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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|June 28, 2017||39.2||0.08||12.1|
|June 29, 2017||80.1||0.63||9.0|
The next table is only for cycling activity.