La Paz Bolivia and Altitude Sickness

I wake feeling like I have been run over by a bus, and then I remember I have just been on a bus for all of yesterday from Peru and I have Altitude Sickness.

Altitude Sickness Strikes

Here I am, lying in bed and experiencing Altitude Sickness in La Paz. Waking up feeling like vomiting isn’t the best way to start a day.  Again it hits, as the feelings just like morning sickness are sweeping over me with wave upon wave of nausea. Though right now, I am not pregnant, I am also feeling dizzy and I can’t breathe. I have a headache and I don’t feel eating.

As a single Mum, I don’t have the option to not function. I have a child to care for who requires feeding for starters. And I need to put an action plan in place to overcome this illness, so I drag myself out of bed and into the shower.  We go out for a simple breakfast which I hope will cure nausea but it doesn’t scratch the surface.


altitude sickness

©Exploramum and Explorason – resting near the church on the way back to the hotel

Grabbing a taxi, we decide to attend an English church in the area as I feel a little support might assist.  We often feel connecting with a church is a good way in case there might be an emergency and I need support. Today they ask if anyone needs prayer, and it is nice that they pray for me to feel better.

Shopping Mall

After church, we have a lady who drives us to the Mega Mart. This is a massive shopping complex for the rich, and for the ‘Gringos’.

Money Matters

I need a bank as I only have a few Bolivianos from the border crossing money exchange. Their rates are always lousy and they are notorious for ripping people off.

Right now, I can hardly breathe as we walk around to find a bank or Auto teller machine, but I feel so ill.  I am glad that we find a bank that works for us, so I withdraw enough money to last us quite a few days since I know there is no ATM in the town we are visiting next.


One great thing about western Megal Malls is that they always have great food courts, and here I get my son some lunch.

Limit Our Time

La Paz

©Exploramum and Explorason – local graffiti

I feel that we need to limit our time in La Paz, and move on quickly if this altitude sickness does not abate.  Therefore today might be our only day here, thus we catch a taxi back to the touristic area and old city to look around. But I can hardly walk. We taxi past some amazing wall art and it is nice to be driving and not walking. South America is graffiti crazy and we love it. We pass so many bargains, yet I have no desire to shop.

Tour Options

Wandering in and out of Tour shops with great apprehension after our recent tour rip off, I dubiously (and finally) get two quotes from travel agents. I soon realize it is cheaper just to go to the Uyuni Salt Flats and work out our tour from that town when we arrive.

Cute Local Girls

La Paz

©Exploramum and Explorason – Bolivian girls dressed for a party

We pass through the church, and I take a rest but I notice this altitude sickness is getting worse, and not better. We try to get a taxi back to our hotel, but being Sunday they are scarce therefore we walk for over 1 hour.

We pass some lovely little girls dressed in Bolivian national dress as they head to a party. They must only be about 4-years-old and so cute! I notice here that traditional clothing is still very much a part of the culture, with a focus on looking like you are plump or of a full figure for the females.  We are told, “this is a sign they are wealthy because if you have money you have food, and if you have food, you can be fat”.

Is this the Flu?

At this time, I feel like I have the flu coming on. We manage to walk all the way back to the hotel with no cab.  I put myself to bed with a hot water bottle. 

Heart and Chest Pains

I have heart pains and chest pains coming now and I am starting to become overwhelmed as I am here alone in this empty hotel with an 8-year-old. In fact, I work myself up that I could be so ill. Then I have a big cry. The fact I am using an asthma puffer and finding it so hard to breathe on my own is just so scary.

My son happily plays computer games, and I sleep – and snore so he tells me. The day is a write-off but we have a bag of food my son can help himself to, and he is safe in here. I have taken Panadol for the fever, anti-nausea pills, gastro pills, and finally, I doze off hoping tomorrow will be a better day.
Read on about what we do next in our next article.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

altitude sickness

©Exploramum and Explorason – the snow-capped mountains

Wikipedia suggests that Altitude sickness is also known as ” ‘Acute Mountain Sickness’ (AMS), and is the negative health effect of high altitude, caused by rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation.
Symptoms may include a headache, vomiting, feeling tired, trouble sleeping, and dizziness.”

What To Do If You Get Altitude Sickness

If you find you get altitude sickness the best course of action is to actually get yourself to a local hospital and get oxygen.
Altitude sickness medication is also available.
Then once you stabilize, leave as quickly as you can to a lower altitude.

Comments And Questions

  • Have you ever been sick whilst traveling with a child?
  • How did you handle the situation?
  • Altitude Sickness can strike in many parts of the world. Have you ever encountered it, and if so, what did you do?

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