It is the world’s longest continental mountain range and extends through seven South American countries. As our truckers leave India in their dust and make tracks for the deadly Andes Mountains passageways, why not learn some fast facts about these dazzling peaks.
- The Andean Mountain Cat is found in the Andes Mountains of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. Silvery grey in colour and striped irregularly, it is a small but sturdy cat with long soft fur. It has only ever been observed and photographed once and fewer than 2,500 are thought to exist.
- The Andes were home to one of the greatest civilisations in the New World, the Inca Empire. The Incas built roads and aqueducts throughout the mountain range, as well as sites such as the capital city of Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Today, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the most popular hiking trail in the Andes.
- Due to the extreme variation in altitude, the Andes has several different climate zones. For example, it is possible to ski on the western slopes and trudge through tropical rain forests in the same day.
- Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt desert, is located in the Bolivian Andes, at a height of 3,650m. At 4,085 square miles, it is a desert with no sand or dunes, and ranks as the largest salt flat in the world. It is home to cacti, rare hummingbirds and three species of flamingo.
- Most of the Andes are volcanic mountains. Take a trip 50 miles south of Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and you’ll come across Cotopaxi, the most famous volcano in South America. One of the highest active volcanoes in the world, it has erupted over 50 times since 1738 and another explosion is imminent. Today, the main danger would be the flow of ice from its glacier, which could affect 100,000 people.
- The summit of Chimborazo in the Ecuardorean Andes is farther from the centre of the Earth than any other location on the planet’s surface. Its peak is completely covered by glaciers.
Fancy taking a trip through the Andes? You’ll have to navigate the Road of Death first.