The road to Huaraz

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Sometimes it is difficult to capture in words the spectacular scenery through which we cycle on this once in a lifetime journey. The road from Trujillo to Huaraz was beautiful beyond words and has been one of the most incredible rides of the trip to date. Leaving Trujillo we cycled through coastline, desert, dramatic canyons and exited through the fertile green valley of the Rio Santa with the snow capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca on one side and the Cordillera Negra as its protective shadow on the other. The landscape has been all changing and humbling in parts.

The route..

Although more challenging physically and tougher on the bikes who have behaved themselves so far :), much of the more interesting sections were unpaved. The journey to Huaraz was 319km of which 131km was unpaved. This route would see us go from sea level to an altitude of 3090 metres. We guestimated it would take us 5 days to reach our destination. We were heading to the highlands of Peru which include some of the highest peaks in the Andean mountain range aswell as Huascaran, Peru’s highest mountain.

The route stage 1

The first part of the bike ride saw the scenery change from harsh and solitary desert landscape during our first day

…to more spectacular scenery along a camino privada.

This is in fact a 50km long private road which offers an alternative route for cyclists aswell as a nice short cut! It serves a hydroelectric power plant further up the valley.  

We had an early start so ventured on to the dirt road about 7.30am and what opened up before us is probably up there with one of the most scenic bike rides in the world. We went through various stages of what it must be like to cycle on the surface of the moon … no coco leaves involved!

followed by a taste of a ride through the Grand Canyon in Arizona. 

All manner of songs and rhymes go through your head on these kinds of rides, ‘the long and winding road’ was a particular favourite for me, Martin’s ‘earworm’ song was a bit more random, the 80’s ‘classic’ by ABC, ‘The look of love’ … not sure from where .. however unlike the mountains of Ecuador where you are counting down the metres as you ascend, this route was different.. it didn’t even feel like we were climbing. It felt effortless as we were so enveloped by these vistas, engrossed in the changing hues of our surroundings. 

A picture tells a thousand stories…

It is also a big mining area here and there were many deserted adobe houses where the miners may have lived at some stage..

We camped over night in a secluded spot by the Rio Santa  … 

and woke up to this the next morning …

and as the sun began to wake up ..

The route stage 2

The Canyon del Pato led us increasingly upward through 35 tunnels of rough hewn rock over a distance of 10km through a narrow valley.

 

The route stage 3

At the end of the 10km, we emerged on the other side and were greeted with the farming people of the Peruvian sierra and lush green countryside.

Huascarán, Peru’s highest peak and part of the Cordillera Blanca looms in the background. This is a paradise for climbers and trekkers.

The Cordillera Blanca – some stats .. 

It extends for 180km, totals 663 glaciers, includes the highest peak in Peru at 6,768metres, and has 269 lakes and 41 rivers.

Huaraz is the mountaineering capital of Peru. The setting of the city, at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca, is spectacular. You can apparently see over 23 snow-capped peaks over 5000 meters, including Huascaran (6768m). I plan to send Martin out to count them today ..

Some fellow travllers we met on the way..

A Spanish guy who is coming from Ushuia and on his way to Alaska…

Just a note, I don’t normally endorse the ‘socks and sandals’ look as in the above picture but I stupidly left one of my precious bike shoes behind so have no choice until I find some new ones! Apologies in advance for the German look.

 

The dutchies … we first met these three Dutch guys in Cartagena in Colombia and have twice now met them on isolated roads, in Colombia and the other day in Peru. Either we are going fast or they are going slow. Our destination point is the same in 6 months time. They are at a slight advantage with a motor attached though.

Locals at the market town in Carhuaz en route..

Just when you think their ‘costumes’ couldn’t get any more colourful, they do … a future fashion trend maybe?

We plan to relax here for a few days before we commence our journey to Cusco which we figure will take approximately a month. We also have Simon’s visit to look forward to in Cusco and many other friends will join us in parts for the last six months, Hannah, Derek, John and we hope Pete and Emilie and perhaps some more surprises..

It has been six months on the road and we now feel we have reached a milestone of sorts. We have made it to Huaraz.

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