Cycle-touring once more!

Date: 1st September – 8th September 2012

Where: Cusco – Urcos – Sicuani – Santa Rosa – Pucara – Puno – Llave – Copacabana (Bolivia)

Distance: 4572 to 4932 miles

At last, our bags were back all together in one place, on our bikes. We were feeling strong and we were carrying a bag of goodies from the French bakery next to our Cusco hotel. Time to start cycling again! As we continued along the Cusco valley towards Bolivia, Incan ruins popped up at regular intervals, interspersed with the full range of llama-pac-uñas: Llamas – long-necked, continually chewing animals. Alpacas – Adorable, cute, and soooo fluffy! And Vicuñas – wild llamas on a diet.

The Inca gateway along the Cusco valley

Brightly coloured indigenous lady crossing the Rio Huatanay

Binary kilometre markers mean we think we are making slow progress up the valley

Llama-pac-unas:
TL: Llama at Machu Pichu
TR: Furry alpacas on the road out of Cusco (on the Left-hand side)
BL: Llama at Kuelap, Chacapoyas
BR: Rare and wild vicunas on the road out of Cusco (on the Right-hand side)

Early morning breakfast temptation in Urcos

After an indeterminable period of time cycling uphill that felt like flat, we reached the end of the Cusco valley at Abra La Raya, all 4338m of it. The other side subtle changes became apparent. The tarmac was better in Puno province, the roads were flatter and straighter, and there was a hell of a midday headwind. For the first time since Central America we found ourselves faced with a never-ending horizon of straight road, although this time we were armed with pod-casts and regularly distracted by the beautiful mountains either side. Stopping in small towns each night, and powered by morning choco-milk (really difficult to drink at altitude, we kept running out of breath), we racked up the miles traveling further each day than we had done since the beginning of Ecuador and all the time at 3900m. A railway accompanied us for this entire stretch and each morning woodpeckers warmed their feet on the rails (see cyclo-twitching page). This was odd as there were no trees on the altipano here, just grazing alpaca and llama.

Happy to have succeeded on our first 4000m+ pass: Abra La Raya

Snowy mountains flanked one side of the road (note the baby in the other bicycle)

The railway was a constant companion

Spot the Geoff competition – answers on a postcard to the Casa de Ciclista in La Paz by next Wednesday

Early morning Sarah in Santa Rosa

Trying to find amusement on the flat Yucatan-like roads. Note the ´stucke shtick´ in action holding up the bike

Early morning Geoff having breakfast

The flat flat roads

By this stage we knew from the map that Lake Titicaca was to our left, however it was not till we climbed a small hill that the many colours of the lake revealed themselves. After revelling in the magnificent views for a bit we climbed the even bigger hill to reach Puno, the biggest population centre on the lake. Here we found a comfortable bed and hot shower, with the latter becoming increasingly scarce.

As we approach Lake Titicaca lagoons appear all over the place. Perfect for a spot of bird-watching

Arrival at Lake Titicaca

The many colours of the lake

Farming the reeds of Lake Titicaca

Drying the reeds under the baking hot altiplano sun

A lazy day to Llave was followed by another lazy, but longer day to the border. Arriving at 4:30pm we looked at each other and instantly agreed to cross the border that night, in doing so escaping Peru which neither of us has really clicked with. We managed to mix ourselves right into the middle of a fiesta at the border meaning the actual frontier was blocked with parades so we joined a throng of people bypassing the main border entry. Delayed, tired, but ultimately happy we rolled into Copacabana as the lights went out. A friendly hostal and first impressions of Bolivia are good as we head to La Paz tomorrow (really tomorrow – the blog is up to date!!!).

Investigating the local catch of trout with the sea-birds

Isla del Sol y la Luna + sacred cow

Spot the Geoff Take two: Bolivian border colours

Late evening silhouettes cycling to Copacabana

2 responses to “Cycle-touring once more!”

  1. Ian Morris says :

    Hi guys, I’m reading each and every blog these days. Really great blog you’re running – really well written and some great photography. Well done you both! I think you’ll like La Paz, and I would suggest having a go at the world’s most dangerous road, which starts out of La Paz at around 5,100m, and then I think drops to around 1,500m – cold and snowy at the top, warm and tropical at the bottom, and it only takes a few hours. I did it with a local tour agent which means you get a lift back in a big old bus driven by a guy who’ll probably be eating coco leaves as he navigates frighteningly narrow roads and bends, with sometimes clouds and remnants of vehicles that didn’t make it below! Do try the saltenyas as well, particularly the picante ones. I also like Cochabamba where Fundacion Pro Habitat operate – which HI used to support, but not sure you’ll be passing through there. Really envy you guys, in a nice way, and keep up the fun! Love from us both and a slobbery kiss from Isaac :o)

    • Sarah says :

      Hi Ian, thanks for the tips…I´ve had numerous saltenyas now and yes they´re delish and I also love the papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes) with all the spicy dips as well. La Paz is really different to what I expected, a cosmopolitan haven in the midst of the barren altiplano. We´re making the most of it, have gone to the cinema, spent hours aimlessly wandering about and planning the rest of the route through the country to Chile which will be the most remote part of our journey by far (we´ll be carrying food for 8 days!). The blog is all down to Geoff, he puts a lot of our rest time into writing and sorting photos so all the credit goes to him. I´ve told him that such a compliment from you is a big deal ; ) thanks for the encouragement, he definitely needs telling that friends and family are enjoying it. Geoff has not been 100% health wise so we´ve stuck around to do some tests and nip whatever it is in the bud before we head off into the desolation so we´re not going to venture down the most dangerous road, but thanks for the info. We´ve been told it´s very similar to a few of the sections we´ve cycled already so we´re gonna save the energy for the tough bits South from here.I was wondering where ProHabitat were and was going to pop in if they were in La Paz but yes we don´t plan to go to Cochabamba so will see if any other organisations are interesting to find out about. How´s family life in London? All progressing well with the house? Photos photos photos please! Lots of greetings and hugs to Kavitha and little Isaac, well done to you both too on your big adventure! Love Sarah x

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