Carretera Central to Huancavelica – Peru’s Great Divide

This is a scenically spectacular, but tough, route through the mountains in central Peru. Leaving the hectic traffic on the Carretera Central, the route sticks to extremely quiet roads all the way to the charming departmental capital of Huancavelica. As with most mountain routes in Peru, water is not a problem to find, and there are villages every now and then, so you don’t need to carry too many supplies.

There’s a 7km section between Tanta and Vilca that is on singletrack, not a motorable road, and plenty of this section is unrideable – so if you don’t like the idea of pushing/ferrying your stuff on this part, find an alternative route.

As with all routes in the Peruvian Andes, we can’t stress highly enough how important it is to go light – there are many steep high passes to cross and many thousands of metres to climb. Here is a list of kit we took – around 15kg each.

Check out our blog post on our Pikes on Bikes site for this route, and here are some of Cass’ photos of the ride.

Total Km Altitude (m) Description
0 3700 Chicla, village on the Carretera Central. Shops, accommodation above town on main road, restaurants. Horribly busy road. Go downhill.
4.5 3550 Turn off Carretera Central to Yuracmayo in Rio Blanco, just after 2 short tunnels.
6.1 3580 Caruya. Small village with 2 fish farms.
11.2 3940 Chocna. Village with basic shop.
18.7 4200 Straight.
24.6 4300 Yuracmayo. Village. Saw no facilities.
32.2 4670 L.
39.3 4930 Punta Ushuayca.
53.7 4130 L to Tanta (straight goes to Carhuapampa).
62.5 4700 Abra Suijo.
67.7 4530 Huachipampa. Small settlement, no facilities.
79.7 4270 Tanta. Shops, possible accommodation, restaurants.
90.4 4210 Baño del Inca aguas termales (ruin?).
95 4100 Go R at 1st hairpin, signed ‘Vilca 14km’. In 2013 the road was only half complete, so there is plenty of pushing and lots of rideable singletrack. If you don’t want to take this unmotorable shortcut, it’s a ~50km detour over 2 high passes, (via Cochas) to Vilca.
102.7 4000 Road ends. We were able to ride about 5km of the 7.2km singletrack to come.
109.9 3910 Hit track at far end of Laguna Papacocha. Go through gate.
111.3 3820 Vilca. Shops, restaurants, probable accommodation. Impressive colonial bridge – Puente Centenario.
113.5 3830 R. (The long road route over the 2 high passes rejoins from the L.)
117 3820 R. L goes to Canchayllo, Pachacayo.
121.5 4000 High point. Pass Laguna Huallhua.
128.6 3710 Huancaya. Touristy village. Accommodation, restaurants, shops.
131.7 3620 Vitis. Accommodation, shops, restaurants.
144.7 3090 Tinco, small settlement. Paving strarts. Shops, restaurants. Go R for Laraos.
151 2930 Turn off L to Laraos, just after Llapay (shops, accommodation, restaurants). Still paved.
159.9 3460 Laraos. Shops, internet, accommodation, restaurants. End of paving.
166.1 3830 R, to Lag Pumacocha.
175.5 4300 L to Lag Pumacocha, UEA Don Mario (R goes to Heraldos Negros).
177.6 4370 Straight/R. L goes to Tomas (via mine) and Pinturas Rupestres Quillcasca.
178.2 4430 Straight.
179.7 4500 L. Short descent.
180.5 4440 Low point.
182.8 4560 Last water.
186.9 4990 Punta Pumacocha.
198.9 4490 Small estancia.
208.9 4390 Abandoned Don Mario mine entrance. Pass through broken barrier.
209 4410 R.
209.2 4430 Exit mine at barrier.
209.5 4450 L.
215 4630 L. R is to Langayco.
219.5 4760 Paso Don Mario.
223.2 4640 Turn R on ‘main rd’, signed Heraldos Negros, Acobambilla, Bethania, San Valentin.
240 4480 L (in the few houses of Turpo). Signed Acobambilla. R goes to Corihuarmi.
248.7 4800 Abra Turpo. Lots of high points and small climbs afterwards.
269.3 4600 R.
278.7 3830 Acobambilla. Large village with shops, restaurants.
291.7 4550 Abra Viñas.
293.6 4420 R.
302.8 3790 R, in Viñas.
303.3 3790 Viñas Plaza de Armas. Shops.
306.7 3720 Jerusalen. Village with accommodation, shops.
309.5 3710 L. R to Anccapa.
314 3950 L in San Miguel (small village).
320.6 4390 Uqcurumi. A few houses, no facilities.
327.4 4700 Abra Llamaorgo.
343.5 3810 L to Huancavelica. Go R for direct route to Abra Chonta.
351.2 3700 Huancavelica, Plaza de Armas.

Distance (of which paved) 351km (20km)
Time taken 6 days
Amount climbed 8700m
Traffic Virtually none, except for the busy 5km on the Carretera Central.
Best time to cycle May – September
When we cycled Mid October 2013
Difficulty 4/5
How much we had to push on this route 2.5km (on the singletrack section to Vilca)

[map maptype=satellit gpx=” Central – Huancavelica.gpx” style=”width:610px; height:610px; border:1px solid gray;”]
Rio Blanco-Huancavelica

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