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Author: 2WF (Page 1 of 8)

Cycling Northern Argentina

If you cut the map of the world at the equator and you put Argentina over Africa and Europe, you see that Argentina has the same length as from South Libya to Denmark.

So in the coming months we will actually be cycling from Libya to the Mediterranean Sea, crossing it to Greece, from where we will cycle through former Yugoslavia, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany to finally arrive in Denmark. 😀

We created an upside down map to make this story clear, hopefully. If not... whatever, it's a long way south 😉

We always thought that the south of Patagonia was very deep south, but it is actually just as far too the south as Denmark is to the north, seen from the equator.

Because it is quite a long piece, we will divide the blogs from Argentina and Chile into several stories. This blog is about Northern Argentina where we will pick up the famous Ruta 40 and tells till city of Mendoza.

Enjoy reading.

Up to country number 15 of this trip. Argentina 🙂

It was already getting dark when we entered the migration office. They where still open so we pushed all our stuff through an X-ray machine, got our passports stamped and here we are... Argentina.

Because it was already late we checked in at a nearby cheap hostel. The entrance was through a small shop. The room was freezing cold, the TV in the room only showed some grey contours from what a movie or show could be but the shower where hot.

Buckle up again to hit the first Argentinian highway.

Just out of town we start off at route 9. The year is 1970 and we are counting down in time.

It's hard to find good wildcamp spots along Route 9 because it's all fenced so we camp along it.

It's the year 1886, time for a pee.

Empty roads but big smiles.

Still in the 19the century, we keep on moving in time.

The highest point of this part of the route, 3780 above sealevel. Can't remember the exact year but is was definitely time for cookies.

Wierd mountains on the left side of the road.

When we checked our map before we started this road we saw also a traintrack. But this track had big gaps in it on certain places . Now we know why; the traintrack just stops so now and than.

Rail just hanging 10m above the ground

Extreme colours in the mountains.

Kim patching her sleeping mattrass. Dahm cacti 🙁

The whole railway bridge came down. The water washed the sidewalls of the river away.

Sergio, a trucker from Brazil. Drives between Southern Brazil and Northern Chile in a week time. He asked us if we needed fresh water from Brazil. How can we say no?

Small boys can also drive big toys.

The wide landscape changed to mountains with jungle forrest.

In the year 1650 we find a hidden campspot in the bushes.

Many sanctuaries to pray along the road.

The upper bird defends it's nest against the attacker who didn't give a s**t about the maneuvers.

We guess we are on the right track down to Patagonia. Cheers...

In a ditch on the side of the road drinking wine and waiting for the sun going down so we can put up our tent in the dark, hidden for the traffic.

Next morning. We had a safe night, not seen by anybody. We think 😀

Rusty bridge to enter the next town. The town was just nothing, not even a store to buy some food.

Hard to see but these cows are climbing the rocks as they are mountain goats.

A closer look to the mountain cows. Wierd to see cows so high up in the steep mountains.

Here are the real mountain goats

Impressive landscape.

Anne and Sergio from Brazil with 3 year old Jamil in the trailer. They are cycling from Brazil to Mexico.

Cheese...!!

And we thought we have hard times sometimes. Pffff... this is really hardcore, deep respect on these steep mountain passes.

Bird eating the fox.

Horses and farmers at the river in a postcard landscape.

At the campground in downtown Cafayate.

When we leave Cafayate again the campsite owner gives us thumps up.

Cafayate is one of the epicenters for growing wine grapes in Argentina.

Wine, give me more wine!

The first kilometers on the famous Route 40. One of the longest roads in the world. We "just" have to cycle 4338km to hit the border of Tierra del Fuego from where it's another 600km to Ushuaia.

Max speed on Route 40 is... 40 😀

Some upcoming cyclists from Germany and Brazil.

We love the warm weather again.....

.... Big smile and thumbs up.

How empty can a road be?

Kim looking for wildlife along the road.

Wildlife??? Jup, wild donkeys.

Nice huge campers everywhere in Argentina.

The road to nowhere.

40 40 at the 40.

No towns at all in the area, no light pollution so millions of stars at night. @ ISO3200 | 10mm | f/4.0 | 30sec

"E.T. Phone Home"

Looking south. @ ISO3200 | 10mm | f/4.0 | 30sec

Looking north. @ ISO3200 | 10mm | f/4.0 | 30sec

Looking straight up. @ ISO3200 | 10mm | f/4.0 | 30sec

Local cyclists did share some dates with us... Jummy!

Most funny guy we met on the road so far. We bumped into him at a gasstation and had a fascinating conversation about the Big Bang, The end of the universe and everything in between.

Sun and Wine.... Make my day 😀

Looking over the edge.

Looking into the deep valley where we are climbing out.

Big climb for breakfast.

At the top we met Veronica from Chile. Cycling just by her own around South America, making money by being a street artist.

Yes, we may go down again.

Wanna play Angry Birds?

Hummmm..... A good start for this beautiful day in paradise.

We were running out of food and the next town for buckle up food again was a few days cycling ahead of us. We were thinking what to eat at night, a car stopped, a guy jumped out and did give us two huge sandwiches with schnitzels and fresh veggies. Is that karma out what? 😂

Jummy!!

Emptiness.

Wurst und Käse by night.

Ruta 40 @ Belen

Bad hairday?

🙁

This endless freedom makes me happy.

Hi Doggie

Campsite close to San Juan, along a lake. Looks very promising.

The campsite was at a lake but it was not no allowed to swim... bummer...

Update some stuff.

We couldn't find petrol for our stove nearby so we tried it with alcohol but our MSR stove didn't burn on it. So we build our own stove out of two Coca Cola cans. The cooking was much slower than usual but it worked 🙂

The lake we camped on.

Cycling gets even better with wine in our cycling bottles 😉

Okay, one more flat.

Leaving the campsite. Like the trees.

We asked for water at a small shop along the hot road. All they got was this.

Dry ground to camp on.

Ezequiel is cycling with his dog Mancha around South America.

Hi Mancha!!!

The last part into Mendoza.

Into the big city of Mendoza.

HEY, what are you looking at?

Our home for a few days. Break in Mendoza.

Mendoza: Hotdogs with beer.

After a few days Mendoza we cycled further to the south to cross the border into Chile, a bit south of San Martin de Los Andes. The next blog will show hard winds, long gravel roads and beautiful National Parks.

Stay Tuned.

Kim & Arjan

Cycling Bolivia & Salar de Uyuni

Bolivia, with five neighbour countries and no coastline well hidden somewhere deep in South America. Like many other places on this trip we where really looking forward to visit this country. This because of the world famous huge salt flats. These salt flats cover an area of ​​10,582 km2, the largest salt flats in the world. This all at an altitude of 3660 meters on the Bolivia Highlands, in the Andes near the town of Uyuni.

Wikipedia learned us;

About 40,000 years ago, this plains was part of a huge prehistoric lake. When the lake dried up, two lakes remained (Poopo Lake and Uru Lake), and two large salt flats (Salar de Uyuni and Salar de Coipasa). It is estimated that it contains more than 10 billion tonnes of salt, of which around 25,000 tonnes are removed annually.

The flats are covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average elevation variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. It contains 50% to 70% of the world's known lithium reserves. The large area, clear skies, and exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar ideal for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites. Following rain, a thin layer of dead calm water transforms the flat into the world's largest mirror, 129 kilometres across.

From the border from Peru we will head for La Paz, one of the highest cities in the world from were we will go south to Oruro, on to route 12 to Sabaya. At this small town close to the Chile border we gonna hit Salar de Coipasa first, meet the flamingos and move on to Salar de Uyuni.

After Uyuni will cycle south to the border with Argentina. On this part we expected a boring route but cycled an unexpected beautiful part of Bolivia, a bit similar to the National Parks in the United States but without the thousands of tourists.

Into Bolivia, warm jackets for sale.

Bienvenidos a Bolivia 🙂

100m after the border we try the fresh local banana juices.... jummy!!!

The border town doesn't look very pretty.

The Titicaca lake with on the horizon snowy peaks.

Keep drinking tea... We drink approximately 2 liter of hot tea per person every day.

Our first campspot in Bolivia. Also in this country, wildcamp doesn't look like a problem. The highway is just 100m away but no one can see us in the lower riverbed. We enjoy the nice sunset.

La Paz in a far distance with the snowy mountains as decor.

It looks we are going high up again.

But down first...

In one of the small villages along the way.

LLoco LLoco or Loco Loco?

Dirt roads again.

Welcome in Australia.

Dusty trucks on the dusty road.

Trucks hunting Kim.

Swampy area.

Arriving into town through an industrial area.

Out of town still dirt roads.

Old Volkswagens cars & vans all over the place.

Camping in an abandoned house.

Rare birds.

Route 1. The main highway from north to south Bolivia.

With strong tail winds we go fast over this otherwise boring road.

Another flat 🙁

Mobile bakeries on the streets, Arjan loves them. "Calories, give me more calories."

Colorful

More colors.

Dutch transporters in Bolivia? Indeed they are very international 😀

Welcome at Planet Mars | Route 12 to Sabaya.

Kims bike with the biggest mudguard ever. Arjan stays dry behind her now.

Melting water after a freezing cold night.

Pushing out of our hidden campspot.

The sign says....

Laaamaaaaa...!

Downhill to the higher mountains.

Endless empty roads.

Hello again.

🙁

Flat tire and a broken airpump 🙁 🙁

Under The Bridge - RHCP

Ice on the river in the morning.

Six people died in the car?

Nearly end of the asphalt road. From here the salt lakes will start.

Preparing for a few days of no food and water resources.

Slept in this crapy hotel in Sabaya and take of to the salt.

She's selling Quinoa.

On to the salt, not white yet but this will change.

Empty town.

Passing a "big" temple.

The salt is wet and soft. Hard cycling.

Halfway we pass a little town.

Because the salt is so soft and wet we take a bit longer route around it at some parts.

Pink flamingos.

Swampy salt/mud.

We camp on the beach of the saltlake.

At sunset amazing colors in the sky.

In the morning also flamingos for breakfast.

Start your day with a flat tire.

We follow the swampy edge of the salt again.

At some point we have to cross the lake.

Endless white.

DCIM102GOPRO

Between the saltlakes a sandy part.

Where to go? To the lamas?

Deep desert sand.

"Kom ie nog of wat?"

Pushing hard in soft sand.

LLica, the town between the two big slat lakes where you can buy some food and water.

Uyuni, that way! -->

Long days give long shadows.

Camping at the salt. Cars and trucks pass by sometimes. Our biggest scar at night for us; They don't see our tent on time and drive over us.

-10 C at night.... we need hot drinks.

Amazing sunsets.... again 🙂

Cold at night so jackets and hat on.

Breakfast with a view while warming up in the early morning sun.

Packing up again, nearly ready for an other day at the office.

Salty wheels.

Endless... Priceless... The whole route over both of the saltlakes was around 300km. Due the wet and muddy first lake it took us nearly 5 days to finish both of the lakes.

Have a break.

Some classic pictures. Due the intense white depht is hard to see and gives creative opportunities.

No Photoshop needed.

Just two colors for five days... Blue and White.

Welcome at Isla Incahuasi. This island is in the middle of Salar de Uyuni. We camped here for the night.

Yes indeed, maybe unbelievable but the salt lakes are at 3660 meter above sealevel.

Around the island.

Sun is going down.

The island is full of huge cactusses. Up to 12m high!!

The sign did give us some protection against the hard winds over the salar.

Animals around.

No fancy photoshop filter, just like it is.

Breakfast.

In the morning the touristic 4x4 trips leave again.

On the "road?" again.

Strange but true. We found water underneath the salt. This did give us the strange feeling like cycling on ice instead of salt.

Don't cycle in there!!

4x4 trips are populair, coming from Uyuni going to the Island we just came from.

Close to the end of the Salar the Uyuni there is this Dakar Rally monument. Here we met @fedeflores94 from Argentina

Inside the building close to the Dakar monument.

Dakar did pass this place in 2016.

Bye big salar.

Getting closer to the town of Uyuni.

At the Casa de Ciclista in Uyuni.

Cleaning bikes and stuffing ourselves up with loads of calories again. Preparing and planning for the last leg of our trip through Argentina, Chili and Patagonia.

August 4, nearly 6000km to go. (Google did a little miscalculation of 1000km) At the time of posting this Bolivia blog we are in San Martin de los Andes already.

Our lovely host Mirjam at the Casa de Ciclista.

Leaving Uyuni. Independence day Bolivia.

Filling our campstove up with gasolina again at the last gasstation for the coming days. Kim is making friends in the meantime with these twins.

Long road ahead to the Argeninan border.

"Buenos dias chicos"

Just 10m away from us while we are having our breakfast.

Lama for breakfast.

Unexpected amazing landscapes on the road south.

Empty towns.

Also lama for lunch? 😀

Snow close the top of one of the mountain passes (4000m something)

"Kim how do you transport 20 eggs on a bicycle?" --- "Just on the back with some soft mattresses underneath! :-)"

Camp close to the highest point of this stretch to the border. 4200m.

Yeah... going down again on this winding road.

Okay Laamaa!

Down we go!

Like cycling in an US national park but without the thousands tourists.

Lunchtime.

Going down means warmer weather. Long shorts out!!

"Hey Kim, what are you doing out there?" 😛

Into Villazon in the late afternoon. Villazon is the border town, we wanna try to get into Argentina this evening.

Yes, the migration office is still open... "Argentina here we come..!"

Train Graveyard – Uyuni – Bolivia

It will probably take a while before our Cycling Bolivia blog will be online. In the meanwhile this post with the first pictures from Bolivia taken on a Train Graveyard.

Close to Uyuni in Bolivia we found a Train Graveyard full of old rusty stream trains. It's a unreal place to visit in the middle of the Bolivian dessert.

Our "Cycling Bolivia" blog will be online as soon as possible. Thanks for watching 🙂

Cycling Peru Part III

This blog is about our last part in Peru. We will visit the capital of Peru, Lima, we will visit the world famous Machu Picchu inca ruins and before heading to Bolivia we will visit Rainbow Mountain... here we go...

After hiking the Santa Cruz Trail with our basecamp in Caraz we dropped of our rented backpacks again and cycled from Caraz to Huaraz. It's just an one day stretch to the bigger and more touristic Huaraz. We stayed here for a few days before we hopped on a bus to Lima.

In the first place Lima was not in our planning at all. It's just another big city, it's far from our ongoing route south and it's along the cost, out of the Andes Mountain Range which means a lot of extra climbing when we wanna pick up our route south again. Unfortunately we had visit Lima to bring a visit at the Dutch Embassy. Arjan sold his apartment in Holland so official documents had to be arranged. We didn’t want to fly back to Holland for this so we had to find ourselves an embassy through which everything could be signed without flying back to Holland.The Dutch embassy in Lima was one of the very few options in South America to do this.

Cycling to Lima was no option because of the appointment which was in two days.
After all Lima was not to bad. At the embassy everything went smooth and in the meanwhile we discovered the big city.

From Lima we catched a bus again into the High Andies around the town of Cusco. Cusco is very touristic, this is THE town from where 95% of all tourists visit Machu Picchu. In Cusco we found a Casa del Ciclista to camp. The owner was an ex-tourguide and he was able to arrange a Machu Picchu tour for us the cheap way 🙂

Machu Picchu was high on our "What to do and to see in the world" list for a long time already, so we where really excited to finally bring a visit to MP.

After Machu Picchu we finally jumped on our bikes again for the last couple of kilometers in Peru. The popular Rainbow Mountain and Lake Titicaca where nice to visit though Titicaca was very cold, rainy and windy. Not real fun.

Pictures according to the story above, see below 📸
Have fun!!!

Caraz, Huaraz & Lima

Finished the Santa Cruz Trail, ready to hop on the bikes again. No not the motorbikes 😉

To Huaraz

Ice cream the Peruvian way.

Jummy!!!!

Get the bikes ready to stuff in the bus.

After a night in the bus into the busy morning traffic of Lima.

Bike lanes 😀

I Like!

Lima is on the coast. The weather was cold and rainy so no swimming for us.

Shopping instead.

Gas Mobile

Dutch Embassy

Nice roads to cycle on? Nope!

After a few days in Lima back in the bus to Cusco. The busses are super luxe with TV's and chairs that can go 100% horizontal so you can sleep like in a bed.

Cusco & Machu Picchu

On our way to Machu Picchu.

First with a small bus to Hidro Electrica from where a 12km railroad winds to the new town of Machu Picchu.

We hike along the railroad... Cycling is not allowed. (and our bikes are still in Cusco)

We are not the only hikers.

Once in a while a slow diesel train shows up.

The hike trail is quite narrow at some parts.

In the new town of Machu Picchu. Here we spend the night in a hotel to go to the old ruins in the early morning.

A bit after 7 in the morning. Our guide is ready to go. Some of the group are still sleepy 😀

The sun is still behind the mountains.

Sunrise is nearly there.

The first sunbeams over Machu Picchu.

This is the place to take your pictures.

Mr. Lama does also enjoy the early sun.

Many tourists already. If you buy an entrance ticket for Machu Picchu they ask you at what time you wanna go in. This starts from 7am and you are aloud to visit Machu Picchu for a maximum of 4 hours. Every day circa 4000 people visit Machu Picchu!

Our guide is telling his story.

Selfie Time

In the far distance Hidro Electrica from where we came hiking.

An old Inca bridge. The scary bridge is closed for pubic.

No idea why they closed this old Inca bridge 😉

The path to the Inca Bridge.

Okay, one more selfie.

Going down into Machu Picchu.

Look at his shirt, Studio MAD is filming here as well 😀

Steep down...

Lama's all over the place.

After our 4 hour visit (which was long enough) we hike back to Hidro Electrica.

The blue line is our track. The black zigzag line is the road between the old and the new Machu Picchu.

Kim has a new friend again.

Hi doggy 🙂

Machu Picchu seen from the back side.

Another train comes along.

At the train station loads of stuff.

Back at our Warmshowers adress in Cusco Arjan helps Walter in the big garden.

Camping in the garden of Walter.

Fresh bread, bacon and cheese for breakfast.

Rainbow Mountain and the far South

Leaving Cusco again, on our (long) way to Bolivia.

Wildcamp at a beautiful spot along a river.

At night freezing cold so in the morning a warm downjacket and a hot tea.

South we go...

The beginning of the one hour hike to Rainbow Mountain. We started hiking at 6 in the morning to see the sunrise over Rainbow Mountain.

The sun is still behind the mountains.

We are not the only onces going up this early in the morning.

Nearly there at an altitude of more than 5000m.

Kim hiking up to Rainbow Mountain.

It's not only Rainbow Mountain which is colourfull, the whole area is full of colours.

At 5000+ m you can expect to see snow.

The sun is still rising, the valley behind Rainbow Mountain still in the shadow.

Lookout point at 5036m above sea-level.

With our own shadows.

Colours, colours, colours.

Many pictures made.

Selfie

And another doggy...

Purple and blue??

Locals on the track. They still carry their stuff on horses and donkeys,

And of course lama's again all over the place.

Beautifull animals.

The later it gets, the more tourists show up.

The boy is making fun.

Hot tea??

No idea which bird this is but it's not a small one.

We start hiking back to where we came from.

Breakfast with a view. (and another dog)

Lama's in the deep valley.

The small van which brings us back to our hostel.

Our group of today, two from Spain and with the driver, Samual, in the middle.

At our hostel, newborn cheep.

The next day cycling we meet Alex from Argentnia.

Still cold at night so a Whisky is fine.

The long roads of Southern Peru.

Check: Another mountain pass. At 4338m.

Dahm... Kim a flat tire again.

Market at the top of the mountain pass.

Going down after the pass.

We love the slow diesel trains.

Back in time. Picture with Elvis.

The moon is up already, time to find ourselves a camp spot for the night.

Empty area, not many places to hide a tent for the night.

But found one behind an ugly wall.

Full moon tonight.

Beautiful sunset over the train track in the front.

On the road again.

A big market in a small village. Sheepskins for sale.

Camp at an old abandoned train station.

Leaving the trainstaion again the next morning

Kangaroo? Rabbit?

Big brother is watching us.

Rain at lake Titicaca.

Another flat.

Lake Titicaca.

The snowy mountains of Bolivia in the far distance.

Lunchbreak. Around the lake it's very windy so we cook our noodles behind a small stone wall.

Fishing nets.

Hi, come inside, it's nice and warm here!!!

It froze last night.

White tent.

Brrrrr cold but hot tea and an euhmmm... nice hat 😀

But with a view. Again 🙂

Bye bye Peru, it was nice visiting you for the last 2,5 months.

Checking out of Peru, into Bolivia.

Thanks for reading, we love you all!!!

Santa Cruz Trail – Peru

We have arrived in Caraz, a small town along the Cordillera Blanca, a high mountain range in Peru. The mountain range is part of the larger Andes range and extends for 180 kilometres. It includes 33 peaks over 6,000 metres high and counts 722 individual glaciers.

The plan here is to hike the famous Santa Cruz Trail. In Caraz we find ourselves a small hotel and spend a day for preparation. We rent some larger backpacks, buy trail food for four days, arrange storage for our bikes and organise transport to the beginning of the Santa Cruz Trail.

At the first hiking day we leave our hotel at 6:30 in the morning and take a 3 hour rough ride to Vaqueria. The rest is history... Happy reading again.

With a small collectivo (small public transport bus) we take a ride to Vaqueria where the Santa Cruz Trail starts.

The rough gravel road over a 4700m mountain pass has stunning views.

The start of the Santa Cruz Trail at 3750m.

The first part of the track leads between some local farms.

Small piggies 🙂

In the distance we already see some snow coming up.

The Santa Cruz Trail is a popular trail so we're not the only once's on the track.

Our direction pointed out.

The Paria campground. It's still early in the day so we move on to an other campground.

A lot of people also walk the trail in an organised group. They don't have to carry their own luggage, it's carried by donkeys and small horses.

We like to be independent so we walk the trail by ourselves and find our own way.

Muesli bars. Hikers food.

It's climbing all the time. In two days we will climb up from the start at 3750m to the highest point on the trail at 4750m.

Around 16:30 we find this unofficial campground.

Check, nice place to stay but pretty cold already.

Kim has some blisters but forgot to take a needle and compeet. A Leatherman knife and ordinary band aids is the second option.

The next morning the sunrise is beautiful.

It was cold last night. -5 C.

Warming up in the early morning sun.

Fresh drinking water is coming from the mountains.

We fill up our water bottles and move on.

The 4750m Union Pass in a far distance is coming up.

Where we came from.

Climbing higher and higher.

At this hight the air is tin. While climbing up it feels we're 30 years older because we get less oxygen.

More donkeys...

Nearly at the top of the pass.

Yes, made it. It took us 2.5 hours to climb up from our camp at 4200m to 4750m over a distance of just 4km. Tin air you think? 😉

Nice views.

Also animals at the top.

We continue our track and start walking down again.

A new valley has new views.

Have a break with hot noodle soup.

Taullipampa campground.

We pass by because tonight we wanna stay close to a glacier lake not far from here.

The last part of today.

Made it to Arhuaycocha campground. Just 1km from Lake Arhuaycocha where in the Arhuay glacier ends.

We pitch our tent and enjoy the cold sunset.

The next morning we wake up early to hike to the glacier lake. We leave the tent and our stuff at the campground because there is just one way up and down.

Any Hobbits around here?

The sun rises slowly and shines already on the mountains behind us.

At the lake and the glacier still no sun.

Still waiting for the sun to warm us up.

Whaaaahh..

Yeah... finally the sun is up.

Warming up again after the freezing night.

Back down again.

Back at the campground we make some hot oat meal and tea.

We start hiking again and pass some cows.

This is the valley we will follow the coming two days.

Kim making new friends again.

Flat and slowly going down, following the river.

Fresh drinking water along the way. We don't drink from the river because all the animals walk in there aswell but the small side streams straight out of the mountains are safe for drinking.

The first lake in the valley we pass.

Some die on this trail 😉

The river with cows on the side.

Donkey with her baby.

Having a nap...

Our campground for tonight is in the far distance.

Llamacorral campground.

Having a cold beer.

The next morning noodle soup with tea.

Packing up again.

Donkeys running over the campground.

The start of our last day of hiking the Santa Cruz Trail.

The river we follow is getting bigger.

The cow didn't like us.

Going down, deeper into the valley.

Still very clear water.

Nearly at the end of the trail 🙁

We made it;
4 days | 53KM | Lowest point 2900m | Highest point 4750m | Lowest temp. -5 C | Highest temp. +25 C |

In the collectivo back to Caraz in 1.5 hours.

From Caraz we will cycle to Huaraz, a bigger, more touristic town, just one day cycling away from Caraz.

Bye.

Cycling Peru Part II

Cycling Cajamarca to Caraz

At the town of Cajamarca we took a few days off from cycling. In this post we cycle further south. Our South-America paper map hardly shows any roads in this part of Peru so we try to rely on the map apps on our phone. The map apps do show roads but it's always the question how these roads are in real life.

We find out the roads are hard to cycle in this part of Peru and sometimes the roads just end. Sometimes bridges over rivers just don't exist at all and we have to wade through.

In these very remote areas hardly a living soul is found, the only people we meet are rough old gold diggers and drunk guys at Monday morning.

After a lot of chicken with rice, chicken with fries makes me happy 🙂

A town square like as in every town in Central and South America.

The local tienda (shop)

A day of no cycling. Relaxing, drinking coffee and thee and reading books all day long! This hostel has a nice backyard we don't see often so we are very happy to use it.

Making friends again.

We stayed here for two nights.

And say good bye again to the nice family that owns this hostel.

On the road again but we have to push up at some places. This part of the road is pretty rough with gravel and has some steep up and down hills.

And going down again....

I hugged the road 🙁 No serious injuries.

After falling off the bike I went a little slower down the mountain.

Market

When walking over a market people always give us a lot of attention. Probably it's rare, tourists visiting no-tourist markets.

Away from the towns again into the great wide open.

Sun is going down.

Camping at the Agua Calientes. Here we meet the Swiss again and a lone cyclist from the US. We chat and drink some beers in the night to celebrate being together again.

The next morning we check out the Agua Calientes but the water is not as caliente as we expected so we stayed in just for 10 minutes or so.

Looks nice but it was pretty chilly.

Politics on the left building, local herbs on the right. A wierd Dutch girl in the middle 😀

Just another unknown town.

"Welcome in Shit a Bamba"

6:30 in the morning, time for another day on the road.

In the villages most women still dress in colourful traditional clothes. We love it!

While taking a break along a lake a bunch of sheep pass by.

Young shepherd.

The sheep didn't bother us.

After the sheep a couple of cows pass by as well and start a fight in front of us.

We survive the sheep and the bull fight... time for food!!!

Random street pic.

At a small stream we find a nice spot for camping. The sky turnes in full color pallet as soon as the sun starts to go down.

...

Sheep don't care about the colourful sky.

The next day we pass a huge mining area. Colourful as well but it ruins the area 🙁

Pushing up again.

Red river?

Farm up in the hills.

A farmer is drying the corn in his backyard.

At the top of a mountain pass we find an old graveyard, just in the middle of nowhere.

Kim waiting when Arjan shoots picture number ...?

Going down into the...

... eucalyptus forest.

After a downhill always an uphill.

But with beautiful views.

We have a hard time finding a good spot to sleep because all the land seems to be owned by farmers here. Eventually we ask a farmer and we are aloud to camp in his eucalyptus plantation. Finally time to eat, relax and drink lots of tea before diving into bed again.

The next morning we come down from the eucalyptus plantation again.

In a small town, we pass, a festival and soccer game is going on.

Happy people.

Happy me as well.

This old lady parties hard as well.

Waiting for the bus?

The festival stays at the top of the mountain, we go down again.

Local statues in the background.

Workers building a new bridge. Luckily we can pass.

Natural water for free. A bit brown but when boiling tea from it the color doesn't matter anymore.

Though going up.

A perfect grassy spot for a camp high in the mountains. We are around 3500m in wintertime. So it is cold at night, around zero degrees celsius.

Eating dust from the trucks.

More dust to eat.

Taking some wood for a fire.

Some ruins along the road when going down.

One of the villages we pass is completely closed for traffic because of roadwork. Luckily we can pass.

Pass through peoples backyards.

Going down but on the other side of the deep river valley we see the road already going up again.

More dusty roadworks. Even with our bikes we have to wait for more than an hour.

When we're finally allowed to pass by, tens of sand trucks ride the mountain up and down in high speed. The whole mountain is one big construction area.

This road is just 30 minutes old. Before the mountain was just straight coming down. This was what we where waiting for the last hour.

Deep deep river. We come from the mountain on the right and the route is going up on the left mountain. (But maybe we can skip the climb and follow the river going further down. We have to figure that out)

Camp along the deep river. That gives us an opportunity to have a bath again too! 😉

The next day we start following the river, see where this road ends.

We go deeper and deeper into the canyon.

The scenery is beautiful and pretty wild. We don't see any other people.

We hope this road doesn't just stop in the middle of nowhere.

Wild.

On some places we find some old private mining spots.

Can you imagine living in one of these huts, far away from everything?

Mine on the left.

Living in huts and working in this?

We follow the road further down, still along the river.

We know the road will end in a few kilometers but there should be another road on the other side of the river. We have to cross the river somewhere but the map doesn't show a bridge.

End of the road. We have to go down to the river bed and find a place to cross the river. Hopefully we can find the road on the other side.

The last part of the road doesn't exist anymore. We have to drag down the bikes on lines.

On the river bed.

Good spot for river crossing.

Cross like a mule, packed.

Made it 🙂

Made it to the other side... but where is that road?

It's sunset already. We decide to camp on the river bed and search the road the next morning.

FIRE !!!

Hungry so...Food!

The next day we pass a swamp in search of that damned road.

Where we came from the other day.

We found the road after an hour of struggling.

Also on this side of the river they do mining.

Where is this road going to?

Mining hole.

Our map shows a bridge somewhere over there.

From above we see this bridge doesn't exist. We have to wade through the river again.

A new stick for the next river crossing is found already.

Where the **** can we cross this river again?

We found a spot to cross the river but there is no road leading there. It's hard to get our bikes there and it takes us hours.

Like a mule to get to the crossing spot.

Unpacked bikes are a lot lighter to cary.

Wet feet again.

Yes! Made it again 😀

Another biker as crazy as us to take this mad but amazing beautiful route. Sebastian from Romania is going in the oppersite direction. We give him some tips and tricks for crossing the river, he gives us some fresh fruit.

Finding our way back to the road.

Road found 🙂 (See left)

The counter for today shows just 3.89km.

The next morning we pack up again, struggle up the road again and a few cows look after us.

Nice single track.

We still follow the river with nice views.

One of the first houses after a few days of seeing none is showing up.

Still nice single track and coloured mountains.

Shy kids in this hut along the track.

Goats on the road.

Asphalt road again 🙂

Gold diggers looking for gold in the river.

More gold diggers down the river.

Monday morning 8:45. The guys drinking beer already.

"Thumbs up, I don't drink and drive"

Breakfast; Cooked corn, unions and meat. Not the best meal ever but we're hungry so we don't bother.

Buying some extra food in a small shop.

This old mining spot is no longer in use.

Fresh fruits for sale along the road.

Yeah, nearly a town again. Time to buy food again.

At some food stalls we meet some (motor) bikers from Chili. We have their address, maybe we give them a visit in a few months?

We continue through a beautiful landscape.

At our camp spot Arjan does some bike maintenance...

...And needs a bath afterwards.

I guess we have to hold left on this road haha...

Mining is still going on here.

Kim is cycling to wards this nice shaped rock.

Tunnels....

More tunnels...

Douwe from Utrecht, Holland.

Overlanders from Brazil

Crashed bus on the road.

In the evening we find a nice spot again to put up our tent.

last day cycling up to the town of Caraz. From Caraz we will hike the Santa Cruz Trail (See previous post)

Thanks for reading again...
Kim & Arjan

Cycling Peru Part I

Cycling La Balsa to Cajamarca

Coming from Ecuador we crossed the border with Peru at the town of La Balsa. La Balsa is nothing more than a tiny dot on the map, its very primitive, has hardly any shops, no restaurants or bars and no ATM cash machines.
It is in this village that we camp our first night in Peru. Luckily in a small store the lady is willing to change some US dollars in the local currency, the Peruan soles. The store has not much to sell so we eat some dry bread with cooked eggs for dinner.

The days after we discover the roads in Peru are much better and less steeper to cycle on then in Ecuador but for the rest it’s all much more primitive. No fancy clothes or cars anymore and the people are definitely not used to white tourists. For us it feels like a draw back after much more civilised Ecuador.

In Jaén we stay a few nights in a cheap hotel to get Arjan’s bike fixed again and to do some serious shopping. (Yes!! We found a real supermarket in this town since weeks)
We already figured a route south to Cajamarca, the next bigger town on our way south but our bike mechanic Miguel suggested an alternative, ‘little’ longer, ‘little’ more challenging route. A route along one of the highest waterfalls in the world, through a stunning canyon, along Peru’s only but beautiful cable car ride over a deep valley and along some famous Inca ruins. The route ends with a stunning 60km downhill and an challenging 50km uphill to Cajamarca.

We dubbed our own route or Miguel’s more challenging route to Cajamarca.
See what happened below:

Welcome in Peru at the small Migration Office.

Breakfast with tea at our first camp in Peru in a tiny village a few miles after the border crossing.

Many many houses in Peru have political paintings. In front they are drying coffee beans, just on the streets.

Who can count his legs?

The Peruan Mountains.

More coffee beans to dry on the roads.

The guy of the house in the distance saw us camp here and offered us to stay with him but we builded up camp already... Maybe next time 😉

Cycling in just another village.

Waiting in line to get Peruan soles out of the cashmachine. (3 soles = $1)

Fin de Asfalto? I don't hope so!

25km downhill. Luckly still asfalto.

The river side is nice but rubbish everywhere.

Beautifull camp spot along a river.

Dinner. Pasta. As usual.

Tea in the morning. We survived the 8.1 earthquake last night. Very wierd experience, it was like in a rollercoaster but while standing on vast ground.

Leaving the earthquake side again.

Cycling into some Swiss friends who we met before in Mexico.

Four on the road now.

Check the roadsign, how steep can you go?

Rice fields. Flashbacks to cycling in Asia.

Birds over the rise fields

Arjan's rear break was broken. In Jaen he got a complete new system. Never ever Magura again!!! (His front break broke in Central America, now the rear break in Peru)

We guess they feld the earthquake in this town as well.

Also Arjan's rear hub did have problems. A new one is installed here.

While Miguel from El Ciclista installs the new rear hub we went to a big mall to do some shopping for the coming weeks. We don't exept much real shops on the route we gonna take so we want to be prepared.

Jaen has the most Moto Taxis of whole Peru Miguel told us.

Many thanks Miguel. Arjan's bike is fixed again.

Second time along the mall for some last fresh groceries.

The river we gonna follow up steam.

Old bridges to cross the river a few times.

Like cycling in the United States.

Street dogs. We see them a lot in Peru as well. Kim has some dog food with her to give them something to eat.

Miguel skizzes a nice route for us to take to Cajamarca.

Not the best spot to camp but we couldn't find any better. Loads of bugs and stinging bushes.

Nice views.

The road leads into a canyon.

Uphill.

The canyon continues.

Camping on a volleyball field.

The canyon gets deeper.

Many waterfalls.

Overhanging rocks.

Eating fresh melon.

Side track, off the main road to the Gocta Falls.

The Gotca falls are one of the highest in the world. 771m in two stages.

Camp in front of the tourist centre near the Gotca Falls.

Dogs like to hang around at our tent.

Next day; Hiking time to the foot of the Gotca Falls. An 12km hike in total.

Some bridges to take.

Coming closer.

Jungle.

One of the dogs in the village hiked with us the whole day.

From here on we only can see the second stage of the falls.

We called him Yoda because his big ears.

Impressive falls.

It all comes down.

Yoda is waiting. Making our way down again.

The hike route. Starting at the bottom in the small village.

Stunning views on the way down again.

After the hike we hop in the bikes again. We pass this beautifull side river.

Overhanging rocks again.

Only for lower trucks?

Scary to cycle under.

We arrive at the town of Tingo Nuevo. Home of the Kuelap Inca Ruins. Here we did hide our bikes and hope to get a ride up to the only cable car in Peru.

Up to the cable car.

Very funny. Stand on your number to hop in the cable car.

In Austria we did cable cars at wintersports but this is defently the highest and most impressive one we've bin in.

Going from 2272m to 2930m in 20 minutes over a very deep valley.

Hope we don't get a strong wind on our way back!

At the top you can get a horse ride to the Kuelap Ruins.

Kuelap.

A small stand to get some local food.

One of the kids around.

And back again.

Peru

At night we camp close to a red bridge. As many of our camp spots, found on the iOverlander app.

The area is very dark at night and this night there is no moon. Here the Milky Way in clearly visible over our tent. (Picture is made in 25 minutes facing south)

Red brigde the next morning. Breakfast time.

Oatmeal, raisins, tea and coffee.

On the raod again. Rainy day today.

Climbing from 1800m to 2200m before lunch.

Our public along the road.

Still rainy.

After lunch we start climbing higher. Our goal for today is the top of the Calla Calla pass at 3600m

The views getting better.

Rain rain rain.

Slowly we climb up.

The higher we go the wors the weather.

Fresh mountain water

At night it still rains a lot. The water floats into our shelter. At 6 degrees celcius.

Our shelter at the top of the pass.

The last few meters to the top.

The shelter is very dirty but we arrived in the dark in the rain so it was welcoming but because the floading at night we had to barricade the entrance to keep our stuff dry. We slept on top of our tent to keep our beds clean.

Cooking in the morning.

Ready to take off again.

Still rainy outside.

Over the top.

From here on 60km downhill from 3600m to 800m. It started in the cold and rain but the lower we got the better the weather.

A little blue visible already.

Stunning views into the deep valley.

Road works because of land slides.

Road piggies

More road piggies.

And cows just hanging around close to the steep and deep valley.

Kim flat tire in the middle of a road construction.

Cooling my breaks.

How deep can we go? 60km downhill is realy a lot, it takes a few hours to get down on these narrow mountain roads.

From 6 degrees to 35 degrees celcius.

That will be our next climb tomorrow. From 800m back to a 3200m pass.

After the long downhill we take a lunch a climb up again for half a hour to reach our campsite for the night.

Yes made it to our campside.

Outdoor shower with a lot of privacy (not!)

The campside owner of Oasis Del Condor.

The next morning we start climbing again. 50km to the top of the pass is our challenge for today.

Pfff... still hot up here.

Lunchtime.

With the valley underneath.

There is just one raod in the valley, we cycle it all today, slowly going up.

By the end of the day the sun sets. We are close to the top.

Yes!! Made it before dark. We camp in front of a small chapel with the most stunning view you can have.

Dinner time.

5:45 in the morning waiting for the sunrise from inside our warm sleeping bags.

Still no sun.

Getting closer.

Sunrise, a new day is born

Watching it from inside the tent. One of the best camp spots we had for so far.

The clouds are still deep in the valley underneath.

A house underneath gets the first sunbeams as well.

What a view. In the deep you can see the road we came up yesterday.

Not a bad place at all.

Camp with a view.

Breakfast!!!

On the road again. Going down to Celendin to do some shopping.

Pulp Fiction

Check the pig in the tree.

After we cycled down to Celendin we climbed up to our highest mountain pass for so far at 3750m. While cycling up we saw Dutch overlanders in a van, sadly they didn't stop for a chat. It were the first Duch licence plates we saw in more than a year. Very wierd.

At the top of the pass. It's chilly up here but the weather is good.

Going down we meet two other cyclists. He's from New Zealand, cycling for two years already. She's from Colombia, cycling for a few months now. Both going to Ushuaia in 1.5 years.

At the campsite close to Cajamarca. Shoes off, little sun, good read. We stay a few nights before heading further south again.

Bikepacking Ecuador

When we cycled into Ecuador coming from Colombia we were a bit in a hurry because Maud would arrive in Quito within a week. We had still some kilometers to ride and some hills to challenge. The week was enough for us to explore the emptiness of the northern mountains with some 4000m plus passes.

From Quito Maud joined us backpacking around Ecuador for three weeks.
Stories and pics about this part of our Ecuador experience here

After Maud left we cruised east into the Amazon region, the part of Ecuador we didn’t see when Maud was here. Coming from Quito, after a misty and rainy mountain pass we drove down into the warm and humid Amazon and cruised south.

The last part to the border with Peru was the hardest part. We often pushed our bikes up the steep hills instead of cycling.

Have fun reading again:

Huge line in front of the Ecuador border.

We come closer to the migration office. Just an hour or so to go.

After in line for 5 hours we finaly got our passports stamped. In the meanwhile we made new friends.

Yeah.... finally cycling into Ecuador by the end of the day.

Nice views in the first K's already.

Found a hidden spot to camp for the night. Just 10km after the border.

Breakfast the next morning.

The track is getting worser but the views even better.

A lot of cactus found up here.

Very lonely road.

We climb up higher. The weather nice and cool.

Scotland?

More cactus...

Can anybody tell us what this is?

From the top of the 3725m pass a long way down.

Deep canyon

Hidden spot to camp.

Next day, nice views.

Looking to the road underneath where we came from.

Camping and cooking at the Bomberos. (Firemen)

A long road down into the next town.

After a downhill always an uphill appears.

Having another drink.

An old woman with her cows on the road to nowhere.

At a restaurant this young lady served us pretty well 🙂

Camping "Mitad del Mundo" (Middle of the earth)

Very close to the equator we camp and have stunning sunset lights over the valley underneath us.

Camping at the equator.

Yes, we are at N 00.00000 degrees!

From here on we will cycle the southern hemisphere.

Down to Quito now for a backpacking break with Maud.

At Arie's place. A Dutch camping owner close to Quito. Here we can leave our bikes for the time Maud is with us. At this picture we figger out what we need for our 3 week backpacking holiday with Maud.

Wanne read the stories and see the pictures what happened in the meanwhile, follow this >link<

On the bikes again coming from Quito after our break with Maud for a few weeks.
"Nature is our home, don't destroy it!"

Wildcamp again but the next morning a flat before we leave.

Fresh yoghurt along the road. Breakfast!!!

Nice road down.

But soon it goes up and gets cooler and the headwinds stronger.
From 2500m climbing to 4100m in 30km.

6 degrees celsius at the top of the 4100m mountain pass. With the hard wind it feels like freezing.

Making music.

Restaurant, hopefully it's warmer inside then outside?

Yes!!! a fire pit. Finally warming up again and dry some clothes.

The direction we go, into the mountains again.

A hidden lake between some mountains.

Cycling up to the clouds again.

Camping along a mountain stream in the misty jungle.

It looks perfect but everything is super wet.

The river came up last night, we guess we have to leave.

Rain rain rain...

Free water from the buildings roof at the top of the Quacanayos mountain pass to make some hot tea and coffee from.

Going down it keeps misty and wet. Sad we can't see the beautiful mountains around us.

But still nice views so now and than.

At the end of the day we find a nice and dry spot for camping.
This is close to the Cotopaxi mountain range which we hiked with Maud a few weeks ago.

Next day... sun again! From the cold in the heat, in the afternoon more than 30 degrees celsius.

Sometimes our camp spots are nasty, like here illegal in a farm shed...

...but most of the time we pick nice spots with good views.
This iOverlander spot was at the back of a gasstation looking over the Amazon at 1600m. Not that high but the Amazon is close to zero.
At the gas station we can take a shower after five days seeing none.

Looking east. Thousands of kilometers without roads and people, just jungle. Stunning!!!

Down to the jungle. Here we are close to Puyo and the road becomes even more empty. We hardly see any soul.

Big streams often mark the lowest point of the day. It's always climbing up again from here on.

Up and up we go... In the afternoon we have loads of rain. We cycle from small village to small village. Clearly you can see the people over here didn't see any school in their younger years and live very simple.

That night we found an empty house along the road. There was no one there so we squat the place for one night 😀

Good morning again.

Bye empty house.

Culture along the road. This is an indigenous man with a cooked mans head in his hand. They did this to their enemies in the old days.

We made it a short cycling day today when we saw this beautiful spot along a river. Also a good sunny afternoon for giving our clammy stuff some fresh air.

And with good read and a carton of wine it made my day 🙂

And a full rainbow was over our tent.

5:30 in the morning we woke up with this view.

A hot day of cycling... one of the very few. In the Amazon region we had loads of rain since the rainy season didn't end yet. Now it's 35+ again. Since the highway bend off to Cuenca the road became even more empty as it was already. The road goes steep up and down al the time. Very exhausting.

By the end of the day we pass a village where the cook pigs meat + sugarcane + potatoes in a big bowl.

It's a ritual with friends and beers.

Arjan had to try it as well.

Taking a bath after a warm day is awesome.

Thumbs up, this is ultimate freedom!!

The Red Light District?

The next morning we wake up in the blistering rain. We pack up our wet tent and wait a while for better weather.

We wait and wait...

... and we discover Kim has a flat tire. We patched the tire and took off. It was still raining 🙁

Accidentally Kim drove in this huge mud slide.

Stuck in a mud slide and hard pushing out. The road was just gone.

More mud slides.
It's Sunday today and every little shop we pass is closed. We can't find any food till we find one which is open but only sells chips and cookies. Guess what we ate?

Next day in Limon; Happy birthday to me 🙂
In the evening we find the only restaurant in town which is open. It has a lot on the menu but today they only have Pizza. And we don't have any choice, they only have one flavour of Pizza. Luckily it's a good one.

Skipping the rain and take a ride more south to Loja.

The poor dog bound on the roof of a public bus 🙁

Fixing day: Insects ate small holes in our tent floor over the last year. We patched them with duck tape.
Also Arjan's iPhone was broken and we found a shop in town who could fix it.
And... we had our clothes washed in a laundry, the first time since four months ago in Mexico. We smell like flowers again. But for how long? 😀

After a few nights in Loja going south and after climbing from 1600m to 2500m going down to Vilcabamba. The town with the oldest people in the world.

Ahhh, this is why Kim is so fast all the time...Coffee...

The mountains around Vilcabamba.

At the ecolodge.

Our kitchen for a few days.

The baños.

The river to swim in, 10m from our tent.

Hiking time. Ridge Trail 3.

No, this picture is not taken from inside a rabbit hole, the route is just very steep up.

Vilcabamba in the back.

Our route map for today.

A break at the highest point of the route.

Down again.

Walking down fast we nearly walked into this fellows huge web. At the last moment we saw the big spider, just 10cm in front of our face.

Up to Gully Trail 2.

Huge walls made out of mud and stones.

At the end of all the hiking we reached Bathing Spot 2.

Not to bad at all. Although Kim had huge allergic reactions from the water.

Having some snack, one of the many street dogs begged for some meat as well. And he got some...

Street art.

No cyclists aloud 🙁

Relax.

Time to leave again. We planned to stay two nights at the Ecolodge but we ended up staying four nights in this little paradise.

Village centre of Vilcabamba. Some people drive Alaska to Ushuaia by van, some cycle it. Some are more lazy then others 😉

Leaving town... South you must go.

Street art. Check the cut out tree on top of the painting as well !!

Puppies along the road.

Making friends. "Shall we take one?"

Without any dog we leave again.

The roads in Ecuador are the steepest so far on our trip. The last few kilometers we pushed our bikes up instead of cycling. We just made 36km in a full day of cycling today.

On iOverlander we found a spot to camp with the description:
Plateau with amazing Views | Wild Camping;
Big plateau gravel lot, probably an old road works site. A 4x4 might make it up the little bank from the road, easy access with bicycle or motorbike. Further back is a nice bay surrounded by trees on three sides for shelter if the wind blows and it is well hidden from the road the further back you go.
Amazing 360 degree view!

And indeed the views are worth some pictures.

The views from an 2400m altitude.

More pictures.

Time to cook some as well.

Nice spot for the night.

Packing up the tent the next morning.
The wind was hard so Kim lay on the tent and Arjan rolled it up in the meantime.

Time to leave again.

Clouds coming up fast when we climb higher into the mountains.

Head in the clouds.

Fresh natural drinking water. Filling up all our bottles.

Locals fill up their bottles here as well.

Always good to have plenty of fresh water. We carry 6.5 Liter each if we're fully loaded.

Cold up here.

You're kidding me...Bears up here??? We did give away our bearspray already so fingers crossed.

In a far distance you can see the town of Valladolid, our town for a lunchbreak today.

Road or River, or River road of Road river?

Washed away roads. Just one lane is clear to pass by.

One of the many river crossings.

Yet they remain beautiful.

Land slides all over.

Actually the road should go straight here, but a shortcut to the right has been made because of the huge landslide beside the waterfall.

Did i say yet we cross many bridges over beautiful rivers?

The long way down.

Pushing up again, why the hell are those roads so steep?

Icecream

A little girl is playing with the chicks. I don't know if the chicks really like it?

"No, I didn't do anything!"

Muddy roads.

Pushing hard.

Say "Hi" even when you push.

Pffff... and it is 35 degrees Celsius.

In a far far distance you can see the small village we had our lunch two hours ago. In between an 1000m deep gap.

Filling up gasoline for our MSR petrol stove. The workers always look confused when we cycle into a gas station and ask for gasoline.

River camp

And from the river up again. Still 30C+

Fortunately we are not the only crazy cyclists up here. Colleagues have added 19k to the border with Peru.

Through a small canyon.

Taking a bath in the wild after not seeing a shower for a week.

Fresh and clean we push up again.

Road signs in the f***ing middle of nowhere. La Balsa is the border town so just 11KM to go to Peru.

Helping a poisonous caterpillar safely to the other side of the road.

The Peru mountains in the distance.

Close to the border on a high mountain rim. On the left you see Ecuador, on the right Peru.

The "huge" migration office at the border.

At this border crossing there was also a small restaurant where we had a cold drink. No one passed the border during the hour we were there.

This was just all for now. Thanks for reading again.

We're cycling Peru at the moment, an 3500km long, high Andes route. It will probably take a while before we enter Bolivia and post again on our website but we will update our Instagram account as much as possible.

Backpacking Ecuador

Maud visited us in Ecuador. We took a break from the cycling, parked our bicycles at a Dutchmans campsite near Quito and took the bus into Quito.
Maud took a 12 hour flight from Amsterdam straight to Quito airport. We picked her up and took her to the Secret Garden Hostel in the town center. Here we had some acclimatization and resting days. Quito is the highest capital in the world and it will take some time to get used to the high altitude coming from sea-level as Maud did.

After Quito we moved on by minibus to Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Near the volcano there is another Secret Garden Hostel in the middle of nowhere. One of the most awesome places we have bin so far. Around Cotopaxi we did a few hikes (in the rain) and we did ride horses.

From Cotopaxi we moved on to Baños. A laid back outdoor paradise. We stayed a few days for some biking and hiking.

Cuenca was our next destination. The second largest town of the country after Quito. A nice town, home to the Panama hats. After two nights we moved on to the coast. 🙂

Montañita at the coast is a surfers paradise. We stayed quite a few days for surfing, relaxing and hanging around. Our hostel up there was super chill with a lot of hammocks hanging around, chill music and a good vibe.

A nightbus took us back to Quito for the last few days of Maud's visit. Back in Quito we visited the market in Otavalo. A large colorfull market with loads of local handcrafts for sale for cheap.
We also took a sky ride to a nearby volcano at nearly 5000m. To be honest; the sky ride took us to 4100m, we had to hike the rest by ourselves 😉
We didn't make it to the top but at least we had a great time up there.

After Maud having in Ecuador for nearly three weeks it was time to say goodbye again... 🙁

The short story above in nearly 300 pics below, have fun watching:

Waiting for Maud at Quito Airport.

Straight from an 12 hour flight into a public bus in Quito was a little bit to much... Here we have a break and from here we walked further to our hostel.

Much better. Tea at the hostel with a great view over Quito.

Inside the hostel.

Next day: RAIN 🙁

Our guide for a city tour through the old centre of Quito.

At a Shamans house

The most important part of the tour; The Chocolate Factory 🙂

And yes, we did some tasting as well.

I don't know, maybe he was jealous about my digital camera? 😡

Street view from above.

Maria with wings... Why?

Salsa lessons

School kids

Dancing in the street

Some pink add on.

Dan Brown was here!

Yummie Yummie...

Tasting local food.

On to the market.

At the equator.

Off course with the well known tricks.

The water in the sink trick.

The egg on a nail trick.

We tricked this one 😀

The equator monument.

At the equator as well but no idea wat this exact was... and we didn't really care.

At Cotopaxi: Hiking time (in the rain)

Je bent zelf een Lama!!!

Nearly at the top.

At the top... we climbed for a few hours to get here at nearly 4400m.

The misty route down.

The Lord of the Rings route

Our Chef, thumbs up for the excellent cooking

Horse riding.

Maud on the right spot... the back of a horse.

Mister Guide

Mister Guide in traditional clothing

Small tracks

Climbing up

Horse Selfie

The Cotopaxi Volcano in a far distance

High speed over the fields

La Casa del Arbol famous swing. Baños.

You always can go faster and higher.

And higher

And faster...

Trekking down again to the town Baños

Mac. Doner sells Shawarma 😀

The mountains around Baños

And hiking further down into the valley.

Baños

I think he's dead.

The candy store

Cycling the waterfall tour in Baños.

An one kilometer zipline

Looks like Disneyland in the mountains.

Waterfall number???

At the end of the cycling day a truck picked us up to bring us back to Baños... This is real luxery for us. We're used to cycle everything, including the uphills. Backpackers are more lazy...

In the truck with the bikes.

Our hostel in Cuenca.

Street sellers sell handmade art.

View over the city

At a museum

Busride to the coast. The high Andes routes.

At the hostel in Montañita.

Beach life!

Foot Massage

Surfing lessons

My favorite spot.

Another bus back to Quito. Above the clouds.

Quito again.... by night.

Another tea.

Quito is high up in the mountains but you can go higher.

4100m is the base. From here you can hike up higher to volcanoes.

We hike up higher.

The Passenger...

Or our guide for today?

Quito far away

The Quito skyline from above.

Horses was an option again but we did hike.

Local food halfway up the mountain.

And another tea.

Toilet quote

Taking the busy public bus to the Otavalo market.

Colors colors colors.

The day after we dropped Maud at the airport and took a ride back to Arie, the Dutch campsite owner where our bikes where parked the last weeks. The day after Maud left we started cycling again into the Ecuador Amazon region to head south for Peru within a 1000km.

Will be continued...

Thanks for reading again,
Kim & Arjan

One Year on a Bicycle

Vandaag precies een jaar geleden kwamen we aan in het hoge noorden van Alaska voor een super mooi avontuur. Inmiddels zijn we een jaar verder, meer dan 15.000 fietskilometers verder en veel ervaringen rijker. Heel veel mooie en minder mooie herinneringen hebben onze kijk op de wereld toch enigszins veranderd... maar in positief opzicht!

Na het extreme maar fantastisch mooie Alaska te zijn doorkruist kwamen we aan in het immens uitgestrekte Canada waar we uiteindelijk meer tijd doorbrachten dan gepland. Maud, Tom, Dirk en Daniëlle brachten er ons een bezoek en we verruilden onze fietsen even voor de luxe van een auto. Canada, er leek voor ons gevoel soms geen einde aan te komen. En dat hoefde om ons ook eigenlijk helemaal niet maar de winter was in aantocht en ons verlengde doch tijdelijke toeristenvisum tikte door. De eerste sneeuwvlok viel al.
The lower 48 zoals de Alaskanen het Amerika noemen ten zuiden van Canada was daarom het volgende hoofdstuk.
Heel veel mooie gebieden en bijzondere mensen kwamen we er tegen. Een Amerika zoals wij het nog niet kenden en zoals we in Nederland nooit op TV zien. Op voorhand was Amerika voor ons een deel van de reis waarvan we dachten "Dat doen we er even bij omdat het toch op de route ligt tussen Alaska/Canada en Zuid Amerika." Nu terugkijkend op dit deel van onze reis hebben we er soms heimwee naar en denken we met weemoed terug aan het vele moois wat we er hebben gezien en de super leuke mensen die we er hebben ontmoet.
In oktober 2018 staken we bij Tijuana de grens met Mexico over. Één van de grootse grensovergangen ter wereld en één van de meest criminele steden van Mexico. Eerlijk gezegd zagen we er wel een beetje tegenop toen we gebogen over ons fietsstuur de grensovergang in het zicht kregen.
Alle negatieve vooroordelen bleken ongegrond. De overgang bleek een poep en een scheet, met tien minuten stonden we al aan de andere kant van de grens, en de mensen waren super aardig en gastvrij. In de Baja California die volgde sliepen we vaak bij mensen thuis of in hun tuin, gewoon omdat ze de instelling hebben van "Mi casa es su casa". Vrij vertaald: Mijn huis is jou huis.
De Baja kent niet heel veel doorgaande wegen en het is daarom dat iedereen van deze enkele wegen gebruik maakt. We kwamen hierdoor dan ook veel andere lange afstandsfietsers tegen. Fietsers die ons tegemoet kwamen of fietsers die tegelijk met ons optrokken. Ontberingen in de intense woestijn werden samen doorstaan en mooie momenten samen gedeeld, vriendschappen voor het leven werden gesloten.
In het uiterste zuiden van de Baja ondergingen we een Spaanse taalcursus voor een week. Voor Kim was deze prima maar voor Arjan ging het allemaal iets te snel."Mañana amigo!"
We hielden er behalve Spaanse taalkennis ook leuke, niet fietsende, vrienden aan over. We ontdekten dat er ook leuke Fransen bestaan en met een tot camper omgebouwde schoolbus doorkruisten we samen met hun de Baja Sur en later ook nog een stukje van Mexico's vaste land.
Een veerdienst bracht ons van de Baja naar het vaste land van Mexico. De sfeer was er iets minder gemoedelijk dan in de langgerekte Baja California maar ook hier veel vriendelijke gezichten. We werden wel steeds vaker Gringo Gringo genoemd wat niet altijd positief bedoeld was. Lange fietsdagen over uitgestrekte snelwegen brachten ons via mooie steden van het westen van Mexico naar het oosten van Mexico waar we uiteindelijk oud en nieuw vierden met pas gemaakte Canadees/Mexicaanse vrienden in één van de grootse cocaïne handelshavens ter wereld.
In het nieuwe jaar fietsen we door langs de westkust naar het toeristengedeelte van Mexico. De prijzen schoten omhoog maar de lokale mensen werden ook relaxter en waren meer gewend aan blanken. Het bleek een totaal ander Mexico als wat we tot nu toe beleefd hadden. Van cenote naar cenote fietsen we door het mooie landschap maar na drie en een halve maand in Mexico gebivakkeerd te hebben waren we heel erg toe aan wat nieuws. Belize!
Belize was voor ons een erg aangename verrassing en afwisseling op het Spaanstalige Mexico. Iedereen spreekt er Engels en het eten is er stukken beter dan in Mexico. We vragen ons nog altijd af waar de Nederlandse Mexicaanse restaurants op gebaseerd zijn, in ieder geval niet op de eentonige Mexicaanse keuken die wij ervaren hebben. We zijn niet lang in Belize gebleven maar hebben wel het hele land van uiterst noord tot uiterst zuid doorkruisd. We konden er eigenlijk geen genoeg van krijgen, van de overweldigende natuur en super aardige mensen met reggae rasta roots.
Een klein gammel bootje over open zee bracht ons van Belize naar Guatemala. De Bananen Republiek waar we in terecht kwamen leek in weinig op het Belize wat we net achter ons hadden gelaten. De wegen waren er op sommige punten zo druk dat we er voor nood een lokale bus pakten omdat we ons niet langer veilig voelden op de weg tussen de vele zwarte roet uitbrakende vrachtwagens met bananen en ananassen.
In Guatemala hebben we helaas een paar mooie stukken van het land rechts moeten laten liggen omdat de tijd begon te dringen. Kim's ouders in maart en een maand later Maud zouden ons komen bezoeken in Costa Rica en Ecuador. Hun vliegdata stonden vast en we hadden uiteraard afgesproken ze te ontmoeten bij aankomst. We crosten door Guatemala in nog geen week tijd. Wat volgde was El Salvador waar we alles volgden behalve de overbekende Pan Americana Highway. We volgden de noordelijke afgelegen bergroutes waar we op plekken kwamen waar voor ons gevoel nog nooit een toerist geweest was. De mensen waren er verrassend aardig en zonder Gringo Gringo vooroordelen jegens blanken. De te fietsen wegen daarin tegen waren vaak zwaar afzien maar toch ook wel weer erg mooi. Onze eigen vooroordelen jegens een land en zijn mensen maakten dat we weinig tijd hadden ingepland voor dit kleine vergeten landje, weggedrukt tussen het veel grotere Guatemala en Honduras. Zoals bijna altijd zijn vooroordelen ongegrond en kloppen ze niet, we spendeerden uiteindelijk veel meer tijd in El Salvador dan verwacht.
Wat volgde was Honduras. Een immens groot land maar door de recente gewelddadige politieke onrusten waren we aanvankelijk van plan over het land heen te vliegen om zo onnodige gevaren te ontwijken. Van tegemoet komende fietsers in de Baja California hadden we gehoord dat ze werkelijk het land uit gevlucht waren met speciale escortes omdat ze hun leven niet zeker waren.
Toen we eenmaal dichter bij dit beruchte land in de buurt kwamen en we van voor ons fietsende fietsers vernamen dat het relatief veilig voelde en ze er zonder problemen doorheen waren gefietst waagden we de gok.
We doorkruisten Honduras op het aller smalste stukje tussen El Salvador en Nicaragua. Een stukje van slechts 140km maar doordat Kim zich meer dood dan levend voelde duurde dit avontuur toch nog twee hele fietsdagen. De hitte was soms ondragelijk, de lokale mensen leden duidelijk onder de recente onrusten en de weg was saai en lang met veel harde tegenwind.
Nicaragua wat volgde was daarentegen weer zeer de moeite waard. We sliepen weer bij mensen thuis en maakten er lokale vrienden waar we tot op de dag van vandaag nog vaak Whatsapp berichtjes mee uitwisselen. De wegen waren er vaak extreem en deden denken aan El Salvador. Soms drukten we onze fietsen meer dan dat we er op zaten. We beklommen er actieve vulkanen maar peddelden ook recht tegen extreme tegenwinden in langs Lake Nicaragua. Het meer waarlangs we ook een nacht kampeerden op een afgelegen strand. Het waaide er zo hard dat we onze tent aan een stuk of wat grote rotsblokken moesten vastknopen om niet weg te waaien. Met heimwee dachten we terug aan Alaska waar dit ook soms nodig was maar waar het landschap totaal anders was.
De tijd begon nu echt te dringen, Kim's ouders zouden zeer binnenkort al in San Jose landen, de hoofdstad van Costa Rica. Ondanks de heftige tegenwinden moesten en gingen we dan ook door. Lake Nicaragua maakte plaats voor het droge noorden van Costa Rica. Na enig herberekening in onze planning bleek dat we toch nog een beetje tijd over hadden voor San Jose en zo verbleven we een tijdje bij een paar leuke Nederlandse immigranten die een grappig restaurant annex hostel runden langs een rivier en stonden we een dag op het strand aan de Pacific Ocean.
Met Kim's ouders bekeken we het land weer als toeristen. Autootje, hotelletjes... luxe. De twee weken samen vlogen echt voorbij en voor we er erg in hadden zaten zij alweer in het vliegtuig richting Nederland en zagen wij onszelf haasten richting Ecuador waar Maud over een maand in de hoofdstad Quito zou landen.
Als je op de kaart van Centraal en Zuid Amerika kijkt zie je dat tussen San Jose en Quito vele kilometers, een aantal grensovergangen en de Darien Cap liggen.
Panama wat van noord naar zuid gezien na Costa Rica komt hebben we wat versneld afgelegd. Ons vliegtuig over de Darien Cap, waardoor geen wegen lopen, stond natuurlijk al een tijdje vast maar na wat herplannen in ons, op dit punt strakke tijdschema, zagen we toch nog kans om National Park Boquete te bezoeken. Dit erg mooie gebied rondom een vulkaan wilden we eigenlijk niet missen en dat deden we dus ook niet. Doordat we niet alles in Panama gefietst hebben maar ook een bus hebben gepakt bezorgden we onszelf wat rust. In Panama Stad was het nog even het immense Panama Kanaal bezoeken en hop, in nog geen uurtje vlogen we naar een voor ons totaal nieuw continent; Zuid Amerika. Colombia om exact te zijn.
Veel mensen denken bij Colombia nog altijd aan cocaine handel en aan de guerrilla organisatie FARC. De echte harde cocaine handel schijnt te zijn overgenomen door de Mexicanen, en de FARC is in 2017 opgeheven. Colombia was zeker niet het veiligste land op onze reis maar ook zeker niet het gevaarlijkste land. Wel kwamen we erachter dat het land nog altijd kampt met grote ongelijkheden onder de bevolking, aangewakkerd door de regering en hooggeplaatste personen. De onderdrukte minderheid, lees ongeschoolde boeren, zijn het hier niet mee eens en hadden in de tijd dat wij er waren wegversperringen opgeworpen door het hele land. Angstvallig hielden we het gebrekkige lokale nieuws in de gaten en hadden we contact met Nederlanders woonend in Colombia die soms net iets meer wisten dan wij online konden vinden.
Als we op een wegversperring zouden fietsen en dagen achtereen vastgehouden zouden worden dan zou Maud het zonder ons moeten doen in Ecuador. Iets wat zeer zeker voorkomen moest worden.
Er loopt maar één recht doorgaande grote weg vanwaar wij kwamen naar de grens met Ecuador dus veel keuze hadden we ook niet. Kim was nog een aantal dagen ziek waardoor dit niet makkelijker werd. Wel hadden we via via gehoord dat fietsers wel doorgelaten werden als je maar meewerkte en niet moeilijk deed tegen activisten. Nou zijn wij van nature de moeilijksten niet dus gokten we het erop en fietsen recht naar de wegversperringen toe. Vaak ben je te bang 😉
Bij aankomst bleken de versperringen in de nacht ervoor net te zijn opgeheven dus hadden we geluk en konden we vlot door.
De grens met Ecuador bleek een groter obstakel. Veel vluchtelingen uit Venezuela kwamen we hier tegen die met vaak minder bagage dan wij probeerden de grens over te komen om in Ecuador of Peru een nieuw leven op te bouwen. Schrijnend en triest om te zien, helemaal als je je bedenkt dat je er zelf fluitend en zonder centje pijn vrolijk doorheen fietst. De grensovergang koste ons echter wel een hele dag wachten door alle drukte, bij verre de langste wat we tot nu toe hebben moeten wachten aan een grens.
Het laatste land van dit jaar op de fiets was Ecuador. Een verrassend land en tot nu toe ons meest favoriete Spaanstalige land op deze reis. Ondanks de tijdsdruk omdat Maud er al snel zou zijn zien we toch nog kans een stuk van een de bekende bike packing route TEMBR mee te pakken voor we in Quito aankwamen.
Vlak bij Quito parkeren we onze fietsen voor drie weken bij een lokale Nederlander met een camping en wachten Maud op op het vliegveld. Erg gaaf dat ze een tweede keer bij ons langs kon komen en ze het aandurfde om op haar 15de de halve wereld alleen over te vliegen. Als heuse backpackers reisden we met bussen door het hele land en zien de meest fantastische plekken. We hike-ten samen door het Andes gebergte, reden op paarden aan de voet van een actieve vulkaan en surften op de golven van de Pacific Ocean. Echt super tof.
Aan al het moois komt altijd een einde en al veel te snel namen we met een lach en een traan weer afscheid van Maud. Tot over een half jaartje lieverd!
We blijven geen dag langer plakken in Quito en pakken het fietsen de dag na het afscheid alweer op. Richting het Amazone gebied dit keer. Het gebied waar we zitten op het moment dat we deze samenvatting schrijven. Na acht dagen afgezonderd te zijn geweest in dit afgelegen gebied met veel regen, geen internet en erg veel steile klimmetjes vieren we nu Kim's verjaardag die net als toen we met het vliegtuig aankwamen in Alaska, een jaar geleden, vandaag weer jarig is.
We proosten zo dadelijk op een fantastisch afgelopen jaar en hopen op een nog mooier komend half jaar. We hebben erg veel zin in de bergen van Peru, de zoutvlakten van Bolivia, de uitgestrektheid van Argentinië en Chili, en zien erg uit naar het desolate Patagonië met als eindpunt Ushuaia ergens aanstaand november.

Bedankt voor het lezen!
Kim & Arjan

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