My plan from Juliaca is to follow Pike's route which goes to Chivay and avoids busy roads. In theory, this seems a very nice route. In practice it turns out to be a challenge above challenge as I still fight the worst enemy as of yet -- a big stomach trouble.
One would think that after two days of stomach trouble, the third day should be okay-ish. Well, at least I though. In practice it doesn't seem to work as yesterday's relief was probably caused only by a completely empty stomach. Nevertheless I decide that one stupid stomach bug shouldn't stop me (plus after sending my encomienda yesterday I don't exactly have much time to waste if I want to pick it up on time). So I set out.
Going out of Juliaca is a tricky task. The main road is super-busy and trying to navigate through the maze of Juliaca's less important streets isn't fun as well. Fortunately, I can quickly get off the main road onto an unpaved backroads.
The terrain is mostly flat golden altiplano so it should be an easy ride. Unfortunately, having bad stomach doesn't exactly make this easy. In fact I can feel the exertion even on slight climbs and obviously I am not enjoying the ride at all.
Given the state of my stomach, I decide to skip Silvestrani ruins which are just a few kilometers off the route. Instead, I continue further with a hope of reaching Mañazo quickly.
As if having bad stomach is not enough I manage to start another bad-mood creator. As the afternoon Sun climbs and finally heats the air I put down my jacket. Unfortunately, I don't secure it very well to the bike and so after a dozen of kilometers my jacket is nowhere to be seen. Not really wanting to backtrack my steps (and not sure if I would make it then today to Mañazo) I have no other option just to leave it as it is and continue with a hope of securing some replacement sooner or later.
Finally in Vilque I hit the paved road again and quickly finish the ride to Mañazo. There I am trying to get a room in a hospedaje but the owner is definitely not around. So I wait in the main square and retry maybe a hour later. This time an old grandma opens. Unfortunately, her accent is so thick that I can barely understand basic things. In the end I get the room though (although by this point in time I am much more happy about an access to the toilet). After I resolve my basic needs I tent to my bike -- it is now a good time to replace the worn out chain by a new one.
Evening means strolling around the main plaza and smelling all the foods. Unfortunately, mostly only smelling -- I don't really want to eat much so that I don't unsettle my stomach even more. Fortunately for me, I also hit a jackpot -- Mañazo has a small tienda selling clothes as well and I am quickly replacing my lost jacket.
Opposite to yesterday's flat altiplano route, today is full of climbing. I need to get from the altiplano (cca 3900m) up to 4500m. The route begins flattish with nice views over the golden-grass altiplano and hills around. Following a flat start the road slowly starts to steepen.
As if sensitive to the grade, my stomach starts to complain more and more. After I make an n-th break ditching the bike and running for some place not completely on a display from the road I need to make a decision. Should I continue or return back? What if the stomach problem's won't go? But I don't really want to go back to Juliaca. Should I continue for two more days and in the bad case just detour to Arequipa? In the end I decide to continue, leaving tomorrow an escape route to Juliaca.
My goal is thus to reach the pass today. In the end I manage to do it with about 40 minutes left for the downhill. I quickly pass around nice Laguna Calzada and start finding some camping spot.
The morning comes with a lots of frost. When I finally dry my tent and set off I am greeted by lots of geese, alpacas, sheeps and flamingoes. After a junction around Laguna Maquera the road quality quicky deteriorates and I am forced to push a few times. Fortunately, it is not far until a junction to the main Juliaca-Arequipa road.
At the junction I have two options -- either go right to Santa Lucia (e.g., towards Juliaca) or left towards distant Arequipa. As my stomach feels much better today (although still not perfect), I decide to risk it and go towards Arequipa through a few passes in a hope that the stomach will just get better.
After I finish a reasonable climb I end up speeding down towards Tincopalca village. When I eat my lunch (e.g., a bit of wafers though not too much) and fetch water, I set off to start another climb. As usual there are lots of alpacas around.
In the evening it gets quite windy. I am almost resorting to some random-spot wild-camping when my salvation occurs. I pass by a few houses which seem to be abandoned. I don't wait for any ghosts of a people to appear and quickly camp behind one of the houses. The windbreak it provides is enough to stop the pesky wind.
Quite (un)expectedly the whole night is windy. As wind and condensation usually do not make it into cooperating on making my life miserable I find my tent dry in the morning. Needless to say I take this opportunity and after a very easy breakfast I quickly start the rest of the climb to 4750m.
Similarly to yesterday, the views are full of alpacas and alpacas. And also two little foxes that my rattling bike manages to scare.
But the best is only yet to come -- I finally get near the little rabitty vischocas. One spot is just full of them and they are a bit less shy than usual (which means I can approach them up to maybe 15 meters). A long break occurs after which I have my camera full of these little creatures.
Getting to the pass reveals another marvels. I can now see some interesting volcanoes. As I continue further on I don't even know when but the type of the landscape changes into deserty. And the road starts turning sandy.
I make a small lunch break to replenish at least a bit of the energy I lost. The scenery around is quite nice because I stop just next to big rocks. As many times before, I wonder how the heck such rocks appeared on a desert.
After the lunch I continue on the deserty altiplano. The road isn't particularly good. But at least it isn't completely sandy (just remembering Bolivia's sandy altiplano route makes me cringe).
When the main road starts steeper descent I leave it and turn to the north towards Imata. Altiplano continues as well as bad state of the road. But it is worth it. Just before Imata I am coming across another you-should-take-a-photo spot. There are some big rock formations just next to the road. Very nice. And then it is just a quick finish to Imata where I am finding a hospedaje with an unexpected bonus of a hot shower.
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|June 24, 2017||56.4||0.21||16.8|
|June 25, 2017||40.4||0.61||15.5|
|June 26, 2017||49.6||0.50||13.8|
|June 27, 2017||61.6||0.47||14.1|
The next table is only for cycling activity.