Huaraz, Peru to Ayacucho, Peru (9-10 thru 9-26) 12,922 miles!!!!

September 28, 2008


Andes Mountains!!!

Andes Mountains!!! Peru has been a country of many challenges!!! Not only has it been physically challenging, but it had been challenging us socially and our sanity was fading away quickly. About the time we were ready to throw in the towel and say, “forget this, lets bus out of here”, things seemed to suddenly change. The hot dry desert scenery got more exciting, friends came into the picture with a new perspective, and the local people somehow became much more friendly and helpful!!! Like they say, traveling is just meeting one challenge after another or solving one problem after another. (This certainly has been the case in Peru, except we call them frustrations here!)Ralph topped out at 16,000´




After a rest day in Huarez, we traveled southeast into Parque Nevado de Ruri.  The most awesome National Park in all of Peru just happened to be closed to vehicles (except 1 combi per day to bring supplies to the local inhabitants that graze sheep there).  So consequently, we had some of the highest snow-capped glacier peaks in all of the Andes (the heart of the Cordillera Blanca) completely to ourselves and a really well maintained gravel road to lead us thru!!!!  We climbed from 10,000′ in Huarez to 16,000′ at the highest pass, had 2 nights camping with spectacular glacier covered peaks looming over us and the bonus of a full moon which made it absolutely spectacular!  We drank what the locals recommend, (coca tea), to combat altitude sickness and keep headaches away.  Pat felt the altitude one day and Ralph took a turn the next day, but we made it slowly up and over with not too much pain.  (This is now the highest we have biked on our trip!)

Awesome views from 16,000´!!!

Awesome views from 16,000´!!!





We climbed from one large basin to the next, all of them home to a few sheep and cattle herders that lived in tiny stone huts with thatched roofs that looked like Hobbit houses.  An interesting note about National parks and reserves in Latin America:  The government unfortunately allows grazing of animals and allows people to live in the national park to do so, making it nowhere near the pristine experience that it is in the U.S.  We consequently saw no sign of wildlife!  But around every corner was a new view of yet more stunning jagged, glacier covered peaks.  The mountains here reach upwards of 20,000′, so even at 16,000′  the peaks were still looming  high above us!  The views of distant peaks from these passes was literally breath-taking (in more ways than one) and the scenery was the most beautiful of our entire trip!    This is ironic because the Peruvian countryside to this point had not impressed us much and  our expectations of Peru had been way above what we had seen thus far. 



not a good way to farm

not a good way to farm






After several days in the high country, we dropped hugely, but still rode at 10,000′ to 13,000′ for the next several days and the scenery changed dramatically back to the dry, arid, grossly over-grazed and over-farmed mountainsides.  It is amazing the slopes the Peruvian farmers attempt to graze animals and grow crops on.  Most fields are from 1/10 to 1 acre, are in very poor soil and are on between 15 to 50 degree slopes!  Most fields are tilled by hand with a hoe or shovel, a few by ox-driven single-bottom wooden plows and are also harvested by hand (many people using a knife to cut the grain).  All of these farming practices would be unimaginable to the American farmer, but are very commonplace in Latin America.  This type of farming, along with the logging has taken a huge toll on the land over the centuries.  The only trees remaining on the steep landscape are the few Eucalyptus trees that are planted for lumber.  All this leaves a mostly barren, stark braised landscape which is a major problem which they seem to have not attempted to solve.  We eventually dropped 6500′ on the worst rocky, dirt road on this planet for 30 miles with dust-billowing trucks passing us in the moon dust into Huanuco.   (At this point now, we were the dirtiest we have felt yet on this trip! )         


We headed south climbing back up (yes, up) to the Altiplano, where we biked the longest stretch of road in the world above 13,000′.  We were on a high desolate plain that rolled along between 13,000′ to 15,000′, with jagged peaks in the distance, for nearly 100 miles.  This was probably the most boring part of our trip so far!.  We eventually made our way to Ayacucho after passing thru Huancayo, La Esmeralda, and Huanta.

We are learning to solve our frustrations here in Peru one by one, thanks to the following friends we have met along this part of our journey!  First of all we met Edward, from Scotland, who has been traveling by bike for a couple of years.  He was carrying a fresh cup of hot coffee at 7 AM (we may have mentioned it before but you can not find coffee before about 9 AM in Latin America and if you do it is usually served about 20 minutes after ordering it and is luke-warm and a weak excuse for coffee ).  Well, he had a life-saving electric heater that is used to heat water in your hotel room!!  We immediately added one of those to our supply of necessary kitchen items!  Next we met a couple from New Zealand at a hostel in Huancayo, Denise and John, who are helping to build an orphanage for a few of the many homeless children in this country.  They re-assured us that they encounter similar frustrations in their work here with the people (i.e. not much value on education, children with no values and no value placed on a person’s time).  Giving to the poor is very hard work and sometimes they are not grateful for it, but we still know you have made a great difference!  What a great gift you have given these people!!!  We also met a couple from the Denver area (was great to talk about our great state!), a traveler from Bozeman (we love and miss that place too!) and a couple from Germany (wonderful people full of great travel stories and experiences).  Recently, we ran into Anna and Alberto, 2 bikers from Spain that we had met 5 months ago in our travels!  We rode a couple days with them thru the dry, hot canyons leading to Ayachucho.  Their companionship came at a difficult time for us and really helped the days go by with much laughter, buckets of water for showers  and great conversations! 

Again, we say what makes traveling great is not only the wonderful scenery of this world but also the people we have met and the friends we’ve made, they all help make our trip all worthwhile!


Until next time – bikin’ on!  (Hope you are too!)

Ralph and Pat







  1. Wow! Your story brought tears to my eyes. These precious moments you experience can vicariously keep me from terminal boredom as I patch concrete each day with my still sore thumb. Looking forward to rehanging at the gallery this weekend. Got a visit from Alice in Ouray just before returning to ‘Bonedale. Leaves are starting to turn but garden hasn’t had frostbite yet. What percentage of Peru have you passed through so far? Have read in Karl Bushby’s book that Chile and Argentina are wonderful. Did Alicia send it to you? He’s walking around the world. This week started spring down there? Will try to print out the first picture in your latest…it makes the top ten!

    Hasta luego, Mark.

  2. God Bless you guys.

    Wonderful meeting up with all the wonderful people.

    Keep up the Good work

    Diane Patton

  3. […] Huaraz, Peru to Ayacucho, Peru (9-10 thru 9-26) 12922 miles!!!! By ralphandpat All of these farming practices would be unimaginable to the American farmer, but are very commonplace in Latin America. This type of farming, along with the logging has taken a huge toll on the land over the centuries. … Ralph & Pat’s Epic Ride – https://ralphandpat.wordpress.com […]

  4. So, what did the stars in the Heavens look like at 16,000 feet with no man made lights around you?

    thanks again Pat & Ralph for taking us along on your journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: