After a long but comfortable bus ride (32h), I arrived in Quito where I went to the Casa de Ciclista in Tumbaco, which is a suburb of Quito. After a few days resting, I started my last couple of days cycling in South America. From Tumbaco I headed South direction Cotopaxi National Park. It is only 70k away, but cobblestones made the progress slow. Because I didn’t had any plan where to cycle, the next day I just cycled in the park, choose a windless spot behind some rocks and enjoyed the day. Before lunch I met a French cyclist, who was heading towards Columbia. I didn’t have any plans, so I joined him riding north again. The next days we rode together until El Angel, about 50k from the Columbian border, where I took a bus back to Tumbaco.
Peru showed his best side riding from Huancavelica to Lima. Endless plateaus, tough and steep mine roads and barren landscape in front of a dramatic set of white mountains. It felt like riding in a never ending national park, but in Peru this it is just an ordinary mine road leading to several mines. I was caught twice in snow storms which were, of course, perfectly timed when I was nearly reaching the high point of the day, where no shelters are available.
Riding solo again felt so strange after a couple of weeks with lovely company. But hey this is part of the adventure! I was recovered eventhough my stomage continued to fool me. The following days, consisted off the most beautiful dirt roads I ever rode. Endless ascents followed by logicaly endless decents. Riding in really remote areas had the benefit of zero traffic and extremly kind locals. With the roadbook from Andesbybike I never felt lost with the endless options of dirt roads, mine roads and animal paths to choose. It was also a great help for finding food and water along the way. I reached Parras which was two long riding days away from Vilcashuaman in the late moment of sunset. In this region it gets chilly at the same moment as the sun is gone. After one hour or so, searching the responsible person for the municipal hostal, I found him totaly drunk on a nearby wedding. Finally convincing him to hand over key for the room I went off.
I left La Paz together with Sabine and Christian on a beautiful sunny day. We decided to ride together torwards Cusco. We reached Lake Titicaca where we cycled along for the next two days. In Puno we made a sidetrip to the flooting islands and decided to take a bus to Cusco to avoid busy altiplano road. I planned to ride the Great Divide of Peru, which is really good descripted on AndesbyBike, and so I changed my tires in Cusco. We decided to continue together at least until Abancay, where my route would take me to more remote tracks.
I had a few days off in San Pedro de Atacama, staying at a Warmshowers place. When I arrived at Carlos place I was the only cyclist but not for long. Next day three French and two German fellows had as well the pleasure to be hosted by Carlos. I think you could call Carlos place a “casa de ciclista”. He does host nearly every cyclist that passes by San Pedro de Atacama.
It was a strange feeling for me to leave Cachi. I spend hours the last weeks, reading my roadbook again and again. I found a really promizing route through the south of Argentina and the final border crossing to Chile. It included the highest pass of Argentina and some really remote passes for the boarder crossing. I was so exited that I just read the roadbook over and over again, after lunch hanging around in the tent. But with leaving Cachi it was actually at the point where I decided not to go to easy road torwards Salta, but take the hard way to San Pedro de los Cobres. Because I wanted to cycle the Pass in one day, and not to camp somewhere in last third of it, I had a easy day to La Poma.
After some nice resting days in Mendoza it was time to hit the road again. I wanted to go back on some ripio road to maximize the adventure, but it didn’t worked out that well. I saw a road on a random map which didn’t showed up in all those maps I had. A quick check in Google Earth confirmed me in my decision to try this “road”. But after tough 20k, I had to run around. It was just impossible to ride this road. Maybe with less things on the bike, and more patience in pushing the bike…
No sooner said than done, my first task after my failed calculation about needed food/day, I had to do a 30k detour to Rio Grande. Before I arrived in the center of Rio Grande I saw a guy playing a trumpet in a field outside the town in an industrial area. So I stopped and listened. He immediately started a conversation and after the “traditional” questions Wherefrom, whereto and which country, he insisted in showing me the way to the next supermarket by driving his car in front of me.