Backdrops
Simply Amazing
Simply Amazing