Juliaca to Chivay

Juliaca –  Mañazo – Abra Mañazo – Tincopalca – Abra Toroya – Imata – Chalhuanca – Abra Patapampa – Chivay

A trip through the altiplano of southern Peru which mostly isn’t particularly exciting, but at least avoids main road alternatives. There are three 4,000m passes to cross before the route culminates in a dramatic descent into the world famous Colca Canyon. The roads are mostly very quiet, but much of the surface on the old Puno-Arequipa road is in bad condition.

Between Imata and Chalhuanca on the route described below there is a tricky river crossing of the Rio Chili which might not be possible after rain. We were told that there is a small bridge used by motorbikes to cross the river, however we never found where this was. Ask locals in one of these two villages to see if they can describe which track to take to avoid having to ford the river.

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Total dist. Stage dist. Description
0km Juliaca (3,840m). Scruffy city with all facilities (except if you wish to take the road round the east and north shores of Lake Titicaca to Bolivia in which case you have to go to Puno for your passport stamp).
27.7km Leave Juliaca on the main Puno road. We turned off 2.8kms from Plaza Bolognesi at (GPS01) and took tiny tracks to Atuncolla. (It is easy to get a bit lost though and probably quicker to take the paved road all the way to Atuncolla.) Our route headed SW on tracks, went through (GPS02) 7.4kms from the paving, then crossed a bridge at (GPS03) 10.5kms further on. It is 7kms from the bridge to Atuncolla.
27.7km Atuncolla (3,801m). Village with shops. Paving starts.
31.0km Turn R on paving, coming to the turn-off (R) for Mañazo in 1.9kms. (For Sillustani and its interesting ruins, carry on straight for 3kms on the paving.) Turn onto ripio, then stick to the main road, going through Llungo, then join the old Puno-Arequipa road at (GPS04) after 17.9kms. Turn R and soon come to Vilque (village with shops). Continue through the village and arrive in Mañazo 11.2kms after joining the Puno-Arequipa road.
58.7km Mañazo (3,930m). Small town with shops, restaurants, accommodation.
31.7km Go through town. Climb very gently up valley on not very good surface. Cross a bridge after 11.2kms, then continue 20.5kms to the pass. Occasional houses, water can be found.
90.4km Abra Mañazo (4,515m – GPS05). Pass/Jn. L goes to Ichuño, go R to continue on main Puno-Arequipa road.
48.2km Descend past pretty lakes. Some small climbs and descents to the junction to Santa Lucia 25.4kms from the pass. R for Sta Lucia, L to stay on the road to Arequipa. Gentle climb to a high point (4,450m) 12kms from junction, before 10.8kms of descent to Tincopalca.
138.6km Tincopalca (4,160m). Village with basic shops and the first water we’d seen for a few hours.
24.6km Climb to Abra Toroya. A few places to get water – which is a good idea as there is nowhere for quite a while after the pass.
163.2km Abra Toroya (4,750m – GPS06).
18.8km Descend to junction after 4.3kms. Stay straight on the main road. Flat for 14.5kms to another jn.
182.0km Junction (4,610m – GPS07). L for nice looking descent towards Arequipa, we went R to Imata.
30.2km 19.2kms from junction come to a stream – the first water since before Abra Toroya. Nice rock formations (Bosque de Piedra Imata) on 11kms to Imata.
212.2km Imata, village on paved Juliaca-Arequipa highway with restaurants, shops.
40.6km Go R, cross the bridge then turn L onto a track signed ‘Chalhuanca’ after 0.4kms on the paving. Stick to the main track, pass the dam and stay L at junction after another 26.7kms. 3.7kms further on arrive at the Rio Chili ford. When we were there this was a tricky river crossing – about 50m wide in total and thigh deep in sections. (In Imata a guy told us there is a small track off the main road somewhere near the dam and all the motos follow this as there is a bridge, but we didn’t manage to find this track as there was no-one around to ask. This would be a much better route to take so if someone knows where it is, please let us know.) 2.0kms after the river get to a junction. L (we were told) goes to a dam, R (main track) goes to Chalhuanca in 7.8kms. Straight on looked disused, but may be the fastest way to (GPS09) and Pampas de Toccra.
252.8km Chalhuanca (4,350m). Village with shops, restaurant and we spent the night in the consejo.
27.0km Leaving town there is a junction with 4 road options. R goes to Sibayo, next is the main road to Arequipa, the 2 tracks on the L are dead ends (or so we were told). Take the Arequipa road and join the main Arequipa-Sibayo road after 8.6kms (GPS08). Go L and after 4.3kms go R (GPS09) towards Toccra on a small track near a derelict building. Stay straight on main track at fork after about 2kms, then 12.1kms to the next paved road.
279.8km Junction where ripio joins the paved road to Chivay (4,410m – GPS10). Next to a farmstead with 2 cairns marking the entrance.
47.0km Climb gently (with some descent) for 17.4kms to Abra Patapampa (4,889m – GPS11), then a beautiful descent at speed for 29.6kms to Chivay. All paved.
326.8km Chivay (3,660m). Tourist town, all facilities, including ATM. You have to pay a 35 Soles Colca Canyon entrance fee at the start of town.
Time taken – 6 days and amount climbed – 3,110m 5 hours: Juliaca – Mañazo (350m climb).
4 hours: Mañazo – Abra Mañazo (610m climb).
5 hours: Abra Mañazo – Tincopalca (380m climb).
7 hours: Tincopalca – Imata (790m climb).
4 hours: Imata – Chalhuanca (230m climb).
5 hours: Chalhuanca – Chivay (750m climb).
Traffic Virtually nothing on the back roads to Sillustani. Little from there to Mañazo. A couple per hour from there to Imata. Virtually nothing from Imata to Chalhuanca and on the small track to Toccra. Paved road to Chivay is also quite quiet.
When we cycled Mid October 2010.
Difficulty 3/4
How much we had to push on this route 0.5kms (bad surface)

GPS Point Description Lat/Long/Altitude
GPS01 Left main road 15.5188 S, 70.1222 W, 3,850m.
GPS02 Passed through 15.5647 S, 70.1615 W, 3,850m.
GPS03 Bridge 15.6466 S, 70.1644 W, 3,840m.
GPS04 Join old Puno-Arequipa road 15.7649 S, 70.2533 W, 3,860m.
GPS05 Abra Mañazo 15.8939 S, 70.4875 W, 4,515m.
GPS06 Abra Toroya 15.9888 S, 70.8287 W, 4,750m.
GPS07 Junction – R to Imata 16.0588 S, 70.9682 W, 4,610m.
GPS08 Junction – go L on Arequipa-Sibayo road 15.7481 S, 71.3902 W, 4,330m.
GPS09 Junction – R to Pampas de Toccra 15.7845 S, 71.3828 W, 4,320m.
GPS10 Junction – join paving 15.8203 S, 71.4928 W, 4,410m.
GPS11 Abra Patapampa 15.7526 S, 71.5821 W, 4,889m.

View Juliaca – Chivay in a larger map
Nearby routes:        East Shore of Titicaca                 Chivay to Espinar

4 Responses to “Juliaca to Chivay”

  1. Martina 09/11/2014 at 00:06 # Reply

    I just headed from Chivay to Juliaca on your described route. Hereby I can give you the description about the famous bridge to cross the Rio Chili.
    0 km, Chalhuanca Plaza
    3.88 km, go left at the junction, there is a little stone pile on the left hand side and you pass between two fence poles
    7.59 km, cross the bridge
    9.63 km, join the road coming from the river, go left (that’s again the same road from your description)
    17 km, pass the Represa, go right
    39 km, reach paving in Imata

    I think in your description it must be the junction “stick to the main track, pass the dam and stay L at junction after another 26.7kms…” and there go R instead of L. Although the kms to the paving are different (I had to zigzag a lot to find a god track on the sometimes bad washboard, but it doesn’t add that much…

    Otherwise I really want to thank you! I cycled more than one of your routes and they are amazing. I really admire your passion, work and enthusiasm for finding these remote but incredibly beautiful routes. I am very impressed how detailed you describe all the routes and make them available for every cyclist. Great job!

  2. Bauwens Koen 07/06/2016 at 04:45 # Reply

    We cycled there in May 2016 and have these updates:
    – Manazo: you can get a bed at the municipal for 5 SOL
    – Tincopalca:few basic shops, you can get a bed at the municipal for free.
    – Imata: basics shops, restaurants as well as hospedajes

  3. Daniel 11/09/2016 at 21:28 # Reply

    I cycled this in August 2016 from Chivay to Juliaca. I very much enjoyed this open desert Antiplano route. Only a few updates:
    Juliaca is not all that bad (reported to be some of the highest crime rates in Peru; dirty and polluted city etc), you can certainly avoid tourists here as you´ll be the only one and everyone will look at you with curiosity. I recommend Hostel Aurora and Cafe Dorado.
    Manazo: has a `hotel`or a bed, now had internet in town
    Tincopalca: I asked in a shop for somewhere to stay and the owner rustled up a bed in their outhouse for me (it was really cold to camp)
    The infamous river crossing was almost non-existant, I managesd to cycle through the very low-lying river without even getting my feet wet.


  1. A Bloody Big Lake and a Sizable Bolivian City… Around Lago Titicaca to La Paz | Velo Freedom - Cycling South - 04/10/2014

    […] Imata and onto Juliaca. Notes on this route can be found on their excellent Andes By Bike site here. Instead we followed their notes through to Imata where we jumped on the paved Juliaca-Arequipa […]

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