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Peru, Summer 1999, Page 1 - La Paz



This trip was from 15 August to 4 September 1999, organised by Kumuka Expeditions as their (Northbound) "Inca Heights" Trip

We flew out with American Airlines (which while competitive in price seem to offer the least for it - only Varig, the Brazilian national airline seemed to have been worse), to arrive with a day and a half in La Paz before the tour started.

Friday 13 August 1999

View of La Paz from our hotel window:
It was very cold when we got out of the airport at about 5:30am, our taxi driver claimed it was -2 Celsius. We checked into our hotel which we had booked from England and had a nap before doing a short walk round La Paz. The affect of the altitude was noticeable, in the shortness of breath, and in my case occasional strange tingles in my lower back and legs. We looked at the Iglesia de San Fransisco, the outside of which is lovely carved stonework. The inside of the church was very gaudy, with carved wood gold plated - a bit over the top for my taste. Indian weddings are traditionally held here on Saturday mornings, and we did see one family all dressed up on their way to the church the next day.

The outside of the Museo Nacional del Art:
The Museo Nacional del Art (National Museum of Art) was housed in a lovely three story colonial building. In the center of this was a cool courtyard with a marble fountain. The exhibits were mostly modern art, caricatures - and all the descriptions where in Spanish only. We then walked to the Cathedral. This is quite a recent building dating from 1835, and its built on the side of a steep hill. If you walk round it you find that the bottom of the hill has been raised up by about three floors worth - and there are shops underneath it. The Cathedral is a very grand building, and inside the decoration is minimal, just great high stone ceilings.

Saturday 14 August 1999

We walked through La Paz to the Residencial Rosario, the hotel where the Kumuka trek was departing from, to check when we should be meeting up. We went for lunch in El Lomo a nearby restaurant recommended in our guide books. We then went off to take photos in La Paz, and find an internet cafe to email home.

The Iglesia de San Fransisco:
[PHOTO by John]

The Kumuka pre-departure meeting was that evening, where we met our tour leader, Claudia (from Holland), and our driver, Cliff (from South Africa), and most of the tour group. After the meeting we had dinner in the hotel - it was very good but very slow.

Sunday 15 August 1999 - Free day in La Paz

The first day of the Kumuka tour was designated a free day in La Paz. We brought our baggage over to the Residencial Rosario and where told to check into the Hotel Estrella next door.

We met up with two more of the group, Andy and Gareth, to go and have a look at the museums in town. We tried to visit the "four in one" museums, but ran out of time and just managed a quick look at the Museo Costumbrista Juan de Vargas, Museo del Literol, or Museo de la Guerra del Pacifico (which documents the pacific war in which Bolivia lost its sea access - lots of interesting old maps of South America), and the Museo de Metales Preciosos Pre-Columbinos (includes rooms of gold, silver, copper and ceramics). We also looked at the Museo de Etnografia y Folklore which had some brilliant models of village scenes and tombs.

In the street outside the
Museo de Metales Preciosos Pre-Columbinos:
The courtyard in the
Museo de Etnografia y Folklore:

Karen, Gareth, John and Andy in front of the Presidential Palace:

The Cathedral and
the Museo Nacional del Art:
The street running down the side of the
cathedral, note how steep the hill is!

We walked past the Cathedral again, stopped in El Lomo for lunch and then wandered round the little stalls in the nearby streets for hats, gloves and souvenirs. La Paz is cheaper and seems to have more to offer here than Lima.