We are FINALLY there!!
Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
136Trip End Apr 20, 2013
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We knew that we were almost at the top of the pass, as we had climbed almost 2000m the previous day. This meant that we would only have to cycle in the clouds for a short time and then we would descend into the valley on the other side. As we set off we heard the distant rumble of a landslide, which was quite disconcerting as we couldn't see much.
We cycled for half an hour or so and then cycled through the police check-point, which was stationed at the top of the pass
We followed the road down into a beautiful plateau, which was surrounded by high mountains, and sat at around 3300m. There was lots of farmed land, small villages and the sun was shining. We whizzed over the flat land and soon made it to the other side of the plateau before starting a small climb over the other side of it. We decided to stop of an early lunch/late breakfast and were soon being ushered into a restaurant, bikes and all
We climbed up out of the valley and got our first glimpses of Cusco, just below the ridge. It looked like a large city, with mainly terracotta roof tiled houses. We could see the main square with a large cathedral in the distance and some slum, poorer housing on the outskirts of the city. There was also a Rio de Janeiro-style Jesus statue on the top of the hill, overlooking the city. It was surrounded by mountains on all sides, and had an airport run way dividing it in the middle, as I presume that is the only flat land available in the area.
We cycled into the city and made it to a hostel that has been recommended to us by other cyclists. It was slightly out of the main city area, but had a large courtyard area that was well equipped to do some bike maintenance and spread the tent out to dry
We spent the rest of the afternoon getting our bearings in the city and settling in. We found a restaurant, with a buffet Indian dinner, for 15 soles ($6) and had a beer to celebrate having finally made it to Cusco. We were really pleased to have completed the notoriously difficult section of the mountain route, which covered the last 600km from Ayacucho. The information resource that we have for that section used words such as "really, really, really bad road or rocky track" a generous 13 times and descriptions such as "climbing uphill and very, very steep" no less than 39 times!! As you can imagine we were pleased to have made it as far as Cusco, without any problems, and all of it with only pedal power.