Mar 5, 2024
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Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass: A Challenge at Altitude

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The Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass, located at an altitude of 4,578 meters above sea level, is a border crossing between Chile and Bolivia characterized by its imposing Andean landscape and challenging route. This pass, which is part of Route 5 in Chile and Route 1 in Bolivia, is an important connection point between both countries, but it is also known to be one of the most dangerous in the region. It is the most widely used road route for transportation between both countries, linking La Paz and Arica, the northernmost city in Chile, separated by 500 kilometers. The pass is located on the Brazil-Bolivia-Chile interoceanic route.

  • Location: Chile (Arica and Parinacota Region) and Bolivia
  • Altitude: 4,680 meters
  • Mountain Range: Andes Mountains
  • Coordinates: 18°17′05″S 69°04′25″W

A Winding and Demanding Road

The ascent to the Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass is a unique experience that tests the endurance of both drivers and vehicles. The road stretches for 80 kilometers from Arica (Chile) to Oruro (Bolivia) and is winding and narrow, with hairpin curves and steep slopes. The lack of oxygen at that altitude can also be a challenging factor for those who are not used to it.

Chungara Lake, close to the Pass

Border control at the Chilean side


Extreme Weather Conditions

The weather at the Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass is extreme and can vary considerably in a matter of minutes. Heavy snowfall, windstorms, and freezing temperatures are frequent throughout the year, especially in winter. Fog can also reduce visibility considerably, making driving even more dangerous.

Traffic Delays at the Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass

The Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass often experiences traffic delays and queues, especially during the high season (December to February) and on long weekends. The main causes of the delays are the high volume of traffic (as the pass is an important trade route between Chile and Bolivia) and customs and immigration controls. Heavy snowfall, windstorms, and fog can reduce visibility and make driving slower. Traffic accidents or landslides can block the road and generate long waits.

Traffic Delays at the Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass

Road Hazards

In addition to extreme weather conditions, the Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass presents other hazards such as:

  • Landslides: Heavy rains and melting snow can cause landslides that block the road.
  • Wild animals: It is possible to encounter llamas, alpacas, and other wild animals on the road, which poses a risk to road safety.
  • Lack of signage: In some sections, the road signage is deficient, which can make navigation difficult.

Recommendations for a Safe Journey

  • Plan your trip in advance: Check the weather conditions and make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.
  • Travel with a companion: It is not recommended to cross the pass alone.
  • Wear appropriate clothing: Keep in mind that temperatures can be very low, even in summer.
  • Be careful with speed: Respect the speed limits and drive with caution.
  • Do not drive if you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Pay attention to warning signs.
  • If you encounter a wild animal, reduce your speed and brake carefully.
  • In case of an emergency, contact the local authorities.

Chungará – Tambo Quemado Pass on Google Maps

Bolivia · Chile · South America

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