Driving in the Andes – Cañon Del Pato

Since we left the United States, Stevie and I had the dream of driving through the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes.

We were determined to start this spectacular adventure at the source, so we drove into Venezuela to the tiny town of La Puerta…. “The Door”. (click here to remember that adventure)

Since then we’ve covered a lot of ground, traveling the Andes through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and now Peru!

The best part of driving in the Andes is that you never know what you’re going to see, but you KNOW it’s going to be epic.

Of course things don’t always go smoothly. Sometimes the road just “disappears,” leaving you hours of back tracking.

This road fell into a 400 foot abyss, forcing vehicles from both directions to turn around. I really thought the Sprinter could make it on the far right, but Stevie wouldn’t let me near it.

On the upside, I’m probably going to live a lot longer with her in my life.  

We back tracked and made our way to the Cañon del Pato. The Cañon del Pato is the northern entrance to the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. It was formed by the river where the north end of the Cordillera Negra range (to the west) converges with the Cordillera Blanca mountain range (to the east).

It is a steep, narrow, granite rock canyon that is nothing short of breathtaking.

The road winds along a steep river that has potential for insane kayaking.

I’m talking fully committed all-in class 5 kayaking. If this thing had water in it, the drops would be huge. To give you some perspective, the road is about 200 feet up from the river in this photo.

But, due to this dam at the entrance of the canyon, it doesn’t have water in it. So sad. Nothing hurts me more than to see a river on a leash. Especially when there are so many other alternative energy options.

Anyway, the canyon itself is a spectacular site, but it’s the tunnels that steal the show.

There are 25 to 30 of these hand chiseled tunnels that have been cut into the side of the mountain a good 200-300 feet off the deck.

Since the road is so narrow and the tunnels so long, you’re supposed to tocar your bocina when you drive through, whatever that means…

We were a little nervous in the first few tunnels we went through. I doubt they are built to any specific engineering standards.

I would say this was one of the coolest drives we’ve done in a long time.

We even found a great little side tunnel that had a dead end path to the cliff’s edge.
This turned out to be the perfect spot for our picnic lunch!
Our next move is to head back up into the Cordillera Blanca. There is another mountain lodge we’re going to check out.
Chances of internet access, extremely low. We’ll be back in a bit!

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  1. Wow- your van must be loving it. How many miles can go on those engines before you have to replace them? I saw a sprinter van the other day. Livability factor seems pretty high. Couple more weeks and you will be surfing. Bet you are pretty happy about that!

    • Hey man,
      Believe it or not, we only have 89,000 miles on this van. We haven’t even broken in the Mercedes diesel engine!

      Can’t wait to get back in the water. Couple more weeks.

  2. mamatuyas says:

    Tocar bocina = honk your horn. 🙂

  3. Wow,
    Is all I can say

  4. Cyndi Lou says:

    Holy Molie: The 405 North to the 110 East to the 101 North is looking very doable!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Be careful of rocks falling! Looks so scarey!

  6. Tim Wilson says:

    Great adventure life your living—SWEET!

  7. Ivan Prates says:

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaa I was sure I was going to die in this place!!! Remember this, Anna Penna?

  8. Chuck Seaman says:

    in C.A. if you tocar your bocina first, you have right of way, so they say. Unbelievable pics, thanks again for sharing

  9. Rad pics guys! great bouldering photos! Reminds me of coming out of Hells Canyon; one person driving the other watching for rockfall!

  10. Kelly Breath says:

    I love it… In so many ways …thispicture is incredible, expansive, magestic, free and relaxing.. With awe and love .. In the moment .. Right on!

  11. Jose Oscar Acevedo says:

    The road on big mountain..!! Rkc´n Roll..!!

  12. Ben Casados says:

    You are seeing some beautiful country. Å long time ago I drove from lima to Santiago chile and over the andes to Buenos Aires. You bring back memories!


  13. Christian Argueta says:

    Tocar Bocina = Honk Horn!


  14. You Pic Looks likes K-2. Ah, come on Tree, you could’ve have made it. Why there was plenty of room if you just moved a wee bit more to the left and gunned it. Actually, you might have made it by shifting everything to one side so the right wheels are off the ground, and you just drive on the left two….not! I think that was in Monty Ponty


  15. I want to say that this post is all fake! Tree photoshoped the Sprinter, himself and Stevie into every shot I took!!! How dare you Sprinterlife!
    I love you anyways 🙂

    Ps where is Kiki?!

    • And it wasn’t easy to photo shop out that damn LW logo you put on all your photos. Stop doing that please. It will make my job a LOT easier.


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