We had just arrived in Tupiza and were ready to start exploring the curious canyons and mysterious mines of southern Bolivia. Since we just arrived from the lowlands of Argentina, we needed to acclimate at Bolivia’s high elevation for a few days before going hiking or heading up to higher country. We picked a horseback tour to go see Puerta del Diablo in the desert. It sounded like a mellow intro, but had a little bit of mystery to it!
Horseback Riding Tour to Puerta del Diablo
The tour company we used had a young kid lined up to guide us on the tour. He couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16, but he had a few horses, saddles, and even some riding chaps. We weren’t sure why we’d need leather chaps for a short ride, but it was fun to play cowboy.
We threw some water bottles and our camera in a backpack, and put some sunscreen on since the sun is much more powerful in the thin air. Off we trotted, just the three of us, heading out of town south along the railroad tracks.
It was a beautiful morning as we turned off the road onto a dirt wash. The air was still crisp and the sky was a beautiful blue with a few tufts of clouds over the hills. It was a perfect first adventure in Bolivia!
We rode up the dry wash for a half hour, enjoying riding the horses as they followed the leader through the bushes.
For such a dry place the bushes were very colorful and has these plump little peanut things on them. I like trying new fruit and berries in the wild, but our wise guide advised me to skip these ones.
We started dipping into valleys, and I was surprised by how red the rocks were!
We slowly came up on this huge rock wall sticking out of the wash. It looked small at first, but when we got closer we could see there were 2 sides at least a hundred feet tall! This was the majestic Puerta del Diablo – Door of the Devil!
It was surreal! The morning light fell on the rock formations perfectly. The two rock sides were sticking up out of the dirt with no other rocks nearby. It really looked like a door in the middle of this flat wash to some magic place in another world.
It would be amazing to spend a few days and rock climb these beasts with ropes and proper shoes!
We hopped back on the horses and headed further up the canyon, passing more amazing rock sculptures. We hadn’t seen anybody else so far on this trip, and it was peaceful and relaxing. Except for the constant bump-bump-bump of the horse!
The rocks got narrower and narrower and the wash turned into a slot canyon. We left the horses to drink from the stream and climbed up the canyon until we were tired out from the altitude. The stream was never-ending, and the canyon kept climbing up into the mountains. We could have probably hiked all day to get to the top of the ridge.
On our way back down the canyon we met the first group of tourists of the day – the crowds were starting to pile in. It was nice to have had the place all to ourselves! We passed the devil’s door on the way out again and it was still ominously standing tall. The clouds were coming in, and it was losing the glow it had earlier.
So glad we got an early start!
We saw a quaint little train on the way back to town. It made me laugh! I was amazed that the trains still ran on these bent-up tracks!
We said Adios to our tour guide and he informed us that our ride out to the horse stalls was only one-way and we’d have to walk a mile back into town or catch the bus for 10 cents.
We needed to loosen up our horse-legs, so we walked back to the town center.
That antic wouldn’t be well received by other tourists, so he’s not getting a recommendation from us…
Pick a good tour operator and enjoy a horseback ride tour to Puerta del Diablo!