Monthly Archives: September 2019

Arequipa to Guayaquil

16th September

Arequipa is beautiful and much warmer than the high Altiplano we had been cycling on. Up in the mountains the ladies had been wearing blankets wrapped around their jeans to stay warm and everyone wore puffer jackets and many layers of clothing even in the restaurants. In Arequipa people were walking around in teeshirts and shorts and during the day ladies were wearing summer dresses.

Arquipa is the second most important city after Lima and very popular with tourists. It reminded me of a larger scaled Sucre.  It is surrounded by three impressive volcanoes, unfortunately as we had spent a lot of time in Sucre and Cusco we decided we wanted to move on. We were not in the mood to enjoy another city. That said we realised to move north we needed to get to Lima as there were no direct flights to Ecuador. Once in Lima we figured we could travel in land and cycle some of northern Peru.

We’d booked our tickets early in the morning and left our bikes with the agents at the bus station. This left us free to taxi into Plaza de Armas and spend some time in the city of Arequipa. We spent most of the day in a pretty plaza with cafes on terraces around the outside, mainly doing IT research. Doing the blog and planning the next stage of our adventure can be very time consuming. On this occassion the surroundings were heavenily we even managed a face time chat with Gary’s sister and mum.

Gary – Back at the bus station we found we was in the wrong place with 30 mins to go, but it wasn’t a big problem as the other station was next door and we were escorted to the right place by a friendly member of staff.

The bus was pretty sumptuous like a first class plane, reclining seats, TVs and a steward that supplied us with free food. However this was a long journey made even longer due to a rockfall on the coast road which added another 4.5hours to the journey making the bus ride a horrible 22hours.

The route the bus took is the same route that the north to south cyclists ride, to me it looked like a desolate desert stretch of road with only a few decent areas to pass through. I don’t think that cycling this route would be the most enjoyable experience.

We arrived in Lima, tired but fed and watered, we have been to Lima on a previous trip to Peru many years ago but nothing looks familiar yet.

16th to the 18th 

Lima.
There are some pretty bits but it’s mainly a huge noisy and smelly (pee) city. Lots of traffic and continuous care horns. The traffic lights are regularly ignored by the traffic police who stand in the road with lightsabers and encourage the traffic to jump red lights, this is frustrating for all as you are never sure when it is safe to try to cross the road as the green man means nothing here.

Ginette – we stayed 2 nights in a very noisy hostal in the city. Gary met a fellow Ukuele player and they exchanged tunes and playing techniques. The staff were friendly but the noise meant we did not get much quality sleep. 

While in Lima I had a new back wheel built from hub,rim and spokes for £45 (the one I bought in Bolivia had already broke a spoke as it was not really strong enough) I had to cycle 5 mile across town to get to a shop on the third attempt that can help me. Getting back during the evening rush hour was an experience but there are some good cycle lanes in the city, unfortunately the lanes are down the central reservation so you have to contend with a lot of junction crossings with the car traffic as well.

Ginette – we tried some street food, but were not impressed with either the first was potatoes and egg, we added a sauce which was very salty. The second was corn with cheese, the corn decided more like potatoe and with no butter it was very dry, the cheese melted but did not stick to the corn. Neither options were great but at least we tried it and it filled a hole for a little while at least.

After more research we have decided to go directly to the Galapogos Islands for my brithday. It is the rainy season in North Peru and Ecuador which is not ideal for cycle touring. So we have decided once we have been to the Galapagos Islands we will fly North to Mexico and cycle back down to Peru. Well that is the plan today, BUT you know us this could change at any time.

The bus journeys took us up the Pacific highway and from our vantage point on the bus I would say that this road must be one of the least inspiring roads you could travel in Peru.

We had a stop over in Chiclayo, which had a nice plaza and a huge market to stroll around.

The border crossing into Ecuador was poorly organised, there were 3 coaches arrived at the same time so 150 people in various descriptions of queues trying to get exit and entry stamps, the process took about an hour or more of queuing with approx 1 minute of actual processing and this was all at 2am so a lot of bleary eyed travellers.

Arriving at Guayaquil, Ecuador. In a busy bus station and airport there was a different feel to the place and the people. Gone are the ladies in traditional dress and run down looking shops etc, we are now surrounded by western dress and many more western looking people and architecture of a modern shopping mall feel. Not only in the dress sense different but also in looks and height (We no longer feel like the odd ones out as tall westerners).

Our cycle ride to our air B and B took us alongside a main road on a dedicated cycle path, however every junction had a deep wide storm drain to bump over so not that well thought out. We passed some very elite looking gated and guarded estates, the area looks very affluent.
We also passed quite a few joggers some very western, I guess there may be a fairly large North American contingent in this area.

We arrived early so popped into a nearby mall for breakfast and we had to wait a while for the cafe to open. This is a huge modern mall, it was like being back in the UK, except all the goods are priced in dollars as this is now the Ecuadorean currency.

Ginette – approx 50 hours spent on a bus! The joys of travelling on a budget, it would have cost us at least £400 to fly from Lima to Guayaquil (with the bikes) in contrast it was less than a £100 on the bus so a bit of a no brainer but it was very draining.

We are both tired from the back to back overnight buses and have a few days in Guayaquil before we fly to Galapagos Islands on Tuesday.

Pictures below from Guayaquil, including Iguana Park and crab for dinner.

 

Cusco to Arequipa

7th September

Cusco, a busy road ride.

Today’s 50 mile cycle into Cusco was uneventful.h
We did pass into one small town looking for food only to find every shops main product was bread with several of them having open bread ovens, we are getting used to this phenomenon where every stall / shop sells identical products. We ended up buying a flat loaf and making our own sandwich.

The roads got busier as we approached the city and the city cycling was the usual hassle of buses cutting you up to pick up and drop of passengers.

It took us a while to find somewhere to stay, this time we were spoilt for choice. We are finally settled in a nice place called Los Aticos, right near the Plaza De Amas.

Ginette – we had made a note of several hostels but they all seemed full or too far out of town. This meant we ended up knocking on several doors and trying to negotiate a price in our budget. This was time consuming and not something I want to repeat in a hurry.

The city was obviously pleased we had arrived as they’d laid on a huge procession for us, loads of energetic dancers and bands strutting there stuff with great gumption.

Ginette – Cusco is a vibrant city, lots of historical buildings, restaurants and plazas, we’re really looking forward to exploring it further. It is very strange to see so many westerners and to hear english voices.

8th September

Lazy day, wandering the city. We managed to book tickets for Machu Pichu, we negotiated a deal for $90 each this includes entrance fee, transport, guide, hostal, lunch, dinner and breakfast.

Most of the museums were closed as it was Sunday but we were treated to another procession in the main plaza.

We also had lunch in the main market yum yum – seafood and rice.

9th September 

Journey to Machu Pichu.

Lots of text below, in summary a long bus ride over a mountain and dirt track and a 12 k walk. All very poorly organised and felt like we were being cattle herded to be fed and homed for the night.

Cycle tips
We didn’t cycle to Machu Pichu but it would be possible to cycle on paved roads to Santa Maria, after which the roads are not practical for cycling. If anyone does read this and fancies cycling it be aware you will have a huge climb to do and pretty steep.

We opted to not be picked up at our hostel and instead we were collected by the tour bus at 7.30 outside the booking office. The bus was nearly full but we still managed to spend another hour or so in Cusco picking up and re-fuelling.

Our bus ride was 6 hours to travel approx 150 miles, due to the terrain and road conditions. We had a huge mountain to drive up and over, this had loads of switchbacks and great views to an altitude over 4400 m. At the top it was cloudy and raining, and we could see lots of forests and greenery (some of the forests had recently been on fire on the landscape was quite black and burnt).

At the bottom of this now very green valley we turned off at Santa Marina this is where the tarmac stopped. The Unpaved road went on for miles winding up the mountain following a gorge, sometimes we were very high and on a narrow road with steep drops, quite exciting.
We were dropped of at collective Santa Teresa, where we had lunch after a somewhat chaotic queue and confusion about where we should be. There were hundreds of people all in the same position, you would have thought after all these years of operation that it would be smooth run operation but NO.

We then walked 12k along a railway line to Machu Pichu Pueblo, the start of the walk was not clearly marked but everyone seemed to find thier way. The walk was OK, we were following the track and a fast river. We had colourful birds, a hummingbird and lots of forest noise to keep us entertained. The only set back was the hundreds of other tourists walking the same route.

Ginette – Although there were lots of people around we could hear the birds and wildlife, unlike some of the tourists who talked none stop or even more annoyingly chose to play loud music whilst walking along. Why would you do that when there was so much to see and hear. 

When we arrived at the town and the main plaza there was no sign of the guide we was told to meet. We sat in a bar and waited as we had no idea what hostel we was in.
Eventually as I was pottering around taking photos I heard my name being called, our guide had arrived.

Ginette  – Gary was not happy – it was very disorganised but he was very grumpy

We were full of dread about the hostel as we had agreed to be in a shared dorm to keep the cost down, our guide was leading us away from the nice part of tourist town and into a more residential area. Luckily the hostel was pretty nice and we had a matrimonial room.
We had to meet the guide again in the plaza to be given instructions and tickets and dinner.
We did get fed and watered and discovered that we needed our passports or ID to get in to Machu Pichu (this was not mentioned when we booked the tickets)  oops neither of us had bought our passports. A call to the hostel in Sucre and they WhatsApped the copies they had taken so problem solved.

Ginette – the town of Machu Pichu is very pretty, the town had a real chilled vibe to it. I would have liked to spend a day or two there but alas as we were part of a tourist group this was not to be. Although we walked 12km to the town many other tourists caught a train or took the bus directly to the town. Whilst waiting for our guide I was disappointed to hear that you could actually get a bus to the top of Machu Pichu. I had always imaged this to be an historical sight that you had to trek to not a sight you could simply access by bus. On the positive side at least this meant everyone could enjoy one of the wonders of the world regardless of age or disability.

10th September – Machu Pichu.

A reasonable start at 7am, but when we reached the bottom of the track to the mountain we were held until 8.15 as our ticket entrance time was 10 am.

The walk up the mountain was strenuous but enjoyable with wild life calls and great views.
We reached the top half hour early so had our packed lunches.

Ginette – We have fully acclimitised to the altitude but it was interesting watching others really struggling, panting and sweating. We passed one group and a young english girl said ‘did you see those two they make it look so easy’. Another woman found it so difficult at the top that she was actually crawling up the steps. Others had to rest often to catch their breaths. I really would recommend spending several days at altitude before trying to climb stairs or mountains. 

Our first attempt to get through the gate was thrawted as we were 10 minutes early and there was no way they were letting us in untill 10am. Once through the gates we had a further 15 minutes to wait for our guide and the rest of our group.

We had 2 hours on the mountain looking around Machu Pichu which was a bit too short. We had a guide explaining the history but in the end we had to cut the tour just short or we wouldn’t make it back to our waiting bus.

Ginette – Our guide was amusing but the information provided was poor.

Machu Pichu is a great site to visit, it’s a well maintained set of ruins made more special due to its location on top of a mountain.

The crowds of other tourists made for a little queuing in places but the crowds did thin out in some areas. There is actually a bus service right to the top of this hill hence the many other tourists that were also able to enjoy this site.

During the steep walk back down Ginette developed a pain in one of her knees slowing her down a bit. We did manage to complete the 12k walk back to the bus with 15 minutes to spare so were able to have a buffet dinner before setting off back to Cusco.

Ginette just for the record I did slow down a little (my damaged knee kept getting stabbing pains and at times felt like jelly) but we were only over taken by 2 people and we made up for lost time on the flat ground. The reason we only had 15 minutes to spare is becuause we had very little time left after the tour to make it back to the bus. Two young men had to run to catch the bus they only just made it.

Machu Pichu is a great place to visit but we regret doing it with a tour company as we felt herded, under valued and rushed. If you are in the area and have the time and inclination we would recommend making your own way there, tickets are not as hard to get hold of as some reports we had heard and you can easily pick up a guide at the entrance at the mountain top (make sure you bring your passport). When we got back to the bus there we’re loads of other buses all touting for our business.

On our way back the driver stopped to wash his van so we had a short rest break during which I was adopted by a chicken, this little fella jumped up on my lap and then proceeded to make my neck and beard his home. Even when I stood to go it still clung to me till evenoI managed to convince him that we would not be good together and that due to my tendency to eat chicken we parted ways.

Gary and his baby cock

We didn’t get back into Cusco until 9.30pm, we were pleased we’d reserved a room at our hostel, it meant we could quickly drop our bags off and head out for a pizza and a beer.

11th September 

A day in Cusco and a bill disagreement

A restless day in Cusco, we had a little bit of shopping to do and some internet research for our plans for the next few months

We visited a Museum / Church which is partly Inca and partly Spanish. This was a good visit with lots of information. There was quite a bit on the Catholic Saints and I must admit I find it hard to accept the so called facts of their lives as being credible.

I took my Ukulele to one of the quieter plazas to practice, on the way a drunk, Peruvian called cheerily to me and called me Forest Gump. While sitting on some church steps practicing a group of Peruvian tourists came over and took it in turns to have there phots taken with me, fame at last.

Later in the day we was out in search of one of the many two for one drinks deals, a waiter talked us into going into his bar as it had a Juliet balcony we could sit in. He offered us a deal of a shared plate and 4 drinks for 16 sol, we questioned this a few times with him as it was a great deal. When the bill came at 60 sols we had to get the same waiter back, he apologised and blamed his bad English, however I believe he did this on purpose so refused to pay his 60 sols and left the restaurant paying 20 sols and with a bad feeling on both parties, and half expecting a chef with a meat cleaver to chase us down the road (fortunately nothing happened other than Ginette feeling guilty and wanting to go back and pay the man).

Ginette – it was a cold day in Cusco and there wasn’t much to do on a budget. I did feel bad about the restaurant experience but agree with Gary it definitely seemed like a scam. We enquired several times about the deal even asking if the 16 sold was on top of the food bill. That said all evening I felt bad about not paying the bill, the was a small chance it was a genuine error. On the upside in the restaurant we met a nice couple from Wales who were touring South America on a package deal. It was great to speak to people our age who were also exploring the world. We finished the evening in what claimed to be the Highest Genuinely Owned Irish pub which ironically did not sell Guinness but this did not put people off as the pub was heaving.

12th September

Happy 32nd wedding anniversary

Up at 5.50am to pack and have breakfast before heading to the bus station for an 8am bus to Juliaca

We had researched the bus times from a site called Rome2Rio but arriving at the bus station we could see it was not a locals bus but a tourist provider. They did have tickets but it seemed expensive 90 sols each.

Fortunately there was a local bus station just around the corner. Once there we found another bus but it didn’t leave till 10.30, we decided to go back to the first station. Once back there we then discovered that they also wanted to charge for our luggage by the kilo, with our two touring bikes this would not be cheap.

Back to the other local station and this time after some searching and a lot of negotiating on Ginette’s part we found a bus which left in half hour and took the bikes for a smaller fee of 10 sols each and our tickets at 40 sols (£2.40 for the bikes and £10 each)

Ginette – the bus company did not think they had room for the bikes so in my best spanish I had to convince them they had room. This meant taking the front wheels off the bikes, no big deal.

Once in Juliaca we quickly assembled the bikes and cycled out of the very badly congested city with its poor roads, it had already gone 3.30pm when we set off so we didn’t get very far and camped at about 15 miles out of the city.

We pitched our tent in a small sheltered walled area that is used for sheep dipping, it was very windy and we only just made it inside the tent before the rain came down. Not the most romantic way to spend our anniversary the alternative had either been to stay another day in Cusco or stay a night in Juliaca but we didn’t fancy either. On the upside we spent the night together and felt very lucky to be sharing our adventure in South America.

13th September

In the mountains kissing Alpacas

In the morning a couple of locals walked by and one farmer stopped for a chat.
For the first 20 mile I felt like I had a concrete brick in my belly, Net had not liked the porridge as it had thickened so I ate her portion as well and regretted it.

Not long after setting off Ginette had a funny turn with Peru Poo and felling dizzy and sick. The altitude may be contributing to this as we are over 14,000ft now.

We continued slowly resting often and we both struggled with the hills and there were a few of them today. The weather was contrary today with temps of 29 down to 12 degrees and even a small Hale storm.

As we crossed a bridge by a large lake we startled some pink flamingos.
We had hoped to cycle further and get under the 100 miles to our destination mark but the last 6 miles were a killer with a long steep climb. When we reached the top we could see a storm was brewing, the wind had picked up and the sky turned black . Fortunately there was a tourist cafe so we opted to camp next to the cafe as it sheltered us a little from the wind and provided stunning views of the lakes.

Setting up the tent was funny as we were joined by an inquisitive Alpaca, he liked our ground sheet and rolled around on it, settled down so we had to shoo him off, however he was not bothered by us and proceeded to hover around me and even gave me some nose to nose kisses.

Ginette –  We spent the night watching the sun go down with a rice and veg dish washed down with a bottle of red wine purchased from the cafe. As soon as the sun went down we closed the tent and huddled up it was very cold.

14th September 

Short day in the high Alto

The weather last night was far better than the dark skies promised, we only had a little rain and the temp in the night was quite mild.

Ginette – However the dogs were very noisy, one stood guard outside our tent and every time one of us moved or made a noise it barked loudly for 5-10 mins. 

Gary had an iffy tum so we cut our cycling short to only 25miles, we still climbed over a 1000ft and are now at an altitude of 14,600ft. The consequence of cycling at this night is breathlessness making even the flats feel hard work.

We stayed in a small town called Imata and booked into a hotel with no WiFi or hot showers. Taking a little walk we found a couple of ladies in the process of skinning Alpacas, it looks the meat has gone one way and the pelts another.

15th September 

No rooms at the town.

I was feeling pretty poorly again, my breakfast was just rice and banana. We had a fairly easy ride this morning with gentle climbs but we still managed to climb 1000ft.
We stopped at a mirador for a stone forest 10 miles out of Imata, Ginette walked to take a closer look but I had no energy so stayed with the bikes and made a cuppa.

Ginette – this was a sure sign that Gary was not well.

It’s a shame I was not well as I am sure I would have enjoyed this section as the terrain was flat shrub land with mountains all around. At around the 30 mile mark my body had had enough, we found what might have been an abandoned farm and sheltered from the sun in an open stable. After an hour or more I was ready to grind out some more miles.

We only managed 3 more miles, this time it was a very strong headwind that made us stop, we could cycle in it but when the trucks and coaches came by they disturbed our balance to the extent we were close to going under the wheels, we opted to walk the bikes as we could see a small town ahead.

We reached Canahaus, a very small outpost with ramshackle houses,  it had a police checkpoint and a toll booth, but nothing else.

There were a few locals queuing for a bus/ lift to Chivay, this is the town we had been heading for so we waited with them to see if we could catch the bus. Most of the locals managed to hop into the odd vehicles that pulled over included an ambulance but when the bus did turn up its luggage holds were too full for our bikes.

After trying to find a room including in the police station we opted to get a lift to Arequipa, there was more traffic going this way it was very windy and cold and pitching a tent was not a good option.

At Arequipa (North) we found a hostal then set about feeding hangry Netty

Ginette – it was like I was possessed, I was so hungry/angry I didn’t want rice or chicken and that seemed to be all that was on offer, I became really irrational and ended up with an empanada and cake.

It’s disappointing that we couldn’t ride to Colca canyon but my health was not up to the 17000ft climb, and also disappointing we didn’t ride to Arequipa as the views from the back of truck looked stunning and the road seemed to mostly go downhill. However from a poor tummy point of view it’s good to be out of the mountains

Ginette – although the views were spectacular I am glad we didn’t cycle into Arequipa, there was no hard shoulder and very big drops to contend with. It was a frustrating day, I was enjoying the cycling but watching Gary slumped over his bike for two days meant we had no choice but to catch a lift into a city so that he could recuperate.

Titicaca Lake to Cosco

Friday 30th August

We had an extravagant breakfast at £8 each, we wouldn’t normally but we had Bolivian currently to spend.

Ginette – as we waited for the cafe to open we sat by the lake, where 3 docile dogs decided to adopt us for the morning.

IMG_1443

On the way to the border we met a cycle tourist coming the other way, Matt from Bristol. Matt had already been on the road for 18 months and we swapped advice about where we had travelled.

The border crossing was again an easy affair but this time a small queue had formed and both sides of the border were a bit busier.

We had a fairly easy 40 mile ride today following lake Titicaca, we only had one big hill and that was near our final destination of Juli.

We did have a few dogs take chase, the dogs in Peru are much more aggressive than in Bolivia.

Ginette – I don’t know how the dogs can be so tame and friendly in Bolivia but in Peru a stones throw away they’re mean, snarly, biting machines. They can run as fast as the bike, barking and snarling all the way. They often appear in packs which is really frightening. We have even seen them barking and snarling at cars and lorries, such a contrast to the timid dogs in Bolivia. Their crazy it is no wonder there are so many dead ones by the side of the road.

The area surrounding the lake is mainly flat with hills and mountains each side, the fields are cultivated but in narrow strips, not the huge fields we have in the UK.
There are lots of donkeys, sheep, cows, pigs and only a few Lamas. Most of the animals are looked after in small herds by individual shepherds or shepherdess, I am not sure why the animals need this constant attention but it’s nice to see this rural way of life.

Ginette – we have seen a lot of burning and slashing of the fields, lots of the fields are black or on fire. We cycled past one field fire which had flames shooting out across the road.  It was difficult to see or breathe but it didn’t take long to cycle through it.

Juli is a surprisingly nice town. It has 4 large churches which are very ornate, reading up on this town it is likened to little Rome due to these churches. We are in a dump of a hostel right in the towns plaza, so the town may be pretty but our room is not.

Ginette – we didn’t enter any of the churches mainly because they were either closed or wanted to charge us a fee as they designated themselves as museums. The town has a huge rejuvenation plan aimed at attracting tourists. The locals were very friendly and inquisitive. We had a lovely meal in one of the local restaurants, it was a meal of the day option (available across South America, a fixed fee for a fixed 2 or 3 course menu). We had a very tasty soup for starters, Gary had chicken on the bone and I had a spicy rice and vegetable dish. Desert was somthing fruity with a snot like consistency, I gave mine to Gary.  It was a little more expensive than the usual meal of the day options which are usually £1 each but worth the £2 each fee.  For the past 2 weeks the only option available to me has been trout, I have eaten so much of the stuff I swear I am turning pink.

31st August

A pleasant cycling day.

A poor nights sleep in our shabby hostel, lots of noise in the night and early hours and all of it it in the room next to ours, but the good news was an early start so on the bikes by 7.30 am.

We had a coffee and some pastry for breakfast in Rotherham plaza, it was a roasting 20 degrees, but we then cycled 1.4 miles down hill closer to lake Titicacas shores and to a temperature of 11 degrees, brrrrr.

When we did stop for breakfast at around 8.30 we had soup and a meal of rice, meat and vegetables, (Net ended up with a similar dish but the vegetarian option, in which she had to pick out the liver bits).

We had a very pleasant ride today, we are getting used to riding together again which is a bonus. The terrain was mostly flat but at an altitude of 12,600ft! We had a varied scenery to pass through that kept our interest.

Some weird mountain rock formations. Lots of spread out villages with loads of outhouses

Ginette – it is hard to imagine the locals use their outhouses at night – it is freezing cold.

In one large town called Llave we had an old man come and chat to us in Spanish and he even finished off with a big cuddle for me, how sweet.

We reached Penu (I can’t seem to correct the name in my head which I have adopted for this city, penis) early so we had plenty of time to relax, wander the streets and colourful markets, book boat tickets for the following day drink beer and orientate ourselves for our day off.

Ginette – Puno was not looking it’s best as the pavements and roads had all been dug up and the main plaza’s were closed for renovation. That said there are some pretty churches and the city had a nice vibe to it. 

1st September

Uru floating islands

FaceTimed Tracy this morning, it seems that my family don’t fancy any part of our adventures in South America, Dwelling on our health issues which Del has now aptly named Peru Poo (like Deli belly).

We took a boat trip out to the famous Uro floating islands on lake Titicaca. Historically people have lived on these floating reed platforms since the Inca period but it now seems to be more a tourist attraction, than a genuine way of life. This however is a good thing as this way of life is being preserved for all to see.

It was interesting to see how they have evolved from living on reed boats which had to be remade every two years, to these floating reed islands which can last up to 20 years.
The president of each Island is the female matriarch.  There are approximately 90 of these little Islands all squeezed next to each over, but like a street over water there are two lines of reed islands with a wide stretch of water between them. All in all an enjoyable experience even with the slightly tourist tacky feel.

Ginette – although tacky it was interesting, the reeds are harvested for maximum effect, they’re used for building the islands, making the houses, burning as fuel and eating (demnstrated by Gary below, the reeds taste a little like lettuce)

Back on main land and a bit of essential shopping such as another couple of 700c inner tubes, not the usual size here but we didn’t have to search for long and found a shack like cycle store who emptied there stack of shelves in order to find me 2 inner tubes.

Dare we say we are both suffering a little from Peru Poo, hopefully this will pass, pardon the pun.

2nd Sept

Peru poo strikes again

Our route out of Puno had an initial hill climb to get over the surrounding hill range, it was that steep that we had to walk a small section of the route.  Once over this obstacle the rest of the day was pretty flat although we were still cycling at over 12,000ft.  As we both had Peru poo we opted for a short 26 mile ride so we could rest in a hostel in Juliaca.

Juliaca is a surprisingly busy town. The roads in the centre are gridlocked with buses, motorised covered taxis like bubble cars and cycle taxis. Just walking around in the afternoon requiresd our concentration.

Here’s hoping tomorrow will see a start to recovery again.

Ginette – Juliana is the first none tourist town we have cycled in for awhile and it was interesting to see that the majority of women are now dressed in more of a western style clothing rather than the traditional pelted ringed skirts, leggings and socks.

I have finally got my head round the new currency it is quite a challenge travelling between countries and working out our money on a daily basis. I have to be very careful to keep change or small notes as the small stall holders are unable to change anything greater than a 10 sol note which is only £2.40.

We no longer have access to our favourite lemon drinks and are struggling to find something we like to quench our thirsts. The local soda drinks are vibrant colours and full of chemicals so we are left with an option of sprite or coke.

3rd September

Another short day

Ginette by this Gary means 40 miles!!

A restless night with plenty of toilet visits (for Gary, Net is on the mend)
Breakfast was gathered at street stalls and consisted of banana and bread, back to the BART diet.

The initial 10 miles were along a main rd with the only points of interest being the number of petrol stations, with 5 or more all in a row but from different fuel companies, this trend continued with most of these huge stations having no customers.

Ginette – no exaggeration in the space of 5 miles we must have passed 20 petrol stations if not more

We met a couple of German cycle tourers coming the other way, Wolfgang and Alexandra. A nice couple and we swapped the usual tales of the road

Ginette is cycling strongly so I am tucked behind her protecting myself from the headwind we have had all afternoon.

The last 15 miles we cycled with mountain ranges each side of us which was very pretty
We stopped in a town called Pukara, it’s a cute little town with its own Inca site and a huge cliff face above it. In the town are lots of life size concrete cows, also on the top of each house are two small ceramic cows which are to bring luck and keep harmony in the house.

4th September 

Pretty valley.

The nights tend to be long, especially when we stop in the early afternoon. There is not a lot to do in these small towns so we find ourselves watching an episode of our latest show which in this case is “orange is the new black” then settling down to a kindle book and sleep by 9 pm earlier. Hence we are up, breakfasted and back on the road by 7.30.

We were both a little weary today, Gary still recovering from the after effects of Peru poo, and Net from having to try to sleep with a poorly Gary.

We cycled 48 miles along a mostly flat road but made harder by a headwind and the roads poor condition, it was tarmac but very bumpy so each bump slowed down the progress.

The scenery in the afternoon though just got better and better, we cycled between mountains each side which become more jagged and higher, some with snowy peaks. Our altitude is still around 12,700 ft and we could feel this today. Our breathing needed to be consistent, one missed breath and you were left panting. We wondered if this may have been due to the weather system that was closing in around us, we’ve had cloud cover and the threat of rain for the last two days.

We stopped to chat to a French female cycle tourer she was travelling alone but another tourer, a male from Cusco was cycling with her at present. They had stopped last night at a hot springs, we are hoping that we can add this to our day tomorrow.

We finished the day in a small town called Santa Rosa, it has a pretty plaza and church and a short but steep stair climb up to a Christ monument. There are another couple of German cycle tourers staying in the hostel, they are going the way we have come from and are only 2 weeks into their journey, they informed us we have a nice down hill section coming up.

Ginette yayyyyyy!!

5th September

A beautiful day and both feeling well.

Hooray we have both woken up fit and well.
Our ride this morning was uphill for 18 miles, but steady easy climbing up over another 1000ft to 14,025 ft. At the top of the hill there were locals selling tack, but this was good fluffy Alpaca tack so we now have another ornament for the Christmas tree.

I wish it would have been possible to film all of today’s route and play it back on fast speed for all to see, we have taken some film and photos but I don’t think any will show the true beauty of the route today.

 

We stopped at the 25 mile point at a hot spa called Aqua Calientie (translates as “hot water”), for the Hefty fee of £1 each we had access to around 7 hot outside pools. We had to opt for one of the cooler ones first to acclimatise then work our way up the hottest. We both had to take it steady getting out as we were very dizzy and in danger of fainting.


After the hot spa we had another 18 miles to reach Sicuani. It turned out to be all down hill which was just as well as the headwind was back to bother us.

The farmland turned greener due to an irrigation system feeding off the river. We have seen more Alpacas than Lamas but generally the majority of animals are sheep and cows. It maybe my imagination but the locals also seem to be cheerier here.

Ginette – although the dogs are still chasing us they’re not as fierce

All in all today has been a great ride with fantastic views if not a little chilly at times.

6th September

Rainbow mountain “a wonder of the world”.

We wanted to walk up Rainbow mountain but to achieve this we needed to cycle 25 miles to reach a town with buses/taxis headed to the tourist site so we set off early on the road by 6.30.
We had a pretty easy ride mostly downhill so arrived at Checacupe at 9am, not bad for 25 miles with breakfast on route.

We had considered booking into a hostel but the hostels in the town looked very shabby so we agreed to head to the next village another 5 miles away but before setting off I suggested we visited the plaza.

In the plaza Ginette suggested we ask if we could get transport to Rainbow mountain. We found a very helpful man in an office, he was talking us into going for the less popular destination on Palccoyo, this was only a 40 minute hike but apparently you get to see 2 rainbow mountains. However despite his help his prices were too expensive at 180 Sol (£45, a lot of money for a taxi and a hike).

We had given up and decided to give the mountain a miss, the weather was cloudy and we could have been wasting our money. However Ginette decided to give it one las shot and approached a tourist bus driver that had parked in the plaza while the tourists had a mooch around town, fortunately it turned out he had 2 spare seats and was going to Palccoyo so we ended up rushing to change and store our cycles with the nice guy in the office. Ginette had secured this trip for 60 Sols (£15).

Ginette – I really can’t speak a lot of Spanish but I am so glad of my course in Sucre I was able to ascertain where the tourist bus was going, negotiate a good price, arrange a return journey and ensure no payment would be made until we returned .

When the driver went straight past the turning to rainbow mountain and were heading back the way we had cycled we started to wonder if we had misheard him, asking the other passengers where they were going we was re-assured that we were heading for the rainbow mountain area of Palccoyo.

Ginette – as we headed in the ‘wrong’ direction Gary started singing ‘mystery magical tour’ I started to doubt my Spanish and feared we’d spend the afternoon in a town we had already cycled through. I was so relieved when the tourists in the bus confirmed we were going in the right direction

The drive up the dirt mountain road was a bit hairy, lots of steep climbs, switchbacks and loose stones, it reminded us of the dodgy ride in the Himalayas. The track wound right up the mountain close to the peaks, past small settlements, Alpacas, and terraced farmed mountainsides.

The walk was easy, mind you we are well acclimatised to height now, were now at 17,000ft.
It is hard to describe the rainbow mountains, they are by far the coolest thing we have seen in a long time. You can see for miles and everywhere is colourful. There were three actual rainbow rock formations that looked like a child had been asked to draw them and then used every colour in his/her pencil case.

Every time the sun broke through the clouds the colours jumped out at us, it was truly magical standing on top of this high mountain view point and seeing all these colourful mountains near and far. In our opinion this area should be one of the wonders of the world.

Once back down, we decided to try to eat some miles up to reduce the 60 miles left to get to Cusco, it was 4pm before we set off. It was supposed to be downhill, technically it was as we ended up a lower altitude but there were a few steep ups still to contend with and a strong headwind that even made the downs hard work. We gave up after 10 miles and booked into a hostel in Cusipata.

Ginette – it was like cycling down hill with someone holding a hand against your head, the head wind was so slow that we had to cycle really hard to move forward, this was on a hill that normally a cyclist could free wheel down.

By the time we arrived in the town we were exhausted Net was hungry but I wasn’t so we decided to cook in the room, a simple vegetable pasta dish we cooked in the room along with 2 beers and some shop bought cakes.

Giant Ginette