La Paz is a weird city. Throughout my several visits to this bustling South American metropolis, that is the only thing that’s remained constant. I’ve gone through phases where I despised La Paz and phases where I’ve been obsessed with the place. The only thing I can say with certainty is that La Paz is a weird city, and always will be. Right now, I think that’s a good thing, and it’s easily one of the most unique cities in the world.
From its unique cultures and oddities to its downright otherworldly beauties, La Paz has things that you won’t find anywhere else on this planet. Valle de la Luna is one of those places. Best of all, it’s only a quick trip from the city and can be done in half a day or less.
Is Valle de la Luna Worth Visiting?
While Valle de la Luna might only be the second best moon valley in South America, it is very much worth a visit. Valle de la Luna is small but makes for a perfect day trip that you can do on your own. No tours required for this epic attraction. Plus, it gives you a taste of the chaotic Bolivian colectivo lifestyle.
How To Get To Valle De La Luna
Valle de la Luna is a great attraction because it’s really close to the city center of La Paz. It is only about 10 kilometers away, which depending on traffic, means you can get there in about half an hour or less. If you decide to book a tour, many tour operators often bundle it with other attractions, such as Nevado Chacaltaya. However, if you want to visit Valle de la Luna without a tour, it’s super easy to get there yourself. I mean, I figured it out on my first ever solo trip when I was completely clueless, so I have faith you’ll be able to as well.
First, head down to Plaza San Francisco where all the colectivos inevitably pass by. That’s the big church and plaza near Mercado Lanza. On the front of the van’s windows should be their destination. Look for one that says Mallasa and let the driver know that you’re going to Valle de la Luna. They’ll know where to drop you off. The fare should only be about 3 Bolivianos, less than $.50. At less than a dollar roundtrip, this is a very affordable excursion from La Paz.
Things To Know Before Going
My first time visiting Valle de la Luna, the entrance fee was only 10 Bolivianos. The last time I visited, I paid 15 Bolivianos, although the second time, I was on a guided visit on a combo tour to Chacaltaya. I’m not sure if going with a group of gringos affected the price, so just assume it is 15 Bolivianos. That’s about $2 US (or $1.50 if you get the local price) as of 2020.
How Much Time Do You Need at Valle de la Luna?
You don’t need too much time here. Just to see the whole thing, you won’t need more than two hours, although keep in mind that I like to travel slow and take a ton of pictures. Realistically, you could probably walk through the whole area in less than 45 minutes. Give yourself about 75 minutes for getting there and back by colectivo just in case traffic is bad either way.
Valle de la Luna shouldn’t take up an entire day, giving you plenty of time to see more of La Paz or see another attraction outside of the city. The second time I visited was because it was lumped in with a tour to Chacaltaya, a short hike up to 5,400 meters above sea level that I really wanted to do. I couldn’t get them to lower the price down for skipping Valle de la Luna so I decided to go again, and I’m glad I did. You can easily tack on a free walking tour or a visit to the colorful neighborhood of Chualluma to round out a great day in this sprawling Bolivian hub.
How To Get Back to La Paz
Same way you got here! Walk to where you got dropped off and stand on the side of the road going towards La Paz. Most of them will be going towards La Paz, but just ask to make sure. El Prado is the main strip of La Paz and if you’re like most travelers, your place shouldn’t be too far off from this area.
More on La Paz
Where to stay in La Paz
As a backpacker, La Paz has an amazing selection of hostels. I’ve stayed at a few of them, and the ones that stick out are Wild Rover, Loki, El Prado Capsule Hostel, and Adventure Brew. Wild Rover and Loki both have party atmospheres, which is great for a young traveler looking to make friends and have a good time. El Prado Capsule Hostel had ridiculously good Wi-Fi for Bolivia, and the two nights I spent there following a week in the Amazon was a much-needed treat. Adventure Brew was where I stayed my first time in La Paz, and it’s got a good mix of social and quiet. You can’t go wrong with any of these choices.