Our trip to La Paz was split into 3 parts. We spent the first weekend in the city, staying at Loci hostel, then the middle just outside the city in the Lunar Valley, and finally back in the city at Wild Rover hostel for another weekend!
La Paz isn't a very picturesque city, built within a valley the La Paz section is in the valley floor with 2 sprawling favela type cities on each of the surrounding hillsides.
We did a few tourist activities whist in the city, a walking tour, cable car tour, trip to the local market, loads of our own walks around the city and went to some of the best international restaurants we've been in South America (Mexican, Argentinian Steak house, Indian and Irish!).
The prison is a crazy place you visit during the walking tour, 2400 prisoners but built for 400. No guards on the inside and just 16 on the outside. Families are allowed to freely live inside the prison with the prisoners. The prison is run by the most powerful inmates with a cell containing a double bed, air con and sky costing £500 per month! 70% of inmates have been arrested for drug offences and most haven't even stood trial! Coca Cola even have a contract with the inmates so that only their drinks products are allowed to be sold inside!
Backpackers used to take tours within the prison but stories of rape, stabbings and big 'exit fees' demanded put us off!
During the walking tour the guide mentioned some crazy things the current and previous Bolivian Presidents have said and done to his people when making legislation...
- That drinking Coca Cola makes you bald (In an attempt to prevent bad drinking habits and obesity).
- Condoms will be banned (to encourage an increase in the baby population. Combined with this payments for pregnancy which only increased the poor people having babies just to receive the money).
- If you eat chicken it makes you gay.
- A previous President lost the only access point to the sea that Bolivia had to Chile, as when he randomly increased taxes for the Chilean government to use the port, it resulted in a war which Bolivia subsequently lost!
- A previous President also received a gift at a social event from the Brazilian government of a White horse... As a result he then gave Brazil a section of land the size of France as a return gift!
The 2 hostels we stayed in were meant to be the best party hostels in town, Loci had moved sites recently but felt weirdly like a mix between a large hotel and a university common room bar! However Wild Rover lived up to its reputation and was an amazing hostel! Really nice, clean and well organised but also hosted great parties of a night!
To break the 10 days up we stayed out of town in an Eco Resort for a few days! The accommodation consisted of really cool Teepee tents overlooking a beautiful valley! We spent loads of time chilling out, also taking a tour around the Lunar Valley (amazing rock formation landscapes) and also a day out riding quad bikes and dirt bikes around the canyons! First time riding a geared bike since I was about 14 and loved it!
Great week or so in La Paz and the Lunar Valley. Off to Lake Titicaca next, hopefully spending a night on the Island in the middle of the lake! Then our month in Bolivia comes to an end.... Peru next and working our way north!