Month: October 2018

Peru – Huancavelica to Manu to Cusco

In Huancavelica we take a break for three days. It is a beautiful, lively town with a super, versatile market.

On Tuesday we pedal towards the next bigger city Ayacucho. We never would have thought that the road to Lircay is that great! We almost forgot how fast we are on asphalt! 😀 In addition, there is hardly any traffic and the landscape is very beautiful! Exactly what you want as a touring cyclist. In the evening we arrive in Lircay and are glad that it is again a small town where we find accommodation, various shops and restaurants. It is incredibly cheap here in Peru. This delicious dinner, with soup and main course, cost us just 3 francs 😳 The next morning we roll up the last meters of altitude on the super small asphalted road before we enjoy an infinitely long descent down to 2400m above sea level. It gets warmer and greener. Beside the trees there are cacti and the fields are planted. Ayacucho lies on a hill and so we climb up the last kilometers into this city.

Ayacucho turns out to be a beautiful, lively city. We find cheap accommodation and spend the next two days here. Apparently a meeting of farms takes place here and at various stands, chocolate with a very high cocoa content is presented, coffee is sold and countless varieties of potatoes and maize can be admired. In Peru exist about 4000 varieties of potatoes😳 At the market we enjoy the delicious fruit juices and the „pan con palta“ as well as „pan con queso“👍😀 On Sunday we continue cycling. There are many cactuses and yellow shrubs along the way. Potatoes and quinoa grow in the fields. They are beautiful dark red fields. At a river shortly before Matara we pitch our tent. After our good breakfast porridge with bananas 😀 we crank up our today’s pass to 4200müM. Afterwards we let our legs hang and race down 2000 meters of altitude. Only for the lunch break on the village square in Ocros we make a short stop. Also there we are a sensation. Curious children, but also men and women come to us and even lift the cooking lid to look into the pan. When they “only” see broccoli and pumpkin in the pan, they frown and say: “Falta el carne”! (Meat is missing).😂 Yes, anyone who is vegetarian in Peru has a hard time. In addition, the selection in the restaurants is not very varied. You can usually choose between chicken and chicken or chicken.😂 From time to time there are Trucha, Lomo saltado or Chicharrón (trout, beef strips or pork). The side dish of all dishes is usually the same rice, very little salad and chips. Occasionally we have camote and choclo (sweet potatoes and corn). So we like to cook vegetables for ourselves when we find some. In the lower valley we discover avocado trees for the first time. Avocados are called “palta” here and they come in various shapes: large, small, pear-shaped or round, green or brown to black. Also the aroma varies a lot. The tasty fruit “Chirimoya” is also very popular here.

Yes exactly, the next day we crank our way back up to the next 4500müM pass. In Uripa at 3300müM we spend the night and tackle the rest of the pass the next day. It is a beautiful pass and it is once again an exciting experience to arrive at the top and look to the other side of the pass, which is this time a bit drier. In Nueva Esperanza we sit in the meadow for our lunch. Three little girls sit down and watch us with excitement. After a while they dare to ask us a few questions. Thus we learn the important information that in the next town, Andahuaylas, are a lot of parks and you can get many great barbies 😂 Well, then let’s go and we race down the many meters of altitude into this city! 🚴 🚴 And yes exactly – the next day, we climb all these altitude meters up to the next pass and race down to Kishuara. Here we have the pleasure to spend the night in a mud house and are woken up early at 6:15 am, because the house is badly soundproofed 😀. After a short descent and a opposing climb we reach the ruins of Curamba. There we experience a marathon start and get to know a successful Peruvian ultra trail runner. Almost at the same time as the runners we arrive in Huancarama. From there we cycle up a few meters before we descend 1500 meters to Abancay, where we arrive already in the dark.

The next days we enjoy a few rest days. On Saturday afternoon the electric power suddenly goes out. We hear “No hay luz” everywhere and are told that there has been an explosion in the central power plant. The breakdown could last up to three days. On Sunday we are very pleased to hear the mixers running in the market again and thanks to a generator we can enjoy a fruit juice, but without electricity, the ATMs do not work and soon we are running out of money!!! On Monday evening after two and a half days of power failure, the lights are suddenly on again.
On Tuesday we start the next stage. We spend the night in Curahuasi. On this day the last high pass to Cusco is waiting for us. This pass does not want to end! Arrived at the top, it is already dark and it gets fresh. We are glad that we bought warm motor bike gloves. In the small village of Ancuahasi a local man leads us to an accommodation. We imagined the village to be bigger. We are glad that the next day we have only a short distance ahead of us and with only a few metres of altitude difference. It is raining when we arrive in Izuacha and we flee into the dry of the market. We quickly discovered our beloved Jugerias! Strengthened with the second breakfast we turn onto a gravel road to Maras. Off the main road, although we can’t complain about the traffic, it’s just a little more beautiful. Shortly before Maras we hear deafening loud music from the Plaza de Armas. Only with earplugs in our ears we can stand the loud music. The village celebrates its patron saint San Franscico de Assisi. Dances are danced in the coloured costumes and many people are masked. For us it looks a bit like carnival. It has many food stalls where Trucha or Chicharron is sold. After the lunch stop we cycle on a beautiful single trail to the salt terraces of Maras and cycle on to the lovely town of Urubamba.

In Urubamba there are even two markets right next to each other and we see some tourists every now and then. We have now arrived in the sacred valley. When we arrive the next morning just before Calca, a Peruvian woman with German roots invites us to her beautiful bistro VINILOS’s Cafe Cultural Calca for a coffee. 😀. She gives us the tip to eat Cuy in the village Coya (guinea pig), which is offered there as a speciality. This is what we do. At the street in Coya one Cuy restaurant after the other lines up and with the Cuy skewer in the hand the restaurants recruit and lure the passing people. Well, the cuy doesn’t taste that good to us. It is well seasoned, but it has more bones than meat. The valley is very green and beautiful, but there is more traffic than we are used to. Pisac is teeming with tourists and after a short round trip in the village we are looking forward to continue. We have decided to make a side trip into the rain forest Manu, however, the route leads again over two passes, so we decided to shorten this trip with a taxi 😀 On top of the pass, it’s foggy and extremely cold. A little further down we are again out of the fog and can enjoy the view. A teenager persuades us to visit the ruin towers in Cancha Cancha. He leads us there and learns us a few words in Quequa, the language of the locals here. An extremely difficult language! We are glad that everyone understands Spanish. After his little tour he wants some money. Aha, this is how it works😂 As we drive on, it is already late. It is a very nice descent on good gravel. In a shelter, small barn, we put up our tent and feel a bit like Josef and Maria 😀. The trip to Paucartambo the next day is longer and bumpier than we thought. Finally after a curve we see the beautiful village of Paucartambo, which was influenced by the colonial times. Since today are the regional elections, there is an endless queue in front of the town hall. Alcohol is forbidden on election day and in the evening many people gather in the Plaza de Armas. Whether they wait for the election result or for the release of alcohol, we are not sure.

The next morning we go to the „Collectivos“ stop to find a taxi to the next pass. It doesn’t take long and for 60 Soles (18Fr) a private „Collectivo“ takes us up to the pass. The view down to the endless dense forest is breathtaking. As far as the eye can see, we see forest. So there it is, the rainforest. The further down we cycle, the denser the forest becomes and the louder the jungle sounds. In the Cloudforest at 1500müM we stop and take a short walk. Our destination is further down at about 800m above sea level. The ride is spectacular! Crossing a creek we can observe countless colorful butterflies 🦋 . In Cochanta we meet the biologist José and his friend Pablo www.reservatierralinda.com. Here in Secondforest they have bought a piece of land where they have set themselves the goal of replanting the rainforest. With an old off-road vehicle we drive with Pablo on the bumpy way through the jungle. After the 15 minute drive we have to wade across a river to reach the two forest huts, which were built by Pablo five years ago into the clearing. It is a beautiful place. Pablo cooks a tasty Spanish bread soup for us and by candlelight we learn more about Pablo’s projects. On our discovery tour the next morning we can see that Pablo still has a lot to do! The previous owners have deforested a lot! After our stay in Pablo’s paradise we drive even deeper into the jungle to Atalaya. On the way there we pass the villages of Patria and Picollpata. In both there is a market. At Mirador Atalaya, where we enjoy the beautiful view of the river and the rainforest. Our hosts https://es-la.facebook.com/Agencia-Atalaya-Manu-131372603566711/ in Atalaya are very proud to show us their sloth bear Lola. They also offer tours, which have fairer prices than the tours organized from Cusco, but we are not enthusiastic about a guided tour. So we cycle on to Salvacion, where we want to do an individual raft tour on the Cocha Machuwasi. The best time for this is early in the morning, but the next morning it rains a lot. The rainy season has now definitely started. We wait until it stops and cycle the beautiful route to Salvacion. On the way we see parrots. Shortly before Salvacion we have to cross the river twice, as there is no bridge, we arrive with wet feet at this very remote place..
No photos

At Machuwasi we realize that it is already a bit late for the raft trip. We get into conversation with the Coca chewing ticket seller. We almost don’t understand a word of his mumbling and unclear pronunciation. We find accommodation in Salvacion and want to drink a „jugo“ at the market and buy vegetables. To our astonishment the big market is empty. Only with time do we realize and learn in conversation that there are simply not enough vegetables and fruits to run the market. Salvacion is the last place in the supply chain from Cusco and thus only few food comes all the way down to Salvacion. It is also exciting that down here bananas are very rare😳 Everything is exported to Cusco. We find a very good hairdresser and pay for both only 14 soles (4 francs). We have never cut our hair so cheap! Fortunately it doesn’t have as many sand flys as in Atalaya, but our legs are extremely pricked and it bites horribly! When we want to do our raft tour at the Machuwasi in the evening, it rains again. When it stops, we seize the opportunity and start the trip comfortably with the raft. But already after 10 minutes it rains again. We can’t see many animals, but the hoatzin defy the rain and hardly move. Also the horned screamer with their funny noise and “antenna” on the head are still at the same place. Early in the morning we try our luck again with the raft tour. But also in the morning it rains when we arrive at the pond. We wait for a dry window and grab a raft. But we don’t see much more birds than the day before. Also on the trail it is only muddy and the animal luck is missing. All the more we are happy when we discover a red macaw just next to our hospedaje. Well, the rainy season has now definitely arrived and we want to get to Cusco as soon as possible. With a „Collectivo“ we drive on Sunday for 40 soles per person and 20 soles for our bikes, which find place on the roof, to Cusco. After eight hours we finally arrive.
No photos

In Cusco, after a long search, we find a place to stay and tiredly fall into the uncomfortable bed. Here in Cusco we now have to decide how our journey should continue. The sad news that the health of Judith’s father has increasingly worsened moves us to the decision to fly home. Whether it is just an interruption or the end of our journey remains to be seen.
We still enjoy our remaining time in Cusco and every day we stroll through the market and are happy about the delicious jugos😀. The funny thing is that there are almost no tourists in our quarter and market “Wanchaq”. As soon as we approach the Plaza de Armas, it is teeming with western tourists and also in the market San Pedro you can see them equipped in droves with big cameras and huge backpacks, clasping them tightly.
No photos

Conclusion:
Peru is a very varied, exciting country. The people are rather reserved, but very friendly. Since there is a lot of false money in circulation, the money is always controlled. Of course, we have also taken over that😂.The big bank notes are very unpopular. From ATM’s only 50s and 100s notes are dispensed. Mostly, however, already a 20s is a huge problem, because no one can give change. Machu Picchu we have deliberately omitted, as it is absolutely overrun by tourists and overpriced! But we made the trip to the National Park Manu, which we highly recommend and this is easily possible without expensive (for 3 days from 600-1400 $) guided tour!

Total distance: 1126.14 km
Max elevation: 4512 m
Min elevation: 496 m
Total climbing: 22376 m
Total descent: -22579 m