Peru Mountain Routes

[Cyclist eyes only!]

There have been some documents floating around with information on distances and elevations along the route from Trujillo to Cusco.  I’ve uploaded the file here (if you know who gets the credit for making these, please let me know):
Peru Mountain Route Profile Trujillo to Cusco .  This is great in conjunction with the elevation profiles found on (which cover their whole route through C and S America).

However, there are a few alternate routes along the way, I took notes (with distances in most cases) for the following segments:

JUNIN – JAUJA (via San Pedro Cajas, Palcamayo, Acobamba and Tarma, instead of La Oroya)
AYACUCHO – OCROS (via Tocto Pass, instead of Tambillo and Chontaca)
CHINCHEROS – ANDAHUAYLAS (via Uripa, Ranracancha, Muribamba, Sarahuarcay and Talavera, instead of Abra Soracocha)
ANDAHUAYLAS – ABANCAY (via Laguna Pacucha, Sondor ruins, Quillabamba, Huancarama instead of Abra Huayllacora Pass)

JUNIN – JAUJA (via San Pedro Cajas, Palcamayo, Acobamba and Tarma, instead of La Oroya)

Done in 2 days.

Heading east, the turnoff for San Pedro Cajas is at ~km post 41, about 15km past junin. There is a sign, you won’t miss it. It is all dirt to Acobamba. 5 km uphill from the turnoff, then a 5km descent to SP Cajas (at least one hospedaje). Then ROUGH dirt, all downhill to Palcamayo. Then a little less rough to Acobamba. Beautiful agricultural valley! Approx 40km from the turnoff to Acobamba, then another ~10km to the city center of Tarma. Tarma feels huge! It is at about 3,000 m and the pass before Jauja is at 4,200m.

From Tarma the climb is kinda tough… came real close to pushing my bike a few times. BUT the uphill is all done at km marker 35 (with a very short uphill at about km 33), Tarma is at about km marker 56, so about 21km of climb. From there some great downhill to Jauja (km marker 0). From main square, with cathedral to your back, go to left corner of plaza and just down the block is hospedaje Santa Rosa, you can wheel bike into ground floor courtyard.

Definitely more climbing that staying on the main paved highway, but bypasses La Oroya. A chance to get off the busy pavement and sleep at lower elevation! There are two paved options from Jauja to Huancayo along either side of the Mantaro valley. In Huancayo, I stayed at Casa de Abuelita, S./20 for dorm room, small breakfast, wifi, hot water. A few blocks uphill from the megamall Plaza Real (Burger King/Pizza Hut) at Avenida Giraldez 691.

AYACUCHO – OCROS (via Tocto Pass, instead of Tambillo and Chontaca)

Done in 2 days, 1 if you are crazy.

The attached narrative and km waypoints decribe the route that passes through more towns. The route followed by (and documented by their great elevation profiles) goes over Tocto pass. To get there, you leave Ayacucho on Avenida Cusco (best get a map from the tourist office and ask directions). There are few towns on the climb out of the city. You’ll get to an intersection with an arch to the town of Chiara, you want to head right and continue climbing if you want the more direct route up to the pass. At the pass (not sure exactly where Tocto is) at the top of the long first climb you’ll get to another intersection (roughly 45 km from Ayacucho), on is marked as “Jctn (Turn Left)”. To clarify, the furthestmost left is the smaller road coming up from Chiara, so in reality you want to head in the middle of the three choices. You then continue along some smaller climbs above treeline until the long descent to Ocros. As of October 2010 there was a lot of construction (one advantage being less cars as the road was closed at times, and workers let me fill up from their water containers). As the file mentions, there are no towns until Ocros, so plan accordingly for water.

CHINCHEROS – ANDAHUAYLAS (via Uripa, Ranracancha, Muribamba, Sarahuarcay and Talavera, instead of Abra Soracocha)

Can be done in a long day, would have been better to reach Uripa the night before.

About an hour ride from Chincheros to Uripa, then another 7mi (12km) to junction. I arrived at the junction, and some local kids and the road workers strongly encouraged me to take a left. The dark clouds above made me decide at the last minute to take this route, I knew I wouldn’t be at such high elevations even if it meant more overall climbing. Here are the distances:

0 miles/km Junction, head left, then very rough cobblestone downhill until 3.9mi (6.3km) Ranracancha, continue along main road which heads right before getting to main square. 4.2mi (6.8km) Sign proclaims “Andahuaylas 43.5km” which is BS!!

Road slightly better after Ranracancha, continue downhill past farms and houses the whole way and Huaribamba at 6.8mi (10.9km) and Muribamba 9.2mi (14.8km).

The swithcbacks end and the road now flattens out considerably, and once out of Muribamba are some *incredible* views of the valley way below. Small town Choccepuquio, schoolhouse, 12.1-12.5mi (19.5-20.1km). At 13.5mi (21.7km), sign for downhill. Pull over, enjoy the views, and eat something as you’ll need it soon! Very steep downhill switchbacks last until 15.3mi (24.6km), small town Sarrahuarcay with stores at 15.6mi (25.1km).

Short uphill then back downhill to small town with stores at 17.2mi (27.6km). Begin long steep uphill. At 18.5mi (29.8km), turnoff to left that heads to small concrete reservoir, possible camping.

Steep climb along switchbacks (but with more great views) ends at 20.6mi (33.2) at small town Jerusalen. Flattens out for a while, then gradually gets steeper uphill until reaching the top at a small town at 23.6mi (38.0km).

Then long downhill to bridge at 29.7 mi (47.7km) (with short uphill at 28mi [45.1km]). A steep short climb out of the gully and you now in a town along an awful quality road until the center sqaure of Talavera at 31.9mi (51.3km).

All paved, slightly uphill until Andahuaylas at 35mi (56km). Bomberos half block off main square, which is uphill to your left when you reach town.

In the end, I believe I ended up climbing more than had I gone over Soracocha Pass, but enjoyed the views and the warmer temperatures very much. This way also avoids the long downhill from Soracocha to Talavera, which on the dirt roads can be exhausting!

My approximate Ride time from Chincheros to Uripa 1 hour, Uripa to Andahuaylas 5 hours 45 minutes.

ANDAHUAYLAS – ABANCAY (via Laguna Pacucha, Sondor ruins, Quillabamba, Huancarama instead of Abra Huayllacora Pass)

Plan 2.5 days. All dirt except last 10m (16km) before Abancay. See Christian Bomio’s journal on for additional route descriptions.

Leave Andahuaylas, short ride to San Jeronimo 1.8mi (2.9km), head left uphill before main square (ask for route to Abancay). Uphill along swithcbacks, at 6.7mi (10.8km), junction, head left for Laguna Pacucha (sign says 6km), continue right to go more directly to Abancay. At 7.2mi (11.6km) reach top of climb, then descend to Pacucha town center at 10.1mi (16.3km), continue on half mile to lagoon shore where there is a picnic area. Road follows shore with no major elevation changes for a couple miles, then leaves shore to small town Anccopaccha with basic stores at 13.9mi (22.4km). Continue along valley until 15mi (24.1km), junction for Sondor Ruins. Steep uphill,ruins at 16mi (25.7km). Unoffical guard at ruins will charge entry fee/watch your bike for a couple soles. No information at ruins, but incredible location.

No need to head back to junction, instead, walk bike through middle of the open plaza at the ruins, walk down short grassy incline to the dirt road behind the ruins. Head right on dirt road, taking neither junctions that head up or downhill. Descent quiet dirt road with no vehicles, stays rather flat with amazing views. At 19.7mi (31.7km), junction with the main road that you departed from to get to ruins. Head left, downhill, at this junction.

[If you are coming the other direction, up from Quillabamba, you'll recognize the junction by a large, open, rectangular concrete reservoir, likely empty, head right off main road to get to ruins from behind]

First view of Quillabamba at 21.1mi (31.7km), continue all downhill (except for short uphill at 25.6mi [41.2km]) to Quillabamba at 26.7mi (43km). In Quillabamba, basic stores. Ask for Alcalde (Mayor) Augusto, he will gladly let you spend the night in a school room (but be up and out by 7:30am when students show up).

[distances reset in Quillabamba].

Rolling hill leaving Quillabamba until small town Sotccomayo at 2.4mi (3.9km), main road countinues left out of town. At 2.7 mi (4.3km) is abridge, and here the real climbing starts. All uphill except for short section at 7.2mi (11.6km) until 7.6 (12.2km) where there is a picnic shelter/lookout. Junction for Santiago Paucar at 8.9mi (14.3km), sign says “Huancarama 24km”. Small town Matapuquio, basic stores at 9.6mi (15.4km). Belen Anta schoolhouse w/ bathroom at 10.6mi (17.1) (camping?).

Sort of a pass, crossing ridge at 13.2mi (21.2km) to another valley, but uphill continues until top at 15.5mi (24.9km), sign for “intangible” Curama ruins.

Downhill until 17.9mi (28.8km), junction for Pacobamba which is a few km off the road (but a basic store on the road at around 16.7mi [26.9km]). Short uphill until 19.0mi (30.6km), then downhill until Huancarama center at 24.5mi (39.4km). A few basic hospedajes and restaurants.

Leave town uphill, small village at 28.2mi (48.4), short downhill at 30.0mi (48.3km), small town at 31.4mi (50.5km) and 32.1mi (51.7km), which is top of climb.

From here you’ll see Abancay way across the valley, but you are still about 60km from there! Downhill, small town at 35.3mi (56.8km). At 37.5mi (60.4), several abandoned houses, great views, I stopped here to camp. Hidden from road, but turned out to be the footpath for the villagers and cattle below up to their fields above. A few people came by in the evening and early morning, and were all friendly and curious (and one lady mentioned I’d be welcome to spend the night in the town below).

Continue downhill, the small town seen from campsite is at 41.3mi (66.5km). More downhill to Junction at 45.6mi (73.4km) with main road that goes over Huayllacora pass and through Kishuara. Continue downhill, past small town at 47.8mi (76.9km), road bottoms out at around 53mi (85km).

[You should see lower in the valley to the left the older Pachachacca bridge, but I don't know where turnoff for this is].

From here some up and down until (newer) bridge at 54.7mi (88.0km), which is junction with main paved highway coming from Nasca, head left. Gas station at 55.8mi (89.8km) (and several tarantula roadkill). At 57.2mi (92km), junction with dirt road had you gone to the Pachachacca bridge. Here begins steady climb. Increasing population, stores and gas stations until Abancay at around 66mi (106km).

Abancay is on a slope, so if searching for lodging, stay higher at intersections, then weave your way through city heading downhill to avoid backtracking uphill. Many hotel options. Hotel Omega with piping hot water, wifi for S./30.

Aproximate ride times: Quillabamba to Top of Climb at Cuarama: 3hours. Curama to Huancarama 1hour. Huancarama to top of climb 1.5hours. Top of climb to bottom of valley 2hours. Valley to Abancay 2 hours.

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