Sand, rocks and duck canyon

Cyclists again, sand dunes, colorful mountains and the famous Caňon del Pato

After six days of rest we become cyclists again in a group of three – no, this is not an announcement of pregnancy 🙂 … Andy has the same way and we’ll go together.

Because of his GPS the exit from Trujillo is without problems. Then a flat never-ending hill begins and its top moves with every meter one meter further.

During these 13km Andy slowly disappears at the horizon – maybe it’s because of his road bike with narrow wheels or he’s carrying less weight, but probably we are just slower and less fit. On the top we release Andy from our group and let him go faster – maybe we’ll catch him later.

The surrounding is more and more sandy and the only green parts are farms around water canals. Surprisingly are people able to grow rich vegetation on this desert.

We meet Andy again and have lunch together. In the next town we buy fruits. The locals shout “Gringo!” on us which is quite irritating and at the end somebody throws at me a tomato from a passing truck (what a luck that they share veggie with me :)).

With a bad mood we leave the “inhabited areas” and after whole day of pedaling we build our tents on a private road in leeward of a billboard (not too close, beacause it’s used as a public toilet).

The morning is longer than usual – Andy neither is a morning guy. Breakfast, coffee with passing cyclist, slow packing and at 11am we are on the road again. It’s sandy and gravel and we are finally faster than Andy (exactly for this type of surface it’s good to have an mountain bike).

The scenery is quite colorful despite that it’s made just from stones and gravel without any vegetation. But this lack of plants causes that we are able to see the variation of tones of gray, red, yellow and brown, the curvy layers and wrinkles in mountains which tell stories about their birth. This place is without live, but it emitates some kind of energy and beauty.

We reach Chuquicara with sunset and meet here the morning cyclist and another couple from Austria who camp at the police station. They are also on a honeymoon (from Ushuaia to north for 2 years). We pitch our tents next to their and talk till 10pm (this is quite long for us, because we are used to go to sleep much earlier – like chicken :)).

Before we get off our tents in the morning are our neighbors are gone (everyday at 10am a strong wind starts to blow here – for them it’s unfortunately a front wind, for us fortunately from behind).

We take our time again and get on the road when the air starts to move. Andy gets flat tire after first 2km and we can see the present from his colleagues… before he left they put lots of red glitters to all his bags and even after 6months of traveling they are still sticked to his reserve innertubes and tools :D. Our legs start to itch and we realize that the small flies in the morning were not innocent – left leg 27bites, right 30, aaaa I’ll scratch myself to bones!

The roads get worse which influences the pace of Andy and we are waiting for him more and more. The roads winds along a river, we go through some dark tunnels and at the end of the day we camp close to a house of a friendly man who tells us, that to the nearest village is far enough to leave it for tomorrow.

His shower and bathroom are literally behind the house … the shower sticks out of the wall and the toilet is next to it without any visual barrier – but what, he lives here alone :). While taking a shower or sitting on toilet we have great view to the the opposite site of canyon.

To Yuracmarca is 6km of uphill and we are really happy we didn’t continue yesterday. In Huallanca which is the begin of the duck canyon (Caňon del Pato) we split with Andy and continue with our speed.

First we need to climb on dirt road from the water powerplant town through 10 steep switchbacks … and then it starts – narrow canyon with huge rocky walls. Here the two mountains Cordillera blanca and Cordillera negra get to a kissing distance of 6m. We go through 35 shorter or longer tunnels, cliff falls down next to us to a small river, sometimes waterfalls and “zip lines” going to the other side – but only for purpose of the powerplant, which is interesting because the water runs through some cave system.

In the last tunnel we meet with a big truck. There is not enough place for both of us and he goes back (yes, he was at the beginning of the tunnel, but respect that he gave a right of way to two cyclists).

The canyon ends, paved road starts. We have 2 more hours of day light for the next 30km. With some energy from tuna cans and crackers, using our last physical and mental powers and finishing the last drops of water we reach Caraz just after sunset. For a fair price we build our tent in a garden of a fancy hotel and after a hot shower we fall asleep.

We went over our limits today and we know that we’ll feel today’s 60km of dirt roads with 1500m elevation gain tomorrow…

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