Friday, July 29, 2016

La Paz - Valle de la Luna, Muelle del Diablo and Riding the Death Road

The Muelle del diablo

Just outside La Paz are several natural formations that are easily reachable by minibus.

The closest is the Valley of the Moon formations which has been turned into a tourist attraction with easy walkways through the formations.

Valley de la Luna

The main walk through the formations takes around 45 minutes and gives various perspectives on the formations.

Looking down the valley

The Valley de la Luna park

Another view of the park

A little further afield is the Muelle de Diabolo formation - a very steep walk.

Yep, that's the path up

But offering panoramic views of La Paz and surrounds.

La Paz from the Muelle del Diablo

Looking towards the mountains with the shadow of the Muelle del Diablo

As with many places in La Paz, although the trek up the Muelle de Diabolo is steep, it's relatively easy - unlike the very scary road to get there.

Looking back at the precarious road

In fact, La Paz has one scary road in particular that is very famous - The Death Road, so named because of the number of fatalities that have occurred - usually by cars going over the cliff on this very narrow road.

So, why not cycle down it?

What could possibly go wrong?

There are many bike companies that offer the ride down the road, of varying price and quality. Keeping in mind that there are usually two cyclist deaths per year on the road it's probably better to opt for quality over price. I went with Barracuda biking after it was recommended to me by a friend in Puerto Williams (of all places). The cost was 500Bs (around $AUD100) and I was very happy with the quality of the bikes and the general approach to safety. During the ride I saw a couple of spectacular crashes in other company's groups - caused by bad quality bikes and poor supervision inexperienced riders - so I was happy with Barracuda (we only had one minor spill in our group).

The first section of the ride is on sealed road to allow you to get used to the bike.

The paved section

Before starting on the unsealed death road.

The start of the Death Road

High in the mountains

The road through the mountains

The death road itself is very steep with very sharp corners.

Looking down the road


And is very narrow in parts.

The road narrows


Narrow and wet

The narrowest part of the road - constantly wet from a waterfall

But the scenery was fantastic

The mountains

Mist rising

The valley from the lower part of the road.

After 3 hours of riding, at the bottom of the road, we stopped In a little town In a river valley for some very well deserved beers and a swim

The river in the valley

before we took the minibus back to La Paz - thankfully using the new, wider, safer road.