Located between the departments of Tacna and Puno, in the Andean Cordillera, near Peru’s border with Bolivia, Carretera 38 is an extreme high mountain road running entirely over the 3.200m above the sea level.
The surface of the road is extreme: gravel and sand, without guardrails and impassable after rains. The road is located within the Área de Conservación Regional Vilacota Maure and links Tarata, a a city in the Tacna Region at 3.120m above the sea level and the town of Challapalca, at 4.277m asl. It’s 74km long. There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy in the region of Peru's altiplano, highlands. The road includes more than 50 hairpin turns and is the main access to the infamous Penal de Challapalca, one of the most notorious prisons in Peru. It was opened in 1997 to have the most dangerous criminals locked up, but it is mainly the poor living conditions that make prison so notorious.
The road is simply terrible, with a 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. The road is located in this extremely inhospitable area known as the “Siberia of Peru”.