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 opposite making our job look like child’s play. From the pass we had a long, fun 28km of downhill, taking us from green terraces and forest to dust dry cacti country. Sweat was pouring off us for the 10km grind up valley to the town Sihuas and a late finish. 

Next morning the steep climb out of Sihuas was broken only by steeper sections of road. One positive of the hard grind was that my bed bug bites weren’t able to be itched as hands were needed to keep the bike moving forward in a straight line. With relief we reached the pass and found a great campsite with what would be our last views of the Cordillera Blanca. We were in position for a great sunrise.

A friendly, witchlike shepherdess visited. Speaking very loudly and complimenting us on our lovely tent she was not too concerned that she was doing most of the talking. She left us with a present of 4 large yams, one of which ended up in the fish pasta.

Sadly sunset and rise were not to be. A storm passed through and left us a gray morn for our down, up, down, up, down, UP, DOWN day ahead. This was combined with our on, off, on, off, on, off of rain gear as showers passed through. The combined pattern seemed to be (down, on, up, off)x repeat!

The last climb was at the kindest gradient and had the best views and weather of the day, followed by another stonker of a downhill into Conchucos and another late finish. Dinner was at the local pollería (chicken & chips) and the Hostel Plaza didn’t issue complimentary bed bugs unlike the lovely Hostel Lillian in Sihuas (which was great in all other respects)

The road down the Conchucos gorge is only for 2 wheels – in 2016 there were a number of landslides over the road which have all been cleared but a large rock in the middle of one narrow section prevents 4 wheels getting all the way through. It was a stunning descent and returned us to low hot climes again.

We joined Peru’s primary mountain ‘highway’ PE3N for the climb up to the sweet looking pueblito of Mollepata, steep but more forgivable as it was paved. We were kind to ourselves and  finished the day early, moving into the only hostel in town and finding a local to cook us dinner. Sadly Alan has picked up a stomach bug, hoping the cipro will knock it..