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.
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.
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.
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!!!).