I am sitting here finally having made PATAGONIA. My dream destination for the last 5 years. To use the word surreal would not do it justice.
I have however realised I have not blogged since the middle of Peru. Here are the excuses- no internet, very poor internet, I have done an insane amount of crazy things which I need time to digest, I am being lazy :) I have also lost all my pictures from Uyuni, The Lagunas Route, & Ojos.
My good friend Michael has just joined me flying all the way from AUS, Of course he has waited until the absolute highlight to come across & cycle with me some 2,500km.
I don't even know where to begin so let's start where I left off. I was in Cusco for one month hanging out waiting for my friend Matt to finish working. Whilst there i did the obligatory trip to Machu Picchu which i must say was a totally amazing experience. I was toying with the idea of not actually visiting the site due to the huge numbers of tourists that go & the fact i am not that big into ruins but i am glad i did.
I took a bus there as it was more economical than riding my bike for 4 days. I made some great friends on the bus who i went out with the night before the trek up to Machu. We may or may not have been up until 2am drinking far too many Pisco sours & everything else but man it was fun, not so fun getting up at 3.30am. The walk up the stairs in the morning was not as difficult as everyone makes out of course i decided to make it a race.
I was up there like everyone else for the sunrise but managed to find a quiet place away from the standard view point & get some nice pictures. The place was shrouded in cloud but that made it all the more special. I wandered around the site itself for 3 hours staying one step ahead of the hordes of people.
The scale of the place itself was quite unbelievable. It`s huge really huge i was very surprised by this. Feeling well & truly done after 3 hours Jason & i headed on down. On the 10km trek back to the bus terminal we found a nice spot in the river to go for a swim. It was the first time it had been warm enough to go for a swim in about 4 months so that was nice.
I also did 10 hours of Spanish lessons in Cusco at a small Spanish school so that was fun. I did feel it helped me understand a bit more but as per usual when you change country the Spanish changes a bit so i feel like i am almost starting over every time hahah. After a month of hanging out it was time to hit the road. Matt & i decided a little while back that we would cycle Bolivia together as we were planning on going pretty remote.
We cycled for 3 days before reaching the final thing to visit in Peru,
Up at 6:30 managed to find a ride the 35km up to the junction where rainbow trek starts. We arrived at 8:30. There were a tonne of buses already there.
We started our 8km hike. Beautiful blue skies again and not too warm. We hiked the first 4km before coming over a ridge line and spotting the 200+ tourists
The valley was incredible. Super wide with mount Ausangate off to our right. The huge glaciated summit glistened in the morning light. So beautiful.
We caught the first group of tourists pretty quick & began making our way through the hoards of people. There were plenty of people on horses & walking extremely slow.
The trek took us up to around 5200mtr above sea level. We got to the main saddle with the first 50 people.
We hiked up the last 200mtr climb to get the obligatory picture of the coloured mountain. It was incredibly colourful but I think Ausangate & the surrounding mountain range was much more impressive.
We decided to hike down the valley running parallel to the major route just too avoid the people. We managed to hitch a ride back to town straight away, so that was handy.
After another very average sleep on my wooden boards - aka bed & some guy revving the life out of his tuk tuk at 4am we were packed & out by 8am.
We cycled through the valley continuing to climb ever so steadily. The valley was wide open grasslands some cattle & a lot of eucalyptus.
Apart from being above 3500mtr it was similar to some of the mountains areas of home. We rode 18km to a small pueblo before stopping for breakfast.
We got some pan & queso. Then ordered a coffee from the restaurant next door. We sat on the curb eating & drinking & just enjoying the sun.
After breakfast we continued with the steady climb until a pretty big town called Sicuani. It was a Saturday morning so we rolled through the organised chaos of the markets.
Something about the chaos that a market brings is something I enjoy a lot. The sights & smells are always different. We got on the other side of the town before stopping to get some snacks.
We caught up to a Russian cyclist who I met back in Cusco. After a brief chat we left him. We cycled past some incredible colonial buildings. All of which happened to be built along the now long defunct railway line. Very random to see.
We finished climbing at 4065mtr right at Aguas Calientes. We paid the 5 soles & soaked in a private hot pool for an hour and a half.
When we came out the Russian guy was here & another cycle tourist. A solo female from Japan. We asked about camping in the hot springs and in typical Peruvian fashion they didn't really care.
Matt & I went into a building with a hot pool. Cooked a good pasta dinner & rolled our mats out. Security came over & he didn't care either.
The others are sleeping outside in tents in the rain, wind & freezing cold.
28-8-16. 115km 570mtr. Aguas - Pucara.
Not a bad nights sleep. We were up at 6. Packed up & waited for the sun to hit the road.
We could see out the window from the bath house. There was a beautiful dusting of snow on the mountains. The steam rising from the hot pools & the sun slowly making its way down the valley walls was beautiful.
Once the sun hit we left. Stopping to say a quick goodbye to the others. We were on the road by 7:30. Still pretty fresh but we had a nice steady climb of around 250mtr over the pass.
We cycled up the road enjoying the usual Sunday morning no traffic situation. We stopped a few times to take pictures as the valley was just stunning.
There were mountains a few km off to the left that made you feel like you were in the Rockies again. On the right were rolling hills reaching well over 4500mtr.
The open grass valley was just spectacular with its golden brown grasses glistening in the sun. We crossed the pass after 10km of steady climbing 4338mtr.
As we crested the summit the valley stretched out below again in the stunning form that makes you feel like you are in Montana or Wyoming.
A quick descent of 20km saw us into a small pueblo in search of some breakfast. The Sunday market was just setting up with the usual, shoes, trinkets , household goods & woven clothes.
We found a small place that was selling alpaca with rice a potato & coffee. After chilling out for a solid 40min we hit the road.
The valley was just breathtaking. So wide & vast with farmers trying to eeeek out an existence at such a high altitude where nothing really grows.
We came across a small Laguna with a flock of Flamingos in it. So cool first time for me to see Flamingos. After stopping & taking a million pictures we were back on the road.
We had a nice soft tail wind pushing us along the barely noticeable descent. The road was fantastic & in pretty good shape with little traffic.
Of course the bus drivers always like to buzz you even if they have both lanes. We had a few get very close & of course blast their horns all the way past you.
We rolled into a pueblo at 1 for some lunch. This place had a nice chicken shop so it was a pretty tasty chicken & chips. After an hour at lunch it was back on the road with only 35km to go.
We hit the road & the tail wind had picked up. We were cruising between 35-40km an hour. The first 15k flew by. The road was fairly straight & the valley was getting more incredible as the day wore on.
At this stage it had opened up to be at least 20km across. With big hills on either side. We spotted Pucara from 3k away.
As we rolled in we stopped at the Iglesia. It was gorgeous built in 1760. Made from a beautiful red stone. The backdrop was a very large cliff that looked at lot like mount arapiles.
After a short stop we grabbed some supplies for dinner & began heading out of town. The wind had changed direction & picked up considerably it was now a killer head wind.
We found an empty abandoned building with no roof about 3km out of town. The wind was ripping through. This is the beginning of the wind that we will encounter being in the Altiplano.
We were done by 3:30. Set up our tents to try get out of the wind.
We followed lake Titicaca out of town.
It is quite unimaginable how big this lake is. They have their own navy to protect the border. It's a LAKE.
The lake is huge with so many trout farms on it. We could see a snow covered mountain on the other side of the lake all day.
It's really bizarre to be looking at this huge lake & realise we are almost 4,000mtr above sea level. We rolled into a small town after 30km for an ice cream.
The road is flat & straight with the occasional hill. The wind was mostly a cross wind but did tend to change to head and tail throughout the day.
We rolled into a big town called Juli. Found somewhere for lunch. We continued along the lake before turning inland a little.
We came across another bike tourer from Buenos Aires. He was towing a bob trailer & gave us some good info.
We stopped off in another pueblo at 85km for a Coke and ice cream then quietly rolled the last 20k. We stopped in Pomata for some onion & tomato to go with our tuna and mash.
We rolled back down the hill & found a great camp spot on the lake behind a new stadium they are building. Dinner & dishes done by 6:30.
It's already 7.c & dropping fast. Matt & I are sharing a tent to try be warmer. The stars tonight are so amazing.
I sat out of the tent for about 15min just staring at the stars. So nice to see the southern cross and Milky Way.
It's the most stars I have seen in quite some time. It's stunning
1-9-16 100km. Crossed into Bolivia.
KEEP LIVING THE DREAM
I am an ultra runner, Mountain biker, Packrafter, Climber, Ironman, Endurance Athlete