The Olmos-Maranon highway, also called Transcontinental road, tries to join the marine zone of the Pacific coast with a navigable point of the Maranon river the Sarameriza. This place is located further down the Pongo de Manseriche. From this place, it is possible to carry out the navigation for major tonnage boats until they reach the Amazon River and the Atlantic coast.
This highway has an indisputable importance not only from a strategic point of view but also for being a fully commercial penetration route.
After many years of studies, this route was chosen. It was proved that this route really was the shortest and it also used the Paso de Porculla, which is the lowest of the Andes.
The most considerable landscape is constituted by the important Cordillera del Condor. It is located at the North-East of the Amazonas department and its heights are up to 1 500 m. The Cordillera del Condor serves as a natural and legal boundary, according to the Rio de Janeiro protocol signed with the Republic of Ecuador in 1942. Up to this moment, Ecuador refused systematically to place the corresponding milestones ordered by the guarantors countries of the protocol.
All this extensive north area, from the left side margin of the Maranon River, virtually represents a big gap because there aren't any highways of access. Rivers are the only means of transport for tribes like the aguarunas and the huambisas.
The Cordillera del Condor is located in the district of El Cenepa, in the province of Condorcanqui. It covers a southeast - northeast direction, extending itself towards the south with the branches of Cenepa, Shamatak, Sierra Gallinera and Paku-Yaku.
The importance of the northern territories of the Amazonas department is not only because it's strategic but also because noteworthy auriferous and petroleum possibilities have been detected in this zone.
The Paso de Porculla
The Olmos-Maranon highway begins from the detour that is located in the kilometer 865 of the South Pan-American highway. From the city of Chiclayo up to the detour of Olmos (department of Lambayeque), there are 104 kilometers of distance towards the north.
Anyone could arrive easily to the summit of the Andes after an hour and fifteen minutes of ride exactly. The Paso de Porculla is a key point in the geopolitical aspect of the country, not only because it makes the Peruvian Amazonia accessible (by the shortest and lowest road) from the coast of the Pacific Ocean, but also because it is the place where the northeastern trans-Andean oil pipeline crowns the mountain range of the Andes. Then it descends towards the coast of the Pacific Ocean up to the port of Bayovar, in the department of Piura. It was also mentioned by the wise Santiago Antunez de Mayolo in his project of an interoceanic channel of navigation from the Pacific Ocean to the Amazonas .
The Paso de Porculla is located in the department of Piura. From here, it begins the quick descent to the town of Pucara, followed by the valleys of Huancabamba and Chamaya. The Chamaya river is a tributary of the Maranon, and flows parallel to the road.
After passing through the town of Chamaya, it appears a spectacular bridge called 24 de Julio bridge. This bridge is also known as Corral Quemado bridge.
It is the first meeting with the fabulous Maranon river. This river has torrential waters, and it's full of legends and beauty. This bridge replaced the ancient and famous "raftsmen of the Maranon", who did the rudimentary and dangerous crossing of this river from shore to shore for many years.
After crossing the steel and cement structure of the bridge one of the longest bridges of Peru, you enter to the territory of the department of Amazonas. This means that the traveler has crossed three departments already: Lambayeque, Piura and Cajamarca, before coming to the department of Amazonas.
Maranon is one of principal rivers of Peru's territory. The Maranon with the Ucayali, form the Amazon river in the department of Loreto. The Amazon river is the monarch of the rivers of all the world.
10 kilometers after crossing the 24 de Julio bridge, there are two highways:
One that continues in the search of reaching another navigable point of the Maranon, in Sarameriza.
The other one that goes towards Central Huallaga in the department of San Martin.
A branch of this highway takes the traveler up to the city of Chachapoyas, capital of the department of Amazonas.
The Region of Natural Porches
Going from the place (already mentioned) where two highways fork at ten kilometers away from the 24 de Julio bridge or Corral Quemado bridge, the Transcontinental Olmos-Maranon Road interns itself into the forest and runs parallel to the Maranon river.
This stretch is the one that might be called the "route of pongos" (canyons). The waters of the Maranon river pass through this place and perforate the Cordillera Oriental in its way towards the East to join with Ucayali river and to form the Amazon river.
It would be enough to observe this wonderful picture of nature, formed by a series of natural porches with masses of foliage, palm trees and gigantic ferns to emphasize the geographical and tourist importance of the department of Amazonas.
Beginning from Bellavista, the big pongos of Maranon are the following:
Pongo de Rentema, to the north of the outlet of Chamaya river.
Pongo de Mayo.
Pongo de Mayasita, to the south of Nazareth.
Pongo de Cumbinama, to the north of Nazareth.
Pongo de Huaracayo
Pongo de Manseriche, in the limit between the department of Amazonas with Loreto.
The Pongo de Rentema, in the province of Bagua, is the first one of all these successive natural porches. In these natural porches, the Maranon works on the mountain range to jump to the Amazon plain and opens the route of the pongos. Three rivers join themselves in an impressive spectacle, to go through the first mountain pass towards the cordillera de Rentema:
The Chinchipe comes from the north, the Utcubamba from the south and, in a same point, they join together thicken the Maranon.
When the Maranon river receives the waters of the Santiago river that comes from the north, and becomes a river of enormous turbulent flow, waved in rapids and whirlpools, as if it is preparing for its last big assault to the Cordillera Oriental, to cross it in the famous Pongo de Manseriche.
Pongo de Manseriche, "The one who frightens"
Manseriche means "the one who frightens". Huaccanqui and Asnahuaccanqui are the names of the two most dangerous straits inside the pongo itself. These names mean "You'll cry" and "You'll cry until you rot yourself". In this place, the Maranon river narrows up to 45 m. wide, and even less.
The Pongo de Manseriche has a length of 12 km. A little before its rapids begin, the Maranon river joins with the Santiago River and it measures 250 m. wide approximately. Then it narrows rapidly after its rabid waters fit together between two colossal rocky walls that arrive up to 40 m. high.
At the beginning of the Pongo de Manseriche, and when the width is a little bit more of 25 m., an enormous crag of 30 m high rises and the waters of the Maranon river precipitate against it with formidable force. At the end of the fall, a very dangerous maelstrom is formed, which is considered to be worse than that the Niagara Falls.
In 1619, the captain Diego Barca de Vega crossed this pongo and founded the city of Borja.
On November 24, 1864, the lieutenant of the Peruvian Navy Meliton Carvajal, furrowed the Pongo de Manseriche in a small steamboat, that is to say he crossed it up-stream.
During the year, when the swelling epoch passed, the pongo is habitually crossed by the skilful aguarunas and pioneers of the Amazonas region. The engineers and members of the army who work in the highway, pass it in speedboats made of aluminum.
The crossing of the Pongo de Manseriche is one of the most spectacular experiences that a tourist could savour in search of unforgettable adventures.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Olmos-Maranon Route