An awe-inspiring drive to Punta Olimpica in the Andes

Punta Olimpica is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 4,732m (15,525ft) above sea level, located in Ancash, Peru. It's one of the highest paved roads in the country.

Punta Olimpica

Where is Punta Olimpica in Peru?

The pass is located within Huascarán National Park, in the east-central region of Ancash, in the north-central part of the country.

Is the road to Punta Olimpica paved?

The road to the summit is mostly paved (only a short 2km-long section remains unpaved). It’s called Ruta Departamental AN-107. The road includes a section called "Sector de las Mil Curvas" (1000 turns section) with a length of 26km and featuring 46 hairpin turns. The drive offers stunning views of Huascaran, Peru’s highest mountain. It’s a pretty steep drive, with a maximum gradient of 6.3%.

When was the road to Punta Olimpica built?

Construction of the road started in 1910 and was finished in 1984. 27 years later, asphalt works began, and the new road was inaugurated in August 2013. The pass was named in honor of the victory of the Peruvian football team against Austria at the Olympic Games in 1936.

Is Punta Olimpica open?

Set high in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, this road is one of the most spectacular in Peru, taking you up well above the snow border. During rainy and snowy periods, the road may be closed. It is advisable to only do this trip once you've gotten used to the altitude or take some medication against altitude sickness. The altitude places high stress levels on equipment, as the thin air means diesel engines and electric motors are more prone to overheating and cannot be loaded as heavily as at lower altitudes. For internal combustion engines in particular, the altitude also affects combustion and turbocharging, and they have to be specially configured for working at height. Similar stresses have been placed on personnel, and winter conditions can be particularly tough at this altitude.

How long is Punta Olimpica?

The pass is 76.2km (47.34 miles) long, running from Carhuaz (the capital of the province of Carhuaz) to San Martín de Chacas (the capital of the eponymous district and the Asunción Province). The road tops out at Tunnel Punta Olimpica. The tunnel is 1,384 meters (0.860 miles) long. It’s said to be one of the world’s highest tunnels, at an elevation of 4,732m (15,525ft) above sea level. Constructed in particularly challenging conditions, the tunnel opened in August 2013. Near the summit is the old Punta Olimpica road used before the construction of the tunnel.