Thye reason we’ve come down the coast, other than to ride the desert, is to approach the Cordillera Blanca from west to east on a famous route.
The day’s track
Total length is about 115 miles with the Canyon section 50 to 60 miles of dirt.
Here’s a Google Earth snap that approximately matches the track. As you can see it’s pretty dry.
I’m up early, extra coffee, and head off up the agricultural alluvial flats of the Rio Santa
Misty and a bit chilly
Rice fields are the last to go
At the low start of the Canyon. The road turns to a perfect mix of dirt and gravel
I guess this is the official start. A nice bridge. There are going to be a few, always fun for some juvenile reason
We rapidly gain altitude.
This was the first of the tunnels. There wasn’t another for a while. There are 35 tunnels mostly in two clusters, when the canyon walls are nearly vertical. The drop to the river below was huge for maybe the central 40 or 50 miles. At this point the road turns to single lane. Sometimes the longer tunnels are extremely tight, even as a single lane
Some weird corners. At this point the canyon walls are only 60 feet apart with hundreds of feet below. Unbelievable
There’s a combination bridge and tunnel, which was nice
Later some double or triple tunnels
But always the exposure
For the full effect, or close to it, here’s a video of the 2nd set second of tunnels. Bear in mind there’s 40 to 50 miles of this canyon (although without the tunnels) which is why it’s called the best route in Peru
video: canyon del pato
When we start to descend to the river crossing, disaster, or nearly so. But I’ll leave this until the next post to explain
The last tunnel before we cross over
And waterfalls. That one to the right down the slab is maybe 200 feet, click for the scale of this mountainside. The camera completely fails here
The river valley after the descent. Incredible place. This pic is worth a click -ruins on this side of the riverbank
Then up again on the other side
Around the last corner, before heading for Caraz, the Cordillera Blanca