We have not included the following route in the second edition of the guide, primarily because the immaculate paving that was in place on the road over Chicarhuapunta in 2013 had long stretches which had crumbled to dust when we re-researched in 2019. The scenery is sill excellent but it no longer looked like a joy to ride. Below is the write up from the first edition:
This second long excursion from Caraz climbs up more than fifty paved switchbacks into the Cordillera Negra. The reward is twofold: magnificent panoramic views of the northern peaks in the Blanca and the chance to ride past towering Puya raimondii. These enormous bromeliads are found in the Bosque de Winchus (Forest of Hummingbirds – which flock to the area when the puya are in bloom), at altitudes of 3900m to 4200m.
Completing the circuit in a day is a massive undertaking – better to split it into two, with a wild camp at about 3400m or, if acclimatized, near 4300m Chicarhuapunta. Between the two the terrain is so steep that finding a camp spot is extremely difficult. Take water from one of the lower villages as higher up there are no reliable sources in dry season until after the second pass.
Start & end Caraz
Distance 90km/56 miles
Riding time 2 days
Vertical climb 2500m/8200ft
Paved/Unpaved % 55/45
Max altitude 4380m/14,370ft
|0||350||2270||Start||Caraz, Plaza de Armas. Take main road S,|
|5||351||2270||🡺||Go R, signed ‘Pueblo Libre’.|
|5.5||2260||Bridge||Cross new bridge (not yet completed at time of |
writing – check it has been before leaving Caraz;
if not, cross a bridge right by town).
|10.5||2490||Pueblo Libre Nuevo (Pueblo Libre is slightly|
lower down, just off the road).
|18||2940||Skirt Cotupampa. Collect water from the village|
|34||3900||Puya raimondii begin and continue, road-side,|
to Chicarhuapunta. Soon there are streams –
not reliable late in dry season.is none for the next section.
|40||4290||🡹||Stick to the paving, when a dirt road goes L to|
|40.5||360||4290||Pass||Chicarhuapunta (at Km110 marker). The|
Pacific comes into view! It’s possible to camp
near the pass, out of view of the road.
|42.5||361||4210||🡺||Leave paving by turning R onto a dirt road|
|46||362||4380||Pass||Pass with views of the peaks from Champará to Huascarán.|
|49.5||4160||Camp||Possible campsite with water, but ask |
permission if there are local people around.
Descend on a decent surface, past two
|60||3370||🡹||Continue straight. R descends to a small |
|80.5||349||2120||🡺||Turn R on main road, by Huaylas municipal|
|89.5||350||2270||End||Caraz, Plaza de Armas.|