La Paz is an unique city of around 2.5 million inhabitants, which is nestled between mountains. La Paz and its sister city are located at roughly around 4000m high altitude. La Paz is around 3700-3800, while El Alto is around 4100m.
The city is set-up as a trough – when you are in La Paz you will always have to either climb uphill or downhill. On the other hand – El Alto is flat. For a city like La Paz, metro systems or trams would not suit as there is always a steep gradient everywhere. Thus, Mi Teleférico – a cable car based urban public transport system is perfectly suitable. What a unique system it is! The system is built by Doppelmayr group, based in Austria/Swiss.
This report will help you navigate through the Mi Teleférico system – from how to buy the tickets to which color lines will give you the best view.
The map below will give you an overview of the city as well as the cable car stations in relation to the streets. On the map – La Paz and El Alto seem so close, but in reality there is a difference of 500m+ in altitude between the two. This also gives you the best way of the city, valley and the surrounding mountains while you use the system. The system is really easy and fun to use. The stations are super clean and easy to navigate and you can easily spend a day hopping from 1 cable car to the other while enjoying spectacular views.
The map of the system is below. I will explain how the ticketing works. The starting fare is 3 BOB (=30 cents), which is valid for 1 color line and each subsequent line is 2 BOBs.
For example, lets say you start at Estacion central on Linea Roja (Red Line) and then go to Estacion Upea on Linea Azul (Blue line) – then it will cost you 3 + 2 = 5 BOBs.
Another example, if you would like to go from Estacion central on Linea Roja (Red Line) to Estacion Buenos Aires on Linea Amarilla (Yellow line) – then it will cost you 3 + 2 +2 = 7 BOBs
There are ticketing booths at all stations and you just tell the station you would like to go to and the attendant will issue you a ticket and a receipt such as this. You scan the QR code at the turnstiles and you are ready to board.
A view of the Estacion Central – where the Red and Orange lines meet. Its a beautiful station, where old carriages have been converted into restaurants and ice cream parlours.
There is also a super market within the station, where we could stock up on some supplies. I saw that most of the stations have a small supermarket within – quite handy.
The orange line – beginning at Estacion central and heading away from El Alto.
Overview of the carriages. The carriages are painted as the color of the line. This one is part of the red line.
Red line, heading from La Paz to EL Alto – affords spectacular views of the city. Immediately after boarding you start climbing and the city expanding towards the mountains.
Overview of the city – La Paz almost joining EL Alto at the top. Love the colorful houses, built on the mountains.
This line will bring you to Estacion 18 de Julio. Right besides this station is a El Alto monument as EL Alto starts here. The station is at 4095m altitude. The view of La Paz from here is amazing and on a clear day you will see the large mountains in the background.
From here we took the Linea Azul (Blue) – this line goes through Al Alto, literally through the city as the poles supporting the cables are built within the streets or on top of the houses. Amazing feet of adaptive engineering. El Alto is very crowded city and you get a view of the city as we all the airport. View from the Blue line is below.
The Plateada (Silver) line goes along the mountain ridge. Thus giving the best view of the city. On one side you have La Paz and the other El Alto. This way my favorite line – the views afforded here are spectacular.
Again, view from the silver line, with the Plaza Sagrado Corazon de Jesus in the foreground and the city and mountains as a backdrop.
The purple line – this is also a great line to give you a view of the city and the mountains to the east.
This is a must-do while you are in La Paz. It is a user friendly system that is amazing, and super safe mode of transport. We loved it, and my recommendation would be to at least try the red and the silver lines – the views they afford are simply spectacular. Where else for 30 cents you can ride a fancy cable car and enjoy fabulous views!