CHOLETS – The New Andean Architecture Tour

From USD 25

Explore the colorful and exuberant architecture of El Alto known as Cholets with us every day on our half-day Andean Architecture tour.  The kitsch designs of the Cholets are a fascinating mixture of ancient Andean civilization, colorful traditional textiles and the fast-paced and fast-growing cityscape of El Alto.  The rapid growth of El Alto has provided great wealth for many families and this new Bourgeoisie class of El Alto shows their wealth through building these vibrant, futuristic mansions (cholets) and throwing luxurious parties in them. 
Located just outside Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, El Alto towers at 4000 meters above sea level and is one of Bolivia’s youngest cities but has already grown to become its’ second-most populous. In this melting pot of a city, where the ancient and modern mix like no other place, Freddy Mamani, the indigenous architect behind this movement, has gone from laying bricks to become known throughout the world for showing Bolivia through these exuberant acts of self-expression by Bolivia’s long-marginalized indigenous majority.
The jolting, captivating mix of old and new, tradition and modernity, is uniquely Bolivian, and what better way to visit the cholets than with a local guide who loves to share his/her culture, city, and home.  On the tour we go up to El Alto using the teleferico (cable cars),  from there we visit different parts of El Alto and see a wide array of cholet architecture, even some in construction.  We also have the opportunity to enter a cholet and see the vibrant designs throughout its’ interior.  Your guide will not only show you the amazing buildings, but also explain the culture and tradition they display, bringing to life the cholets and the social landscape of Bolivia.

From USD 25

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After meeting your enthusiastic English speaking guide, she will take you up to El Alto in our amazing cable car system.  Enjoy the views on the way as your local guide gives you an introduction to the city she grew up in. 
Once in El Alto, it’s a short walk to see several cholets.  The guide takes the time to explain the traditions and culture which they represent and show in a very physical manner.  Here we even have a chance to see some new cholets in construction. 
We then take local transport to visit more cholets.  Take pictures and discuss with your knowledgeable guide who will discuss the Aymaran Identity and how the cholet is a form of preserving the indigenous culture which is so important to the region. Close by we get a chance to see the Optimus Prime cholet, which while less culturally representative, is an amazing glimpse into the two realities of modernity and ancient you see in El Alto.
We hop in a local bus and go to the heart of El Alto.  Here we see a vast array of this Andean architecture and also visit a small shop where they make traditional dress often used for dances, the colors of which are reflected in the cholets.  We eventually enter a cholet and see the dazzling interior, which is painted just as brightly as the outside and features lively architectural forms.  We visit with the family who owns it and try a local snack while enjoying the view out over the busy market below. 
After our visit we take 2 different cable cars to get back down to the city center where we finish the tour, with a much greater understanding of modern Bolivian life and its’ astounding, living culture.

Highlights

A local guide show's you their beloved city.
See the amazing cholets and learn about this architectural movement
Get off the beaten track and go where few visitors go.
Enter one of the most fascinating cultural representations in the world, the cholet!
You can only see cholets here!  
Ride the teleferico (cable-car)