Sunday, November 1, 2015

Highway 34B and south of Mazocruz

For the other overland travelers in the area:
Flamingos at 13,000 feet.
 We left Puno for Chile and went south at the pueblo of Llave on highway 34B heading toward Mazocruz. After about 20 kilometers or so the road turned to a gravel road but was in good condition for high speed travel. Mazocruz is a small agriculture town and is the only place with fuel in the area so fill up if you need it. We heard of a spot called the poor mans Cano Cristales (river of seven colors) which was approximately 34 miles (55 K) south of Mazocruz towards Tacna. The scenery was stunning and the river was nice and had red, green and yellow algae but the coloration was not to the level of what we heard of Cano Cristales in Colombia. Still, the journey is worth the drive as it keeps you on track for Tacna. About 15 miles further south is when the road got hairy and from this point for the next 20 miles a four wheel drive is necessary. The road going up the mountain turned to a sand track and was a steep angle, at no point could you stop on the road as the sand would not forgive you trying to regain momentum. The sand was soft and deep and not fit for a two wheel drive. Having said that the drive was peaceful and stunning and went through the isolated parts of Reserva Aymara Lupaca. The colors of the mountains were constantly changing as the highway rose to 15,000 feet above sea level. This area would make for excellent camping due to the relative isolation. We liked the journey and would recommend this road as an alternative to the main highway running south to Tacna provided you have a 4X4.

Serene landscapes, we saw nice large fish in this area which is a good sign of a healthy ecosystem.

This place reminds me of the desert southwest of the US.

The colorful river was easy to access off the main road.

One could easily enjoy camping at this site.

The algae came in three primary colors with lighter and darker shades of each.

Vast underpopulated spaces equals clean air and peaceful drives.

The start of the sandy road at times we felt like we were on a sand dune.

Lichen growing on the boulders at 14,000 feet.

The road as it was going down towards Tacna.

I would not recommend driving on this road when it is raining.

The colors of the mountains were constantly changing.

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