Ccoyabamba to Cusco

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July 17

In the morning Ccoyabamba is living a pollo (chicken) day. It looks like all the restaurants are closed and instead there is a big event with chickens being everywhere. I did not ask but probably it is for some fund-raising. Without any restaurants it seems that my only option is to get caldo de pollo (chicken broth soup). Not that I don't like it, it is good. But calories are calories.

I start the ride very leisurely -- I have about 1500 meters of descent into the valley before me. As this is on an unpaved road it takes a bit time until I finally reach the lowpoint (i.e., only 2570m of altitude) inside a canyon. The road is curvy and with every switchback (and there are lots of them) I get a new perspective.

The road is built in the traditional Peruvian style
Looking down at the switchbacks it is clear that this is going to be a fun route
When not looking down, I need to look up
And the switchback madness is starting

After the fun descent I now have to climb until the end of the day (and then some more). While not completely devoid of cars, the traffic is reasonable and the hard the work is really rewarding as I slowly climb along a deep and pretty valley. There is only one thing to complain and that is the heat. Even though I am almost at 3000 meters it is getting quite hot when the sun is blazing continuously on and there is no shadow to hide behind.

After a fun descent a less fun part begins
The road climbs along a deep and beautiful valley
The views are surprisingly green
The climb is really enjoyable

At 3100m with and unexpected side-road I call it a lunch. I sit down on rocks and enjoy the views while munching on my, guess what, pollo lunch :-) Afterwards it doesn't take too long and I slowly climb out of the valley. I give it the last view and set on with a new scenery. To make sure I won't die of dehydratation I stop in a small village of Ccoipa and ask locals for water. As a bonus I also get to taste something like home-brewed burčiak (this, if you are non-Slovak speaker) .

I eat my pollo lunch while enjoying great views
Switchbacks always give you a feeling of a progress
I climb out of the valley into different style of views
Last look back before this deep canyon disappears from my view

I push a bit more and in Paccaritambo I call it a day. I could go a bit further but by the looks of it finding a reasonable campsite could be a bit of a problem.

July 18

Did I mention that in Paccaritambo they have a very good restaurant? No? Then now you know! Otherwise the morning starts cloudy which is frankly a bit of relief because it isn't too hot. I still have about 60km with 1000m of ascent to Cusco and I don't know whether I can manage it today so I leave it on the progress. This turns out to be a good idea as just a few kilometers into the climb I am meeting a local asking me whether I am visiting some (inca) ruins. I mean, what? Ruins? Here? I quickly learn that the road to the ruins isn't actually a much of a detour. So I turn into a small backroad and anjoy a bit of a downhill.

I am quickly convinced to take a little dirt road towards some archeological site
So instead of climbing I am enjoying a descent

Not a long time after that and I am "parking" my bike in a small settlement next to the ruins. From there it is a short hike uphill and I end up in Maukallaqta archeological site.

Locals point me out the trail to the ruins. Later I learn there is an alternative which is also marked
From the distance Maukallaqta ruins look quite good
The trail passes around some spikey monsters
Unlike museums, this doesn't need "do not touch" sign
I join another trail and this sign tells me I am on the right track

Not seeing any ruins on my trip so far this seems to be a decently impressive sight. I am actually surprised that the whole place is completely deserted (apart from one local man which probably part-time works on keeping the thing nice and clean).

The site is getting bigger
Entering Maukallaqta
Looking around a bigger square
I am getting more and more impressed by this place
There is another big section to explore
To preserve the site archeologists put some dirt on the walls

After sightseeing I finish the downhill ride on a super-dusty road just so that I can climb the lost altitude back. Not a long afterwards I end up in a small village of Yaurisque. Considering the current time and the fact that I still have a lot of climb to do I decide to not push for Cusco today and just relax a bit here. I settle in a hospedaje and set exploring the selection of the few local shops. Unfortunately, finding an open restaurant proves to be an impossible task so I have to cook my dinner.

I resume my cycling with a small uphill
Past this interesting rock
And by the looks of it there is a small archeological site there as well
The road goes down to the valley (though a bit more upstream)

July 19

I have before me the last 700m of climb and total of 30km to Cusco. In other words, a relatively easy day. As soon as I get out of Yaurisque I am surprised by paving. Which means a lot faster progress than I expected. In almost no time I finish the climb and have lunch at the top.

I start the day going out of this valley
There was an option to visit some other archeological site. Not having it on a map I decide to stick to the pavement
The road isn't very steep
Terraced fields are a trademark of Peru
Higher up opens a bit better views

The real speed is on the downhill though. The last time I enjoyed fast downhill was just before La Paz so I am riding like crazy. And braking even crazier -- in past few days I realized my front and mainly back brake pads are basically gone. To avoid grinding the rear ones to the dust I thus end up braking mostly with the front brake.

Pass and descent shows a nice snow-capped mountain. Unfortunately, the road goes soon behind a hill
I quickly zoom by Occopata
And find myself in a super-green land

After the fast descent I am navigating through the maze of Cusco roads and trying to figure out where roughly is the city center. When thinking that it should be near enough I settle on the first hostal I can find. Quite expensive but I doubt that I can quickly find something much cheaper.

Turnabouts can be built in a grand style

In the afternoon I am visiting a bike shop to do all the fixes. The shop turns out to be pretty close and is run by a very nice guy. The first thing to fix is a broken spoke -- by a pure chance I found it in front of the hostel when I was parking my bike. In any case I was really surprised as it is only about a thousand kilometers since they replaced my rim in La Paz. Apart from the rim I need to get a new tire. Unfortunately, they don't have exactly the width I want so I try my luck tomorrow with some other some. In the meantime I am getting new brake pads and a new back disc -- while the mechanic tried to straighten the wobbly disc he suggested that it is a good idea to replace it because apparently it is quite worn out. Figuring out that new disc is better than trying to live with a wobbly worn-out monstrosity till Colombia, I agree with the change (and when on it, let's do the front disc as well.) Next is the time for a new chain. As usual, my 9-speed 12-36 teeth sprocket is not available which further reinforces my wish to change the chains frequently in order to keep the sprocket alive until Colombia. The last thing I am getting is a bike stand. Yeah, I no longer need to find things I can lean the bike on. Although first I need to slightly adjust it -- based on my experience with a previous stand I am visiting a shop which solders an iron reinforcment bar on it.

July 20 (Cusco)

I spend the day trying to sort out a lot of things. First of all I check out another bike shop until to find them closed (Peruvians seem to be quite lazy in the mornings). When I return a bit later the shop is already open but they don't have the tire I want. After failing to get exactly what I want I settle on a slightly narrower tire and continue my day routine with getting tons of postcards. I also have to do a call to my insurance company so that they can help me sort out my stomach trouble (even though the major problems I had in/after Juliaca disappeared I still need from time to time expressly find a bush to jump behind). Next is figuring out trips. I did not come to Cusco just to laze around. Instead, I want to visit (of course) Machu Picchu and possibly do some trekking. Salkantay trek is my preliminary plan. When I get to a travel agency my Salkantay trek idea goes away as quickly as they say the price. Even Machu Picchu is quite expensive. On the other hand, there is this daily trek to the "Rainbow mountain" which seems to be in a reasonable cost category. As I already heard a bit about it, I just sign up for tomorrow.

On the culinary front of things I hope that Cusco will provide a bit more change into my diet. This proves true when I find a nice supermarket. My breakfasts and dinners for the next few cycling days are dramatically improving. Unfortunately, this cannot be much said about lunches -- it seems that Peruvians simple do not have patés. Still, I will get some jamón and packaged queso before I leave the city.


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Download simplified GPX of a route here

Stats by activity:

Activity Distance
Pedal rotations
bike 105 2.2 28
hike 4 0.1 -
Stats by day:
Date Distance
Avg. temp
(moving, C)
July 17, 2017 46.9 1.16 22.0
July 18, 2017 28.2 0.52 19.9
July 19, 2017 34.0 0.68 18.2

Elevation data

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(drag over a region to zoom in, right-click reset)

The next table is only for cycling activity.

Grade(%)Ascent (km)Descent(km)
< 2 11.7
< 4 2.1 6.9
< 6 10.0 6.4
< 8 8.0 7.4
< 10 1.3 4.0
≥ 10 0.9 3.9

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