What the mountains have to offer

Peru was described to us recently as 3 countries within one, the coast, the mountains and the Amazon headwaters. We have only experienced the mountain region and it’s riches. Our impression is that even tho’ it is the toughest of the regions for the people to live, it is thriving. Small towns seem to be engaging in major municipal work projects and we guess the money is coming (via the government) primarily from mining – just from the rich colours in the mountainscapes, one can imagine the rich minerals that lie below.

Biking through we see the other ‘exports’ of the high country, the llamas, the sheep (including merino), cows, water taken from the many lakes for hydro and for drinking water for the huge cities on the coast. We have not seen much active tourism deep in the Andes tho there are hotspots like Machu Pichu and Huaraz, where we are heading. The mountain locals are chilled and friendly, handshakes are warm and gentle and we have not seen agro or much drunken behaviour or felt unsafe at all. We have not seen poverty as you might in Asia.

We are now over halfway through the 4th leg of this traverse. This morning we went into the newly opened Municipal building here in Oyon, to see if there was WIFI and before I knew it I was being interviewed for local radio – so tune in to Radio Oyon to here gringa Jo! Luckily most of the basic question were within my limited Spanish!

Chicla- Marcopampacocha – water race camp – Vichacocha – Huancahausi thermal Baths – Rapaz – Oyon

Partaking in a Casapalca fund raising bar-b-que on the super busy Caraterra Centra from Lima. A couple of hours on this road were enough for our nerves and it was with relief we turned off onto a quiet dirt road. Helmets and hi-vis vests got some air time.


Even on a rare cloudy afternoon the colours are still there


The bizarre municipal hotel in the tiny village of Marcapomacacha


Yantac, a tiny village at 4600m set in spectacular position below the glaciated peak


And Yantac’s hat statue in the wee town plaza


The red backed sheep from Peru!


Alan grinding up another hill..


The water canals, that take drinking water from the mountain lakes to the coastal cities


And make for smooth riding, when dry!


Just the odd obstacle to get under..


Llamas being herded back at the end of the day


One of our colder nights at 4700m


Back in the canal for a few more km before we have to start climbing again


Punto Fierro Cruz was a particularly colourful pass


Crazy color mountains and crazy descents


One of the many mountain lakes that are dammed to increase their storage


Alan, always keen to avoid an uphill, suggests a nifty shortcut across the dam


Artistic sweep of the rock dwarfs Alan


With not enough supplies to start over the next pass we drop down an extra few km and 150m to Vichacocha for the night, in order to eat up well for the next big day


We were not looking forward to this day of 1500m up and 2000m down, but we climbed fast on the not too rough, and only steep in places, track. 


Cool rock slabs en route helped make it an enjoyable climb. Llamas grazing in the foreground


Captivating rockscapes


And colourful hills on the far side


This route is not used much by vehicles it seems


The long downhill got rougher as we got lower, still good at this stage. We had a 200m climb at the end of the day to the hottest thermal pools yet, where we camped for the night. Bliss!


Fish farms up river from the thermal pools. The river water is diverted and flows through large concrete pools full of trout, before passing back into the river.


From this point the river is too gorged so the road climbs steeply up a side valley


And before we know it we are looking 800m down on the valley and fish farms below. Note the terraced fields way up on the steep hillsides.


Leaving the town of Rapaz, early morning. Spectacularly sited on a steep ridge 800m high above the valley and dating back to pre colonial time. We ate very well here. Peru´s largest Quipu is apparently stored here (all you maths teachers check out what a quipu is – could be a fun maths application..)


And watched the World Cup final .. From bed!


The ugly side of copper mining at 4900m, a lake of black sludge


Some of the mountains of the Huaywash starting to appear on the horizon


In our rest town of Oyon, looking for a hostal


The brand new Oyon Municipal building where I got cornered into a radio interview. The modern glass facade is in stark contrast with all the other older building styles of the town