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Raul from our accommodation suggested that we could join the free walking tour on our only day in La Paz.
It would start at 10am from Plaza Murillo, located 25 minutes’ walk away from our accommodation.
We decided to set off early as we would need to get more Bolivianos. There were exchange offices on the way to Plaza Murillo and we exchanged 450 USD for 3105 BOB at one of them.
It was a tough uphill walk from the main thoroughfare of Avenida 16 de Julio to Plaza Murillo and both of us felt the effects of altitude.
We were among the last people to join the tour and our guide Jorge got us to introduce ourselves. There were more than 10 of us at the start and we recognised some of our fellow residents from our accommodation.
Jorge gave us some background information about Plaza Murillo. La Paz is the de facto capital of Bolivia and Plaza Murillo is its political centre. Both Parliament building and Presidential Palace are both on the plaza.
From Plaza Murillo, we walked downhill to Iglesia de San Francisco. It was famous for its Baroque facade, mixed with indigenous symbols.
A short walk up was Calle Sarganaga, La Paz’s main tourist street. Our bus from Copacabana had dropped us there the day before and many tourist facilities such as restaurants, hotels and travel agencies were located around there.
Jorge brought us to the Witches’ Market where there were many shops selling items for offerings.
Not all shops were selling these stuff. There were of course shops catering to the tourists.
We were brought inside a shop and Jorge explained more about the locals’ traditional beliefs. Despite Bolivia being a Catholic country, traditional beliefs still exist side by side with the church. Many people still burn offerings to Pachamama, the mother goddess.
Their rituals reminded me of traditional Chinese folk religion where one would burn offerings to gods and spirits.
After the tour of Witches’ Market, there was a brief stop at the shops which were selling the cholitas’ dresses. The bosses weren’t too friendly though so we refrained from taking photographs.
For our break, we would walk to a indoor market where there were stalls selling local snacks and fresh juices.
After the pitstop, we walked to Calle Jaen, one of best-preserved colonial streets in La Paz.
The final place that we visited was Mirador Killi Killi, a viewing point which overlooked the city. To get there, we had to make a steep climb up the hills. We were truly killi-ed by the time we reached there.
The walk down was far easier compared to the climb up. Jorge invited us to their travel agency and gave us a postcard each as souvenir. We passed him a small tip for his time and took a taxi to our accommodation to rest for the day.
The tour was five hours long (from 10am to 3pm) and it required a lot of walking and climbing. La Paz was definitely not a city built for walking tours. Would I recommend the tour? Only if you are extremely fit!