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Interoceanica Sur: POST 1

December 3, 2010
Interoceanic in the Andes

The Interoceanic in the Andes

Interoceanic near Cusco

12.01.2010

My project here in Peru has two major components – photographic documentation of the Interoceanic Highway and of the conservation efforts around the highway. Today I made progress on the first component by driving the highway from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado. I hired a private driver for the job so I could stop along the way to take photos. It was an incredible journey and I will share images and notes from the trip over the next few days.

To give you some background on the highway, it is a transcontinental highway that stretches across Peru and Brazil, linking the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The highway passes through the Andes and the Amazon, opening up previously inaccessible habitat to development. Although the highway was proposed over 30 years ago, the agreement between the two countries was only negotiated in 2004. The impetus for creating the highway was to increase trade between Peru and Brazil and between both countries and Asia.

Now, in 2010, the project is in its last stages and the road is almost entirely complete. We encountered road crews every 30 kilometers or so, but they were mostly clearing rubble or finishing bridges. The road itself is well constructed and, unlike other roads in the Andes, has well planned drainage systems. Landslides frequently take out unpaved roads and the new highway seems to be prepared for the rainy season at both high and low elevations.

I decided to focus on the Interoceanic Highway because Peru is at a crossroads – they can either conserve the land around the highway or let it go the way of the Trans-Amazonian Highway in Brazil. At the moment the land around the highway is mostly pristine –there are vast swaths of forest and incredible vistas. A few pre-existing communities, like Quincemil, are found along the highway, but they are few and far between. I hope images of the highway in its current state and images of the incredible wildlife and diversity around the highway will encourage Peru to turn the highway into a scenic byway, instead of another road surrounded by tiendas and deforestation.

4700 meters on the Interoceanic Highway

 

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