Driving the hairy road to Portachuelo Pass in the Andes

Paso Portachuelo Llanganuco is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 4,717m (15,475ft) above sea level, located in the Yungay province of Peru. It’s one of the most hairpinned roads in the world.

Portachuelo Pass

Where is Portachuelo Pass?

The pass is located in the north-central part of the country, within the Huascaran National Park, to the north of the infamous Punta Olimpica Tunnel, one of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world.

Can I drive to Portachuelo Pass?

The road to the summit is totally unpaved and features 50 hairpin turns. It’s called AN-106 (Carretera de Yungay).

Is Portachuelo Pass challenging?

The drive is extremely challenging with sheer drops on one side and stone cliffs on the other, very sharp hairpin turns, and switchbacks. Besides, the climb is pretty steep, hitting an 11% maximum gradient through some of the ramps. Arriving at the top of the road gets a little harder; you have to overcome the stretch of loose, large stones and mud if it’s been raining. There's a high risk of avalanches.

How long is the road to Portachuelo Pass?

The pass is 70.8 km (44 miles) long, running west-east from Yungay to Yanama. Since pre-Inca times, this has been the passageway straddling the continental divide. The pass offers a broad, relatively flat corridor between the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds.

Is Portachuelo Pass open?

Set high in the Cordillera Blanca of the Andes, the road is usually open all year round.

Is Portachuelo Pass worth it?

The drive offers stunning views, including Mounts Huascaran, Huandoy, Chopicalqui, Pisco, Chacraraju, and Yanapaccha.
Pic: Damon Tighe