The Rio Santa Road
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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
On the advice of a fellow overlander, JF, I take a back road up into the mountains following The Rio Santa. For anyone driving through this area, absolutely take JF’s advice and drive this road.
Spectacular is an understatement.
About 10 or 20kms North of Chimbote on the PanAm the turn for Huallanca is (surprisingly) very well marked from both directions with huge green signs. Fumble your way through the little town here (ask directions), and leave on the asphalt road, which is horribly torn up in a few places. After about half an hour the pavement ends at a police checkpoint, tell them you are headed to Carez/Huaraz (where all the tourists are going) and the friendly guys will tell you to continue straight ahead, not turn left over the bridge. You can safely follow that advice for the next 3-4 hours, always staying near the river, on the major road. Keep your eyes out for some great camping spots right down by the water, a couple of which are very well hidden from the road.
The road is gravel, and extremely corrugated and dusty, which is fine because you’ll want to drive slowly to take in the views anyway. The canyon walls climb higher and higher and you are soon passing through tunnels that were hand-cut through solid stone. After the town of Huallanca, things get really crazy at Cañón del Pato. The huge hydro plant is wedged into the narrow canyon which rises over 1000 meters in a few places and the road gets narrower and the tunnels get longer making you wonder just how this is all possible.
When all is said and done you’ll wind up driving straight into Carez, which is exactly where you want to be
An amazing road, well worth a look. Thanks JF!