Machu Picchu

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Nancy and Randy at Machu  Picchu
Nancy and Randy at Machu Picchu (View on flickr)

Every tourist in Peru must go to Machu Picchu, the legendary lost city of the Incas. So we went! We took a tour of the Inca's "Sacred Valley" and then took the train to Aguas Calientes, the jumping off point.

In the morning we got up at 3:45am to start the hike up to the site, because we wanted to see the sun rise on the mountains. It was a good solid hike up the path (more sane people take the [expensive] bus up there). And it was delightful to see the light come up on the really steep green mountains all around us.

Up on top we took a tour (not the best) and then Randy hiked the steep staircase-like trail up to the top of the pointy mountain that's in the back of every Machu Picchu picture, Huayna Picchu. Nancy got out her watercolors and spent hours drawing the site.

The best part of the whole thing was just sitting and looking at the panoramic view of the site with Huayna Picchu in the background. You could just look at it forever.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Security and Bike Touring in Latin America

The first thing to think about when discussing security is safety on the road. We're far more likely to be hit by a car or truck than to be held up by a robber. And probably most accidents don't even involve a car. None of ours has. So route choice, careful riding, a good mirror, and the like are more important than thinking about weapons and robbers and assaults.

But we need to think about those things. They happen here, and so here is our thinking.

Some of our advice is easy: Learn as much of the language as you can so you can communicate about security and understand what people tell you. Don't get involved with crooks or narcotics dealers. Pretty obvious.


  • Ask the locals about the security situation and listen to them.
  • Don't listen to stories from other travelers unless the events happened to them personally. Only very rarely should you heed anything you hear about a country from people in another country. They just have built-in fears.
  • When camping, (at least from Mexico to Bolivia) either camp with a family or in a town if you can. Or if you're stealth-camping, camp where nobody will ever know you were there.
  • Try to find out about outrageously insecure areas (the road from San Cristobal to Palenque in southern Mexico, or the town of Paiján in northern Peru come to mind)
  • Never leave anything unattended, even if it's locked. There's kind of a philosophy in the Latin world that if you leave something unattended you didn't really want it.

In Cusco!

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We have just arrived in Cusco, Peru. We will play tourist for a couple of days before going to the famous Inca ruins, Machu Picchu. We took the bus from Ayacucho to Cusco. During the 20 hour bus ride, the views where tremendous from the low river valleys up to the high mountain passes of 4300 meters. The road was mostly dirt, dusty and rugged. The central part of the Peru highlands are desert and dry, bone dry. The rainy season will start sometime near the end of September but for now it has been months without a good rain. I was very glad to be riding in a bus and not having to ride the terrible roads over five extremely high mountain passes and down to the hot dry river valleys. There was no in betweens, either it was up or it was down.

There was one bad thing that did happen. My camera got stolen in the market in Ayacucho right before we where going to catch the bus. I am so bummed and mad. We had our bikes fully loaded and we stopped to buy some bread. I was right next to my bike and Randy next to my bike. I was buying bread and some one distracted Randy with a stupid question which he turned to answer. When I returned to my bike, the camera was gone. There were so many people around and not one person saw what happened. The worst part of getting my camera stolen is the timing. It was one week before we go to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. I will miss that 10x zoom.

The good news, all the photos backed up except for one day which is nothing in the scheme of things.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

FAQ: Don't you get tired?

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Resting under what seemed the only tree in the canyon - Huancayo-Ayacucho road
Resting under what seemed the only tree in the canyon - Huancayo-Ayacucho road (View on flickr)

This is an attempt to answer a Frequently-Asked-Question, both at home and on the road: Don't you get tired?

I think there are two different questions being asked. The first is, "Don't you get physically tired riding all that way?". The short answer to that one is: Yes, we get physically tired, and we rest and that solves it.

But the other question people are asking us is, "Don't you get tired of it? or bored?". And that one has a more complicated answer.

Yes, we sometimes do get tired of it. Sometimes the road is the same for a few days. Or the scenery and challenges seem to remain the same. Or the challenge seems a bit too much for a while.

Our standard prescription for a bike tourist that gets discouraged is easy: Rest for some time, and it won't seem so overwhelming. We know of one cyclist who, after riding all the way across Europe in record time, suddenly started feeling like all the people in the country where he was riding were looking at him wrong, like they were out to get him. We think he was tired, and should have slowed the pace, or stopped to rest a few days. But he was on a flight home within a couple of days, having aborted his trip. Cyclists often don't know how tired they really are.

Another thing that's important is to avoid dwelling on the ultimate destination. Our ultimate destination is Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, at the bottom of South America. That's still a long way away.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Working with Kiva and Microfinanzas Prisma in Huancayo

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Maria Galarza Valenzuela
Maria Galarza Valenzuela (View on flickr)

One of the objectives of our trip was to spend some time volunteering for various organizations, and getting to know the area and meeting the people that way. We volunteered with Friendship Bridge and in Guatemala last year, and Kiva was kind enough to set up a task in Huancayo and Tarma, Peru. Our job was to visit loan recipients, interview them so that we could write update their profiles on Kiva, and verify that the loan data were all correct.

Two marvellous young women hauled us all over the back country of Peru searching out the selected Kiva borrowers. In Huancayo we took more buses in one day than we could have imagined, visiting what seemed like dozens of little villages outside the city. In Tarma they arranged a 4-wheel-drive and a driver to haul us all over creation to find the clients. In one case we spent about an hour and a half climbing one incredible road up to a remote village... and then found that the woman was not home! However, we eventually found her husband and he was delightful.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Riding the dusty Rio Mantaro from Huancayo to Ayacucho

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Nancy on Huancayo to Ayacucho road on Rio Mantaro
Nancy on Huancayo to Ayacucho road on Rio Mantaro (View on flickr)

A very dusty ride
A very dusty ride (View on flickr)

We have been riding in the low desert river valley lands at about 7000 feet elevations. The last 4 days have been been very, very hot, dusty, remote, and buggy. We are very dirty. We are taking time out of today's ride to clean the grit out of our teeth, escape form the high temps. and enjoy the pleasures of civilizations for half of a day in Huanta. A bed, a shower, Internet and food other then pollo frito (fried chicken) and arroz (rice).

It is an amazing land. We dropped down 3000 feet and everything changed from cold to hell. It reminds me of some of the landscape near Tucson, Arizona where various cacti adorn the barren landscape. I am amazed how people can eek a living out of land so barren, devoid of resources and forgotten by everyone including the government. This land once was terrorized by a group of rebels called the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) but they have long ago abandoned this place and left it to the vultures. Very few buses, cars or trucks passed by us in this rugged, dusty, forsaken place. The land is too dry to support sheep but we did encounter shepherds herding goats along with pigs, a few cows, and donkeys. It is so strange to see women in skirts, blouses, fancy hats, a babies slung on their backs tending to their herds and knitting some kind of clothing or such. The women all through Peru knit. They stand or sit and just knit.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Celebrations and Ruins in Huánuco Pampa

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Results of ground turning competition at Huanuco Viejo
Results of ground turning competition at Huanuco Viejo (View on flickr)

Visiting wonderful archaeological sites along the way has been one of the many joys of traveling through the Americas. Occasionally it requires a good hard hike to get there. We had no intention of visiting the Peruvian ruins of Huánuco Pampa (also known as Huánuco Viejo) but while we were riding through La Unión, the local pride in this beloved site got our curiosity going. We could have taken a 5am bus up to the 3700 meter plateau but we didn't want to get up that early, we needed some exercise on our day off from riding, and it's far more direct to walk, so we headed up the narrow canyon to visit old Inca Ruin, Huánuco Pampa.

I was very impressed on how treacherous this route was but it was a major walking thoroughfare for the local people. Slippery rubble lined the route the first first few hundred meters. It seemed not to bother the locals as they knew this was the shortest route from the high pampa flat plateau down to the town of La Unión 700 meters below. It was a beautiful sunny morning and just the right temperature for this adventure. We greeting everyone as we passed by. "buenos dias!" to the shepherds and the cowboys leading the horses and donkeys laden with recent harvested goods. "Hola" to the school children riding donkeys or hiking down with plastic backpacks on their tiny backs. "Como esta" to the woman riding the horse 6 hours from her farm high in the mountains. The most amazing was the very ancient woman who trekked this arduous route with her cane.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

We are not the only riders! Check this out - Dominic Gill

Dominic in Tierra del Fuego

We are not certainly the only ones who are riding or have ridden their bicycle from the most northern part of North America to the most southern tip of South America. When we started this trip over two years ago we met a young man, Dominic Gill, in Whitehorse, who was riding a tandem by himself so he could pick up riders along the way. He recently finished this incredible journey, in the middle of the frozen Patagonian winter! (By the way: We decided a long time ago that if we're running late to get to Patagonia before the winter sets in we'll take a bus to speed things up!)

Here is a short interview with him on CNN:  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

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