Touring by Bike South America, Africa and Europe by Bicycle

Landscape of the Andes
Day 12. Pampa Galeras vicuña reserve.

Km today: 65
Trip odometer: 639 km

I was hoping to reach Puquio today. I left my bivy (the GPS now shows the location at 2080 m.a.s.l) early, at 6:30. I soon pass by a sanatorium (buildings are rare in this part) and by a bus that seems to have some problem, as it was stopped and a lot of people are waiting on the road sideways. Of course, they look at me with curiosity while I struggle biking up-hill. In fact, I do not struggle yet, it was the beginning of the day and I can keep a rhythm of about 200-300 meters vertical ascent/hour (I’ll check the GPS data for that).

Day 12. Landscape of the Peruvian Andes. DSC_2134

Cactus in the Peruvian Andes, at 2000 m. a.s.l.

Day 12. Restaurants up in the mountains. DSC_2138

Restaurants. Before Pampa Galeras

There is a very small village (more like a cluster of 4-5 “restaurants”) somewhere at 2800 m, where I stopped for a late breakfast. I was expecting the “caldo de gallina” to be a soup, but I didn’t know how big it was. Well, we talk about a big bowl of hen soup (hen, not chicken), with a full, hard-boiled egg. After that, while I continue riding up, I meat a group of three motorcyclists, going on the opposite direction. We wave to each other and I continue climbing. One minute later, one of them turns around, asks me where I am from, but than he left probably disappointed (they are Brazilians) :). I had like three stops in the last 10 minutes (and that’s only few minutes after the stop in the restaurant).

Day 12. Restaurant. DSC_2137

Restaurant in the Andes of Peru. 2800 m. asl

The climb up to Pampas Galeras vicuña reserve was really slow. I had a first critical moment at the bridge called Toro Muerto. I was tired and trying to push and than one of the daily rain showers started.

 

I see a small herd of vicuñas, take some pictures and continue to count the kilometers up. For the psychological factor, I should mention that the road is marked of every 100 m. I’m not sure if this helps or not…I think it help because at least you can see some progress. I had a first moment when I walk for a while, biking was too slow.

While I struggling towards Pampa Galeras, the flag on my bike, now soaking wet from the rain, gets trapped in the disc brake of the rear wheel and…one can imagine what happened. No, I didn’t fall, but the flag was teared apart (the red color) and the bike was breaking.

Day 12. VIcunas in Pampa Galeras. DSC_2159

Herd of vicuñas, Toro Muerto, Peru

Had lunch at 4016 m, at Ana’s restaurant. From here there are two or three more climbs. Not very steep, but is late and I’m tired after the long day (remember, I left at 6:30 in the morning). Is getting late and, of course, it starts to rain (again). After one hour since leaving Ana’s restaurant I start the descent. But is already dark and really cold.

 

Day 12. Pampa Galeras. DSC_2149

Ana’s restaurant at Pampa Galeras

My main, strong light is discharged, so the 56 km descent to Puquio is too dangerous. The light from the front lamp is not helping too much, I can only see the white stripe of paint on the road and even for that I really have to focus. I have the feeling that this descent is not safe at all. After hitting some potholes, I know I would stop (if I only had where). I’m slightly shivering, my main target now it to go down lower than 4000 m and even lower, if possible. Is should be a little bit warmer and also I avoid any potential problem with altitude sickness (in fact all this day I didn’t think of altitude sickness at all – later I realized that an easy headache that I had before Pampa Galeras could’ve been due to altitude). At the payment station I talk to some guys in a truck, they tell me there is no direct descend towards Puquio. So I decide to sleep at the payment station. After explaining to people from the payment station that I prefer not to pitch the tent, because is wet (as well as part of my stuff), they offer me the toilet building, which in fact is a big hall of about 10 * 10 m (that indeed features a toilet). I also put the bike inside. I put all my wet stuff on stone bench, I prepare my bed there are well and they also brought me three or four big blankets.

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