El Cañon del Pato in Caraz, Peru is an amazing 26km ride through 35 hand carved tunnels in the Andes Mountains. It is a dramatic canyon where two mountain ranges, the Cordillera Negra and the Cordillera Blanco almost touch each other; creating a deep canyon sometimes only several meters wide while still thousands of feet deep. The name translates to “Duck Canyon” in English, not too scary sounding, yeah!?? So one television show we found on the YouTube renamed it “Dead Nun Canyon” to better suit it’s claim of one of the most dangerous roads in the world!
We rented questionable bicycles in Caraz at the outfitter near the square. I had to rebuild the brake pads on the front of my bike as the spacers were all wrong and the pads were on the tire. The spare tubes they gave us were full of patches!
The mountains were slowly closing in on us and the valley gave way to much more rugged hills and ridges. It was about here I realized my rear tire was getting really low. We found some shade and I fixed the flat. Oh boy. This could get bad!
The shoulders were not always great, but there wasn’t too much traffic. Very little actually, which was really nice. Vamos!
This sign pretty much always guarantees scenic views and fun roads!
The first of the 35 hand carved tunnels. Please please beep your horns before entering the one lane wide tunnels! Gracias.
The canyon is really starting to narrow a bit as two mountain ranges meet and form a narrow chasm. One would never think a road though here would be possible or needed.
Slowly working our way into the narrows. Things are definitely getting tight!
And that’s the end of the pavement! All dirt and gravel from here. And dust. Lots of dust. Sweeeeet!
There is a raging waterfall at this spillway in the rainy season that is said to be quite the sight. This is not the rainy season.
A popular spot to pull over and stare down into the abyss or up thousands of feet to the tops of the canyon walls. We saw a few families out sightseeing but mostly were passed by work trucks and collectivos.
Headlamps are mandatory for the 2 longest tunnels. They are long enough to be too dark to ride and there’s plenty of rocks and soft sand to keep things interesting. Lights also signal your presence to oncoming trucks and buses but the reality is you have to get out of their way!
They seriously built a road here!?!? The walls are super steep and close and there’s not much room! Looking back at where we came from. What a ride!!!
There’s plenty to explore as well if you have the time. Or just nice places to hang out and stare at the river below.
Can you see the light through the next tunnel!? This is insane!
We even found a waterfall with water!
Can you make out the next 5 tunnels!?!? Things are opening up a bit, but it’s still near impossible to get a road through this deep canyon.
The road clings to the mountain when not tunneling through it! See the next three tunnels?!
Tunnels and crazy drop offs! It’s hard to believe that’s a road there and three tunnels! An amazing road to ride a bicycle.
There is lots and lots of high altitude sun when not in the darkness of the tunnels and the narrow canyon. As things opened up more, the mid-afternoon sun pounded us from above.
Looking down at our destination, Huallanca; a town that only exists due to the giant dam. You can see the road continue up the other side of the canyon behind the town.
Mangos! I’m not used to seeing mangos in the mountains!!
Not a whole lot going on in town. Except….
Kerry! She was wildly popular! Towering above all and dazzling the crowds with her Spanish!
This dude was super friendly, kept us entertained as we waited for a ride and then helped load our bicycles when a collectivo finally passed by.
The ride back seemed more dangerous speeding through the tunnels and around the edges of the road.
We made it back safe and smiling.