For our overnight bus to La Paz, for the first time, we decided to fork out for the more expensive bus. Though the seats were bigger and more comfortable, being a fancier bus didn’t stop the driver from packing the aisles with additional people. Thus, when I inevitably needed the toilet in the middle of the night, I had to try and pick my way, in the dark, across a sea of people, with various moans, ouches and baby’s cries rising as I went. As luck would have it the toilet was not operational anyway, so I had to immediately part the seas again. On asking the driver about the toilet he simply opened the door and pointed. At that stage we were stationary, so I hurriedly hopped out and watered the back tire of a stationary truck. It was still dark when we arrived in La Paz and so we found a bench in the bus station and waited for the sun to break.

An hour or so later we were able to get our first glimpse of the city. The location is stunning, the city being perched high in the mountains at over 3700m. From lower centre of the city, the buildings climb on top of each other up the surrounding hills, something like Valparaiso. However it doesn’t have the amazing colour that Valparaiso has, with most buildings constructed in the absolute cheapest way possible. Like Cochabamba the city is noisy and bustling with activity, the roads absolutely crammed with taxis and minibuses. We soon found ourselves a nice place to stay near the city centre and spent the next couple of days ambling around the city.

It is reported that many people have a problem with the altitude in La Paz, however our travels have gradually taken us higher and higher so except for a little breathlessness, we were fine.

The highlight for us in La Paz was the shopping. The markets in La Paz were rather serene in comparison with those in Cochabamba. There is a large area of black market electronic and miscellaneous goods. Also there is a witchdoctors market, the most interesting thing on sale there being llama fetuses which unfortunately Sophie wouldn’t let me buy.

Of course there is also a large area devoted entirely to stalls and shops selling the local craft, mostly at increadibly low prices. A good day was spent shopping and some nice items were acquired, as always though the backpack space was the limiting factor. The stuff is just so beautiful, but, as in Africa, I was amazed at the limited range of things. The colours change, but all of the shops have basically the same items.

Apart from the shopping, there was a lot of sampling of different foods, including a Peruvian food fest that we visited. There were also some interesting museums including a very cool one devoted to the Coca Leaf.

During our wanderings one night we happened across the Municipal theater, where we noticed people were queuing. So we investigated and ended up with tickets to see a local folk group play. The show was really awesome, with amazing music as well as traditional costumed Bolivian dancers. Sophie was absolutely enthralled.

On our last day, we had just enough time to check out some of the city’s viewpoints. Some of the views that can be had are just stunning. Next thing we were on the bus out, with the trip out of La Paz offering even more amazing views of the city as the road winds up up up the hillside. Next stop, Lake Titicaca.