After the Cordillera Blanca, there was one more mountain range to cross before making our way to Trujillo on the Peruvian coast. The Cordillera Negra runs mostly parallel with the Cordillera Blanca but the two converge at the Calléjon de Huaylas, a valley carved out by the Rio Santa.
At the north end the Rio Santa squeezes through Cañon Del Pato, or Duck Canyon. This often precarious gravel road cling to the mountain side and pierces through 35 one-lane tunnels before emerging on the western side of the Cordillera Negra.
The landscape is a colourful blend of rocks ranging from black to red and with nearly no traffic along the route, it was a great ride. It was only through the longest of the tunnels we worried about oncoming vehicles. They blast their horns to warn other drivers there is a vehicle in the tunnel. But since we don’t have horns, the only thing we could do was turn on our lights and hope for the best.
The first night we camped just below the town of Huallanca after having come through the canyon. It was a gorgeous evening as the setting sun washed over the brooding mountains.
The road continues to drop as the valley widens and the Rio Santa fans out. The river is used to generate hydro power so is much smaller below the dam and really just a trickle of its former self. Aided by irrigation from the river, many crops are grown along its banks, creating a green corridor through an otherwise brown landscape.
After three days descending from Yungay we arrived on the coast in Trujillo. We spent a couple of days in the seaside resort town of Huanchaco before moving into Trujillo for our final two nights in Perú.
With our cycling days done, we packed up the bicycles with mixed feelings in preparation for the long bus ride to the southern city of Guayaquil in Ecuador. It has been a great ride for 20,000 KM through 20 countries over the last 16 months. But it’s time to go home and reconnect with family and friends. However, we have a couple more stops before we head back to Canada.