3 mins

How to stay tip-top in La Paz

Bibiana Garside, owner of Latin American tour operator HighLives, reveals three top ways to acclimatise in the world's highest capital city, La Paz

A city on top of the world: La Paz (Phillie Casablanca)

I come from a city on the roof of the world. But when I return home to La Paz, Bolivia, you’d never know it. Like many other visitors, it takes me a little while to get used to the rarefied air of the city perched around 3,700 metres up in the Andes mountains, although this is rarely much more than feeling a little shortness of breath and feeling a bit drowsy for a few hours.

But after a quiet, restful first day and drinking a cup or two of coca tea, I’ll be ready for action and keen to see how my spectacular home city has changed since I saw it last.

Still, a walk along the street and I realise I won’t quite be moving as fast as I normally do in London – you just don’t have the breath for that in La Paz unless you’ve spent a few weeks here acclimatising.

But I have a plan. I take a taxi to the highest point of the city centre, that way, everywhere I want to go is downhill and the walking is easy. To help me feel like I’m home, I head for:

1. Mercado Uyustus

This block of streets is taken over by market traders selling goods and clothes of all types and quality – including many tailors where you can get made-to-measure outfits for a fraction of what you’d pay in the UK.

2. Dumbo’s

A stroll down La Paz’s main street leads this huge, garishly-coloured Bolivian version of Disney. Bolivian families, giggling schoolkids and awkward teen couples enjoy the fast food, but it’s the spectacular ice-creams of delicious tropical fruits that I seek out.

3. Mongo’s Rock Bottom Café

Towards the bottom of the hill, this bar can be too dark, too crowded and its service more than a little casual. But the thronged mix of young Bolivians and foreign travellers shuffling to western and Latin rock is the perfect way to round off a day’s homecoming.


HighLives offers fully organised tours in Latin America and can help you tailor your experience to combine luxury, wellness, adventure, culture and fitness.



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