Huánuco/Peru – Cusco/Peru

Where it´s going down, there it´s going up again. Up to “the highest city of the world” – Cerro de Pasco, 4348m above sea
level, annual average temperature 4,2°C. After Litang in China already the second “highest city of the world” on this

Passing a high plain we reach La Oroya. Although the place was selected as one of the ten dirtiest places of the world, due to the contamination caused by the mining industry, for us it is the place to take a last deep breath before a
last high pass, the Abra Anticona with 4818m above sea level. Afterwards the perhaps longest downhill stretch of the world.
From the high Andean passes down to the coast, about 150km constantly downhill. In the upper part the road falls down
impressively into a ravine. Then it seems to cross itself in different levels several times, as in a 3D-Labyrinth. The walls
become steeper and higher, until only a narrow piece of asphalt and a small river pass trough. For us only quick impressions,
because it goes further down, down, down.

After this stretch of superlative we reach the outskirts of Lima. Actually we want to try to bypass the Peruvian capital, because it is considered as less worth seeing and somewhat dangerous, but it´s not that easy. Even if these kind of advices can not be taken too serious, we want to avoid the city stress. We are on the Panamericana. Of course now with much more traffic than in the remote mountain regions. As a 7-lane main road the Panamericana passes the city of Lima. We pass settlements, built in the same style, typical for many similar places in the world. A reinforced concrete skeleton filled up with bricks, mostly unplastered. The floor of the unfinished top floor with some half-finished walls forms the roof, the steel rods stand out in the air. So everything looks always unfinished and raw, not to mention all the rubbish and construction material left overs on top of the roofs. It looks often like places, that suffered an earth quake, Denise and I think.

But only a little later, we see how a place looks, which really has suffered an earth quake. We are in Pisco. In August 2007 there was a very strong earthquake. 80% of the town was destroyed, above all the historical buildings of the colonial times. Now, 11 months later, there are more gaps between the houses, than houses themselves, the roads are still open construction sites, the church is just a simple wooden structure with bamboo mats as walls. A frightening picture. Close to Pisco we visit the Ballestas Islands. Great quantities of sea-birds populate these islands, also penguins. In former times there was an industry, which used the bird excrements, called “guano” as fertilizer, today the islands are part of a national park, where we can also see Sea lions and dolphins.

On the bikes again we leave the coast and the so called “Garúa”, the coastal fog – permanently covered sky, not even 20°C, somehow uncomfortable. We reach higher terrains again and now the desert looks, like one expects it by a desert – sunny. The next tourist attraction is Nazca with its famous Nazca lines, up to 20km long lines and line pictures with a size up to several hundred meters only scratched into the desert ground. Nevertheless some of them have been conserved for 2800 years, their function is still not clear. Close by we visit the pre-Spanish cemetery of Chauchilla. The bodies were tied up in textiles and placed in a squatting position. Some of them are impressively well conserved, so you can still see their hair.

Where it´s going down, there it´s going up again. Just a few days after we of came down from 4800m above sea level, it goes up again to 4700m above sea level, the first 100km or 2 days continuously up, up, up. Sounds like an unreasonable route planning, but so we see also much more from Peru. Again we pass trough all the landscape forms (except the tropical rain forest east of the Andes) – desert with and without stones, with and without cactuses, green, agriculturally used valleys, meagre high plains with snow-covered mountains and grazing Alpakas, Lamas, Vicuñas and Chinchillas. Not in many places of the world one might be able to pass by bike within a few days from the penguins to the parrots, which fly screaming above and between papaya trees in the valleys, to see flamingos, where you expect them the least (Andean flamingos, which live in the
height and are obviously quite resistant to the cold.)

“I cannot sleep. There is something outside. ”, Denise wakes me up. Consciously of my duty, I look out of the tent in expectation to find nothing but perhaps an animal. But directly next to the tent and our bikes stands a guy. I shout at him, in order to scare him and to make him run. That works. One of the bags at the bike is open, therefore I run behind him immediately . He runs with fast feeds, I with naked ones. After a few meters I lose him in the darkness. Apparently he has tried to remove the bag – if you know the system you do it within a second. Then he had apparently also difficulties to open the bag. At the end he “only” steels us our sleep . We stay awake, stare into the darkness, light up our lamp occasionally,
in order to let the thief know that we are awake. While so far he was not very clever, he might know that he has rarely an opportunity to rob bike tourists.

After the town Abancay a 2000m altitude downhill, which I can finally enjoy again. During the last days I was as cycling like on raw eggs. My rear wheel rim broke, after more than 30.000 hard kilometers. Replacement is not easy to find. So I ride 363km with a broken rim. The tire slips down some times, the inner tube is exposed. With all my skills I try to help that shapeless egg, which was once my rear wheel, to rotate, to pass trough the frame. I insert the wheel angled, adjust the tension of the opposite spokes , shift the mud guards, dismantle the brakes. Again, everything works out at the end. With a bit of creativity, our own power and our bikes we manage to keep on going. I purchase a rim, which does not fit from the measures and the number of spokes but the implantation works successfully. Now we are in Cusco, the former Inka metropolis, now an attraction, clogged by tourists. We ride on in direction of the Titicacasee and Bolivia.


translated by Maik

pictures for this article: Huánuco/Peru – Cusco/Peru : Fotos

12. August 2008 - Tom & Maik | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

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