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Deeper ford

Tracey & Alpamayo

Tues 7 June: L. Safuna–Pomabamba (2960m) (66km, 610m ascent)

Down and up and down and up and down along the bumpy road back to Palo Seco, stopping for a late lunch just after; then down and down and down and down along the better road to Pomabamba. Charming fields and houses along the valley.

Pomabamba is a largish but very traditional town. It took us a while to find somewhere to stay, the Turístico Vía having turned into a seminary, but eventually we settled into the Begonias, an attractive traditional place.

   

On the morning of our departure there was a gathering of Inca women in traditional dress around the bank. Presumably it was handout day.

Notes: We ate dinner at the intriguingly named ‘Restaurant David Davis’ (no Welshmen seen). The next day we raided the cakeshop next to the Begonias for a supplementary breakfast.

Weds 8: Pomabamba–Piscobamba (3300m) (24km, 530m)
 

Red bike | Heroic statue

 

Maize

 

Conchucos road

A short ride up to Piscobamba, a small town built round a large square. It has better views of the mountains than Pomabamba and is equally traditional in style, though we saw fewer people in local dress.

The church is only a decade or so old, built in a somewhat Italianate style with fine carved doors: it turns out to be run by the Don Bosco foundation. There is a workshop at the back.

There are pleasant walks up from the square, passing a pretty chapel.

Notes: We stayed at the Hotel San Pedro and ate in the restaurant attached to it. The hotel is fairly ok (and quite a nice building), but offers 24hr service – meaning that people are likely to turn up in the middle of the night.

Thurs 9: Piscobamba–Yanama (3400m) (63km, 1480m)

Llumpa

Begin with a rough descent to the river at about 2480m, and follow it with a sunbleached climb on other side. The road surprised us here by climbing less than the old IGN maps suggested: presumably a new course has been made for it, contouring round to Llumpa rather than crossing the ridge. There are a couple of small restaurants and at least one source of ice cream in the town. We ate at the “Melody” which was willing to serve a very early lunch and is pleasant and friendly: it also functions as an hospedaje. The owner told us that a couple of north American cyclists were a day or so ahead of us, but we never saw them.

 

Yanama ascent

Another steep set of zigzags down to the river at Puente Llucma, then an endless climb on a difficult road to Yanama. Colin was off colour and Tracey was carrying more than her fair share. When faced with a choice we kept to the high road.

Notes: 7hrs 20' pedalling; 9hrs 20' from start to finish.

We stayed at the “Andes lodge” which has the feel of a good quality English B&B. There is a lot of new building in the town, but it doesn’t yet spoil the view. There is also a new road in the direction of San Luis. We mentioned it (and the 4000m pass it crosses) at our hostal, and were told that 4000m wasn’t a real pass.

The “Andes lodge” serves good food – albeit not quite in cyclist quantities – and wine to wash it down.

We saw quite a lot of locals on bikes during the climb. Cycling is common in India too, but stops abruptly when you get to the mountains. Maybe the difference is that Peruvian bikes have gears.

   

Views from Yanama

Note that Yanama is stressed on its second syllable.

Fri 10: Rest day

We went for a short walk and had some ice cream.

Sat 11: Yanama–Chopicalqui camp (4380m) (29km, 1160m)

Campsite

Climb climb climb, enter the park where there are zigzags and quenua trees, all sorts of flowers, and horseflies. Uncampable until near the top and even then it is hard to find anywhere flat and away from the road, but we found a spot in the end. 4300m seems to be the no-fly zone.

Sun 12: Chopcalqui camp–Carhuaz (2660m) (77km, 800m)

 

Portachuelo

The weather had closed in so it was not a day for views. Zigzags to the pass (the Portachuelo de Llanganuco) then a long rough descent. We ate in Yungay, then rode along the boring smooth fast tar to Carhuaz.

Notes: We stayed in the Hostal El Abuelo, a lovely place with good food. You have to ask in the restaurant by the same name in the main square, but the hostal is set back in a quieter part of town.

The proprietor is Sr. Felipe Díaz, the publisher of maps of the region, who is a valuable source of information.

There are more heladerias in Carhuaz than you can shake a stick at.

Huascarán

Mon 13: Carhuaz–Huaraz (3120m) (36km, 650m)

Just two and a half hours to Huaraz where we had nothing to do but eat.

Notes: We stayed in the Club Andino.

Tues 14: Rest day

We continued our eating campaign and planned our ride to Lake Rajucolta.

Notes: We asked in the tourist office, and were told that we’d need a permit which we’d have to obtain from the Park Headquarters a few blocks away. You fill in a form and come back later, so it’s best to leave time for this. We had been told that local cyclists don’t bother with formalities, just climbing the wall along the way; but the park has a custodian at the Rajucolta end, and gringos without paperwork may be turned away. You still have to climb the wall though.

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