intro | excursions from caraz->

Sat 8 July: flight to Lima

Note: We stayed overnight at the pleasant Antigua Miraflores. We had planned to book a taxi to Trujillo for the following day, but when we found the price we booked bus tickets instead.

Sun 9: bus to Trujillo

Trujillo

Note: The road is dull beyond belief, but not as unpleasant as the videos shown on the bus. We stayed at the Libertador, with fairly good food. Almost the whole of the northern coast at this time of year is cloaked by garúa, the sea mist. Curiously it parts around Casma which boasts eternal sunshine.

Mon 10: sightseeing and shopping in Trujillo

Tues 11: km 482 (170m) – Shacsha (700m) (77km, 1050m ascent)

A

Chavimochic

Nothingness

taxi took us back to km 482 on the coastal highway, 15km south of Chao. A private road supporting the Chavimochic irrigation project runs east from here and is open to cyclists, providing an alternative to the newly paved public road which follows the Santa valley from a little north of Chimbote.

The taxi driver looked on as we cycled into nothingness.

The Chavimochic road is good smooth gravel. There is a camping spot after 17km, but water is not generally plentiful. The fertile village of Tengche on the Rio Santa is reached after about 22 km, and this is where we emerged from the garúa.

The road now runs parallel to the river, with the public road on the opposite side. They meet at a bridge at 51km, and we had lunch at the road village of Chuquicara 8km later.

Just after Chuquicara is a junction. The tarmac road continues to Cabana while a rough turnoff follows the valley to Huaraz. The turnoff is barely recongisable as a road at all, being no more than a faint indentation in the stream rubble. A signpost serves the purpose not of explaining which road is which, but of persuading incredulous travellers that this is indeed a road.

Progress becomes slow, and the barrenness of the valley makes camping difficult, so we were a little concerned. We passed a simple restaurant at a bridge 70km from our starting point, and another shut restaurant 4km later on the approach to the village of Shacsha. A sidestream provides the village with water. We filled our platypuses here and wobbled a km or two beyond the village and descended to the riverside to set up camp at gps=0814359 9040406.

Weds 12: Shacsha – Huallanca (c. 1500m) (52km, 1050m)

We set off on a sunny morning, passing the village of Mirador with a small shop after a couple of km. At 13km, now on the right bank of the Santa, we passed disused mine workings, and after a further km we came to the Rio Chungay sidestream (gps=0826105 9040158) which would be another camping option.

The

Santa valley

valley starts to narrow and the rock becomes more solid. The road returns to the left bank and the valley becomes a gorge with tunnels through the cliffs. This part is very attractive.

Tunnel

At 22km the valley opens out a little. At 24km we came to the site of downtheroad’s ‘waterfall camp’. The waterfall had been reduced to the tiniest trickle, and no doubt dried up completely soon after.

A little further on was a small village of roadside stalls (including a simple place serving cooked food). At 26km a left turn crosses the Santa and heads away to the north. We carried straight on.

At 32km was another possible camping spot. The road then reverts to the right bank and begins a stiff climb of more than 200m to Yuramarca, perched inhumanely above the valley. Here we washed down our lunch with beer. We were both exhausted without knowing why.

The afternoon was easier riding, with just a modest distance to cover and a modest amount of climbing to reach Huallanca.

Notes: we stayed in the basic but acceptable Hostal Huascarán and ate at the Cañon del Pato. The local people are demanding that the road be paved.

Thurs 13: Huallanca – Caraz (2260m) (40km, 1020m)

Cañon del Pato

Callejón de Huaylas

The road climbs steeply out of Huallanca and enters the sequence of tunnels that lines the Cañon del Pato.

The river serves the Huallanca hydroelectric works which provide much of the electricity for this part of Peru. The last of the tunnels contains the bocatoma. When you emerge from it you enter the Callejón de Huaylas which feels like another world. The road is tarmac and the valley green: and beyond the fields rise the lofty mountains of the Cordillera. Barren valleys have their place in the world, but this is what we had come to see.

There are 27km to Caraz, smooth and gently graded in smiling scenery. We arrived in time for lunch and spent the afternoon lazing around our hotel.

Notes: There is a short but unwelcome roughstuff climb on the approach to Caraz, and surprisingly no facilities on the road. We stayed at the O’Pal Inn, aka O’Pal Sierra Resort, which is a little way out of town. Distances and daily ascents in these notes are written as from Caraz centre.

intro | excursions from caraz->