Pan-American Highway (South America)

Pan-American Highway (South America)

:"This article describes the Pan-American Highway's routing in South America from north to south. For the North America portion of the route, please see Pan-American Highway (North America)."


The Pan-American Highway begins its path in South America in Colombia. However, there was a branch, called the Simon Bolivar Highway that begins in Venezuela. This stretch of the highway is an important connector between Caracas and Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.


In Venezuela, the Pan-American Highway begins as Venezuela Highway 9 in Güiria, a small town in the state of Sucre just west of Trinidad along the Caribbean coastline. From Güiria, the highway winds its way west 76 kilometers to the town of Yaguaraparo.


The highway reaches Yaguaraparo, a town located on the southern portion of the Paria Peninsula along the Gulf of Paria. Venezuela Highway 9 continues west for approximately 83 kilometers to the towns of Casanay and Pantoño.


Upon reaching Casanay, Venezuela Highway 9 comes to a junction with Venezuela Highway 10, a major north-south highway. From Casanay and neighboring Pantoño, the Pan-American Highway continues west, with much of the highway running parallel to the Gulf of Cariaco. The highway reaches a junction with secondary highway 2 at Villa Frontado, which travels south into the neighboring state of Monagas. The total distance from Casanay to the city of Cumaná is about 90 kilometers.


Cumaná, founded in 1521, is the oldest city on the entire South American continent. Cumaná is located on the banks of the Manzanares River and the Gulf of Cariaco. Things to see in Cumaná include the "Castillo de San Antonio de la Eminencia" (Castle of Saint Anthony of the Eminence), the "Museo del Mar" (Maritime Museum), and the "Cueva del Guácharo" (Guácharo Cave). From Cumaná, Venezuela Highway 9 travels southwest approximately 65 km to the border with the state of Anzoátegui.


After the Pan-American Highway crosses the state line into Anzoátegui, it almost immediately enters the city of Barcelona. Barcelona was founded in 1671 and tends to be a fairly traditional Venezuelan city. Local attractions include the Barcelona Cathedral and "Casa Fuerte" ("strong house"), a national historic monument that exists as a tribute to Venezuelan independence. Nearby Puerto La Cruz is one of the most popular tourist areas in Venezuela and has some of the nation's best Caribbean beaches. Tourists can also take a ferry from Puerto La Cruz to the well-known Margarita Island.

Boca de Uchire

Traveling from Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz, the Pan-American Highway continues westward. For about 47 km, Venezuela Highway 9 becomes a limited-access expressway. The expressway returns to a regular two-lane highway at the town of Puerto Píritu. The highway travels another 62 km and then reaches the border with the state of Miranda at the town of Boca de Uchire. This portion of the highway includes a short stretch of travel through the "llanos", or Venezuelan savannahs.

El Guapo

About 34 km west of Boca de Uchire, the highway starts climbing into the Cordillera Central mountains. This is also where Venezuela Highway 9 begins to move further away from the Caribbean Sea coastline. From Boca de Uchire to El Guapo is 65 km; from El Guapo to Caucagua is another 59 km.


At Caucagua, the Pan-American Highway reaches a junction with Venezuela Highway 12. Continue northwest on Venezuela Highway 9 through the Cordillera Central. After about 21 km, the highway becomes a limited-access expressway; travel another 32 km west towards the Caracas metropolitan area and the Venezuela Federal District.


With a population of around 4 million people, Caracas is the largest city and capital of Venezuela. Although near the Caribbean Sea, Caracas is located on a plateau at an approximate elevation of 2400 feet (800 m), so its weather can vary greatly due to the abrupt changes in altitude. The city is located under Cerro El Ávila, a mountain with an elevation of approximately 7800 feet (2600 m). Caracas is a very cosmopolitan city with plenty of recreational opportunities. Attractions include the Teresa Carreño Theater, the National Art Gallery, and Avila National Park. The Pan-American Highway leaves Venezuela Highway 9 in Caracas and turns south on Venezuela Highway 1, where it reenters the state of Miranda; the highway remains an expressway as it heads toward the border with the state of Carabobo for its remaining 48 km in Miranda state.


Maracay is a city (population: 2001 census 491,797, although the "metropolitan" area, which encompasses other small settlements is estimated to have around 1.000.000 inhabitants) in central Venezuela and is the capital and most important city of Aragua state. It was officially established on March 5, 1701, by Bishop Diego de Baños y Sotomayor in the valleys of Tocopio and Tapatapa (what is known today as the central valley of Aragua) in northern Venezuela. It was named Maracay after a local indigenous chief. Maracay seems to mean "Tiger" in an ancient Caribbean language.

In Spanish, Maracay is known as "Ciudad Jardín", or "Garden City". Maracay was the name of a Cacique (Caribe Indian Chief) of the indigenous people that lived in the area before the Spanish discovery of America. Maracay is also the cradle of Venezuelan aviation, and it is home to the two largest Air Force bases in the country, in addition to other military facilities including an Army Armor division and the Venezuelan Paratroopers main base and training center.

From Maracay to Valencia, the Pan-American Highway travels about 44 km to the city of Valencia, passing the town of San Joaquin and near Cuacara en route to the city.


Valencia is the capital city of Carabobo state. The city is an economic hub that contains Venezuela's top industries and manufacturing companies. The population of Valencia reached some 1.2 million in the year 2003, and it is expected to grow dramatically in the years to come. Valencia is known for its racial and international diversity. The elevation of the city is 520 meters (1,700 ft). Valencia is located in a valley, surrounded by a mountain range called the Coastal Range (Cordillera de la Costa). On the eastern outskirts of the city lies Lake Valencia, Venezuela's second largest lake. Sights include the Casa Páez, Casa de los Celis (a settlement of the Museum of Art and History and the Lisandro Alvarado Foundation), the Museum of History and Anthropology, and Iturriza Palace.

In Valencia, Venezuela Highway 1 and the Pan-American Highway shift northwest and wind through mountains that are part of the Sistema Coriano physical geography region of Venezuela. The distance between Valencia and the small town of El Palito on the Caribbean Sea is approximately 40 km. At El Palito, Venezuela Highway 1 briefly joins (for 10 km) with Venezuela Highway 3, then split off at Morón. From Morón to the state border with Yaracuy state and the village of Guaremal is about 20 km.

an Felipe

From Guaremal to San Felipe, the major city in Yaracuy is about 26 km. The city itself is not located directly on Venezuela Highway 1 but on an adjacent route. From San Felipe to the state border with Lara (located just past the town of Cambural) is about 73 km.


From the state border with Yaracuy to Barquisimeto is about 16 km.

Barquisimeto, the capital of Lara state, is a very successful industrial and commercial centre. It has one of the most biggest markets in Latin America called Mercabar, where about 80% of the food produced in Venezuela is gathered and then redistributed to the rest of the country, and various shopping malls like Las Trinitarias, Ciudad París and Babylon. Two of the many landmarks in Barquisimeto is an obelisk called El Obelisco, which was raised to commemorate Barquisimeto's 400th anniversary of foundation; and the cathedral, which is inside an oddly shaped design, very rare in Latin America since it consists of a cross-like tinted glass dome.

From Barquisimeto, Venezuela Highway 1 continues roughly west then southwest (at around Agua Salada) for 147 km to the state line with Trujillo near El Empedrado.

Trujillo (state)

Once in the state of Trujillo (near the town of Parajá), the Pan-American Highway continues in a southwest direction; the highway does not travel through the state capital city of Trujillo but connects to Trujillo by way of Trujillo state highways 3 and 1. The entire highway length in Trujillo state is about 111 km.

Mérida (state)

The Pan-American Highway enters Mérida state near the city of Arapuey. Like in Trujillo state, the highway does not travel through the major population centers of Mérida state, of which the largest is the city of Mérida. Venezuela Highway 1 connects to Mérida by way of an 88 km stretch of Mérida state highway 4. About 5 km southwest of Caja Seca is a 13-km cutoff road to Lake Maracaibo, the largest lake in Venezuela and one of the largest in all of South America. The entire length of the Pan-American Highway in Mérida state is about 104 km.

an Cristóbal

Upon entering the state of Táchira, Venezuela Highway 1 travels about 58 km from the stateline to the junction with Venezuela Highway 6. From the junction to the city of San Cristóbal is 44 km, although there is also an alternate route (an expressway) that parallels the Pan-American Highway along this stretch. From San Cristóbal to the Venezuela-Colombia border near San Antonio de Táchira is about 32 km.


From Yaviza, Panama southeast lies the virtually impenetrable Darién Gap, a convert|57|mi|km|sing=on stretch of some of the world's most rugged, mountainous jungle terrain. It is NOT recommended that the traveler enter the Darién Gap as it is EXTREMELY dangerous; it is a haven for bandits, smugglers, and Colombian paramilitary forces. The town in Colombia nearest to the Darién Gap is Carepa, located in Antioquia province. The highway linking Carepa to Medellín is Colombia Route 62 and is approximately 278 km in length.

Travelers along the Inter-American Highway portion of the Pan-American Highway in Panama can take a ferry from Panama City to the port of Buenaventura, which is 115 km northwest of Cali. Cali represents a major junction between Buenaventura and two northern spurs of the Pan-American Highway that connect from northern Colombia and Venezuela.


The main route of the Pan-American Highway in Colombia (starting from the northeast) begins just east of the city of Cúcuta. Also known as San José de Cúcuta, the city is the capital of the department of Norte de Santander. The highway follows Colombia Route 55 for 63 km from Cúcuta to the city of Pamplona. At Pamplona, the Pan-American Highway shifts to Colombia Route 66 for 45 km as it reaches the border with the department of Santander.


From the department border, Colombia Route 66 continues southwest for 50 km toward the city of Bucaramanga. Bucaramanga is located in a plateau in the Cordillera Oriental mountains. From Bucaramanga to just past the town of Barbosa, the Pan-American Highway switches from Colombia Route 66 to Colombia Route 45A. This stretch of Colombia 45A is a toll road and is 203 km in length. Approximately 26 km of this stretch of highway enters the department of Boyacá then reenters the department of Santander between Vado Real and Guepsa. From Barbosa, the Pan-American Highways switches from Colombia Route 45A to Colombia Route 60 and immediately reenters Boyacá.


The highway stretch from Barbosa to Tunja is 53 km. Tunja is the capital of Boyacá department and is a major agriculture and mining center in Colombia. At Tunja, the Pan-American Highway switches highway route numberings once again, this time returning to Colombia Route 55. The stretch of highway from Tunja to the departamental border with Cundinamarca is 54 km, and is a toll road, so be prepared to pay the tolls.


From the Cundinamarca departamental line, the highway continues another 26 km before becoming a toll road once again. From that point, it is 52 km until the highway reaches Bogotá and the "Distrito Capital" (Capital District). Bogotá is the capital and largest city in Colombia, with a population of roughly 7.8 million people (about 8.5 million in the metropolitan area). It is also the capital of the department of Cundinamarca. Bogotá is located at an altitude of 2640 m (8660 ft) above sea level on the Cordillera Oriental of the Northern Andean Mountains. The city is situated at the base of two mountains, Guadalupe and Monserrate. Bogotá is Colombia's largest economic center and is also renowned as a center of art, culture, and learning in northern South America.

In Bogotá, the Pan-American Highway crosses from the north to the southwest portion of the city, switching from Colombia Route 55 to Colombia Route 40, continuing as a toll road. From Bogotá, through Fusagasugá to the departamental border with Tolima is 128 km.


From the Tolima departamental border, the Pan-American Highway continues as a toll road for another 16 km to the town of Espinal. The highway once again travels toward the west and after another 37 km, it reaches the city of Ibagué. Ibagué is the capital of Tolima department and has an estimated population of 422,549. The city is situated 1,285 m (4,216 ft) above sea level, on the eastern slopes of the Andean Cordillera Central between the Chipalo and Combeima rivers, tributaries of the Coello River.

From Ibagué to the Quindío departamental border near La Linea is about 77 km.


Upon crossing into Quindío, Colombia Route 40 continues westward for another 4 km before reaching the city of Calarcá, where Route 40 splits into two spurs, in which one spur enters the city of Armenia. The two spurs rejoin about 18 km southwest of Calarcá at the town of Club Campestre. The city of Armenia has about 300,000 people and its economy is based on the production of coffee and bananas. Armenia also has several universities, including the University of Gran Colombia and the University of Quindío.

From Club Campestre, the Pan-American Highway travels another 16 km until it reaches the Valle del Cauca departamental border.


From the Valle del Cauca departamental border, the Pan-American Highways travels 26 km to the town of La Paila, where it reaches the junction with Colombia Route 25. At this junction, the two routes appear to be co-signed and is a toll road for 61 km from that point to the town of Buga. At Buga, Colombia Route 40 splits west toward the city of Buenaventura and the Pacific Ocean; the Pan-American Highway on Route 25 continues south for another 42 km until arriving near the town of Palmira. From Palmira, the highways travels southwest for 23 km, where it reaches the large city of Cali.

Santiago de Cali, the city's complete name, is the capital of the Valle del Cauca department. It is the second largest city in the Colombia, with an estimated population of 2.3 million and a metropolitan area population of 4.3 million. Popular museums include the "Museo Arqueológico La Merced" (La Merced Archeological Museum) and the "Museo del Oro del Banco de la República" (Bank of the Republic Gold Museum), a museum containing archaeological exhibits of pre-Columbian cultures which existed in the region.

From Cali to the Cauca departamental border is 19 km.


The Pan-American Highway continues south along Colombia Route 25 throughout its length in the department of Cauca. After 50 km, the highway becomes a toll road at Santander de Qulichao. The distance of the toll road section between Santander de Qulichao and Popayán is 74 km.

Popayán is the capital of the department of Cauca, with a population of about 215,000 people. Located at an altitude of 1,737 meters, the city is well-known for its colonial architecture and its contributions to Colombian cultural and political life. More presidents have come from Popayán than any other city in Colombia and it was also home to noted poets, painters, and composers. Nearby is Puracé National Park, a geothermal locale with hot springs, waterfalls, and a (currently) inactive volcano from which the park derives its name.

The Pan-American Highway continues generally southwest from Popayán; from Popayán to Mojarras is 135 km. At Mojarras, Colombia Route 25 splits into two spurs; the western spur is the preferred road for traveling south toward the Nariño departamental border. From Mojarras to the departamental border near Remolino is 36 km.


From the Nariño departamental border, the Pan-American Highway continues south as Colombia Route 25. The distance from the border to the city of Pasto is 84 km.

Pasto is the capital of the department of Nariño, located in southwest Colombia. The city is located in the "Valle de Atriz", on the Andes cordillera, at the foot of the Galeras volcano, at an altitude of 2,527 meters over the sea level. The city has a population of 450,000. Pasto is the center of an agricultural region, that specializes in the production of dairy products. The manufacturing of furniture is an important part of the local economy.

From Pasto to the national border between Colombia and Ecuador near Ipiales is 82 km.


Ecuador Highway 35, the "Troncal de la Sierra" (Highland's Road), is commonly known to Ecuadorians as "La Panamericana". This road is Ecuador's portion of the Pan-American Highway. It connects all the cities and towns from the Sierra region, from Tulcán at the north (border with Colombia), passing through Quito, the country's capital, to the southern border with Peru. Part of this highway is a toll-road administered by Panavial, a private concessionary. The road condition is quite good, but it mostly goes through mountains and it has some bad trails around the province of Cañar (center of the country), making it a fairly dangerous road to drive on.


The Pan-American Highway in Ecuador begins at the border with Colombia in Carchi province and almost immediately enters the city of Tulcán. Tulcán is the capital of Carchi province. The population of Tulcán is approximately 53,000. Tulcán is known for its hot springs and a topiary garden cemetery created by José Franco.

From Tulcán, the Pan-American Highway continues south for 125 km where it reaches the city of Ibarra.


Ibarra (population of 80,477) is a town in northern Ecuador and the capital of the Imbabura province. It lies at the foot of the Imbabura volcano and on the left bank of the Tahuando river. It is about convert|45|mi|km northeast of Ecuador's capital Quito. Ibarra is a market town popular with tourists. It is blessed with fine weather, colonial white-washed houses (giving it the nickname The White City) and cobbled streets. The Santa Domingo church houses a museum holding paintings.

From Ibarra, the Pan-American Highway continues south for 115 km until reaching the city of Quito.


Quito is the second largest city (after Guayaquil) and capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in northern Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin on the eastern slopes of the Pichincha (4794 m), an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains. It is the highest (2850 meters/9300 feet above sea level) capital city in the world. The population of Quito, according to the most recent census (2001), is 1,399,378. Points of interest include the "Museo del Banco Central" (Museum of the Central Bank) and several parks, including "Parque Metropolitano" (Metropolitan Park), La Carolina, El Ejido, and La Alameda. Parque Metropolitano, with its 5.57 km² (1376 acres) is the largest urban park in South America and is larger than New York City's Central Park.

From Quito, the Pan-American Highway continues south for 89 km where it reaches the city of Latacunga.


Latacunga is a plateau town of Ecuador, capital of Cotopaxi province, near the confluence of the Alaques and Cutuchi to form the Patate, the headstream of the Pastaza. Latacunga stands on the old road between Guayaquil and Quito and has a railway station between those cities. It is 2786 meters (9141 ft) above sea level and is located near Cotopaxi volcano.

From Latacunga, the Pan-American Highway continues south for 47 km where it reaches the city of Ambato.


Ambato (officially known as San Juan de Ambato) is a city in the center of Ecuador near the Ambato River. It is the capital of Tungurahua province, at an elevation of 2,600 meters above sea level. The population is 154,095. The city is a leading commercial and transportation center on a fertile region near the northern foot of the Chimborazo volcano. It hosts the largest animal market of the country. Landmarks include the mausoleum of Juan Montalvo, the estate of Juan León Mera, and the white Ambato Cathedral.

From Ambato, the Pan-American Highway continues south for 52 km where it reaches the city of Riobamba.


Peru Highway 1 runs north-south through the whole length of the country and connects all major cities in the coastal area.

The northern terminus of the highway is located in Aguas Verdes (Tumbes Region) at the border with Ecuador. Starting in this point, the highway is known as "Carretera Panamericana Norte" ("North Pan-American Highway") until it reaches a point located in central Lima, the country's capital.


From Aguas Calientes to Tumbes 23 km


From Tumbes to Sullana 232 km

From Sullana to Piura 50 km


From Piura to Chiclayo 213 km

=La Libertad=

From Chiclayo to Trujillo 209 km


From Trujillo to Chimbote 130 km


From Chimbote to Lima 440 km

Going south from this point, the highway is called "Carretera Panamericana Sur" ("South Pan-American Highway"), until it reaches the southern terminus, located in the Santa Rosa Border Post (36 km south of Tacna, the closest major city on the highway), in the Tacna Region at the border with Chile.

From Lima to Cañete 148 km


From Cañete to Chincha Alta 52 km

From Chincha Alta to Pisco 50 km

From Pisco, Peru to Ica 75 km

From Ica to Nazca 135 km


From Nazca to Arequipa 570 km


From Arequipa to Moquegua 225 km


From Moquegua to Tacna 123 km

From Tacna to Arica,Chile 82 km


: "Ed. Note: Major cities are emphasized. Locations of interest that are not strictly "on" the Pan-American Highway are "italicized". Cities are listed southbound, subdivided by Regiones (lit. "Regions").

= Chile Ruta 5 =

: Ruta 5 (Chile Route 5) begins at the Chilean-Peruvian border. Although the section of Ruta 5 that is part of Pan-American Highway ends in Santiago, the "entirety" of Ruta 5 is known to be referred to as " [La] Pan-Americana" (" [The] Pan-American") or as " [La] Norte-Sur" (literally " [The] North-South"). Ruta 5 extends as far south as Quellón, on Chiloé Island (43° S, 74° W).

Región de Tarapacá

19 km to Arica

104 km to Cuya

80 km to Zapiga

46 km to Huara

25 km to Humberstone: "From Humberstone: 46 km westbound on Ruta 16 to Iquique

5 km to Pozo Almonte

8 km to Sara

35 km to Pintados

45 km to Lagunas

60 km to Hilaricos

18 km to Quillagua, Región de Antofagasta

Región de Antofagasta

45 km to El Toco

53 km to Miraje

15 km to Pedro de Valdivia

62 km to Carmen Alto

26 km to Baquedano

31 km to Prat

13 km to Uribe

23 km to Antofagasta

22 km to La Negra

29 km to Varillas

91 km to Los Vientos

88 km to Agua Verde

155 km to Chañaral, Región de Atacama

Región de Atacama

28 km to Flamenco

64 km to Caldera

89 km to Copiapó

22 km to Travesía64 km to Carrizal Alto Algarrobal

42 km to Chacaritas

17 km to Vallenar

16 km to Agua Amarga

33 km to Domeyko

18 km to Cachiyuyo

40 km to Incaguasi

35 km to La Higuera

55 km to La Serena: "From La Serena: 49 km eastbound on Ruta 41 followed by 20 km southbound to the Observatorio Astronómico Cerro Tololo (Mount Tololo Astronomical Observatory).": "From La Serena: 60 km eastbound on Ruta 41 to Vicuña, 25 km eastbound followed by 10 km to Paihuano, and 15 km southbound to Pisco Elqui where pisco is produced."

10 km to Coquimbo

87 km to Socos

54 km to Mantos de Hornillo

93 km to Los Vilos: Caution should be exercised in the stretch between Los Vilos and El Melón due many steep hills, sharp turns, and heavy traffic by cargo vehicles (including tractor-trailers).: Side-note: Many trucks will signal with the left blinker when it is safe to pass. Once passed the truck, it is socially expected that the driver blink his/her hazard lights once as a "Thank You" message.

147 km to El Melón, Región de Valparaiso

Región de Valparaiso

4 km to Nogales

4 km to Artifacto: "From Artifacto: 24 km south-southwestbound to San Pedro, 22 km westbound to Concón, and 15 km southbound to Valparaiso/Viña del Mar, the second largest city in Chile. Return trip to Santiago is 128 km east-southeastbound on Ruta 68, which feature two lengthy tunnels (2 km and 4 km) through mountains. Ruta 68 enters Santiago on Av. Del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins."

24 km to Llaillay: "From Llaillay: 34 km southward to Rungue, Región Metropolitana, and 84 km south-southeastward to Santiago, Región Metropolitana. It is highly recommended that rest, supplies, and recreation be taken here. Ruta 5 enters Santiago on Av. Norte Sur."

Chile Ruta 60

: Ruta 60 (Chile Route 60) stems from Ruta 5 at Llaillay, approximately 129 km north of Santiago, the Chilean capital city. Ruta 60 runs eastward to the Andean border between Chile and Argentina.

Región de Valparaiso

5 km to Charges

13 km to Panquehue

9 km to San Felipe

6 km to Curimón

10 km to Los Ándes: Caution should be exercised in the stretch between Los Ándes and Cristo Redentor due many steep hills, sharp turns, and heavy traffic by cargo vehicles (including tractor-trailers). Additional caution should be used if driving during winter, as traction is poor - Ask truck drivers about the road's condition.: Note: Túnel Cristo Redentor, which crosses the Chilean-Argentine border, may be closed for many days during winter storms.

33 km to Los Quilos

15 km to Río Blanco

4 km to Guardia Vieja

13 km to Juncal

10 km to Portillo: Situated on the south edge of Lago del Inca (Inca Lake), fair skiing area.

6 km to Túnel Cristo Redentor, Chilean-Argentine Border

* Source: "Atlas Caminero de Chile"


Argentina National Route 9

The National Route 9 is the first Argentinian leg of the Pan-American Highway, which has its starting point at the Cristo Redentor Tunnel. The latter is one of the various road connections between Argentina and Chile, and at its highest point the Cristo Redentor Monument has been erected (and gives its name to the tunnel). This monument was constructed by the scupultor Mateo Alonso, and placed in 1902 at 4,200 m above sea level. It was constructed by melting the bronze of the arms used by the Ejercito de los Andes and inaugurated officially on March 13, 1904. Its height is about 7 meters, its weight 4 tons, and it is placed over a granite-made pedestal of 6 meters high and just over the border between Argentina and Chile.

Tierra del Fuego National Park

The southern end of the Pan-American Highway is also the southern end of Argentina National Route 3 in Tierra del Fuego National Park.

* Source: Sign within Tierra del Fuego National Park.

ee also

Interoceanic Highway

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