Abra del Acay

Abra del Acay is said to be the highest road pass in America

Abra del Acay is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 4.956m (16,259ft) above the sea level, located in La Poma Departament, in Salta Province, in northwestern Argentina. It’s said to be the highest road pass in the whole of America.

Is the road to Abra del Acay paved?

Set high in the Andes mountains, the road to the summit is the infamous Argentina's National Route 40, also known as National Route 40, RN 40, Ruta 40 or La Cuarenta. The road is mostly paved but on this part is unpaved, with gravel, sand and ripio. It’s one of the highest roads of Argentina, and the highest in the Americas if you are sufficiently sceptical about Peruvian heights. Route 40 is the longest route in Argentina and one of the largest in the world. It’s 5,000 km (3,107 mi) long.

How long is Abra del Acay in Ruta 40?

The pass is 133km (83 miles) long, running south-north from Payogasta to San Antonio de los Cobres, in Salta Province, in the northwestern part of the country. Plan about 3 hours to complete the drive without any stop. There may be ice and snow blocking some parts during winter. The road through the summit was inaugurated on 8 July 1960 after three years of construction.

Is Abra del Acay in Ruta 40 challenging?

The climb is only suitable for all terrain vehicles, with the exception of some months in the year when meteorological and maintenance conditions allow normal vehicles to transit. Special care is required, though, especially further south where strong crosswinds and poorly maintained gravel (ripio) roads make it extremely easy to flip over. With its notoriously poor surfaces – just dirt and gravel in sections – hairpin bends, and endless straight sections buffeted by violent gusts across the deserted steppe, it is considered one of the world’s most epic drives. There is no cell-phone coverage outside of towns, so drivers must be self-sufficient. Travel with necessary repair equipment. Gas stations are few, so fill up at every chance, and bring generous supplies of food and water.
Pic: Francisco Chiarella

 

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