Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Arequipa to Iguazu. 08/7 - 10/7 : Go go go!!!

Finally the end of the cycling, just a couple of buses and a flight, and we would be fully fledged tourists on the opposite side of the continent. At least that’s what we thought… There was only one little problem. We were in Arequipa, Peru and we were flying from La Paz, Bolivia, 600km away in 72 hours, and there was a 3 day bus strike.

So how is it done?

72 hours to flight – Spend 24 hours watching demonstrations and visit every bus company in town to see if any bus will go in our direction

48 hours to flight – Repeat the process until you find a bus going to La Paz at 8pm that evening. 6pm find out that the bus is not going to La Paz, but there is one going 200km to Puno at 10 pm. 10pm board bus with yesterdays demonstrators!

33 hours to flight – 5.30am get kicked off the bus 50km short of Puno, at Juliaca, with the assurance that there will be a bus from Puno to La Paz. Start cycling.

30 hours to flight – Arrive in Puno, find the bus station and discover there are no buses to La Paz, or for that matter anywhere. Continue cycling.

28 hours to flight – Get puncture.27.50 hours to flight – Get another puncture27.48 hours to flight – Flag down a random mototaxi load bikes and head for Bolivia

25 hours to flight – Road blocked by barbed wire, rocks and glass. Unload bikes. Cross the barricade to cheers from the protesters!

24.5 hours to flight – 100km to the border and 6 hours until it closes. Cycle, like mad.

19.45 hours to flight – Reach the border with 15 minutes to spare having cycled 150km in total, and passing countless blockades.

18.45 hours to flight – Cross the border and lose an hour!

18 hours to flight – 8.00pm Copacabana, Bolivia, look for a bus to La Paz. Discover the last bus went at 7.30pm. Find a taxi willing to drive us the 200km to La Paz, but there is a ferry crossing half an hour’s drive away, the last ferry goes at 8.30pm and the time is 8.10pm…

17.5 hours to flight – 8:29.59 Catch the last ferry, just about alive.

15.5 hours to flight – Reach La Paz, find hostel and relax after 24 hours on the go. 600km, a bus, mototaxi, ferry, taxi, and 99 miles cycled. We’d made it…

3.5 hours to flight – 10.30am, wake up late. Book taxi to airport for 12.00, and go and look for bike wrapping for the plane.2.15 hours to flight – 11.45am find shop that has bike wrapping; at the work shop, 30 minute walk away, get taxi to work shop, buy 2 bike boxes and try and find a taxi that can fit 2 bike boxes

1.45 hours to flight – 12.15pm arrive back at hostel

1.15 hours to flight – Arrive at airport, and pack bikes.

1 hour to flight – Check in. Get told that we cannot take the bikes on the flight. They have to go ‘cargo’ possibly taking 2 days. Take bikes to cargo.

½ hour to flight – Return from cargo with bikes, and permission from the manager of the airline that we can take our bikes on the flight. Check in.

¼ hour to flight – Customs, John gets stopped for (accidentally) trying to take a knife onto the flight.

5 mins to flight – Board plane and sit down, and wonder what all the stress was about, we had 4 minutes to spare…

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Colca Canyon

What do you do if you have a few spare days near the end of your trip? Cycle down the deepest canyon in the world of course.

As usual the trip had unexpected hazards, like herds of cows,

pitch black tunnels,

as well as beautiful campsites

and random idiots.

What could be a better way to end the cycling?

Salkantay to Machu Pichu

For once cycling was not really an option, so we took a five day trek, via the 2nd highest mountain in Peru: Salkantay.

The first 2 days were uphill to the pass at 4650m.

Followed by 2 days downhill through rapidly changing scenary.

Finally after a 4.00am start and another 2050 steps up to the entrance. Machu Pichu!

It has to be seen to be believed.

Monday, 22 June 2009

La Paz - Cuzco. 10/06 - 20/06 : Welcome to Peru...

First day out of La Paz, and its an evening by lake Titicaca.

We had heard that the road to Cuzco was busy, but it was a surprise to be playing chicken with buses!

Dinner also had surprise chicken...


And it´s not just our legs that are worn out.

The scenary was getting nicer and the roads quieter... We had heard rumours of road blocks, but a scattering of rocks and glass was not going to stop us!

An angry mob however is a different matter.

After 80km of road blocks we eventually reached Urcos, and a surprise party. The next day to Cuzco was hard work!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

San Pedro De Atacama to Uyuni. 8/05 - 17/05 : Mission

A change of plan... We were given a map and some GPS readings for a good route into Bolivia. Shame we don´t have GPS.

So back up the Paso de Jama... the easy way!

We had no idea what would be in store for us but we didn´t expect wind like this!

Nights were cold (-20C) and the roads seriously bad

Sometimes so bad, even the bikes went on strike!

There were some impressive sights

But pushing your bike 10km uphill can really piss you off!

Sometimes you wish you were travelling like everyone else

Until you get to places like this

Our map was not the best, so we were lucky there were signs to help

After 8 days of cycling on sand we eventually made the Salar de Uyuni. Time to work on the tans.

And a good opportunity to meet typical Bolivian women

550km later; Uyuni. Who needs GPS?!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Salta to San Pedro de Atacama. 24/04 - 3/05 : Cycling higher than Mont Blanc

The riding from Salta to Jujuy was amazing but unfortunately cloudy. Jujuy is not the nicest city, but at least the poor weather reminded us of home.

Jujuy to Pumamacra was surprisingly tough until we realised we´d climbed 1200m (the Andes are big!). John had even taken to map reading as an excuse to rest.

This was the big one! 1800m of ascent in 37km. 34km and over 4000m high, Will was feeling it!

Back down to 3600m and our first salt flat. Pretty impressive!

Halfway and guess what. Yes. This should not be Berry and Bradwell cycling around South America, but Berry and Bradwell sh*tting around South America.

A couple of days later and 4000m passes are lunch breaks.

The riding was not that inspiring so John found some ass to chat up. He was doing well until he took his hat off.

Goodbye Argentina. Hello Chile. The scenary can be unbelieveable. One minute barren mountains, next vivid salt lagoons.

We are now camping at over 4500m and nights are cold (-15C).

This was it. Over 550km cycling, five 4000m passes (two at over 4800), salt flats, sickness, freezing nights, finally we are here. 35km and 2200m below: San Pedro de Atacama.

Half an hour later we are there. Yes over 70kmh for half an hour! Strangely there are no photos. Was it worth it? Of course! We are going back up it in a couple of days.
Paso de Jama. Done.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Tucuman to Salta. 11/04 - 21/04 : A 4 day trip that turned into 10

A pretty crazy tour, but it was good to be back on the road!

It started with cycling 1500m up through rain forest, in swealtering heat. Lukily there were some waterfalls to cool off in. Some even came with thier own buff man...

The following day was another 1000m climb, but this time it looked more like Scotland.

The next day and downhill through a candelabra cactus forest. Some over 8m tall.

Day 4 and we were in wine country. Free tasting and 2 quid a bottle. You just have to be served by ex cons...

Day 5 and we still had some wine left,

to fuel us on our ride through some amazing valleys.

Day 6 and sand. F**K sand.

There is only one way, well two ways to get through cycling like that. Coca and cake.

Day 8 and the 2000 mile mark.

Even the locals dress up for the occasion

Day 9 Salta, only 157km, including a 50km climb to 3348 easy! Well maybe not. We managed the 50km of climbing, but not the 157km.

So, day 10. 6 days late, 200km and 4000m of ascent more than expected and we reached Salta. We are happy about it honest!