Bicycle touring through the Peruvian Andes was one of the most spectacular experiences of my life. For all the nature lovers out there, watch as I ride along abandoned roads, through giant canyons and carry my bicycle down a mountain in order to reach my destination.
What an incredible few days it was riding through the mountains in the Peruvian Andes!
It was time to leave Huaraz, where I’d spent the previous 2 weeks hiking the Santa Cruz trek and overcoming altitude sickness. I was ready to get back on the bike and start riding through the mountains.
Little did I know that this was going to be my most exciting journey on my bicycle journey in South America thus far.
Watch the video below to see what it’s like riding a bicycle through the Peruvian Andes:
Day 1 – Bicycle Touring Through The Peruvian Andes
As I put my foot back on the pedal for the first time in 2 weeks I was a little apprehensive knowing that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to turn back to the comfort of my hostel. I was going to be riding in some of the most remote places I’d ever ridden.
Surprisingly, the ride started off better than I expected.
My body had enjoyed the rest time. After a relaxing 18km, I decided to take an hour-long break to bask in the sun next to a flowing river. I wasn’t in any rush and was happy to be back in the middle of nowhere again.
After my well-deserved break (not really), I rode along the highway for another 8km until I reached the intersection where I had to make a decision; either stay on the highway and have nice roads all the way to the coast or turn off and take a dirt road that would last for 133km.
I opted for the dirt road.
It was around 1 pm when I made this decision and little did I know that for the rest of the day I would be walking the bike uphill along the dirt road. The views were incredible of the snow-capped mountains that I’d climbed only days earlier.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, I was actually enjoying walking the bike uphill all afternoon. It was just so peaceful and tranquil.
As the time passed and it started to get darker, I started looking for places to camp.
This proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. I was walking along a tiny dirt road in the mountains meaning there weren’t many flat places to pitch a tent.
As it got darker and colder, the cars driving by all looked at me perplexed as to why there was a gringo walking his bicycle into the middle of nowhere in the darkness.
Eventually, around 6 pm I found a small bush, 20m away from the road that was going to have to be my camping spot for the night.
Having nowhere else to camp I pitched my tent behind this small bush. I was only semi-hidden and wouldn’t be seen unless someone was specifically looking for me. The only problem was that in order to be hidden behind the bush, I had to pitch the tent on plants and jagged rocks.
It was quite a humorous moment when I first entered the tent… it was just so small and the floor was so uneven (the plants were making the tent half a metre off the ground in some parts).
Sleeping proved to be easier than expected because I was so tired from all the walking that day. I managed to find 2 positions to sleep in which my body would arrange itself around the plants and rocks beneath. I constantly rotated between these two positions all night.
As I was trying to sleep I kept hearing footsteps outside my tent.
Were people coming to rob me?
I started worrying more and more and the footsteps became louder and louder.
After a few minutes, I realised that the sound wasn’t coming from outside the tent but instead inside the tent. It turned out that it was just my heartbeat and pulse that sounded like footsteps. Silly me!
Day 2 – Bicycle Touring Through The Peruvian Andes
Waking up after a somewhat semi-comfortable sleep at 6.30am proved to be easier than expected. Although I was camping at 4100m and it was cold, the views of the snow-capped mountains right in front of me made things easier.
As I packed everything up on my bike, I realised that the front tube had punctured so I needed to change it. This meant I had to take everything off my bike to change the punctured tube. This was my last spare tube and I still had over 100km left of dirt road to ride on!
Thirty minutes later, with no more spare tubes for the rest of the journey, I started walking the bike again. I was hoping to make it to the top by lunchtime.
It took me a few hours to reach the top at 4555m.
I didn’t stay at the top for very long because I was ready to start riding downhill!
Unfortunately, the start of the descent wasn’t as nice as I expected because the road was in really bad condition. Loose rocks and potholes meant I had to ride very slowly because I didn’t want to puncture my tubes.
I rode for about 10km downhill before arriving in a small town. I’d finally got into a great rhythm riding the bike so rather than stopping in the town and stocking up on food and water, I opted to keep riding.
I followed the signs out of the town along a dirt road following a river through a beautiful green valley. This amazing path eventually brought me into a canyon where the small dirt road entered.
It was honestly one of the coolest roads I’d ever seen in my life…and I had it all to myself. I was the only person around (I didn’t see a single car or person on the road) riding through this canyon.
It was quite dangerous as the road was uneven and rocky with a 500m drop on one side that fell to the bottom of the canyon into a river with sharp rocks sticking out. A fall here would mean certain death!
The adrenalin was pumping the whole time I rode along this road (which was most of the day). I had to watch the road so carefully as to not hit a rock or pothole and fall off the edge…
I forgot to mention that I punctured my front tyre again. Not having any spare tubes to replace it with, meant I was riding with a flat front tyre on the most dangerous road I’d ever been on.
To make things a little easier on myself, I would stop every 30 minutes to re-pump the front tyre which would slowly deflate over the next half an hour.
After about 10km on the most beautiful (and dangerous) road I’d ever seen, I realised why I hadn’t seen any cars, the road was closed.
There were huge rocks covering the road that had fallen from the cliff above. I found it bizarre that the maps application on my phone and the signs around town both said to take this route. I didn’t even see any warning signs.
Luckily, I was able to squeeze my bike through the fallen rocks blocking the road and continue riding.
I didn’t want to leave this incredible road because I’d never seen anything like it in my life.
I continued past a few more roadblocks from the fallen rocks and kept making my way through the canyon, absolutely loving every second.
Before too long, I realised why the fallen rocks hadn’t been moved from the road so that it could be re-opened, the road had been completely destroyed by a landslide.
There was a downhill section about 400 metres long that had completely been destroyed and was covered in huge rocks. The road no longer existed.
The only resemblance to a road was the old wooden bridges that were now just loose pieces of wood. It was a mess.
Being impossible to walk my bike through this section, I had to make another big decision…
Make my way back to the town (which would take a full day) or, somehow try and get through this mess off a road.
In the end, I decided to try my luck and cross the non-existent road.
I took all the gear off my bike, put my hiking boots on and scaled down the jagged rocks with all of my gear in one hand. It was extremely dangerous and I was relieved when I’d managed to make my way down to where the road was normal again.
Now all I had to do was go back to the top and bring my bike down. I don’t know if you know this but trying to scale a slippery, rocky mountain with a mountain bike in one arm isn’t easy.
One wrong move and I was screwed, I would have hit my head, been knocked out unconscious (or worse) and been in the complete middle of nowhere with no-one around for 20km in any direction to help me.
After more than an hour, I managed to carry my bike down and was back to where the road was normal again. I was still feeling a bit shocked and decided to walk the bike for the rest of the day (even though it was downhill).
Eventually, I rejoined the river and started looking for somewhere to camp. I wasn’t able to get down to the river though because I was on the mountainside and the river was in the canyon 200m below.
Luckily, I passed through a small town. A lady in the town told me that in fact there was nowhere really safe to camp. The worst thing I could do would be camping next to the river because I would get robbed.
I was able to rent a bed in a man’s house for 10 soles ($4aud/$3usd) for the night. It was very basic and didn’t have a bathroom or electricity or anything besides a bed. It really was in the middle of nowhere which was exciting…just a few locals, 5 houses and some animals.
Day 3 – Bicycle Touring Through The Peruvian Andes
The next morning I got woken up early by all of the farm animals from the village. What a nice way to wake up!
I hopped on the bike by 7.45am because I still had 83km to ride if I wanted to get to the coast by the end of the day.
Although most of the day was along dirt roads, it was going to be downhill so even with a punctured tyre, I was hoping to make it to the coast by the end of the day.
Once again, the road was dangerous with big drops to a certain death on my right. I was heavily concentrated as I made my way downhill on the uneven dirt roads.
By the end of the day, my confidence was so high that I was riding as fast as I could along the dirt roads and getting a huge adrenalin rush.
The road followed along the river the whole morning so whenever I needed a break, I would relax next to the river and fill up my water bottles with fresh water.
As I continued to ride, the locals would shout “Hola Gringo” meaning ‘Hey white guy’. They never saw any tourists let alone white people through their villages and were extremely welcoming.
After riding 42km that morning, I’d finally made it to a proper paved road. I was no longer going downhill but it would be flat for the next 41km to the coast.
My legs were quite fresh because I hadn’t needed to use them for the last day and a half (everything was downhill) so it only took me a couple of hours riding through small farming villages before reaching the coast.
I stayed the night in Huarmey and managed to find a bike shop that sold spare tubes which I would need for the next part of my journey…
Riding along the coast to Lima.
Although this part of my journey was only 3 days long, it was 3 of the best days of my life.
Remote canyons, steep drops, flowing rivers, green valleys, snow-capped mountains, wild camping and friendly locals were just a few highlights from the trip.
If you’re interested in reading more from my bicycle journey in South America, be sure to check out my other videos:
Stay tuned for the next post as I ride my bicycle along the coast to Lima, Peru!
Have you been on any remote adventures? Where were they?