Peru Wrapup

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Closeup of old man at Pisac
Closeup of old man at Pisac (View on flickr)

Pictures from southern Peru and Northern Peru are up... And our route maps and elevation profiles are all up-to-date as well.

Peru was a delightful and challenging country for bicycle travel. The people are warm and open and cry out "Gringo!" from every field and household. (This may be rude in "gringo" terms, but it's just friendly banter from most Peruvians. Who knows why everybody does this in Peru!)

It was also a hard country. We climbed to passes as high as we've ever been (4700 meters, over 15,000 feet) and suffered endless dusty dirt roads. The toilets (or rather outhouses) (if they existed) in rural areas were often of the "squatter" type, not the "sitter" type, where you put your feet beside a hole and aim at the hole.

The country is incredibly beautiful, with striking snow-covered mountains, green rice paddies, huge rivers, and everything in between. And, of course, it has Machu Picchu, which has to be one of the world's most beautiful places.

It was cheap most of the time, except around Cusco and Machu Picchu, where they have the squeeze of the tourist down to a fine art.

Some price examples:

  • Hotels: US$5-10 for the two of us. Sometimes surprisingly good. Sometimes not so.
  • Internet: The cheapest we've seen yet, almost invariably US$0.33/hour. Normally good quality and speed, too.
  • Meals: The "set meal" or "menu" is cheap - usually between $1 and $3. It's usually a soup of some type, followed by rice with chicken or meat or some such, with perhaps a drink as well.
  • Bus: We went several hundred miles on bus. We spent US$20/each for a two-day journey. A fancy bus with fold-down seat (into a bed) from Trujillo to Lima was about $30.

Cusco was another matter. Just getting into Machu Picchu costs $40. The train to get there (only a 1.5 hour journey) costs US$65 roundtrip at the least (from Ollantaytambo). The guides are expensive. The bus from Aguas Calientes (at the foot of the mountain) costs something like $20 for a short ride. (We walked up.) However, the prices for various treks in the area seemed fair, like US$180 for a 5-day all-included hike, including porters for gear.

We rode 1218 miles in Peru, and were on bus and potato truck for another 826 miles.