Friday, 2 September 2011
THE CORDILLERA BLANCA
After heading North from Lima through the desert, I couldn't wait to get away from the damp foggy coast. I had been intending to cycle via Huaraz (the "Adventure Capital" of Peru), and as soon as I could I headed for the hills again. Initially the climb followed a river valley, and again I noted that the desert is actually quite fertile if there is irrigation water. The dry ground is also a handy space for drying crops such as maize and paprika. So, once more I climbed to over four thousand metres before descending a bit to Huaraz, at the foot of the beautiful snowy Cordillera Blanca (still part of the Andes). There are apparently 22 peaks in this range of more than six thousand metres (including the highest in Peru), so trekkers and climbers tend to make their base in Huaraz. There I camped for a week at the popular Jo's Place hostel, where I enjoyed the company of a number of other cyclists and climbers. Eventually it was time to leave, and I headed back to the coast via the spectacular Santa Rosa River Canyon. However the road is unpaved, bumpy, narrow, and dusty, with about 40 hair-raising tunnels. I'd heard a lot about Lucho's Casa De Cyclistas in the city of Trujillo, but the day I finally arrived there, nobody was home. So I went to the nearby Huanchaco beach where I found a nice cheap hostal for a few days rest (the weather is also better than around Lima - the fog clears in the afternoon). Luckily I did find some life at the "Casa" on my return to Trujillo, and it's a good place to pay some attention to the bike (Lucho has a small workshop and loads of spares - mostly 2nd hand). The historic centre of the city is quite interesting, with many attractive colonial buildings. However, the road for some distance to the North is a bit of a gauntlet for cyclists - lots of reported armed robberies. I'll have to see how it goes when I leave. Daily distances cycled since Lima have been:- Lancay Nat Pk 102 km; Pativilco 104 km; Valley Camp 74 km; Cajacay 26 km; Junction Village 33 km; Huaraz 86 km; Caraz 71 km; Canyon Camp 1 74 km; Camp 2 41 km; Chao 120 km; Huanchaco 84 km; and Trujillo 16 km. Total in South America so far is 15 222 km. Total distance cycled on this trip is 81 709 km.