DAY SEVENTY FOUR
Rest day in La Paz
Absolutely exhausted from the exploits of the day before we decided to have a day off in La Paz, plus we were intrigued by this unique city and didn’t want to leave after just a morning there.
Although we would love to say we visited museums and visited all the sights we actually sat in an Australian cafe for the morning (bacon and eggs!!!!!!), and watched the Tottenham Man City game in an English pub in the afternoon. We did however go for a romantic sunset cable car cruise to el alto which sits above La Paz, from which the views were amazing. Again we had been warned that La Paz was dirty/gritty/rank but were pleasantly surprised, and with the setting of snow capped mountains in the background it might be one of the most beautiful cities we’ve ever seen.
DAY SEVENTY FIVE
La Paz to Huarina
Distance: 43 miles
Av speed: 10.8 mph
Moving time: 3 hours 57
Trip time: 6 hours 43
A slow day given the mammoth effort it took climbing out of La Paz - 500m up in 5 km.
All cyclists we had spoken to said as a top tip its best to get the cable car out of the city but as this trip is for charity we of course chose the road option, although regretted it pretty much straight away.
During the two hours it took to get out of the city we didn’t see another bicycle, quickly realising the city was extremely bike unfriendly. Black smoke billowed out of nearly every bus and taxi that went past us way to close, as we struggled with the steepest gradients of the trip so far in sticky heat. Extremely hard work but the view from the top was amazing and despite being at 4000m for the rest of the day we were cycling on altiplano which is normally mercifully flat.
Set up camp on the shores of Lake Titicaca, with the sun setting on one side and snowy capped mountains on the other. Muy contento!
DAY SEVENTY SIX
Huarina to Copacabana
Distance: 50 miles
Av speed: 10.1 mph
Moving time: 4 hours 49
Trip time: 7 hours 30
An incredible first day cycling the shores of lake Titicaca. Lots and lots of climbing but with amazing views.
Our first glimpse of the lake was one of sheer joy as the dry rocky landscapes we have been so used to were replaced by luscious green hills and and trees! (We hadn’t cycled near water since the end of the Carratera Austral nearly two months ago previous!)
At 3800m Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and one of the most impressive sights we have seen so far. With snow capped mountains all around and blue water as far as the eye could see we set off knowing today would be a good day!
Despite vicious amounts of climbing we couldn’t take the smiles of our faces, enjoying our final full day in Bolivia. We cycled through lots of pretty villages cheered on by smiling Bolivians who seem a bit more laid back then those in the south. Eventually we came to the small town of San Pablo, where the road is divided by the Straight of Tiquina and you have to take a rickety wooden ferry across.
As well as being in completely different surroundings there was finally a change in eating options as we enjoyed fried trout and whitebait for lunch in San Pablo! Couldn’t have been happier.
After catching the small ferry across, the road took us to our highest point yet at 4,270 m. Lots of huffing and puffing later we made it to Copacabana, setting up the tent close enough to hear the sound of the waves breaking against the shore!
DAY SEVENTY SEVEN
Copacabana to Juli
Average speed: 10.6mph
Moving time: 3h54
Door to door: 9h01
We made it to Peru! Three of the six countries down. We both feel sad to be leaving Bolivia, we absolutely loved everything about it, the past two weeks have flown by. Bolivia has provided us with some of the toughest cycling yet on the trip but also some of the best scenery. All the people have been so friendly, and so interested in what we are doing. One of the highlights has to have been the street food, both delicious and super cheap.
Today we had our photo and the Peru boarder control and carried on our journey north excited about what we have ahead of us. One of the first thing we have noticed since entering Peru is that the drivers are a lot worse than anywhere else we have been. The tend to beep and still leave next to no room at all, even if there aren’t any cars coming the other direction!
Luckily we found a great camp spot on the shore of Lake Titicaca, able to see lighting all around us but luckily safe!
DAY SEVENTY EIGHT
Juli to Juliaca
Distance: 75 miles
Av speed: 12.5
Moving time: 5 hours 51
Trip time: 9 hours 37
Waking up dry after another huge thunder and lighting storm we were on the road early as we need some big days to make up some time.
A day that could have been perfect was slightly ruined by the awful awful Peruvian driving. Constant horns and several near misses meant we were slightly on edge all day! Despite that the views of the lake were enough to keep us going, arriving in Puno for lunch. After an hour long hunt for Yerba matte proved fruitless the last 30 miles were luckily on a new road with no cars on, heaven after a very traumatic morning!
As the sun was setting we arrived in Juliaca, and checking the app iOverlander were extremely happy to learn there was a Casa de Ciclistas meaning we wouldn’t be setting up the tent in the dark!
We were welcomed like old friends by Geo and had a fun evening drinking matte and talking all things cycling!
DAY SEVENTY NINE
Juliaca Casa de Cyclista to Chuquibambilla river camp spot
Average speed: 12.4mph
Moving time: 6h00
Door to door: 9h07
A slow but nice morning spent in the Casa Ciclista. Geo (the owner) told us the roads would be busy leaving the city but we didn’t imagine it to be as hectic as it was. Of course, on Sundays it’s market day so the streets were full with beeping Tuk tuks. As we weaved our way through the crowds and the hectic traffic we managed to find our way to the open road and we headed off to get as many miles covered as possible.
A day very much consisting of lots of audio books on the flat roads. The day was running so smoothly until just before the sun went down Jim had another puncture! Although a real setback that we would again be setting up in the dark we did our best to laugh it off and ploughed on with our lights on.
Just past Chuquibambilla village we set up camp next to a river extremely tired after another exhausting day
River camp Chuquibambilla to Checacupe
Distance: 81 miles
Av speed: 12.4
Moving time: 6 hours 32
Door to door: 9 hours
Day of two halves as amazing morning waking up by the river followed by no traffic climbing through a green mountain valley up to our highest point yet - 4338 m! Our hard work was then rewarded by 30 kms of downhill which was the first long stretch we’ve had for a long time.
After the sprawling town of Sicuani however things changed as the road condition deteriorated, becoming really bumpy and a nightmare for our already tender bottoms. This discomfort was doubled by more awful Peruvian drivers, coming way way to close and constantly beeping their horns. We were even forced off the road a few times as cars overtaking in the opposite direction had no thought for two tired cyclists!
Hard day and treated ourselves to a beer in the lovely square in Checacupe, just 60 miles from Cusco. Also amazing news that our parcel has arrived and we will have new tyres and a new pump from tomorrow, plus more brownie rations!
Ended up staying at Jamie’s house, another Casa de Ciclistas in Checacupe.
DAY EIGHTY ONE
Checacupe Casa de Cyclista to Cusco
Average speed: 12.3mph
Moving time: 4h47
Door to door: 6h58
An early start so we could get to Cusco as early as possible. We thanked the very kind host Jamie for letting us sleep on the floor of his kitchen and hit the road by 7.30.
A fantastic morning zooming downhill through The Sacred Valley of the Incas, both of us a little worried that we were going so far down that the climb back up into Cusco might be worse than we hoped! We dropped down to 3,300m and you can tell the difference as the trees became more dense and everywhere was that little bit greener. For the majority of the day the road was amazing, until we got around 30k from Cusco. Then the lorry’s started to pass us at a quicker rate, pumping horrible fumes into our faces as we headed up the hill into Cusco. We were relieved to make it to the hostel where we have another parcel waiting for us! It’s like Christmas all over again as we open new tires and bike parts, lots of home sweets and more brownies!
We treated ourselves to a beer in the beautiful Plaza de Armes. A little shocked by the huge number of tourists and the high prices (£1.50 for one scoop of ice cream, madness!). Excited to explore Cusco tomorrow on our rest day!