The Devil’s Tooth.
3,825m above sea level, this rocky outcrop overlooks La Paz to the North-West, Zona Sur to its North and Mallasa (and the Valle de la Luna) to its South-West.
From Jupapina, we shared a taxi ride with some of the other Up Close Bolivia volunteers, to the north face of the Muela (60 bolivianos). It was a little hair-raising at times (especially for the person riding in the boot of the taxi), because the roads ascending through the small villages were in poor condition and we frequently had to stop and reverse along bumpy dirt tracks.
At the final village we got out, thanked our driver for not killing us and began walking towards the Muela.
It was a perfect day for hiking. Clouds studded the sky giving us a little shelter from the sun and insulating us against cold wind. Snow had recently fallen on the peaks of the Cordillera Real highlighting them in the distance. Far below we could see the Pigsty, the Bird House and the Green House where we all lived whilst volunteering.
It looked as if we could just walk straight across the valley to them. But we soon realised how deceiving the landscape was once we started hiking east along the ridgeline – it took us about three hours before we found a place to descend, and another hour to reach the valley floor. By this point we had passed Jupapina long before and had to walk along the road in the dark (armed with stones to scare away dogs). We finally got a ride back along the road to get home and just made it in time for the tea and cakes being prepared for us.
Getting to the Muela is easy: a taxi will get you the closest, or for a cheaper option take a minibus heading to Los Pinos from Zona Sur and walk the rest of the way up (40mins to 1 hour walk). You can either ask your taxi driver to wait (extra charge of course) or walk back down through the villages to Zona Sur.
If you choose to hike along the ridgeline, take plenty of water, snacks and sun/wind protection because there is nothing along the way until you reach the valley bottom. There are no signs to show the route but the path is fairly clear. At two different points you will come to a barbed wire fence: climb over and continue (it’s meant for cattle not people). After the second fence (see picture above) begin descending, taking particular care as some sections of the path may have been damaged by landslides after rain.
Make sure you have enough time to complete the hike! You don’t want to get stuck out here after dark. Plus the last minibus back to La Paz leaves at about 6:30pm, and it will likely be very crowded.
For a well-planned day out, I suggest going in the morning, eating a packed lunch at the Muela or along the ridgeline somewhere and then getting dinner on the outdoor terrace of the duck restaurant down in the valley. If you’re too late to get a bus home you can call a taxi from the restaurant to take you back to La Paz.