La Paz and the Valley of the Moon
The world’s highest capital city at over 12,000 feet above sea level, La Paz is surrounded by mountains and that heady feeling will either be the stunning scenery or the altitude. In many ways it’s a very traditional city, and one of the biggest joys is browsing the endless markets and street-side stalls to pick up handicrafts practised by the locals for hundreds of years. About 6 miles (10 km) south of La Paz, Valley de la Luna (Moon Valley), isn’t actually a valley at all, but a maze of canyons and giant spires. The formations, composed mainly of clay and sandstone, were created by the persistent erosion of mountains by the area’s strong winds and rains. What remains is a serene setting, full of wonder and intrigue. One of Valley de la Luna’s most breathtaking features is its varied pallet, ranging from clear beige tones to sections of red and dark purple. This natural phenomena is due to the great variance in mineral content between each individual mountain, creating colorful compositions and impressive optical illusions on the eroded hillsides.