Department of La Paz A department of unique beauty, which houses mountains, snow peaks, Andean landscapes, valleys, tropical jungles; all this just a few hours from the city by car. Its culture is marked by western world traditions together with the ancient values inherited from the Aymarás and Quechuas.
The City of La Paz, Bolivia’s seat of government is the highest capital in the world (3600m/12.010ft), emerging from a canyon at the foot of the majestic, snow-capped Illimani, standing tall as the city’s “protector”. From the many viewpoints one can enjoy the fascinating views over the city both during the day but also with the lights at night.
In the city
La Paz is best discovery on foot. When walking through the city you get to experience the charm of the locals and the historical wealth of its streets, whose design obeys a random aesthetic and the picturesque geometry of ancient indulgence. On its streets we can find one-of-a-kind mansions, stately residences and temples with architecture in a renaissance style. Among the places of extraordinary beauty and culture that dates back to the colony, we can name; the Church of San Francisco - in a baroque-Mestizos style, built in 1549, the Church of San Sebastián, the Recolecta Church, Nuestra Señora de La Paz Cathedral (Our Lady of La Paz), among other religious structures. As for the museums, the highlights are; Costumbrista Museum (traditional), Precious Metals Museum, The Museum of Musical Instruments, the Ethnographic-Folkloric Museum, etc. Likewise, one can’t leave without visiting the witches market, the chiflera market, the Kallawaya medicine men, arts and crafts centres, fruit markets, etc. Among the natural sites we find Valle de La Luna (Valley of the Moon) and Mallasa.
LAKE TITIKAKA, MYSTICAL AND SACRED: Known as “The Sacred Lake of the Incas”, this the highest body of water in the world (3810m/12.500ft), 283m/928ft deep, with an extension of 8400km2/3.243sq mi. This is shared with the Republic of Peru. Its territory houses a great diversity of attractions, such as:
COPACABANA: Which means “Watcher of the Precious Stone”. This is a mystical place that overflows with traditions and relics, as well as being an important centre for religious pilgrimages. One can visit: the Copacabana church, Calvary Mountain, the renowned Incan Gallows, Inti Kala or Inca High Court, Kusijata or Inca Baths, Sampaya – a pre-Columbian township built from rock, among others.
ISLAND OF THE SUN: An hour and a half from Copacabana by motorboat, it houses pre-Columbian monuments like Pilkokaina Palace and the Chinkana or Labyrinth. One can also see the Incan Staircase, the Sacred Fountain of Eternal Youth, the pre-Columbian harvest ledges, the towns of Challapampa to the north and Yampupata in the south.
ISLAND OF THE MOON: Also called Koati, located 7km/4mi from the Island of the Sun, it allows for a wonderful view of the snow-capped Illampu and the Western Mountain Range. In this place one can find the ruins of the Iñak Uyu Palace or Temple of the Moon, which was probably an Ajlla Huasi or place to shelter Ñustas or sun virgins.
TIWANAKU: South America’s oldest culture with a life of over 27 centuries. It was born in the surroundings of Lake Titicaca within the high lands of The Andes. All of its buildings have the correct cardinal orientation. Of particular importance are the Akapana and Pumapunku pyramids, The Church of San Pedro, the Bennett Monolith, Door of the Sun (a maximum display of craft in sculpture), Kantatallita, Kalasasaya, the Friar Monolith and the semi subterranean Temple, among others.
HUATAJATA: 87km/54mi far from La Paz city, located in the minor lake. It offers a variety of services. It is a tourist interest place of gastronomic and nautical activities.
SURIKI ISLAND: An Island of fishers and Totora boats makers, who accomplishes transoceanic trips.
PARITI ISLAND: It has archaeological places, Andean cosmic vision, landscapes, anthropological research and Pre-Hispanic pottery.
MADIDI, MOSAICS OF AN INCREDIBLE BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: Located to the north of the department, this destination offers incomparable natural beauty, where 3.235 species of flora and fauna live in perfect harmony with man, making this a protected area with the greatest biodiversity on the planet.
SAN BUENAVENTURA: A town located in the Abel Iturralde province, houses the Chimanes and Tacanas ethnic groups. One interesting attraction is the so called Stretch of the Bullet, which legend says was the creation of a hunter who opened up the space by firing his rifle.
TUMUPASA: This is an indigenous and Amazonian town where the Tacana people conserve their ancestral traditions with great care, an ideal place for fishing and photographic opportunities.
CHALALÁN: This town sits on the department’s Tuichi River. It shelters the indigenous community of San Jose de Uchupiamonas, founders of the Chalalan Ecological Shelter, located in the heart of Madidi Park.
IXIAMAS: This town is located in the Abel Iturralde province. From here one can reach the Madidi River and, much further north, you find the Heath and Asunta rivers, through Madre de Dios River which borders the Department of Pando.
APOLO: South if this, are two routes to the Madidi: the first stems from Ameno Valley towards Pata; and the other from Machia towards Asariamas. Both are on the shores of Tuichi River.
THE ROYAL MOUNTAIN RANGE OF THE ANDES, REACHING FOR THE SKY: Bordering the City of La Paz and Lake Titicaca is the Royal Mountain Range of the Andes. From the massive Illampu to the snow-capped Illimani, its high peaks reach over 6000m/19.690ft. Between its great ravines, one finds enormous glaciers which melt to form numerous lagoons.
Apolobamba GROUP: This group of mountains is a popular tourist attraction, since they feature possibly the most seductive Andean landscapes in Bolivia, as well as a great ethnic wealth. Here you can find The Natural Area of National Integrated Management of Apolobamba, the Kallawaya culture, and the archaeological ruins of Iskanwaya.
Illampu GROUP: Located in the vicinity of Sorata. It is a place of great charm that includes the northernmost mountain in the range: the impressive snow-capped Illampu Jankho Uma, as well as the starting point Camino del Oro (Golden Road) and other trekking routes of interest like the Great Route of San Pedro.
Condoriri GROUP: Made up of the snow-capped Huayna Potosí, Chacaltaya, as well as the Summit and the Zongo Valley. It presents a wonderful landscape of exceptional quality due to the variety of its natural resources. There is easy and quick access to this place from La Paz.
YUNGAS GROUP: It begins on the Summit, continuing through the pre-Hispanic Choro Road, reaching Yungas. It encloses the range’s western slopes and the provinces of North and South Yungas. It features attractive towns like Coroico and Chulumani, together with Sorata.
MURURATA GROUP: It features the mountains of Mururata, snow-capped Illimani, and the beginning of the pre-Hispanic Road of Takesi and The Recovery.
QUIMSA CRUZ MOUNTAIN RANGE: Visited by people with great skill for rock climbing.