We enjoyed a relaxed morning in this very nice city (of Peruvian standards). It has many churches and beautiful old buildings similar to Cuzco but without the hassling from tourism operators and manic traffic.
We had a coffee and lemon meringe pie at the town square while we treated our Brooks saddles to a clean and polish from the shoe shiner !!!
We dragged ourselves away from the icecream and coffee shops around 10am and headed towards Mayocc 79kms away. We weren´t certain we were going to make it all the way but the roads were kind and we both felt great after our restful morning.
Just out of town we stopped off at the Pikimachay caves. We enjoyed a short but steep walk up to them. We initially thought they were South Americans largest cave system but soon saw that we must have misread the name.
Our view from the caves
Along the way we finally caught up to the French cyclists on a tandem bike - we had heard from our hostel owner a few days before as well as some German cyclists we had met. It was fun communicating in 3 languages(English, French and Spanish) to discuss where we had been- were going etc.
The countryside was very different from what we had experienced... very hot and dry with heaps of cacti
How do things like this ever happen???
As we were biking out of Huanta (on the less direct route) we were flagged down by a car load of locals from Lima who desperately wanted to have their photo taken with us. Initially we weren´t going to be stopped because we were anxious about getting to our destination but something made us pull over. They were very impressed and interested in our trip and before we said our goodbyes they asked us why we were heading the way we were. They soon redirected us down to an incredible brand new road with lots of downhills and NO TRAFFIC as it was not yet open to cars! whoop whoop
Needless to say we rolled into Mayocc by 4pm and checked into a very cute little hostel before the heavens opened - rain, thunder and lightening. Boy were we happy to be warm and dry. Our hearts did go out to the poor Frenchies out there somewhere.
The rain was all cleared the following morning and we followed a big river through an amazing valley all day. It was the Mantaro valley. We had amazing views and the locals were incredibly friendly.
Check out this garage!
Incredible views all day
Lunch spot - enjoying a strange but delicious fruit sold to us by a cute little lady outside her house.
A common sight - donkeys, cows, sheep or goats being walked along the road by a lady to their grazing spots. Almost always with a rope around their necks or legs.
After seeing Trout on the menu at every Peruvian restaurant and never seeing anyone fishing we finally saw a Trout farm. Even though it was only 10am we couldn´t resist taking a break and having an early lunch
We dropped down into the farmlands of Huancayo after a reasonable pass of 3900m - back to the madness of traffic and locals screaming at us as we rode passed ¨Gringos¨
The beautiful colours of Quinoa fields
We found our first Peruvian mall....and supermarket in Huancayo. Wow, it was flash and huge. We enjoyed stocking up on a few things and treated ourselves to a fresh salad and roasted chicken -and even had left overs for lunch the next day.
We left Huancayo early the next morning amongst the tooty, smokey, crazy horrible traffic. The city traffic seemed to go on forever and finally after 20km we had had enough. We pulled over for a snack and talked about hitching to our turnoff 10 or so km down the road. It just wasn´t enjoyable riding. The next car to come passed was a near new shiny white ute. It pulled over straight away and were more than happy to take us. Not only could they speak english but they were very interesting to talk to and told us all about their exporting business of Maca - a local root vegetable very similar looking to Beetroot but is a high energy supplement.
The road after the turn off was extremely quiet and pleasant. We were so thankful to be out of the chaos once again.
We enjoyed the climb up to 4160m and really enjoyed the undulating road along the tops as it wasn´t that cold and the views were stunning. The police stopped to ask if we were okay - they seemed surprised to see us up there amongst the Vicunias.
We had the most incredible downhill into Tarma. The downhill skateboarding champs are held on this road. Winding switchbacks that went on for about 30kms were absolute bliss. Tarma itself was also very attractive to cycle into. Incredible terracing and plenty of green.
After looking at about 6 hostels we went back to the first one. We decided to flag wifi and go for friendly staff and good bike access....and cheap.
Tarma is located close to the Peruvian jungle and because Brazil was not on our list for this trip we thought it would be a good opportunity to take a rest day and jump on a tour to the Jungle!
This tour really was good for us ...1, to experience the extreme heat and humidity of the jungle without having to ride through it and 2 ... to remind us why we don´t take tours.... and 3 to have a day off our bike seats.
Our 12 hour day tour took us down down down to just 620m from 3050m and we also went to the centre of Peru !
We visited the Chanchamayo and Perene Valleys
The Chanchamayo Valley is the Coffee producing capital of Peru.
We visited an Organic coffee factory
Mmmmh it smells so good
The different stages of Bean roasting
Another womans figure to spot
This one is called El Nativo Dormido
We were quite interested in the different wildlife we would see in the Jungle. A monkey tied to a chair didn´t really do it for us but all the same - we saw a monkey!
Finally it was warm enough to swim!!!!! We had been waiting for this moment our whole trip! For two people who don´t really enjoy the cold - we have spent an awful lot of time being cold.
Bamboo - amazing colour
Pineapple growing! We saw hundreds of pineapple boxed up on the side of the road or piled high in the road stalls - but the downside of being on a tour meant we couldn´t stop whenever we wanted to.
Our visit to an Ashaninka tribal village.
Sometimes you do things you don´t really want to... like dressing up and having to dance around a fire!
Another spotting of Jungle wildlife...not. You could pay 5 Soles to have a photo of this parrot on your shoulder!
At 10:45pm we got back to Tarma. An exhausting rest day but very enjoyable all the same.