Bike and climb after Chalhuanca

Imata to Chivay

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With the stomach finally getting better I continue my above-altiplano biking towards touristy Colca canyon and it's main town Chivay. The final descent is something which I will remember for a while.

June 28

If there is one advice I can give you it will be this -- when finding a hospedaje which lies just on a busy main road just make sure your room is as far from the road as possible. Mine was a corner room with a view of the road through big windows. I guess I could just camp beside the road and have the same good night.

The good news is that my stomach is finally getting a hang of my determination to continue. Yesterday's evening I first time resumed with a noodle soup with a canned chicken. In the morning I feel confident enough for oatmeal with a bit of fruit (although I cannot wait until I resume with my standard addition of powdered milk).

I continue on the golden-looking altiplano. As a bonus I can see a smoking volcano in the distance. Basically a nice and easy ride although the road isn't the greatest.

By the looks of it there won't be much of a climb today
A rare hilly view
Vicuñas
Altiplano is again getting a bit of a golden tint

While the scenery isn't everchanging big mountains, there is still enough variation to keep me occupied. On my way I pass along an edge of small canyon, then descent around a big water dam and big rock formations remind me of their presence as well.

Into the distance
The road skirts around a small canyon ...
... past a water dam ...
... and some interesting rocks.

When it comes time for a lunch I find a nice spot with great views over some cliffs. While I slowly eat through my food I enjoy vicuñas grazing relatively close to me. The sky progressively gets more and more cloudy. But there is no reason for panic -- these aren't rain clouds.

More vicuñas
Lunch spot

After the lunch I continue towards Chalhuanca. But before it I need to cross a river. From some cycling comments this might be a tricky crossing. Fortunately, there is a supposed bridge alternative which I am able to find. Looking at the water level the river probably wouldn't be a big problem to ford either.

Before Chalhuanca I pass this river on a bridge

I finish my day quickly in Chalhuanca -- with 40 kilometers and 200m of ascent this really was an easy ride. And while it is quite early I have no reason to continue as my plan to reach Chivay tomorrow should be quite feasible. So I find a hospedaje in a municipality building and relax for the rest of the day.

June 29

Contrary to yesterday's short day today is going to be long. I need to cycle about 70 kilometers. But the last 30 kilometers are paved downhill do Chivay so they will be extra quick. However, before I can enjoy this downhill I still need to finish a climb to 4800 meters.

Plaza de Armas at Chalhuanca with a big alpaca

Right in the morning I am making a big mistake in the route selection. There are two roads from Chalhuanca. I do not listen to Pikes' advice and instead use GPS as my guide. The road however slowly deteriorates into a small track. Ok, probably not the fastest ride but I should be able to get through. Or at least I think. And then the real problem comes. Apparently the GPS route goes through a dam-flooded area. I have no other choice only to backtrack that couple of kilometers back to the village.

As I have lost quite some time by this detour I am now a bit late with my plan. In order to cut the time a bit I decide to take a risk -- there is apparently a motorcycle track which shortcuts the route I wanted to take. And it works -- apart from a few short unrideable sections I am now heading much more directly for the paved road I have to join.

Left or right? With the GPS I got it wrong.
Singletrack shortcut

While trying to catch up my morning delay I forget to eat lunch so I fix it just right after I join the pavement. Then an exhausting climb begins. But the scenery is worth every breath.

Back on a pavement. The steepness is not a photographic illusion.
Slowly climbing up to the pass
Higher up I can see some volcanoes
Oh, that highpoint wasn't the pass? Damn it!
The beauty comes with (a tough) price

The climb is finally ended by "volcanoes mirador" which, as the name already says it, provides views over a bunch of volcanoes in all directions.

With a bit of a wind it is getting quite chilly here
Even rocks are getting into a full mountaineering outfit
With the altitude the break are getting more often. But then, who wouldn't enjoy a few seconds looking around here?
Volcanoes mirador at the pass
There is a volcanoe in every direction you look at
Top of the pass features typical volcanic-like views

After the mirador I can finally get down to Chivay. The downhill is fast. And quite chilly. But then, I am going really fast. One time I hit 70 km/h on my speedmeter. To put this into a perspective, this is freaking fast. Mainly once you realize that I am shooting down on a bike which weights almost as much as me and the only thing that divides me from an instant death are the bike brakes. Surely, hydraulic disc brakes are good but at this speed it still would take at least 50 meters to actually stop.

The descent to Chivay ...
... is on a long paved road ...
... where I definitely break my speed record.
The views on the descent are as good as the ones on the ascent ...
... and sometimes even better

As I descent further down into the Colca canyon the scenery reveals the city of Chivay. And lots of terraced fields around it. I finish the last few kilometers and I am finally down. Only to be asked to pay an exuberant Colca entrance fee. 70 soles lighter I ride into the center of the town and look out for some room.

What I particularly like is the fast change of the scenery
The end of the descent is still nowhere to be seen ...
... oh, there it is. Chivay.

July 30 (Chivay)

I decide to take a day break in Chivay. Besides wanting to relax a bit I need to do my laundry because I do not expect to do it in the next two weeks. But back to Chivay -- Chivay is probably the most touristy Peruvian city I have seen so far. Despite its size there is an ATM. And also a bunch of expensive restaurants/pubs where you can pay with Visa (Note that you can't really pay by card in Juliaca which is a much much bigger city). You can basically feel a "gringo" presence here as Chivay is a base starting spot to all touristy attractions down the Colca canyon. But you can also feel a normal nongringo presence here. Just off one corner of the main plaza starts a standard Peruvian market with people haggling and bustling around good such as headless chicken or very popular chicken toes which Peruvians seem to stick into almost every soup.

Route

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Download simplified GPX of a route here

Stats by activity:

Activity Distance
(km)
Ascent
(km)
Pedal rotations
(thousands)
bike 119 0.7 20
Stats by day:
Date Distance
(km)
Ascent
(km)
Avg. temp
(moving, C)
June 28, 2017 39.2 0.08 12.1
June 29, 2017 80.1 0.63 9.0

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 67.4
< 4 5.2 6.7
< 6 2.8 8.7
< 8 1.6 2.9
< 10 0.3 0.4
≥ 10 0.1 1.1

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Discussion contains 1 comments.
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