Final miles in Equador, city time in Quito

With time running out for us we had a few variations of a plan on leaving Quito. We threw bikes and ourselves in the back of a bus heading north to Tulcan, a large town only 10km from the Colombian border. It was pouring down with rain through the afternoon and Tulcan was as appealing as a wet cat.  We found a cheap hostel and dinner and hoped the next day would dawn fine for a departure south. In the morning the cat was dry and vastly more appealing! Before we left … Continued

Cotopaxi Gold

Laguna Quilatoa is a flooded volcanic caldera that is 10km around its crater rim, and 300m deep. It was only a short ride from the party town of Zumbahau and we found it to be very beautiful but boy what a windy and cold place at 3850m. Because it is so scenic, with many hiking options, it is also a tourist hotspot with many lodges, and many more being built. After a night in the small town we tackled a short section of single track around the crater rim before dropping down … Continued

Volcanoes, Vicuñas and Very loud music

We are still having our fair share of inclement weather, Alan is battling a reoccurring bad tummy but in between we are having fun and unique times. I rode and Alan bussed the short hop to Cayabamba and in the afternoon we took the bus to Riobamba to find a cash machine and enjoy some good eating before returning. Riobamba sits at the foot of Chimborazo on it’s eastern side and it makes a formidable backdrop to the city landscape. The weather was clear for the climb up to the Chimborazo Park … Continued

Windy Equador

With rain, mud flows, walls of wind, sandstorms and a night at 4000m in a shepherds choza, we have certainly had an interesting time of it since leaving Cuenca. We left the city of Cuenca on the TEMBR route which after following a mellow riverside track took to the hill suburbs on gravel roads. It weaved it’s way vía steep ups and downs and looking back over our shoulder, at times it felt we weren’t making much headway progress. The reality was that the city extends north a long way. We struggled … Continued

Friendly Equador

It was great to be on our bikes and heading north from Loja, on the Trans Equador Mountain Bike Route (TEMBR). We had a sweet riverside trail to follow to get us to the outskirts of town and then we enjoyed the ride alongside the Rio San Lucas that climbed us gradually to join the E35 highway, better known as the Pan American Sur highway through Equador. It is the main paved north-south road and the route most regular touring cyclists take. Fortunately for us there will only be short interludes on … Continued

Last days in Peru

The attraction of the small village of San Pablo was the walk to the third highest waterfall in the world (actually the 17th, but don’t tell the Peruvians). The total fall height is over 700m but because it drops in 2 falls I think it loses places in the waterfall stakes. Despite low water volume, it was still very impressive. We walked a circuit ending up in a village on the other side of the valley , linking back to our bikes by a ride on a moto-taxi. After lunch we carried … Continued

Making new friends on the road

We had been in communication with Mark and Hana (highlux.co.nz) who were heading south on the same road as our northward journey and we were finding it tricky working out a plan to meet up. They have been on the road for 2 years from Alaska, and are taking the least travelled roads so their final destination at times, is getting further away, not closer. In comparison to their journey we are mere weekend warriors. We eventually worked out a plan to meet in Chachapoyas. We are now on the downhill road to … Continued

The Mummies of Chachapoya

The Maranon river is one of the principle sources of the Amazon river, flowing east from the Andes. To traverse this catchment (heading north) means an exhilarating downhill of 2400m followed by an intimidating 2800m of climbing. The town of Balsas, beside the Rio Maranon, is at a hot, dry 850m. We crested the ridge 500m above Celendin on a cool, cloudy morning. Through the many layers of cloud we could just see the river 2400m below. The road is single lane and paved, so it was a fast & fun descent … Continued

Striking north again

Lady Luck shone us as we searched for a tent that would suffice and not cost too much. There was little in the stores which is surprising as it is a region of much trekking and mountaineering. Julio Olaza runs the only mountain bike company in Huaraz and we had met him when we left tyres for Mark and Hannah (highlux.co.nz) to pick up when they arrived there. Julio’s American brother in law runs Cafe Andino, our favourite haunt, and he had some Marmot tents. We were able to pitch them upstairs … Continued

Low days in Peru…

We looked at the empty harness on the front of my bike in disbelief. The tent was gone, the clips undone… The bikes had been sitting locked together in the locked hostel courtyard, and assured of its security, we had left the tent strapped on the front. Someone had broken in and taken it F..K. Our beautiful wee red casita was gone. I was determined to make a fuss, to get the town talking and to flush it out. Being such a small town there was no policia but someone must know … Continued

Up, down, up … on, off, on days

After our standard town breakfast of tea/coffee and egg buns, we said goodbye to Pomabamba and started our climb up the gorge heading north. Maybe because the roads are so bad people stay put in their villages and so there is not a lot of traffic between. When there is, the most common is the motorbike.  We were spared the heat of the sun climbing thru tall gum forest on the shady side of the valley. At our tea break we watched 4 men relaying long planks of wood down the hill … Continued

No Bull..

We had spent pretty well the whole day cycling uphill, on a road, that when flicking thru a 2002 guidebook in Chavin 2 days previously, was said to be paved, but it most certainly wasn’t and never had been. We had decided to camp at the top of the pass at 4400m as after three nights in hostel rooms we were missing the simple life in the tent. There had been only one car pass all afternoon and on reaching the pass we left the road to look for a campsite. The … Continued

The hard road to Chavin

We could have made it easy for ourselves and biked the shortest route to Chavin de Huantar on the eastern side of the Cordillera Blanca mountains, a paved highway with a tunnel at the high point of 4500m. Instead we took an unpaved route over a 4800m pass further south that undulated at that altitude for a tough 20km before dropping us down to 4100, before climbing again over 3 smaller passes each around 4600m, finishing with a 1600m very rough downhill to Chavin. We wouldn’t recommend the route in the opposite … Continued

More Cordillera Blanca magic

In the 1940’s a glacial lake high above Huaraz burst its moraine dam and sent a wall of water and rocks down 1500 vertical metres to and through the city killing 5000 people. Julio, a local mountain bike guide, had told us that the walking track to this lake (Lago Palcacocha) has been recently upgraded to a gravel road so we were able to bike to the lake from town in 2 short days. It was a nice climb up thru the suburbs then zig zagging up a wide ridge before entering … Continued

A mountain jolly in the Cordillera Blanca range

This time we headed south from Huaraz and we were carrying our accommodation and kitchen with us. If you thought we were travelling light on our foray down Duck Canyon you were right. After 8km on the highway we turned west up the Rajuculta Valley and onto a nice dirt road that we planned to follow for 30km to the lake at the head. This trip was for mountain views and acclimatisation. Huaraz is at 3000m and unlike a lass we met in the hostel who went from Lima at sea level … Continued

A shaky start and a shake down Duck Canyon (Canon del Pato)

Our first morning in Peru we were shaken awake by a terremoto (a trifle terre-fying) as our building shook with the 5.5 earthquake. That on top of arriving in Lima airport sin bicis (without bicycles) was making for a good start to the trip. It seemed Latam airlines were onto our case so we had to trust the system and enjoy not having the hassle of travel with bike boxes to Huaraz. As seasoned Uber travellers (first time was from the airport to our lovely hostel) we filled in the day in … Continued

Getting ready for our next journey

Welcome back….in mid May we are off again back to South America on our bicis – the leaves have mostly fallen here in Wanaka after an amazing autumn and the early snow on the hills is refusing to melt The plan..we fly into Huaraz, the mountain town sorrounded by 6000m peaks that we finished up in back in  2014. After some acclimatisation time we will head through northern Peru to the border with Ecuador and then follow a route, coined the Trans Equador Mountain Bike Route (TEMBR – dirt road version) in … Continued