When I started looking into doing this trip I followed a few blogs of other travelers doing a similar trip. I saw the videos of Radioman riding through the tunnels on the narrow dirt road in Peru and couldn’t wait to ride through them myself.
I left Santa by 7:30 and rode highway PE-12 to Chuquicari. There PE-12 turns to a narrow unpaved gravel dirt road that follows the Santa River. Don’t follow the paved road to the left over the bridge.
From Chuquicari to Yuracmarca the road is not all that amazing or beautiful. The real fun begins when the road rises from the canyon floor. At the higher elevation the land becomes fertile and is covered in fruit trees and other crops. The clouds from earlier cleared and the hot sun covered the canyon making it quite hot.
The road continues going higher and soon the narrow dirt road is hundreds of feet from the river. With blind corners and endless tunnels on a one lane road, I’m on full alert. Going into the tunnels it’s so dark and in many you can’t see the other side. Protocol is to honk your horn before entering. I kept honking the whole time. Towards the ends of the tunnels my eyes were straining to focus on the road in front of me but with the light from the end of tunnel throwing off my vision it was difficult to see. When a truck or car would pass through before me the tunnels were filled with dust clouds. With little air inside to move it out, it didn’t matter how long I waited, when I entered I couldn’t see a thing.
In some places I’d pass through one tunnel and then 10 feet later another would start.
Before I knew it though the dirt road turned to pavement and the Canon del Pato was behind me.
I rode along the nice paved road to the town of Caraz. After a few hours on rough washboard, dirt, and grave it’s fun to be treated to smooth pavement. I’m ok admitting that and I’m ok that traveling on main highways. With all the paving projects I’ve come across on other dirt roads, it won’t be too many years before most of these routes are covered in asphalt. The adventure riders after me will have to seek out even more remote trails. But Canon del Pato will still be sketchy and an adventure, even if paved. (Note: there are no paving projects in Canon del Pato taking place)