Getting off the beaten track....or the paved road
Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
136Trip End Apr 20, 2013
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We rejoined the dirt track, but were pleased to see that it wasn't as stoney and we were actually able to get up to a good speed. We were surrounded by rough mountains on all sides and could see really high mountains in the background, which we knew we would climb up to in the next couple of days. Occasionally we would see an irrigation system or some cultivated land but most of the time we had the road and the mountain views completely to ourselves
We arrived at a small village, which was even smaller than we thought it would be. We had cycled through it within a couple of minutes and only saw a dozen or so houses and a large area that had chillies drying on it in the sun. The road continued to be rough, stoney gravel, which was fairly slow going and took our concentration, but it felt good to be travelling off the well trodden tourist trail!
The road continued along through a valley, with the Rio Santa carving out the middle of it. We saw a few locals along the way and they always smiled or waved, as I doubt they see many other people heading down this road, and definitely not many westerners. When our road crossed the river we were treated to a paved road for 8km, which felt strange after bumping along the gravel road all morning.
We stopped at a small village, with a restaurant by the side of the road. They soon whipped us up some chicken and rice, with some beans on the side, and even had some chilled drinks, so we were happy
The wind was growing in intensity when we got back on our bikes but thankfully it was working with us for a change. It pushed us along nicely for the rest of the afternoon. The dirt road was pretty good and we were able to maintain a reasonable speed, as it followed the curves of the river and the valley. The traffic continued to be light and we enjoyed observing interesting rock formations of the mountains on both sides. We stopped again for a cold drink in the shade and marvelled at the simple lives led by the people this far up the valley. Again, there were a few crops in the fields and we also passed some coal mines along the way.
As the day came to the end, we started to look for a place to camp but in most places there wasn't much available land between the mountain side and the river, especially not an area that was hidden. We found a place, that bizarrely had stairs leading up to it, and looked like it was part of an old coal mining rig, with anchor points for a winch system across the valley, Either way, it had a sheltered, flat area, that was out of sight of the road. We set up the camp and I was very relieved to realise that the slight breeze was enough to keep the flies at bay! Another pasta camp dinner, with wet wipe washes before hitting the hay. The scenery was great and we went to bed happy that we had made the right decision to take the smaller roads. I hope I am still saying the same tomorrow after climbing up 2000m, on mainly dirt road.