DAY 556 - CAJAMARCA TO CARAZ (2)

After Huamachuco at 4100m. Nothing but paramo grass, small lakes and a sandy track.

After Huamachuco at 4100m. Nothing but paramo grass, small lakes and a sandy track.

 

Day 556 - Huamachuco, Peru - 11525 km

It takes some dedication to choose the less travelled roads through the Andes, while there is more comfortable and faster alternative going through the valley. But the fact that people have travelled these roads before give some reassurance of an incredible travel experience that are worthwhile the extra effort, Something the more common roads might not provide. The stories of other travellers make me decide these more challenging paths and perhaps take a detour if the weather looks promising and I feel good. That said, I sometimes spend a minute or two on a crossroad, contemplating choosing the easy road, or the difficult one.

After an epic long downhill into the valley towards Cajabamba the road meanders through hilly farmland towards Huamachuco, a mid-sized town where I spend an hour on the central square eating ice cream and watching the people. The last days have been dry and sunny which was really pleasant. After this the road goes up again. First paved, but soon going off the main road on a sandy gravel going up to 4100m. It looks like I will have to spend the night there. Despite the rain season and threatening thunderstorms around the highest peaks ahead me, I am spared with only short showers. The gore-tex rain jacket I bought in Ecuador comes in valuable. Before, I had a cheaper light-weight version which wouldn’t keep me dry for very long. Not much of problem in warm tropical storms of Central America, but here you need proper gear to keep you dry and warm.

 
Orange break at Laguna Sausacocha, just before Huamachuco

Orange break at Laguna Sausacocha, just before Huamachuco

On the streets of Huamachuco

On the streets of Huamachuco

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A herd of sheep and alpacas, in panic by the unexpected visitor

A herd of sheep and alpacas, in panic by the unexpected visitor

Campsite for the night, along road 115

Campsite for the night, along road 115

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I spend the night at 4100m under a starry sky, which is chilly. Before I go to bed I run around a bit and do push ups. This warms up the sleeping bag instantly. Another good trick to keep you warm at night is to boil some water and bring a hot bottle into your sleeping bag. This time it’s not necessary because temperature stay above zero. Important is to pee before you go to sleep, so your body doesn’t waste too much energy keeping your inner liquid warm.

The next day I remain on high altitude for a bit after going down on an extremely rough road (943). It turns out only a small part of it is used by some mining trucks. After that the road is out of use, sometimes completely slid away. Despite going downhill it takes a lot of effort to keep the bike in balance going steep down over large chucks of loose rock. My arms, shoulders and back hurt at the end of the day.

 
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Road 943 to Mollebamba, right after 115.

Road 943 to Mollebamba, right after 115.

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In several places the road (944) was completely washed away; I needed to carry the bike over the ditch.

In several places the road (944) was completely washed away; I needed to carry the bike over the ditch.

Steepest grade I’ve seen so far, luckily downwards.

Steepest grade I’ve seen so far, luckily downwards.

These trucks with Jesus drawings you see all over Peru.

These trucks with Jesus drawings you see all over Peru.