There is now an updated post about the Tingo Maria to Tarapoto road.
I’ve read a few warnings about the Tarapoto to Tingo Maria route. Lonely Planet (6th Edition) says that the journey “is still dangerous and not recommended because of drug-running and problems with bandits”. The Tripwolf website states that “The journey from Tarapoto to Tingo María is not advisable. In the rainy season the roads are impossible and it is a coca-growing area”.
As far as first-hand information goes, I haven’t actually got any. This is a stop-gap post until I take the trip down to Tingo Maria and check it out for myself, so I’m relying on second-hand info for now. I’ve met a few people who have done the trip recently and, beyond it being a bit of a marathon (17-20 hours) and a slight bone-shaker, I haven’t yet heard any bad reports.
Pizana Express – Tarapoto to Tingo Maria
I was talking to one of the drivers at Pizana Express, a company who run 4 or 5 cars down to Tingo each day (S/115), and he basically said that the route was fine. Granted, he may have been slightly biased – it’s how he makes a living, after all – but he seemed fairly genuine. He told me that problems do occasionally occur involving bandits (not drug-runners), but such incidents are rare. With 4 or 5 cars plying the route at any given moment, these guys should know the score.
Anyway, I’ll update this post if I hear anything else. When I do the trip myself I’ll post a new account with some photos. One man’s personal experience of the route obviously won’t be worth much as far as safety goes, but I’d prefer to at least have done it once before offering my opinion!
In the meantime, feel free to post any personal experiences of the route in the comments box.