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Weds: Quillabamba – Incatambo (55 km, 1500 m of ascent)

We bumbled out of Quillabamba, misled by faulty directions. It’s 21 km to the Chaullay bridge: quite far enough for the road builder to squeeze in one final gratuitous climb and descent.

Salcantay

After 8 km or so there are superb views along the valley to (we assume) Salcantay. After 16 km there is a left fork to a village: not Chaullay, though it’s probably possible to cross the river there and continue on the other side.

Chaullay has supplies and restaurants along the road. Indeed there must be quite a lot of traffic over the Abra Malaga because shops and restaurants are quite common: every 5 or 10 km on the lower half of the climb. But the road is quiet as we are riding. After Chaullay it heads unremittingly upwards, but the surface is better than it has been since Quellouno. It is hot.

Lunch is a picnic: bread and an avocado from Quillabamba market, with tomatoes bought along the way. The best and ripest avocado salad ever.

After lunch we ride wearily upwards, and after a while start looking for camping opportunities. We find a rather questionable campsite near the village of Incatambo in a clearing above the road occupied by a ruined hut. You are well advised to camp here or hereabouts. Below the land is mostly banana plantations and rather dense, while above it becomes too steep.

Trucks thunder past all night. Colin remarks that if he was a truck driver he would prefer to cross the Abra Malaga in daylight.

Thurs: Incatambo – Veronica camp (41 km, 1800 m)

Veronica from
Incatambo

Zigzags on
the ascent

Carrizales

The road now climbs in huge sweeping zigzags which are intimidating when seen from below. Shops and restaurants can be found 61 km from Quillabamba and 79 km from Quillabamba at Carrizales where we had lunch. There are superb views upwards toward Veronica, cloud permitting. There are no restaurants beyond this point, and if there are any shops they are basic and unannounced.

The treeline is at about 3800 m, and above this level the ground is open, a little bleak, and perfectly campable though water is a little scarce. We pitched tent at 0789689 8547046, but there were good sites further on. We thought we were right under Veronica which was now hidden in cloud.

Fri: Veronica camp – Ollantaytambo (53 km, 500 m)

Veronica camp

Malaga
zigzags

Veronica

The morning dawns beautiful. Mist rolls in and slowly clears. We climb to the pass, estimated at 4220 m. The mystery of the night traffic is explained: there are roadworks on the descent, and the road is closed to motor traffic during the day. Fortunately we are waved through.

The road makes a large sweep at Peña, and then zigzags down to the Sacred Valley between huge cliffs. The works seem intended to shore the road up against rockfall. They are not pleasant riding.

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