A really crappy downhill

Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
Trip End Apr 20, 2013

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

We got up, packed up the tent and were on the road for 8am.  We had slept well and woke to stunning views down the valley, with small, morning clouds still clinging to the sides of the mountains.  We knew that we had about 60km of downhill and hoped to complete them in a short time, which would allow us to cycle up to Abancay and hopefully 20-30km further on as well. 

Unfortunately it wasn't to be though because the road cut steep switchbacks into the hillside, with a dusty and rocky track.  This meant that we had to go slowly, spending most of the time pinching on our brakes to carefully manoeuvre around the sharp turns.  Every half an hour or so I would have to stop as my fingers were aching so much from continuously hovering over the brakes.  It was fairly infuriating as we were going only a little faster than we do when we are climbing up a hill.  The views however were spectacular and we could see all the way down the long valley and across to Abancay, on the other side of the descent

It took us all morning and into the afternoon to descend to the valley floor and cross the river below.  Once we crossed the bridge we met the main, paved highway from the coast up to Cusco.  This is the road we would have taken if we hadn't taken the diversion into the mountains all the way back at Trujillo.  The mountain route took us one month in total and through some of the best scenery we have seen so far.  Joining this highway signalled the last part of the journey to Cusco for us, and we anticipated seeing lots more cyclists, motorbikers and camper-vanners on the road, now that we had joined the main stream route again. 

We stopped at a road side restaurant for some lunch, and were surprised to see people drinking beer and generally enjoying themselves with loud music and a party atmosphere.  It seemed very unusual compared to the quiet, reserved lifestyle we have grown accustomed to seeing here, and much more like an everyday scene in Colombia.  The other thing that I really noticed was the tremendous heat in the valley.  We had descended to 1950m, which is still fairly high, but the sun was baking and felt intolerable for the first time since we have left the desert. 

We started the climb up into Abancay, which took a couple of hours.  My pedal was really sticking and causing me great difficulty to pedal with my right leg, therefore I had to mainly use my left leg.  I joked that by the time we got to Cusco my left leg would be huge and muscley and my right leg would be shrivelled up and dragging along behind me.  On the way up the hill we saw two strange things.  The first was a HUGE tarantula, which had thankfully been run over and was lying dead by the side of the road.  I really didn't know that they were prevalent in this area, and now I will be checking everything twice when we are camping in the middle of nowhere.  The second strange sight was a couple of cycle tourists, who appeared to be loading their bikes into a car to get a lift up the hill.  We can't be sure about this though, or the reason for it, as they ignored us as we said hello and waved. 

As we arrived into the small town of Abancay we were plunged into a party atmosphere again, or rather we instantly soaked it up.  The whole town seemed to be having a huge water-fight, and who do you think were the new, exciting targets?  Thankfully we have waterproof bags and a good sense of humour, as we got repeatedly soaked with pistols and water balloons.  By the time we had cycled through town and to a couple of hotels, the joke was getting quite old though and we were looking forward to warming up in dry clothes.  The hotel lady informed us that they have water-fights every weekend in February and there was a big dance festival in the town that day.  By the time we showered and changed clothes the official festival had finished but people were still dancing in the streets. 
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karen on

Do you still have to have an empty bottle to get a beer?

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