Colca Excursion: Patapampa Pass (16,109 ft)

After about another hour or so of driving from the point where we saw the vicunas and alpacas, we reached the Patapampa Pass, which is the highest point between Arequipa and Chivay (the town where we would stay in the Colca valley).  It was surreally high:  4,910 meters translates into 16,109 feet above sea level.  For some perspective, i believe the highest point in the lower 48 United States is Mt. Whitney, the peak of which is only 14,495 feet above sea level (remember that we were in a pass — not even at the peak…).

Not surprisingly, it was very cold at the pass.  There was snow and a bitter cold wind.  I was thankful I’d put on all my sweaters and my rain coat as a windbreaker. 

Also not surprisingly, the view was really good.  From the top of the pass, we could see many of the volcanoes and other mountains in the region, including the Mismi mountain, which is where the Amazon River originates.

(that’s 16,109 feet)

Indigenous travelers would make piles of stones
at the highest point of the pass to request spiritual help

Nevado Mismi
(source of the Amazon)

Misti Volcano


  1. Cathy and Roger Kimber · · Reply

    Did you find it difficult to breathe at that height?


    1. I did not, but I’ve also spent a lot of time at altitude. Other people might be more affected.


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