(August 24 – written by Dave)
Tomorrow we depart Cusco. We’ve really enjoyed our break here. Cusco is a small but dynamic international city. Of course, being close to Machu Picchu and the rest of the Inca story creates a lot of tourist traffic but the city itself is definitively worth spending time in. Why do we like Cusco? Well, the answer is pretty simple. Here you get nice food. You know the fancy stuff, with things like edible flowers and green veggies that won’t make you sick. There is also good coffee, great bread, plenty of lodging options and as always, there are the super friendly Peruvian hosts.
Making it to Cusco was exciting but honestly Peru was much harder and longer than we thought it would be. While here in Cusco, we had a good look at the route ahead, and time to reflect on the route we’ve just completed. We’ve ridden about 2,600k since Jaen in northern Peru. We have about 2,600k to ride from La Paz, Bolivia to Mendoza, Argentina (yes I know, we are not yet to La Paz but it’s just around the corner and it gives a close route comparison distance). Good news, our route ahead looks a lot easier than the route we’ve just ridden, proof is in the numbers (and route profiles).
Jaen, Peru to Cusco, Peru – about 2,600k with 52,000 metres of climbing
La Paz, Boliva to Mendoza, Argentina – about 2,600k with 13,500 metres of climbing
In other words, the Peru section had 3.8 times more total climbing over the same distance. To put Peru’s up and down in perspective, a 6,000k ride across the USA has about 40,000 metres of climbing. It looks like the crazy climbs of the Andes will be put on hold for the next 3,000k. This should make the riding easier, give us shorter days in terms of riding time and let us enjoy the Argentina wine regions we’ll be travelling through just a little bit more. “Great” to the last point (says my senior editor)!
On returning from Machu Picchu, we’ve met up again with our old German riding partners, Philipp and Kathrin – they moved into our hostel. Good news, our trips will align again for the next couple weeks as we make our way into Bolivia and perhaps even Argentina. We’ve compared notes and come up with a “best of both” route that we will ride with them. There doesn’t appear to be much camping until we get past La Paz (about a week from now), until we reach the Salar de Uyuni. The Salar is the largest salt lake in the world and camping is the only lodging option on the lake so we’re all kind of wondering how that will work out.
Tonight we have one last Cusco dinner and we hope to meet up with Richard, one of the three bikepackers we met in southern Ecuador. He skipped ahead of Mark and Hanna to meet up with his girlfriend here in Cusco and just by chance, Tine saw him yesterday on the plaza. It really is a small community of cyclists moving up and down South America – you never really need to say goodbye to anyone because it’s pretty likely you’ll run into them again down the track.
So, that’s it for our Cusco soirée – rested, refreshed and ready to roll south, first thing tomorrow morning. The adventure continues.