If you travel through South America for more than a couple of weeks, you’re likely to hear people raving about Loki Hostel. Those in Mancora, Cusco, Lima and La Paz have been established for some time, and a new one has just opened in Salta, Argentina. Along with Wild Rover, it’s one of the most notorious party hostel chains in South America, and I decided to check it out when I arrived in La Paz after travelling with a couple for the previous few weeks and staying in much more chilled out accommodation.
Two weeks later, I was still there. It sucks you in and bleeds you dry, but it’s sure to provide you with plenty of interesting memories and even more new friends.
With a bank of experiences under my belt – some good and some bad – here is a run down of what you might expect if you take the plunge and stay there too…
By far the best thing about a party hostel like Loki is that it draws in hundreds of other travellers from around the world who are looking to meet new people, have a good time and join together for trips in the surrounding area. When I heard there were no flights to Rurrenebaque in the Bolivian Amazon, it was easy to get a group of six together and hire a jeep to drive us there instead. And chances are, if you head out independently on a day trip, you’ll be able to catch up with some of the people you met that day back at the hostel bar.
On top of that, it’s one hell of a lot of fun. Each hostel has its own entertainment manager, who organises group trips within the city. On my first full day, I didn’t have a chance to do any sightseeing because I couldn’t resist an afternoon trip to see the local wrestling in La Paz.
It was a crazy experience, with men and women fighting each other in the ring dressed in crazy costumes. Towards the end, a frighteningly butch Bolivian woman threw her opponent over the barrier into the crowd, sending plastic chairs and plenty of tourists scattering across the floor, before splashing them with a 2 litre bottle of coca cola and setting another guy’s leg on fire!
On my second day, I took part in a group trip to the local bowling alley, which consisted of just two lanes. The guys who worked behind the bar had to sit at the back of the lanes putting the pins back up and sending the balls back. The staff even brought a bag full of alcohol, cups and shot glasses, so they could make their famous ‘Bloodbombs’ and scream ‘Loki Loki Loki Oi Oi Oi’ while the owner looked on unimpressed.
Inside the bar, there are also loads of organised events. Loki’s Halloween party was by far the best I’ve ever been to, including some impressive costumes considering the difficulty of buying outfits in an unfamiliar city. On the plus side, if you know where to look, the wigs, masks and face paints are ridiculously cheap, and I even picked up a real llama foetus from the witches market to make into the most gruesome necklace imaginable.
The bar even has a weekly tattoo night, where some local boys come by with their gear and give real tattoos to those unfortunate enough to have had one too many bloodbombs.
All this fun is tracked on a tab system, so it’s easy to order drinks, food and events without having to worry about carrying a wad of cash around with you that could easily get lost or pickpocketed. Having said that, some might see this as a negative when they check their bill at the end of the week…
With all this fun and partying, there has to be a downside. The main one is the noise. The dorms are pretty far away from the bar, but you can still hear your tone deaf friends warbling upstairs on karaoke night while you try to sleep off your hangover from the party the night before.
And with all the late nights and drinking, it’s hard to build up the energy and enthusiasm for actually exiting the hostel the next day to see the sights – especially when there’s a full English fry up on the menu back in the bar and some dude trying to persuade you that the best way to get over your headache is to get straight back on the bloodbombs at 10am.
All this results in most people getting ‘stuck’ in the same city for much longer than they originally planned, wondering what happened to that carefully structured itinerary and trying to figure out which future destinations they will now have to miss out on.
Whatever happens though, La Paz itself has so much cool stuff going on – like this zebra crossing!
The piece de resistance for me was a guy from the bunk below me getting up in the middle of the night on Halloween and literally drenching my backpack in urine. A friend who witnessed it said there was a constant stream for a good 5 minutes. Obviously, she hadn’t realised where he was aiming or I would like to think she’d have stopped him. I had to have all of my clothes washed at the laundrette for a hefty £6 (traveller budget) and wander around all day in the hostel wearing remnants of my Halloween costume!
NB. There are no photos of this. I was too traumatised – and you would be too if I’d shared!
All things considered, would I stay in another Loki or recommend it to others? Definitely. I had a blast. It was a welcome break from more complicated travel (speaking in Spanish to the staff, arranging tours independently and having to go out of my way to meet other people). I’ve made some of the best friends of my trip in Loki, who I intend to catch up with again further along the road, and I’ll certainly never forget the experiences I had there.