Abra Patapampa (also known as Abra Pata Pampa) is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 4.910m (16,109ft) above the sea level, located in the Caylloma province in the Arequipa region, in southwestern Peru. It’s said to be the highest paved pass in the Americas.
The pass is located on the road called Carretera 1SE. This high mountain road runs between Pampas de Toccra (17kms) and Chivay (30kms). Its surface is asphalted, but watch out for sudden loose-gravel breaks, because the surface deteriorates at higher elevations. The surface is not bad, there is little traffic and the gradients are mostly gentle which means that despite its height it is a reasonably easy climb.
Do not take this drive if you have respiratory problems or any type of heart condition. Notorius lack of oxygen that tests the organisms and a high degree of steepness. Most people feel altitude sickness at around 2,500-2,800 meters. Extremely low oxygen for engine combustion. A major hazard of altitude is the sickness that can indiscriminately affect anyone regardless of age or fitness. The summit has about 40% less oxygen than at sea level, thus breathing is more difficult. Your pulse rate will increase and movement will be more laborious at the summit.
The high elevation with its risk of altitude sickness, weather concerns, steep road grade, and overall inaccessibility make the pass dangerous and summit trips difficult. At the top of the pass locals set up souvenir stalls to sell to tourists whose buses stop for them to admire views of Ampato and other nearby volcanoes. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging. The 1,200m descent to the town of Chivay in the canyon is fantastic.
The road is pretty steep. At the summit there’s a natural viewpoint called Mirador de los Andes. Most people feel altitude sickness at around 2,500-2,800 meters. Near the pass, oxygen is in short supply. Don't forget your camera with lots of film/memory, fully charged batteries and an empty memory card! Near the summit (south west side), a minor gravel road climbs up to 4.997masl.