Friday, May 15, 2015

Canon del Pato

Canon del Pato or Canyon of the Duck is I suppose a 60 km ride through a canyon between the White and Black mountains (Blanco and Negra). It is a must do on every adventure riders list as they head up or down the Pan American Highway. I went in at its southern end and out to Chimbote on the coast. It's a long ride just getting to the start of the canyon but once I reached last village it came on with a rush. I suppose two things make it such a fearsome ride; the narrow winding roads with the most fearsome drop offs to the canyon floor and the large number of tunnels. The southern end of the canon road  is sealed, not that it is much help because it is covered with loose gravel anyway but it is enough to give some confidence you won't skid off into the river below. The pucker factor is that there are no guard rails to stop you simply driving over the edge. I've never driven off a road in my life but for some reason my mind conjured up images of me doing just that so I drove as close to the opposite side of the road as I could. On coming traffic, though light, was no fun especially if they were trucks, the drivers of which showed no concern for my position at all. I was strangely relieved to be through the worst of it. Later the road turned to gravel which was as rough as hell. It killed my chain guard which then wrapped itself around the front sprocket. Half an hour in the dust and sun had it cleared but unknown at the time was that it bent the clutch pushrod which allowed a litre of fresh synthetic oil to escape on my way to Chimbote. I only found out the next day when it was daylight. It took a bit of fixing but I eventually got underway. I'm heading north again.
Chile's drying in the sun

Typical town en route

Moto taxi's are everywhere

The canyon

Duck (Pato) River

One of the many tunnels

No guard rails gave me the willies

It's an impressive piece of engineering

Sunset over the Andes and I'm still miles away from Chimbote.

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