Cycling Huaraz to Cajatambo was something to remember for ever. There were some amazing moments for which these five days of cycling are worth dedicating a few words to.
Not knowing our route prior to leaving, we headed in the direction of Cajatambo. Leaving Huaraz was difficult. Not so much of traffic, but more so of the fantastic weeks we had in Huaraz. Hiking the Santa Cruz and the Huayhuash trek were the main highlights. The Oreo cheesecake at the the little tourist square is up there with the other highlights as well. The stay at Jo’s Place Lodging House is worth mentioning to, as they are used to accommodating cyclists it was a relaxed place to stay.
The first few days on the bike looked like easy roads and smooth sailing on paper. The profile of the route on OSMAnd showed an altimeter gain of just 1200 kilometers all on asphalt. The weather was in our favor with clear skies and no wind. Easy least right?
Wrong! With nearly 5 weeks out of the saddle it felt like our cycling fitness was left in Huaraz. We felt a little bit down because of the slow and tedious progress. It is like that sometimes on the bike. Instead of the planned ninety kilometers, we called it a day after ‘just’ sixty and found a nice camping spot alongside a river and out of road views.
Camping helped us get into that special feeling of being on the road. The sense of freedom when you find a nice place to pitch the tent is one of those things we love about wild camping. With our minds back in cycling mode, our bodies followed soon. Just in time as well, because after passing through Conococha we traded asphalt for our dearly beloved Peruvian dirt roads. We had reached the little altiplano of Conococha.
By switching to dirt roads the traffic was down to one car every hour. The vistas were wide and open, the landscape green and peaceful. We were back where we wanted to be!
A relatively easy climb up to 4200m followed by a nice descent to Ticllos where we camped on the football pitch of the town. A day which was copied to the next day. Just a very nice day, but with a tough second part.
The dirt road was of less quality, it was hot, and there were some steep sections. We were happy to reach Rajan with some daylight left. Asking at the police station if there was a good place to camp, we were directed to a football pitch, again. The reason for camping at the villages is that there are hardly any possibilities to camp in between. It is often steep or rocky. So we settled for the easy option.
The route from Rajan was a descent of forty kilometers which is already nice on its own, but this one we will never forget. The scenery was mind blowing, the gravel of good quality, there were uncountable switchbacks, and we didn’t see one car the whole afternoon.
Which made this descent epic were the group of condors appearing out of nowhere. Looking for thermics, they glided through the air just thirty meters away from us. We heard the wind ruffling their feathers of their three meters wing spanned wings. It was almost a spiritual encounter with these Kings of the sky.
We continued down the mountain into the valley. The climate changed to blistering hot temperature and tired because of the long descent we had lunch in an abandoned house which provided some welcomed shades. It felt like the day was already done because of the many impressions in the morning. But a climb through the valley to the next campsite was still on the program.
Tired as we were, we couldn’t fully enjoy this beautiful valley with a raging river at the bottom. It too way longer to climb up four hundred altimeters than usual. We hoped for a small shop at the crosspoint at the end of the climb at Tumac so we could buy some cookies and rewards for the day spent. Unfortunately there wasn’t one so we had to do with just spaghetti.
Plus the thought we would be in Cajatambo the next day where a nice Hostal is located and with all the conveniences of a town we could do without cookies for one night.
A big climb of forty kilometers was the only thing separating us from Cajatambo so we got up early with a belly full of oats. Surprisingly the road was asphalt which was a big stroke of good fortune. It is so much easier going on asphalt, especially after a few days of dirt roads.
We made good progress, had a nice lunch halfway the climb in Yocchi and the foresight of a hot shower and Peruvian restaurant meal ment the day went by with smiles. The climb was long and quite exhausting, but a good finale of these five days of cycling.
In just five days of cycling Huaraz to Cajatambo so much happens! It feels like two weeks and not five days. And this wasn’t even the most adventurous days we’ve had. Traveling by bike is such an amazing way of traveling.