After 6 months at home (we never stayed home longer than 3 months since 2004) we are back on the road again.
After an overnight in Sydney and 3 days in Santiago we arrived in Lima.
When the truck was cleared to leave our storage by customs, our first destination was the Cordilleras North East of Lima.
The Cordillera is part of the Andes Mountains. This is our last stage in Peru before we enter Ecuador. The Cordilleras’ main features are the Cordillera Blanca, Parque National Huascaran and the Canon del Pato. It is also where we found the world’s highest road tunnel at just under 4800 meters. The Cordillera Blanca is the world’s highest and most glaciated tropical mountain range, topped by the 6768-meter-high Huascaran Mountain. (highest mountain in Peru)
In this area you find 25 Mountain peaks over 6000 meters and 50 over 5500 meters. One of these high mountain peaks is the Artesonraju, also called the Paramount Picture peak, due to the profile seen in the Paramount Pictures logo The Cordillera Blanca (white mountain) has a total of 722 glaciers covering an area of 723 sq. kilometres. However, locals tell us that the glaciers have become smaller and smaller since the 1970’s.
We left the Cordilleras via the amazing and at times very narrow Canyon del Pato. This track was just wide enough for our truck and the tunnels just high enough. It is in this Canyon that the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra come within 15 meters of each other.
Our first stop was planned in Huaraz, also known as the Switzerland of the south, but what a disappointment this was. The towns of Carhuaraz, Yungay and Caraz are much better stops.
The “must do’s” in this area:
- The world highest road tunnel (Tunel Punta Olimpica) at 4732 meters. Before this tunnel was completed it would take up to 12 hours to reach Chacas on a very rough mountain road prone to landslides, snow and avalanches. Today it is all asphalt, quick and easy. The tunnel itself is around 1400 meters long, 7 meters wide and 6.5 meters high. The road is open all year round unless heavy snowfall when it may close for a day or 2.
2.Lake Llanganuco. The road/track starts at Yungay and climbs to around 3900 meters to a beautiful turquoise lake and lots of snowy peaks around it including a view of Peru’s highest mountain Huascaran. Great bush camping in the area. It does get cold overnight.
3. Laguna 69. We never made it to this Laguna (hate bushwalking!!!) however from all reports it is a majestic location with an amazing scenic lake at 4500 meters. We went as far as the carpark.
- Laguna Paron. Great Laguna surrounded by snow covered peaks. The track up starts from Caraz and stops at the viewpoint right on the edge of the Laguna. You can camp overnight in the carpark. It is the largest lake in the national park. The mountain most visible from Laguna Paron is called Artesonraju with the highest point of 6.025m.
- Canyon del Pato. (Duck Canyon) A must do for every overlander. This is where the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra come within 15 meters of each other. The road is cut out of sheer rock with up to 1000 meters of sheer drops. We were warned about the height of the tunnels, but we believe the width of our truck was more of a problem navigating the unlit tunnels. For the record our truck/motorhome is 12000KG, 7.50 meters long, 2.65 wide (including the mirrors) and 3.70 meters high.
YUNGAY Another must do visit is the old town of Yungay, May 31 1970 a magnitude 8.0 struck of the coast of Peru The quake destabilized the glacier on the north face of Mount Huascarán, causing 10 million cubic meters of rock, ice and snow to break away and tear down its slope at more than 193 kilometers, per hour. By the time it reached the valley – barely three minutes later – the 914 meters-, or 3,000 feet-wide wave was estimated to have consisted of about 80 million cubic meters of ice, mud, and rocks. Within moments, what was Yungay and its 25,000 inhabitants were buried and crushed by the landslide. Out of the approximate 25000 inhabitants only 350 survived of which were 300 children, who had been taken to the circus at the local stadium, set on higher ground and on the outskirts of the town.
Today old Yungay is a national cemetery, the Peruvian government has forbidden excavation in the area, crosses and tombs mark the spots where homes once stood, engraved with the names of those never found. To this day, a crushed intercity bus, four of the original palm trees that once crowned the city’s main plaza and remnants of the cathedral still stand.
The canyon del Pato was for us the way out of the Cordillera Blanca and into the Codillera Negra Mountains. The road from Caraz to Trujillo is around 180km and has around 35 tunnels (unlit). Once it arrives on the western face of the Cordillera Negra you see deep down the town of Huallanca and the turbines of the hydro electricity plant.
From the town of Huallanca the road improves. (gets wider) From here on the road descends west towards the coast and the cities of Chimbote and Trujillo.
Till next time where we enjoy some R&R from Peru’s northern beaches and enter Ecuador for our next adventure.This entry was posted in Latest Update