This is the website of Judith’s and Andi’s Bicycle – Adventure. From 17.7.2017 to October 2018 we were on the road.
Peru – Huancavelica to Manu to Cusco
In Huancavelica we take a break for three days. It is a beautiful, lively town with a super, versatile market.
On Tuesday we pedal towards the next bigger city Ayacucho. We never would have thought that the road to Lircay is that great! We almost forgot how fast we are on asphalt! 😀 In addition, there is hardly any traffic and the landscape is very beautiful! Exactly what you want as a touring cyclist. In the evening we arrive in Lircay and are glad that it is again a small town where we find accommodation, various shops and restaurants. It is incredibly cheap here in Peru. This delicious dinner, with soup and main course, cost us just 3 francs 😳 The next morning we roll up the last meters of altitude on the super small asphalted road before we enjoy an infinitely long descent down to 2400m above sea level. It gets warmer and greener. Beside the trees there are cacti and the fields are planted. Ayacucho lies on a hill and so we climb up the last kilometers into this city.
Ayacucho turns out to be a beautiful, lively city. We find cheap accommodation and spend the next two days here. Apparently a meeting of farms takes place here and at various stands, chocolate with a very high cocoa content is presented, coffee is sold and countless varieties of potatoes and maize can be admired. In Peru exist about 4000 varieties of potatoes😳 At the market we enjoy the delicious fruit juices and the „pan con palta“ as well as „pan con queso“👍😀 On Sunday we continue cycling. There are many cactuses and yellow shrubs along the way. Potatoes and quinoa grow in the fields. They are beautiful dark red fields. At a river shortly before Matara we pitch our tent. After our good breakfast porridge with bananas 😀 we crank up our today’s pass to 4200müM. Afterwards we let our legs hang and race down 2000 meters of altitude. Only for the lunch break on the village square in Ocros we make a short stop. Also there we are a sensation. Curious children, but also men and women come to us and even lift the cooking lid to look into the pan. When they “only” see broccoli and pumpkin in the pan, they frown and say: “Falta el carne”! (Meat is missing).😂 Yes, anyone who is vegetarian in Peru has a hard time. In addition, the selection in the restaurants is not very varied. You can usually choose between chicken and chicken or chicken.😂 From time to time there are Trucha, Lomo saltado or Chicharrón (trout, beef strips or pork). The side dish of all dishes is usually the same rice, very little salad and chips. Occasionally we have camote and choclo (sweet potatoes and corn). So we like to cook vegetables for ourselves when we find some. In the lower valley we discover avocado trees for the first time. Avocados are called “palta” here and they come in various shapes: large, small, pear-shaped or round, green or brown to black. Also the aroma varies a lot. The tasty fruit “Chirimoya” is also very popular here.
Yes exactly, the next day we crank our way back up to the next 4500müM pass. In Uripa at 3300müM we spend the night and tackle the rest of the pass the next day. It is a beautiful pass and it is once again an exciting experience to arrive at the top and look to the other side of the pass, which is this time a bit drier. In Nueva Esperanza we sit in the meadow for our lunch. Three little girls sit down and watch us with excitement. After a while they dare to ask us a few questions. Thus we learn the important information that in the next town, Andahuaylas, are a lot of parks and you can get many great barbies 😂 Well, then let’s go and we race down the many meters of altitude into this city! 🚴 🚴 And yes exactly – the next day, we climb all these altitude meters up to the next pass and race down to Kishuara. Here we have the pleasure to spend the night in a mud house and are woken up early at 6:15 am, because the house is badly soundproofed 😀. After a short descent and a opposing climb we reach the ruins of Curamba. There we experience a marathon start and get to know a successful Peruvian ultra trail runner. Almost at the same time as the runners we arrive in Huancarama. From there we cycle up a few meters before we descend 1500 meters to Abancay, where we arrive already in the dark.
The next days we enjoy a few rest days. On Saturday afternoon the electric power suddenly goes out. We hear “No hay luz” everywhere and are told that there has been an explosion in the central power plant. The breakdown could last up to three days. On Sunday we are very pleased to hear the mixers running in the market again and thanks to a generator we can enjoy a fruit juice, but without electricity, the ATMs do not work and soon we are running out of money!!! On Monday evening after two and a half days of power failure, the lights are suddenly on again.
On Tuesday we start the next stage. We spend the night in Curahuasi. On this day the last high pass to Cusco is waiting for us. This pass does not want to end! Arrived at the top, it is already dark and it gets fresh. We are glad that we bought warm motor bike gloves. In the small village of Ancuahasi a local man leads us to an accommodation. We imagined the village to be bigger. We are glad that the next day we have only a short distance ahead of us and with only a few metres of altitude difference. It is raining when we arrive in Izuacha and we flee into the dry of the market. We quickly discovered our beloved Jugerias! Strengthened with the second breakfast we turn onto a gravel road to Maras. Off the main road, although we can’t complain about the traffic, it’s just a little more beautiful. Shortly before Maras we hear deafening loud music from the Plaza de Armas. Only with earplugs in our ears we can stand the loud music. The village celebrates its patron saint San Franscico de Assisi. Dances are danced in the coloured costumes and many people are masked. For us it looks a bit like carnival. It has many food stalls where Trucha or Chicharron is sold. After the lunch stop we cycle on a beautiful single trail to the salt terraces of Maras and cycle on to the lovely town of Urubamba.
In Urubamba there are even two markets right next to each other and we see some tourists every now and then. We have now arrived in the sacred valley. When we arrive the next morning just before Calca, a Peruvian woman with German roots invites us to her beautiful bistro VINILOS’s Cafe Cultural Calca for a coffee. 😀. She gives us the tip to eat Cuy in the village Coya (guinea pig), which is offered there as a speciality. This is what we do. At the street in Coya one Cuy restaurant after the other lines up and with the Cuy skewer in the hand the restaurants recruit and lure the passing people. Well, the cuy doesn’t taste that good to us. It is well seasoned, but it has more bones than meat. The valley is very green and beautiful, but there is more traffic than we are used to. Pisac is teeming with tourists and after a short round trip in the village we are looking forward to continue. We have decided to make a side trip into the rain forest Manu, however, the route leads again over two passes, so we decided to shorten this trip with a taxi 😀 On top of the pass, it’s foggy and extremely cold. A little further down we are again out of the fog and can enjoy the view. A teenager persuades us to visit the ruin towers in Cancha Cancha. He leads us there and learns us a few words in Quequa, the language of the locals here. An extremely difficult language! We are glad that everyone understands Spanish. After his little tour he wants some money. Aha, this is how it works😂 As we drive on, it is already late. It is a very nice descent on good gravel. In a shelter, small barn, we put up our tent and feel a bit like Josef and Maria 😀. The trip to Paucartambo the next day is longer and bumpier than we thought. Finally after a curve we see the beautiful village of Paucartambo, which was influenced by the colonial times. Since today are the regional elections, there is an endless queue in front of the town hall. Alcohol is forbidden on election day and in the evening many people gather in the Plaza de Armas. Whether they wait for the election result or for the release of alcohol, we are not sure.
The next morning we go to the „Collectivos“ stop to find a taxi to the next pass. It doesn’t take long and for 60 Soles (18Fr) a private „Collectivo“ takes us up to the pass. The view down to the endless dense forest is breathtaking. As far as the eye can see, we see forest. So there it is, the rainforest. The further down we cycle, the denser the forest becomes and the louder the jungle sounds. In the Cloudforest at 1500müM we stop and take a short walk. Our destination is further down at about 800m above sea level. The ride is spectacular! Crossing a creek we can observe countless colorful butterflies 🦋 . In Cochanta we meet the biologist José and his friend Pablo www.reservatierralinda.com. Here in Secondforest they have bought a piece of land where they have set themselves the goal of replanting the rainforest. With an old off-road vehicle we drive with Pablo on the bumpy way through the jungle. After the 15 minute drive we have to wade across a river to reach the two forest huts, which were built by Pablo five years ago into the clearing. It is a beautiful place. Pablo cooks a tasty Spanish bread soup for us and by candlelight we learn more about Pablo’s projects. On our discovery tour the next morning we can see that Pablo still has a lot to do! The previous owners have deforested a lot! After our stay in Pablo’s paradise we drive even deeper into the jungle to Atalaya. On the way there we pass the villages of Patria and Picollpata. In both there is a market. At Mirador Atalaya, where we enjoy the beautiful view of the river and the rainforest. Our hosts https://es-la.facebook.com/Agencia-Atalaya-Manu-131372603566711/ in Atalaya are very proud to show us their sloth bear Lola. They also offer tours, which have fairer prices than the tours organized from Cusco, but we are not enthusiastic about a guided tour. So we cycle on to Salvacion, where we want to do an individual raft tour on the Cocha Machuwasi. The best time for this is early in the morning, but the next morning it rains a lot. The rainy season has now definitely started. We wait until it stops and cycle the beautiful route to Salvacion. On the way we see parrots. Shortly before Salvacion we have to cross the river twice, as there is no bridge, we arrive with wet feet at this very remote place..
At Machuwasi we realize that it is already a bit late for the raft trip. We get into conversation with the Coca chewing ticket seller. We almost don’t understand a word of his mumbling and unclear pronunciation. We find accommodation in Salvacion and want to drink a „jugo“ at the market and buy vegetables. To our astonishment the big market is empty. Only with time do we realize and learn in conversation that there are simply not enough vegetables and fruits to run the market. Salvacion is the last place in the supply chain from Cusco and thus only few food comes all the way down to Salvacion. It is also exciting that down here bananas are very rare😳 Everything is exported to Cusco. We find a very good hairdresser and pay for both only 14 soles (4 francs). We have never cut our hair so cheap! Fortunately it doesn’t have as many sand flys as in Atalaya, but our legs are extremely pricked and it bites horribly! When we want to do our raft tour at the Machuwasi in the evening, it rains again. When it stops, we seize the opportunity and start the trip comfortably with the raft. But already after 10 minutes it rains again. We can’t see many animals, but the hoatzin defy the rain and hardly move. Also the horned screamer with their funny noise and “antenna” on the head are still at the same place. Early in the morning we try our luck again with the raft tour. But also in the morning it rains when we arrive at the pond. We wait for a dry window and grab a raft. But we don’t see much more birds than the day before. Also on the trail it is only muddy and the animal luck is missing. All the more we are happy when we discover a red macaw just next to our hospedaje. Well, the rainy season has now definitely arrived and we want to get to Cusco as soon as possible. With a „Collectivo“ we drive on Sunday for 40 soles per person and 20 soles for our bikes, which find place on the roof, to Cusco. After eight hours we finally arrive.
In Cusco, after a long search, we find a place to stay and tiredly fall into the uncomfortable bed. Here in Cusco we now have to decide how our journey should continue. The sad news that the health of Judith’s father has increasingly worsened moves us to the decision to fly home. Whether it is just an interruption or the end of our journey remains to be seen.
We still enjoy our remaining time in Cusco and every day we stroll through the market and are happy about the delicious jugos😀. The funny thing is that there are almost no tourists in our quarter and market “Wanchaq”. As soon as we approach the Plaza de Armas, it is teeming with western tourists and also in the market San Pedro you can see them equipped in droves with big cameras and huge backpacks, clasping them tightly.
Peru is a very varied, exciting country. The people are rather reserved, but very friendly. Since there is a lot of false money in circulation, the money is always controlled. Of course, we have also taken over that😂.The big bank notes are very unpopular. From ATM’s only 50s and 100s notes are dispensed. Mostly, however, already a 20s is a huge problem, because no one can give change. Machu Picchu we have deliberately omitted, as it is absolutely overrun by tourists and overpriced! But we made the trip to the National Park Manu, which we highly recommend and this is easily possible without expensive (for 3 days from 600-1400 $) guided tour!
Max elevation: 4512 m
Min elevation: 496 m
Total climbing: 22376 m
Total descent: -22579 m
Peru – Lima to Huancavelica
Hola Lima! In the middle of the night we land in Lima. Happy we take our two bikes and our luggage. Except for a gas bottle, which was taken from us at the security check at the airport in Penticton, everything arrived completely and intact. Gladly we get in the taxi from the hotel. The next morning we dive into a new world and we drink a delicious, fresh platanos con leche! Oh how we missed that !!! To our Warmshower Felix we have to cycle to the other side of the city. We quickly give up the idea of driving through the city centre. What a traffic!!!😳 Wow, only India is even worse!😂 The following day August 30th is a holiday. The patron saint of Lima Santa de Rosa is celebrated. Our Warmshower Felix leads us together with his girlfriend Diana and his brother Jésu through the lively city. There we also see a procession in honour of Santa de Rosa. Peru is 81% Roman Catholic.
We admire the beautiful, old buildings, which are characterized by the Spanish colonial area. At noon we enjoy one of the Peruvian main dishes “Lomo saltado con tacu tacu”. Lomo saltado is beef sliced with vegetables and tacu tacu is a kind of bean paste with rice.
It is very tasty! In addition to the exotic fruits, we also enjoy the tasty bread! Really something different than toast !!! 😂 The climate and weather is very special: Here on the coast, although very close to the equator, it is rather cool and mostly cloudy. The cool Humboldt Current envelops Lima in a constant fog. We are lucky enough to see some blue skies even on two days, which seems to be very rare. So we long for the mountains, where we are above the fog and smog and where it is sunny and over 25 degrees warm. On Saturday we equip ourselves with gloves and thermo bottles, because the nights in the mountains must be very cold.
Well strengthened with a fresh fruit juice and with “pan con palta” (bread with avocado) we cycle off on Sunday. Alert and very focused, we make our way through the chaotic and busy traffic. Since the elections are soon, there are rallies everywhere.The many impressions of this noisy city, in which the poverty of many people is visible, concerns us very much. Many dwellings bear witness to poverty. We wonder what it looks like in the rainy season. We would be afraid of landslides! We ask ourselves once more where all the money is going!🤔 Peru has an abundance of natural resources and could be a rich country. Only at the beginning of this August even the world’s largest lithium deposit was found! Hopefully a benevolent person will win the elections! But when we see the portraits on the election posters, we doubt it! One looks more corrupt than the other!!!
After two hours the traffic decreases and we are out of the smog in which Lima is, and a deep blue sky appears. Along the road there are stalls selling fruits, cheese and milk as well as small restaurants offering Peruvian food like Cuy “guinea pig”. Here and there loud Spanish, cheerful music from a house or car roars. In one of these simple street restaurants we enjoy some pork with sweet potatoes and white giant corn grains. In the evening we arrive in Quives. It is the birthplace of the Santa de Rosa de Lima and is therefore a popular pilgrimage place. The place is still under construction and we have the feeling to be on a big construction site. The landscape is surrounded by barren mountains and down in the valley it is green. Salad, potatoes, strawberries and broccoli are planted and harvested. In Quives it can be guessed that in the last few days, because of the holiday, a lot was going on. The last visitors leave and the place becomes quiet. We still find a cheap accommodation and at 19:30 o’clock one of the many restaurants opened again. All the others seem not to think it necessary to serve us and close.
In the most beautiful sunshine we roll the next day on the lonely road in the direction of Canta. In the small settlement of Yaso we find some provisions for our lunch break and practice our Spanish with the locals. They are impressed that we want to get to Canta by bike. We like the region very much. We are also surprised about the good, lonely road. In Canta at 2800asl we find another construction site. As already in Quives the village gets a new road. We find a cheap, modest accommodation and again enjoy the delicious Peruvian dish “Lomo saltado”.
In the night a strong gusty wind blows, which to our delight stops around noon and we can tackle today’s short stage without wind. Since we want to acclimatise, we already stop at the next village Gullhuay at 3600asl, which is just 23 kilometres. Arrived in the village, we stay on the village square and wait in vain in front of a closed door, where there should be a restaurant and rooms. As deafening music roars from the loudspeaker, we stock up with vegetables and cook our own dinner by the river. It’s not long before a crowd of children come and start chatting with us. So we get a little insight into their lives. As soon as the sun is gone, it gets extremely cold! This is the whole year like that, but they don’t have snow here. Then we long for our warm sleeping bags and look for a campground. In front of the village we find what we are looking for. At four in the morning we are standing in the tent. The earth is shaking and several trucks pass us. However, we doze again and are awakened later by cows, on their pasture we camp. The landscape is beautiful and the road is even partially asphalted. At the roadside two older women wave to us. They both have only a few teeth left and they live in extremely simple dwellings at the roadside. We buy some fresh cheese from them. After our pass of 4600asl we hardly make any progress. We constantly stop to photograph the sensational landscape with the mountains and dark blue turquoise lakes. We observe wonderful, big birds and see our first lama shortly before the small settlement Yantac.
There we cook on the beautiful village square and are warmly welcomed by the locals. Our cooker is generating great interest. A girl with her little cousin is very interested in us and pierces us with questions. We learn that 5000 lamas, alpacas and vicuña are kept in this area, as well as 8000 sheep. Wool is a big business here, which is no wonder at these temperatures. As we cycle on, one of these big herds crosses our path. We especially like the unshorn alpacas, which look like teddy bears with their woolly fur.
In Marcopomacocha we find a great accommodation and are glad that we don’t have to sleep in the tent at 4500asl. Above all, we enjoy the restaurant’s daily menu and warming Mate de Coca tea. It helps with altitude sickness, headaches and stomach problems. For an intoxicating effect, however, an extremely large amount would be needed. For our headaches we felt no improvement. Perhaps we had drunk too little tea. In any case the jump of the overnight stay from 3600 to 4500 was not optimal, but a longer distance was not possible.
Today the pass Abra Singrar with 4890asl is on the program. Our new record on our journey. To our astonishment the road is extremely good. It is a dirt road, but in good condition and the many curves make it very bike-friendly! It wouldn’t surprise us if in the future even more touring cyclists would cycle pass here, because it is sensationally beautiful! We crank up the pass comfortably and nevertheless we almost lose our breath. On the one hand because of the heights, but even more because of the beauty of the mountains, the different color of the rocks and grass fields as well as the hearty, cuddly alpacas😂 We enjoy the picnic in the stubby grass and in the warming sun very much before we start the fast but cool descent. A little above Casapalca we turn onto the busy Carreterra Central 22. Thanks to this busy road we have chosen the ascent and the small detour via Canta and Marcopomacocha. Already the second time today we have to make a full brake because of the dogs! Yes, unfortunately these are again a bigger problem! In the evening we find a shabby, but cheap accommodation in Chicla… well better than camping outside in the cold. For dinner we try the “Caldo de Gallina” a very popular chicken soup with noodles, a boiled egg and a piece of chicken.
Today the pass Punta Ushuayca with its proud 4930 m above sea level is on the menu. We need almost the whole day until we reach the top. The gravel road is very well drivable, however, we feel the height the further up we come. When we finally reach the top, it snows a little, it is extremely cold, but the view is indescribably beautiful! Also the descent is spectacular, incredible how the Peruvians built the roads here! It is already dark when we finally arrive almost at the lowest point at 4148 m where we want to camp. Since it is very cold, we go straight into the tent and have a warm soup. The starry sky is breathtaking! It was a long, exhausting day and so we crawl tired but overjoyed into our warm sleeping bags. Early in the morning we make our way to Tanta. We have to master a pass of 4670m. It is a strenuous undertaking, as there are sometimes very steep sections where we have to push for a short time. But also here the scenery with the white snow-covered mountains with the glaciers is overwhelming. We are all alone on the way. Only from time to time we pass shepherds whose dogs greet us loudly and not always very friendly. But since Georgia we are trained and stopping is always the best option, because they lose interest in us.
In Tanta we enjoy once more “Lomo saltado” in a warm, small and very low house. Well strengthened, we cycle to Vilca on a great new gravel road. We pass a group of hearty lamas, alpacas and sheep. In their ears they have coloured ribbons, which is apparently a sign of belonging. But attention just a few meters down the road Judith is attacked by a Lama! 😳 Normally they turn away and run when they see us, but this Lama races after Judith. Judith stops and dances in circles around her bicycle to keep the Lama away from her. The Lama makes a stand to spit and attack. Then it pursues Andi but returns to Judith. Judith throws the wheel on the ground and runs backwards to gain distance. What now? Chasing away, shouting, clapping and screaming… nothing helps! Slowly the lama calms down, but we do not really trust him. Judith can pick up her bike again and then we manage to continue without pursuit. Shortly before Vilca we marvel at the waterfalls and then arrive in Vilca. With these favourable accommodation prices and with these cold temperatures we look once more for a room. But most of the time it is not much warmer than in a tent! You are looking for a warm stove here in vain. Warmly packed we eat then in a small restaurant “Truchas”. These are trout. In addition there is rice, corn on the cob, potatoes and salad. They season very aromatic with fine herbs, whereas on the table there is an extremely hot sauce to season individually. Until the food comes, there is usually a small piece of cheese and roasted corn grains. Well rested we make our way to Huancaya on Sunday. The waterfalls are unique in the gorge-like valley. Shortly before the village we rest on a meadow at the river bank, wash and dry our clothes. Also by the Peruvians this place is very popular for grilling and picnicking. A family even spontaneously brings us a plate with fine grilled delicacies. In the small, hearty village Huancaya we find a great accommodation. The next morning after a short climb and a nice view down into a green valley, a bumpy descent brings us to the river, which plunges spectacularly into the depths. The rock walls narrow and we find ourselves together with the river in a breathtaking gorge. Then the valley opens slowly, it becomes greener and beside the few bushes different cacti rise out of the ground. The bumpy path now leads into an asphalted, small road on which we gently roll down the last meters of altitude before the serpentines lead up to Laraos.
Actually, this should have been our rest day, but we were on the road for three hours and we also needed Internet to give our loved ones a sign of life at home. Up to now Internet was no problem in all of the countries we travelled. But here in Peru only the community hall has Internet😳. No wonder that an election applicant advertises with “Internet for all!” 😂 So here in Laraos we have Internet, but only at 16:00, because the secretariat until then makes lunch break. Just in time for Peruvian at 16:25 comes the official. With time, life is gradually coming to the community hall and some women stand knitting in the queue in front of the office. Aha, apparently waiting is very common here 😂 In a beautiful “Hospedaje”, as the accommodations are called here, we stay for the night and the next day at about two o’clock we make ourselves on the way in direction of the pass “Punta Pumacocha” which will be the proud record of our trip with 4990asl! 💪 Oh yes, it needs strength to get up this rocky and partly very steep pass. But we did it!!! The sensational view rewards our efforts once more. We go down some meters and cycle on a high plateau, where in the many small ponds birds look for food, among them there are also flamingos to our astonishment. After a late lunch break we tackle the second pass of the day, this time only 4750asl 😉, and arrive at the top just at dusk. Thick rain clouds and rain threads we see horrified in the direction where we have to go. We don’t want to get wet in this cold after this long day and so we camp in the dry on 4600asl, which is our highest sleeping place until now. Already at 19:30 o’clock we lie well packed in our warm sleeping bags.
After a starry but ice-cold night we are grateful for the warming morning sun. The meadow is covered with frost. We drive over a large plateau and at the end of it we roll up our next pass. It is simply beautiful this view and so exciting how the mountains change. The meadows are shown in different shades of green and yellow. In addition, the rock is partly reddish, resulting in a wonderful play of colours. Then finally after the many ups and downs it goes only downhill. Countless serpentines take us to the village of Acobambilla. As soon as we are there and have found an accommodation, it starts to rain. The owner of the Hospedajes confirms us that the shower has warm water. But also here we boil the shower water ourselves. It is impressive that the people here have neither heater nor warm shower. The only warmer place is the kitchen and the bed, otherwise it is cold. In the beds they cover themselves with several blankets, which are warm, but extremely heavy. There we are glad to have our light and warm sleeping bags. After our warm shower, heated with our stove, we enjoy Truchas (trout) with salad and potatoes.
The next morning the alarm clock rings early. We have a long day over two 4700 asl passes ahead of us. At the first pass we make rapid progress. It is a good gravel road. The countless switchbacks down to Vinas hardly want to end. We were really high and now again only on 3500asl. In the next village Jerusalem we buy our lunch and provisions in a small shop. It’s always a surprise what you get. This one has only apples as fresh products. So we have apples-pasta and scrambled eggs for lunch. At lunchtime, a few raindrops fall. Also at the ascent to the next pass it rains from time to time. It is an extremely long pass with partly steep sections. Everything is ridable but we only make slow progress. Today we are constantly pulling our jackets on and off. When the sun is shining, it is immediately hot and when the clouds cover it, it quickly gets cold. Suddenly it thunders and hails from the black clouds above us. Fortunately it doesn’t take too long and we continue to push up meter by meter. Almost at the top we discover a kind of jumping rabbit with long tails, mountain viscachas, in the exciting rock formations and enjoy the breathtaking view of the lake. We are still going higher up. What a long pass! Shortly before we reach the top, it starts hailing again. It is extremely cold! While driving we alternately circle our arms to get our fingers a little warm again. Meanwhile the shower is over and we roll down the many meters of altitude. It gets a little warmer, but also darker the further we get towards the valley. We can barely see anything and we have to bring the last kilometres to the city of Huancavelica with the flashlights behind us. Wow, after 7 hours we arrive in the city and check into a hostel where we enjoy our first warm shower in Peru. We enjoy the “Pollo a la brasa” chicken from the grill with “papas fritas” French fries and salad.
Conclusion of Peru’s Great Divide: With the arrival in Huancavelica we have finished our first stage in Peru. From the website bikepacking.com we made “Peru’s Great Divide” with the beautiful own addition from Lima over Quives, Canta, Marcopomacocha and then from Rio Blanca into the proposed trail. The road is usually a good gravel road. On the website bikepacking.com the section from Tanta to Vilca is described as hardly drivable. With the new gravel road this is now easy and fast drivable. The pass “Punta Pumacocha” is very exhausting! There the bike must often be pushed. We have cycled a lot in the last year and have seen a lot, but that we like Peru so much, we would never have thought! It is really one of the best.
Max elevation: 4973 m
Min elevation: 71 m
Total climbing: 15956 m
Total descent: -12345 m
Canada – Nelson to Penticton
Here in Nelson we have the luxury of house-sitting an apartment including two cats from the Warmshower Mal and Jon over the long weekend. It has become quite hot with 39 degrees Celsius and so we sleep in the tent on the cool terrace. Besides the heat, there’s the smoke, which is heavy in the air. Suddenly, he was here, packing the surrounding mountains in thick fog. The sun shines only weakly and it is a gloomy mood, even almost doomsday mood. Everywhere in the news, on the street and in the shops people talk about this extraordinary summer with these many forest fires. In British Columbia alone, 560 active forests burn! 3000 people had to be evacuated and countless fire fighters tirelessly fight the fires. The heatwave with the new thunderstorms and the wind intensifies the crisis situation. In addition to the smoke from the surrounding forest fires and depending on the wind direction, the wind also carries smoke from American fires, especially those in California and Washington State or from areas burning in the north. We study the air quality forecast on a daily basis. On Sunday when we want to hit the road again, the air is extremely bad. It smells like campfires and while breathing, it scratches the lungs and throat.
Within a very short time it has become surprisingly cool, as the sun’s rays are weakened by the smoke. In the afternoon it gets a little better and so we decide to start, although outdoor activities are not recommended. We cycle at a comfortable pace so that we can always breathe through our nose. Our route choice, namely to biking west on the BC Trail, we had to cancel with a heavy heart. It doesn’t make sense for us to ride the though trails and to be rewarded without a view and furthermore our long research shows that the air quality is better in the north… Well, what we learned on our journey is to change plans flexibly and spontaneously. So now we cycle north to Nakusp, which was also recommended as a very beautiful route. But we have to imagine the beauty, because there is not much to see except smoke. It feels like cycling back home in the autumn, but you never reach the fog barrier. Along the Slocan Lakes we cycle on a beautiful trail Galena, where we can even watch an active fire. Since we are no longer only on singletracks and logging roads, our GPS shows again often 100 Kilometer😀 in the evening.
In Nakusp we enjoy our self-made burgers on the beautiful lake shore, they simply taste better. 😝 in front of a shop we meet the two Swiss Esther and Martin. To our surprise they come from Cham, Duggeli- and Muggerenmattstrasse, the world is sometimes small. 😀 After a relaxing night we cycle along the beautiful lake, where we can discover some nests of the Ospreys and observe an eagle. The ferry brings us to the other shore for free, where we start the ascent to the Monashee Pass. Our idea is to camp in the ascent, but we soon give up this undertaking, because we can’t find any flat place! ! Only when we reach the top we discover a great place right next to the road. Since the last ferry leaves at 9pm, it will soon be nice and quiet. It’s been a long day. Fortunately the next day to Vernon is a bit shorter and only downhill. We move quickly and reach around noon the super cheese farm “Triple Island Farm”, which has been recommended to us several times and yes, the cheese is sensational! The farm is run by a Dutch family, which emigrated 17 years ago. Still in the haze we cycle towards Vernon. Shortly before Vernon we are welcomed by our next Warmshower Leonard and Bernadette. It is once again very exciting to learn about their lifes. Bernadette is an artist and shows us her studio and her beautiful painted pictures. In the garden house we spend the night. The next morning Bernadette serves us homemade pancakes and later at the lake in the Rail Trail Coffee we meet the Swiss Jürg and Sabine. After a longer exchange we cycle along the beautiful, brand new railway trail along the lake in the direction of Kelowna. A big thanks to Leonard for this insider tip, this trail was not yet on our map. Unfortunately, the smoke is blocking our view here too!!!
In Glenmore, just before Kelowna, we are warmly welcomed by Carol and Laurant. We met Carol on the ferry in June when we did our Sunshine Coast Tour. Her daughter Maeghen takes part in extreme cycling races. Last year she successfully finished the Race Across America (RAAM). That means cycling for 20 hours in a row during 24 days!🚴🚴 Wow, incredible! Carol spoils us with delicious dinners and fresh vegetables from her garden. For breakfast we are spoiled with porridge and lots of superfoods. Mmmhh. As the air situation with the smoke has worsened again, we stay longer than planned. It will be three beautiful days with interesting conversations. Even the two can not remember that it was ever so bad with the smoke! We are very grateful to Carol and Laurant for their great hospitality! We are constantly researching the smoke situation and trying to find out where we should best cycle to escape the smoke. But as the wind direction changes again and again, it is very difficult to predict where the air is better. On Saturday the air is very bad. It smells like campfires, it even rains ash and the nearby hills and sun are no longer visible. On Sunday we have the idea to organize a dust mask. Only in the 5th shop we find what we are looking for, but only those without exhalation valve. All others are sold out! 😳 On Monday the air is a little clearer, the sun is visible in the sky and we say goodbye to Carol and Laurant. Our plan is to hitchhike to Vancouver in the hope that the air and visibility through the “Seabreeze” will be slightly better there. In the Summit Tool Shop we stock up with the better masks and picnic at the lake of Kelowna. It must be really nice here if you could see something. Usually Kelowna, the California of Canada, is crowded with tourists, but today only a few walk along the waterfront in the park. We see a bit of blue sky. Somehow we are not quite sure whether we should really travel to Vancouver by hitchhiking. We just can’t decide. We write down all possibilities and draw by lots. The winner of the draw is the Myra-Trestle-Railway. Funnily enough, there has never been much discussion about it lately.
Wow, the lot meant it well with us! These trestles, old railway bridges, and the trail are extremely beautiful! The next morning the beauty of the trail has diminished a bit and partly we have to push our bike through sandy sections. Exciting old stone ovens, with which the construction workers baked bread in 1913, can be admired along the trail. On our map it goes downhill now, but since the railway line was built with only 3 percent gradient, we hardly notice it. So we happily bend into a flowing single trail😀. It is getting drier and drier and it reminds us very much of the South of France. This is reinforced by the vineyards on the slope.
Penticton, literally translated “place to stay” pleases us very much. It has a beautiful sandy beach by the lake, which invites to swim. The swim is then cooler than expected, which is very likely to do with the many smoke. The sun’s rays are held back very strongly. As we cycle in the dark to our sleeping place, which we have previously scouted, two eyes shine against us. The black, shaggy animal turns and takes flight. Yes, just unbelievable, our first black bear.🐻😀 The air is worse the next day. We decide to enjoy the beautiful beach, where it is not too hot thanks to the smoke. In the afternoon, however, it smells strongly of smoke again and thus we flee into a coffee shop. At night the air gets worse again and in the morning we wake up with burning eyes, scratchy throat and a layer of ash on our tent.
We decide to cycle to Peachland to try our luck with hitchhiking to Vancouver. However, Highway 97c to Vancouver turns out to be very unsuitable for our project. There are no area to stop for the cars driving at 120km/h. So we surrender and roll the 400hm back to Peachland. The back and forth starts all over again! It seems we’re going round in circles here! What now? Despite the smoke back on the BC Trail and just head down and brave the smoke? No, our lungs hurt and our throat is itchy. It’s just no fun this way and without a view! There is also the question of how long the smoke and the forest fires will last? Can we even cycle our planned routes through Oregon and Utah or do we have to avoid the smoke again and again? Because the fires are supposed to be even more serious in California. We don’t know and nobody can help us! Too many unknown! Frustrated we sit in front of the shopping mall. We discuss with an employee who later gives us two sandwiches. While we chew on the sandwich and examine the situation we are in, we once again get the idea to fly to South America. When we find out that the flights from Kelowna to Lima with Air Canada are extremely cheap and above all cheaper than from Vancouver, we see this as a possible sign why the hitchhiking didn’t work out and why we are turning circles here, around Kelowna 😂. Is this the solution? After a short research we cannot let go of this idea. Only thanks to the smoke we have come up with this ingenious variant, which will enrich our journey with more cultures and another spring and summer. The next day we cycle to Kelowna, where we are spontaneously welcomed by the two warmshowers Adrian and Natalie. So we can stay close to the city center of Kelowna and can do all preparations for South America well and easily. On Saturday all preparations are made. The long-awaited rain, more than predicted, finally brings fresh temperatures and improved air quality on Sunday.
And yes of course on Monday the smoke is gone! 😳 After two full weeks we breathe in smoke-free, fresh air!😀 So we can now see Kelowna and the beautiful area without smoke! Since the flight from Penticton is 200$ cheaper than from Kelowna, we cycle back to Penticton and enjoy the beautiful weather with the sensational view and fresh air. Late in the evening we drive to the airport and get our bikes ready to fly: This time we bought packing films and are thrilled how quickly the wheels are wrapped up. We sleep in front of the small airport and check in at 4:00 AM. Bye, bye Canada and USA. 😀✈️
Conclusion North America: Apart from the smoke, we had a great time here! Canada and the USA are great countries for cycling, at least where we were. With the many mountain bike trails and logging roads it is mostly possible to cycle off the beaten track, although the many long railway lines can become boring. Free-camping is extremely easy and the many Warmshower hosts are incredibly amazing and provide a deeper insight into North American life. The people are very friendly and usually show great interest in us. Many love outdoor activities and a kayak, boat and dog can be found in every household. Also the winter here in British Columbia must be fantastic! Since the Rockies we talk almost daily about skiing and cross-country skiing. For a long time we thought about spending a winter here. Also we would have liked to cycle through Oregon, North California, Utah and Arizona. However, everything has changed and we postpone it for another time.
Max elevation: 1266 m
Min elevation: 263 m
Total climbing: 6957 m
Total descent: -7118 m
Time in the country: Jun 2, 2018 to Jun 12, 2018 and Jul 21, 2018 to Aug 28, 2018
Total Distance: 1817
Total Altitude: 20561
Cycling Days: 30
Rest Days: 19
km/Cycling Day: 58
hm/Cycling Day: 665
Breakdowns: 1 flat, 1 tire Schwalbe Marathon Mondial
Other defects: 1x Exped sleeping mat (blowup) from Judith, changed to Thermarest NeoAir
MSR cooker all O-rings changed
4x new tires Schwalbe Marathon Mondial, changed to slightly wider 2″
1x tent MSR Huba Huba, to a lighter one changed
2x new sleeping bags, changed to something warmer, Andi Western Mountain -7,
Judith Mountain Hardware -9
Canada – Calgary, Way to Nelson
Great Divide and BC Trail
In Calgary we are once again allowed to stay overnight at a Warmshower host. At Bea’s and Will’s place we meet the two other cyclers from France and we have an entertaining evening and morning all together. From there we cycle along the river to the north and enjoy the beautiful view of Calgary. In the northern part of the city we are welcomed by our next Warmshower Don. On Don’s big TV screen we follow together one of the Tour de France stages😀 After another rest day and after we brought our bikes back into shape with Don’s help, we say goodbye and cycle up to the partly very beautiful mountain bike trail towards Canmore. As soon as we are on the highway, we try our luck again with hitchhiking. Only after a short time Karen stops. To our astonishment and great surprise she makes an extra trip to Canmore just for us. Incredible and what a generous gift! 😀👍
Just above the large cross-country skiing centre, we observe the diligent biathletes in their summer training during dinner. A very rooted path leads the next day from Canmore to Banff. This section is extremely tough, but beautiful and rewarding. By the way, here in North America, practically everyone is armed with a bear spray. Several times we are advised to carry one with us. On this bumpy trail a biker must have lost his never used bear spray, which we see as a sign to carry also one from now on. We hope we never need it.
We haven’t seen as many tourists as in Banff for a long time. After lunch break we set off for Elkford. A few kilometres after Banff we are alone again. We camp at a nice place by the river and the next morning we decide to stay another day, because its so beautiful and we need a rest. The next morning we continue along a beautiful path along the river on the Great Divide. At Spray Lake we cycle on the High Rocky Trail. It is a great trail especially created for mountain biking with some nice steep wall curves, but also extremely steep climbs. After three and a half hours of biking, the GPS shows just 36 kilometres! 😳 Exhausted and tired, we stop continuing on this trail and turn onto the normal road at Spray Lake. We are just too heavy loaded for this kind of trail and the constant up and down is no fun. We find a nice spot at Spray Lake and we manage to pitch the tent just in time before the thunderstorm. The next morning we cycle on the washboard road and are fogged over and over again by the roaring Pickups😢 (Probably tourists, because we have experienced the Canadians as very considerate so far). The landscape is extremely beautiful, but in the thick street fog – anything but enjoyment! We stop at a campsite and to our surprise we also find some coffee 😀👍.
Here we also meet Gianni from Switzerland. He’s on his way to New Mexico on the Great Divide. We drive together over the very steep Elk Pass and enjoy a nice descent until we find a recreation place with a nice hut. The next morning we drive to Elkford and in the late afternoon we cycle to Lost Lake, where we spend the night. A nice flowing downhill, which leads into a gravel road, brings us to Sparwood, where we are amazed about the huge big mine vehicle, apparently the largest truck in the world. Since we want to speed up a bit, we decide for once to ride on the highway. Road cycling sometimes is fun too 😂. So we are fast in Fernie, where we are picked up by Jon on his bike and over a single trail built by himself we reach his house. We met Jon in Whitefish (Montana, 🇺🇸) in a bistro where he offered us a place to sleep when we pass through Fernie. Jon lives with his wife Virginia and their two children in a beautiful selfmade house with garden. Jon is an avid mountain biker and skier. He explains us that alpine skiing is not so big here, as the kids are hard to get excited about slalom training in such good powder snow conditions, which also is reflected in the World Cup success. Apparently there are too many powder days here😂 What a winter this must be!❄ It is also exciting that he is teaching his son very successfully by himself in a homeschool program, which we get to hear again and again here in Canada and the USA. Either they have no confidence in public schools or they see more further potential in homeschooling.
The next morning we admire the opposite ski mountain on the fun and flowy Elk Valley Trail. The trail is really one of the most beautiful we have driven here. We are still three with Gianni on the road and have exciting discussions and steady bike comparisons. He cycles a lot lighter with the bikepacking concept. Let’s see if we can adjust our setup again…😀 We have the mountains behind us now and it gets pretty hot in the afternoon. So we long for a cooling swim at the beautiful Baynes Lake, in one of the many national parks. Since we stayed a little longer in the morning in Fernie, we decide to shorten the way on the highway, where we fight with strong headwind. But the jump into the lake and the cosy evening on the lake shore is very rewarding. For the night we drive out of the national park. Funnily enough, we meet three other touring cyclists who had the same idea to camp outside the park and out of four tents three are MSR Hubba Hubba tents😂 (the same as we have).
In the morning we say goodbye to Gianni, because our paths separate. Up to the next village Wardner we master some attitude in the forest on a gravel road. In Wardner we ask a family for water. They recommend swimming at the next lake. When we want to dive into the water, we discover a brown animal on the other side of the lake. Is this our first bear? 🐻 But when we zoom in the animal with our camera, we are disappointed, it is only a brown bull… After lunch we continue our fight against the wind to Cranbrook. The last part is on a beautiful cycling path, which was once a railway line. In Cranbrook we sit once more in a Tim Horton and enjoy a coffee. Then we realize that our Warmshower hosts Angela and Doug do not live in the city, but another 45 minutes out of town. That is why we are looking for a camping site in the city, which is not always so easy. We found a nice place in the Disc Park. At 8:30 someone wakes us up and reminds us that this is not a campsite!😂 Of course we knew that too… After a short drive, our Warmshower hosts Angela and Doug welcome us in their beautiful, new and lovingly self – made home. We’re having an entertaining evening. After breakfast we cycle along the beautiful cycling path, former railway line, to Kimberley. The little place is a sensational place to celebrate Andi’s birthday and in the evening there is even a concert. Whether they knew that Andi was coming?😂 The people are dancing in front of the stage, that the dust just whirls up! Angela dances at the front and later drives us up to the cross-country centre by car. There she works in winter and at the Pisten Bully Garage she shows us a great, undisturbed place. We like this private campsite so much that we stay another two nights. Because we need a break. In the cool coffee, we research, plan and discuss once more our onward journey. And yes, we have to admit a car and two mountain bikes are also under discussion… There is simply in almost every village such a brilliant mountain bike trail network that we often wish for a real mountain bike. But when we are on the road again, we like touring again and are very happy that we once agreed that we never make important decisions when we are hungry, tired or thirsty. And we just can’t imagine driving for days in a car.
It will be a long day with the day’s destination at the lake on the Gray Creek Pass. Thanks to this pass of 2072m we made the great decision to drive the Cross Washington Trail first, because in June there may still be snow here. A bumpy street with short sandy sections leads us to the pass. At the top we refresh ourselves with the lake water and enjoy an entertaining evening with the hiker Tom from Edmonton and another touring cyclist Heidi from Kamloop, both of whom have German background. We get a lot of tips for our further route choice and once again we have a hard time to decide😀. On the bumpy downhill Andi catches a flat tire. Our first one with the new Mondial from Schwalbe. We are positively surprised how good these tires are and are convinced that the Marathon plus is not absolutely necessary. With the Marathon Plus we often had little sneaks. And to be honest, a real puncher is easier and faster to repair😂 It’s not far to Nelson, the next bigger town. The free ferry takes us across the lake. On the other side of the lake an exciting vehicle awaits the ferry: A large caravan with a helicopter, mountain bikes and canoes in tow. 😳 Wow, that is a holiday equipment!🤔👀 If traveling with a lot of material then like this😜 Unfortunately our Warmshower hosts Mal and Mats in Nelson are not at home, but they leave us their apartment for the weekend including two cats. Wow😀👍! Just what we need to heal our travel fatigue and recharge our batteries. The smog from the nearby forest fires in BC, Washington and California are causing us more and more trouble. On the one hand it covers the beautiful view of the mountains, because everything is hazy and in the evening we have the feeling as if we had smoked through a long night.💨 🤢. We hope that the situation improves again.