Pacific Coast Route Touring Cyclist Report

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Sunset at Big Sur
Sunset at Big Sur (View on flickr)

The US Pacific Coast is one of the most popular tours in the world. Despite our plans, we ended up doing the whole thing (just under 2000 miles), and I wanted to write a few notes about this incredibly beautiful trip and the wonderful resources that are provided for touring cyclists.

You just can't believe how well-set-up the Pacific Coast is for the touring cyclist. There are books on how to do it, there are wonderful state parks all the way with hiker-biker sites at ridiculously cheap prices and with a shower every night. You never have to buy food ahead of time or plan your food carefully or carry any - there's another town with a nice grocery where you can buy it.

One other unique characteristic: It's so nicely set up for touring cyclists that there are an enormous number of them. And since everybody is in the hiker-biker sites, you get to meet all the touring cyclists. Whereas in the north country we might meet the occasional cyclist, and might end up camping with them, on the coast it's every night you're meeting a bunch of people. It was so intense that there was a night in California that I hid in my tent because I just couldn't seek out the stories of all those people and tell them our story. There were too many.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Mexico Map and GPS Resources for the touring cyclist

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If you're seeking the back roads of Mexico, you need good maps.

All of our routes are shown on the hobobiker under routes - we have maps and the distance and elevation information. The Mexico routes and info are here and if you need anything else we can give you we'll certainly try to provide it. Send us a note.

We delighted in two geographic resources for Mexico.

  1. The Guia Roji "Por las carreteras de Mexico" available from and in bookstores and the like in every major Mexican city. It is up-to-date and has excellent detail. We just ripped out the pages we didn't need.
  2. In our Garmin GPS we used the excellent Bicimapas GPSmap available from It wasn't perfect and in some cases missed new roads, but it showed some amazingly good detail.

Colombia Maps and GPS Information

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Mapas de Ruta - the excellent strip-maps we used in Colombia
Mapas de Ruta - the excellent strip-maps we used in Colombia (View on flickr)

The most commonly available map of Colombia (outside the country) is the widely available one from ITMB (International Travel Maps). As usual theirs is quite poor, but since it was the only one we could get before arriving in the country, we bought it.

However, we were able to get some excellent map resources at the national institute of geography, the Instituto Geográfico Agustín Codazzi, and that did us very well. They offered a number of maps, but we bought their set of route maps "Mapas de Ruta", that gave 1:750,000 renditions of the major highway stretches of the whole country.

There are also a couple of widely available travel guides for the country, with lots of great information, but they're big glossy books with lots of ads and they're extremely heavy. One of these is the Guia de Rutas Por Colombia and another is published by the big telephone company Telefonica.

The GPS maps we used don't seem to be available, but a helpful visitor commented "If you are looking for very good maps for tha garmin GPS try Gisco at"

Peru Route: July 13 to October 9, 2008

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Here is our route in Peru.

Each day has elevation profile, map, and GPS information.

Other recommended information sources::
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Ecuador border to Cajamarca

The route we took is difficult and opened only in 2000 or so, so most cycle tourists seem to go the Panamerican Highway from Loja, Ecuador to Trujillo, Peru. This is fairly fast, but they all hate it. On the contrary, we really loved the mountainous way we went, even though it's challenging.

From the border there is a gentle but long climb of 1300 meters and then a descent into San Ignacio. It's mostly downhill then to the valley of the Rio Marañon at just 400 meters of elevation. We took a turnoff and went through Bella Vista instead of staying on the main road through Jaen. This saved many kilometers and was a pretty pleasant (dirt) road cutoff. We took a small ferry across the river just beyond Bella Vista.

After returning to the highway and getting to Bagua Grande, we started the beautiful climb up the Rio Utcubamba to Pedro Ruiz. Because of road construction we had to take a combi from the intersection there to Chachapoyas. Then lovely dirt road to El Tingo (Kuelap) and Leymebamba. From Leymebamba to Celendín is a huge climb and drop to the Rio Marañon again; we did it in a potato truck. Then from Celendín to Cajamarca is one pass - there is pavement on the Cajamarca side. We took a bus from Cajamarca to Trujillo.

Ridedatemiles/km Elev ft/mt
Namballe, Peru to San Ignacio, Peru2008-07-1328/454300/1327
San Ignacio to Tamborada2008-07-1645/731650/509
Tamborada to Bagua Grande via Bella Vista2008-07-1743/692034/628
Bagua Grande to Pedro Ruiz and by combi to Chachapoyas2008-07-1842/683600/1111
Chachapoyas to El Tingo2008-07-1923/37518/160
El Tingo to Kuélap by car2008-07-201/24000/1235
El Tingo to Leymebamba via Revash2008-07-2135/562332/720
Leymebamba to Celendín by potato truck2008-07-2289/144/0
Celendín to Cruz Conga2008-07-2321/342539/784
Cruz Conga to Cajamarca, Peru2008-07-2447/762122/655

Trujillo to Huancayo

The route from Trujillo to Huancayo is pretty standard (and fairly difficult) for bike tourists. You ride a little ways south on the Pan American Highway to 15km south of Chao, then turn into a private road, climb up to the Cañon del Pato, up to Huaraz, then either through the national park or around the paved road and over a 4700 meter pass, then through several ups and downs until Huánuco. From Huanuco it's pavement up and over Cerro de Pasco then to Huancayo. There´s an excellent elevation profile on showing this stretch.
Ridedatemiles/km Elev ft/mt
Cajamarca to Trujillo (by bus)2008-07-261/2/0
Trujillo to Chao, Peru2008-08-1642/681456/449
Chao to Chuquicara2008-08-1746/742500/772
Chuquicara to Camp 8km before Yuracmarca2008-08-1830/482063/637
Camp near Yuracmarca to Huallanca, Peru2008-08-1913/211794/554
Huallanca to Caraz, Peru2008-08-2025/402700/833
Caraz to Huaraz, Peru2008-08-2243/693600/1111
Huaraz to Cátac, Peru2008-08-2423/371800/556
Catac to Conococha2008-08-2529/472237/690
Conococha to Pachapaqui2008-08-2625/401978/610
Pachapaqui to Huallanca, Huánuco, Peru2008-08-2730/482405/742
Huallanca (Huánuco) to La Unión2008-08-2813/21190/59
La Unión to Tingo Chico2008-08-3020/321204/372
Tingo Chico to Chavinillo2008-08-3123/372270/701
Chavinillo to Huánuco, Peru2008-09-0145/731787/552
Huánuco to Huariaca2008-09-0443/693667/1132
Huariaca to Huancayo by car and bus2008-09-051/2/0

Huancayo to Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian Border

From Huancayo we took the dirt road through the canyon (Rio Mantaro) for 5 days to Ayacucho. Many people take the partly paved route over a high pass to Huancavelica instead. From Ayacucho we took a bus to Cusco - the dirt road from Ayacucho to Abancay is very difficult, and we were tired. From Cuzco there's just one pass and it's easy, then mostly things are flat to the Bolivian border. All paved, sometimes smooth and sometimes not.

Take a look at the excellent elevation profiles for this section on (only to cusco).
Ridedatemiles/km Elev ft/mt
Huancayo to Mariscal Cáceres2008-09-1349/792700/833
Mariscal Cáceres to Camp before Anco2008-09-1441/662083/643
Camp near Anco to Mayocc2008-09-1527/441456/449
Mayocc to Huanta, Peru2008-09-1620/322047/632
Huanta to Ayacucho, Peru2008-09-1730/482381/735
Ayacucho to Andahualas by bus2008-09-211/2/0
Andahuaylas to Cuzco by bus2008-09-221/2/0
Cuzco to Quiquijana2008-09-2944/71485/150
Quiquijana to Sicuani2008-09-3044/711824/563
Sicuani to Santa Rosa2008-10-0142/682677/826
Santa Rosa to Calapuja2008-10-0271/115593/183
Calapuja to Puno, Peru2008-10-0344/71869/268
Puno to Ilave2008-10-0735/561410/435
Ilave to Yunguyo2008-10-0849/792033/627
Yunguyo, Peru to Copacabana, Bolivia2008-10-097/11528/163
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