Up, up, up, then down, down, down, down!
Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
136Trip End Apr 20, 2013
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We knew that we had about 1000m to climb over the morning, and that it was over about 50km, so may feel a bit steep at times. The road initially followed the river and stayed at the base of the valley. It was beautiful riding and we were able to keep up a good pace of around 20km per hour. The information that we have is three years old and said that it would be a gravel road. We were extremely pleased to see that in fact the road has been paved since then, but couldn't believe how bad the condition of it was in such a short time
As we cycled along we saw a couple of signs for old Incan ruins, but to be honest sometimes it is hard to know if the mud walled houses by the side of the road are old ruins, or still in use or only partly constructed and a new build. Most of them look pretty shabby and regularly surprise us to see that they are lived in, when they look like they are half fallen apart.
We started to make our ascent up to the town of Chavinillo, and I was pleased to feel like we were making good progress. As we rounded a bend I could see the small town just ahead and was happy as my tummy was rumbling. Unfortunately what I couldn't see from this vantage point was that the road descended down a side valley and had to make its way up the other side again before we would reach the town
As we arrived into town we were met by an unusual amount of staring and shouting of the word "Gringo", which essentially translates as Foreigner! It didn't bother us, as it isn't necessarily meant in a derogatory way, but I'm never quite sure how to respond..."yes, clearly I am not from around here, what gave it away?". Instead we just say hello and wave politely to the 100 or so residents who want to say it to us both. We found a simple restaurant and had the usual rice, salad but with pork this time, which was a nice treat!
We continued to climb up to the pass, which was back up to 4000m but we were well acclimatised to the altitude and didn't notice the thin air at all. Finally we made it to the top and began a long descent down to the city of Huanuco. The descent covered 60km and descended 2000m into the valley below. We started way up in the clouds where peasant farmers were wrapped in layers of blankets watching their hardy sheep graze. By the time we had dropped 2000m the air was warmer, the vegetation was greener and we saw banana plants for the first time since Ecuador. Unfortunately it was also raining by the time we had followed the curving road for a couple of hours and we arrived into Huanuco with wet rain-jackets and soggy cycling shorts. We were pleased to have made it though as it meant a day off the bikes tomorrow and we were able to check into a nice hotel.