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Market Friday: Market in El Alto, Bolivia. A photo documentary.

Market Friday: Market in El Alto, Bolivia. A photo documentary.

December 2017 · 3 min read · El Alto


18mm, f8, 1/1000; Click on image to enlarge

On today's #marketfriday initiated by @dswigle I would like to show you around the famous Thursday market in El Alto, Bolivia. El Alto is Bolivia's second biggest city and is located above La Paz, which is Bolivia's seat of government (not the capital though).

The ladies in the title photo hiding their faces are Aymara, Bolivian Indigenous people, who believe that taking a photo will steal a part of their soul, so when I asked them if it was okay to take a photo they agreed, but insisted on hiding their faces in order not to lose a part of their soul. No chance of doing portrait photography here I guess.

On the way to the market


90mm, f6.3, 1/90; Click on image to enlarge

Getting to the market is easy, since the local government has installed a system of cable cars connecting La Paz with El Alto, the price is just 3 Bolivianos (about 0,40€) per ride.

View from the Teleférico


60mm, f7.1, 1/200; Click on image to enlarge

Riding the cable car is an amazing experience and a must-do for everyone visiting La Paz! I ended up riding the different lines various times and every time I discovered something new — I saw a military parade below, an accident car stuck in a deep cracks of a giant rock or just got a peek into the ordinary life in La Paz and El Alto.

The market in between brick stone houses


18mm, f8, 1/800; Click on image to enlarge

While La Paz is home to the seat of government, the business district and nearly all of the tourist accommodation, El Alto is a rather poor city. The Andean city is located at 4100m above sea level.

Time to go shopping!


18mm, f8, 1/320; Click on image to enlarge

The El Alto market is upon the biggest markets in Latin America and you can get anything from clothes over food to books and DVDs, the prices are for western standards very low.
Since the Bolivians mostly have a very slow internet connection and mostly not even a computer, there is no way for them to use something like Piratebay. Instead, they go to El Alto market, where they buy illegal copies of games, movies, series, software and music which are openly sold.

Genuine software? Well..


45mm, f9, 1/400; Click on image to enlarge

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The price is always the same as it is calculated per CD/DVD/BlueRay, so you end up paying the same amount of money for the free Game Dota 2 as for the current Call of Duty. They even have some exclusive special editions, or have you heard of the "Pro Wolf Edition" of Windows 10 before?

A view on the market


18mm, f8, 1/1000; Click on image to enlarge

I didn't end up buying something in the end, although I had my eyes on Metástasis, a complete remake of every single episode of Breaking Bad set in Colombia. Instead, I decided to try some street food. If you like food, neighboring Peru is a much better place to visit than Bolivia, but they still have some unique dishes to try in Bolivia.

Visiting the market in El Alto is a fascinating experience that I can recommend everyone who visits La Paz! I hope have enjoyed my short introduction to the market in El Alto.

Travel Resources for your trip to Bolivia

Recommended by TravelFeed

Flights: We recommend checking to find the best and cheapest flights to Bolivia.

Accomodation: Explore the best places to stay in Bolivia on, Agoda and Hostelworld.

Travel Insurance: Medical emergencies abroad can be pricey, but travel health insurance is not. We always use SafetyWing for affordable and reliable coverage.

Transportation: Use 12go and Omio to find detailed bus and train schedules, making travel planning easier.

Car Rental: For hassle-free car hiring, DiscoverCars is our trusted choice with a wide selection of vehicles.

Internet: Got an eSIM compatible phone? Airalo is perfect for reliable internet access during your trip. Just install it before you go, and you're set!

Day Trips & Tours: We recommend GetYourGuide for a variety of well-organized and enjoyable activities.

Tickets: Save on entrance fees in Bolivia with Klook and Tiquets.

Travel Planner: Need a hand planning? Our free travel planner chatbot is your personal guide to Bolivia. Chat now.

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