peruvian central highlands
lima to huaraz
huallanca to huaraz
Due to Lauras illness, we decided to hitch a lift the Huaraz where we could get beeter quality food, juice and medicine if needed. The route the bus took is here. (We had planned to cross through the national park to avoid the longer route on the tarmac road - blue dots)
pachas to huallanca
All downhill to La Union, where we stopped for fresh orange juice and lunch. From here, the road follows a narrow canyon with no further villages but many options for wild camping if needed. Huallanca has everything we needed - hostels, food and drinks. Laura became ill here with a respiratory infection and so we had to stay longer than planned. In the end, she was too unwell to carry on so we hitched a lift to Huaraz.
chavinillo to pachas (Cruzpampa)
Mostly downhill to the river and small village of Tingo Chico. Mainly on a tarmac road but pretty poor quality in parts so slower that you would expect. At Tingo Chico, there are drink shops and a small restaurant. We had planned to get to La Union (which has many hostels, restaurants and shops) but got hit by heavy rain at the top of the second climb in the small viallage of Pachas. There was a small hostel at the north end of town (20 Soles) so we called it a day and stayed there.
wild camp to chasqui (onto chavinillo)
More of the same as the the last 2 days - climbing to 4000m, villages about 5-10km apart. Reza developed a fever and found it increasing difficult to cycle. Laura took some gear but progress became very slow. 6km from the top of the climb, we had to stop and get a lift to the main village/small town Chavinillo. From where we stopped (Chasqui - it was 6km to the top, then a further 12km all downhill.)
wild camp to wild camp
Steep climbing most of the day with switch backs in 30 degree heat. We started late and took a long lunch break in a small village. We were told that there would not any villages en route so carried a lot of water but in fact there were villages with shops every 5-6km! We camped right at the corner of a large switch back... there are a few large rocks at the side of the bridge (before crossing). There is a small path through the tree which opens out into a well hidden clearing which was great to camp for the night.
huanuco to wild camp
With Pacha all set for the road, we started our big climb over the mountain. The road is tarmac but pretty bad quality in places with many potholes. There are a few small villages on this short section which do have shops for drinks/water but its not always obvious. We asked the villagers and most of the time found that the small mud brick building was in fact a shop. There is a river the whole way which is accessible. We ended up camping next to a house (with permission).
huanuco and back to huanuco
Plan was to set off towards La Union (and then to Huaraz). A hot day and pretty much up hill the whole way. Stopped after 14km at a small mining village with a shop for a cold drink. Spoke to the villagers and we were about to set off when we spotted a little puppy - completely emancipated and cachectic. We stopped and bought a tin of tuna for the puppy and asked whose dog it was. A lady said it was hers but that it was sick and was going to die. We knew if we left it, it would surely die so asked if we could take the puppy to the vet in Huanuco. The lady said we could in fact keep the puppy. We fashioned a cardboard box, rearranged our panniers and cycled back - straight to an excellent vet. The puppy was tested for some common diseases (all negative), given a flee bath, given de-worming medicine and vitamin injections. We bought a basket for her, food and supplemental vitamins and have decided to keep her until she is fitter and stronger. We know of a dog sanctuary in a northern town (4 weeks cycle from here) and so she will be with us for at least up until then... possible longer!
We've named her Pacha (In the local language - Kichwa, it means "Earth")
ambo to huanuco
Downhill the whole way but increasingly more traffic until complete mayhem in town. We stayed near Plaza de Armas at Hotel Titos (40 Soles/night). Clean, good shower and safe. Good food options - Pizza, Burgers, excellent coffee on the plaza. Also, the drop in altitude by 2300m fro Cerro de Pasco thus a temperature rise of 20 degrees! Bliss after weeks of cold altitude.
cerro de pasco to ambo
We decided to take the rough road (as opposed to the tarmac road) out of Cerro de Pasco. Its all downhill to Huanaco. Little traffic on the road and amazing valley to cycle down. The road is pretty rough in places but on our fat bikes, it was not too bad. Joined the tarmac road after 44km and had lunch here - a couple of shops and restaurants. More downhill to Ambo but more traffic (although respectful). We did have a strong head wind which almost cancelled out the downhill gradient! Stayed in Hotel Paradise Amazon at the end of town. OK room with bathroom but otherwise very basic.
huayllay to cerro de pasco
There is a good asphalt road for the majority of the way between Huayllay and Cerro de Pasco with a good shoulder. We did pass a small village where there were many aggressive dogs. No attack but lots of aggressive behaviour. At the end of the road, we turned left towards Pasco (no more hard shoulder, start of the climb and more traffic) there were further villages where we stopped for lunch. Further aggressive dogs all the way into Pasco. We stayed at the Hotel Balcones - expensive but big rooms and great shower (terrible breakfast).
wild camp to huayllay
We initially weren't sure if we'd be able to cycle but gave it a go anyway. The pain was much better on Reza's knee so we went for it. 2 climbs and we were there. Nothing en route bar a couple of farms. Huayllay has places to stay, restaurants and shops. We decided to take a coiuple of rest days not only due to the knee problems but also bad weather.
Wild camp to wild camp
Reza awoke with more knee pain so decided not to continue on the chosen road as we were unlikely to see anyone should we need help. Turn back to the main road - Reza pushig the bike. Only managed a few km - needed to stop due to increasing pain. Decided to find somewhere to camp and have a 'rest' day.
SANTA BARBARA DE CARCHCAYAN to wild camp
Set off from Santa Barbara with 5 days supply of food, aiming to follow a section of the 'Andes by Bike' route from Chungar to Oyon (andesbybike.com/peru/routes/cordillera-blanca-to-carretera-central/) and then possibly head north into the national park from Oyon. No shops en route but lakes, rivers and water sources. Camped early due to some knee pain (Reza). Altitude 4700m - cold night!
Wild camp to santa barbara de carchcayan
From our wild camp spot, we turned onto the 'main road' - still a rough road but better quality. There was a shallow river crossing - nothing more than wet shoes. A small village at 10km with only a small shop with basic supplies. We continued to Santa Barbara which initially looked like there would be nothing there but in fact we found a pretty decent hospedaje, a restaurant, shops and a petrol station (gasoline for our stove). We made the decision that we needed to go back to town to get the phone fixed so had to leave the bikes here for a couple of days.
Wild camp to wild camp
This road is not well mapped on our off-line maps so we downloaded GPS files and uploaded them to our iphone. Things were going fine - we were able to navigate the many small roads and crossroads until the phone dropped and smashed!!! There were only a few farms to get directions and we were still doing ok until one farmer directed us the wrong way! It ended in us going 10km up a steep hill only to turn back which ended in us not reaching the village we were aiming for. It wasn't all doom and gloom though as we managed to find a great wild camp spot beside a river. We were exhausted though!
junin to wild camp - past ondores
Reza's birthday! Bad weather caused us to stay in Junin a couple of ays more than desired. From Junin, we headed off the asphalt road towards the hills. About 18km from Junin is a small village of Ondores with shops and restaurants. Steep climb out of the village and a wild camp spot at 4400m. Pretty rough road but we did see flamingos en route.
san pedro de cajas to junin
Steep climb out of San Pedro for about 5 or 6km on an asphalt road. No shops between San Pedro and Junin. Junin has all the basic amenities - hospedajes, restaurants, shops and a very good fruit market on Tuesdays.
palcamayo to san pedro de cajas
So it turned out to be more difficult to fix or replace the seat post clamp... resulting in us going back to Lima and returning a couple of days later! However, with a working solution, we set off to San Pedro de Cajas. No shops en route and a gradually increasing uphill gradient but not too far to the town. San Pedro has a couple of hospedajes and some shops for food. Decent rough road from Palcamayo and asphalt out of San Pedro.
palcamayo - retuen
Set off from the small town but after a couple of km, the seat post clamp of Reza's bike broke... actually, the screw thread no longer held the screw! So we turned back and had to find a replacement.
tarma to palcamayo
We stayed 5km outside Tarma in La Hacienda, Florida which is a farm with expensive rooms but cheaper camping. Nice place but we didn't feel to welcome - possibly because we decided to camp? Either way, we spent 3 days here to acclimatise to the altitude having been at sea level for some time. Just 3km further down was a small village with shops and restaurants. We turned left towards the small town of Palcamayo which has a small hospedaje (30 Soles per night), restaurants and shops. Asphalt road until 10km out of Palcamayo.
2 weeks backpacking with laura's parents
After our detour from the Salar de Uyuni to the Bolivia jungle and the Ché trail, we were well off the Andes route. We had planned to meet Laura's parents in Lima and so had to take a flight from Santa Cruz to Lima in order to get there in time. Once there, we left the bikes in a safe place and did the touristic route of - Arequipa, Puno, Lake Titikaka, Cusco & Muachu Picchu for 2 weeks which was a lovely holiday and rest time. In Lima, we squeezed in a further 2 weeks of work for our chosen charity, Lifebox, visiting hospitals and meeting the Anaesthetic Society of Peru. After a month off the bikes, it was time to hit the road. The route out of Lima to the mountains (the Carretera Central) is treacherous to say the least. Some 250km of uphill, narrow winding roads with no hard shoulder. But the driving here is worst we've seen. A trucking highway (thousands of trucks!) with terrible driving and overtaking. We through the bikes onto a bus and even still, were terrified!