This is one of the best routes we’ve ever taken, with spectacular, varied scenery and friendly locals. We can’t overemphasize how important it is to go light, however. There is a massive amount of climbing to do (much of it at high altitude – over half the time you’re above 4000m), the gradients on some sections are super-steep, and there are parts with challenging surfaces. A bike-packing setup would be perfect.
We took less than 15kg each, carried in rear panniers and front bags. This worked well – we had all the gear we needed. (This included down jackets, mountaineering gloves, waterproof jackets and trousers, thermals, mountaineering tent, 4 season bags.). There are regular water sources en route, so 90% of the time we didn’t carry any, and the longest we cycled without seeing a shop was about 2.5 days.
We will be putting up detailed information on our Andes by Bike site before next season. The best time for this route is dry season in Peru: May to September. Outside of this you’ll encounter lots of afternoon rain, lightning storms, and mud.
Stats: Conococha (near Huaraz) – Santa Rosa (near Abancay)
Days of cycling: 26 (+2 rest days)
Distance travelled: 1579km (181km paved)
Amount climbed: 36,350m (about 2500m on paving)
4000m passes: 30 (depending how you define a pass)
Average speed: 10.4kph
Maximum Altitude reached: 4990m (Punta Pumacocha and Punta Caudalosa Chica)
Longest day by distance: 96km (Licapa – Vilcanchos)
Longest day by time: 8h40 (Vilcanchos – Chuschi)
Most Climbing in a day: 2500m (Socos – after Abra Putongo)
Steepest Incline: 24% (On the climb to Abra Llamaorgo from Viñas)
Highest Daily Average Speed: 22.7kph (Above Sañayca to Santa Rosa – 1500m down, 30m up). Second Highest Daily Average Speed: 13.4kph (Licapa to Vilcanchos).
Number of times we climbed 400m in 4km: 3 (above Parquin, at the top of Punta Pumacocha and above Chilcayocc)
Passes that kicked our asses: Punta Chucopampa (4860m), Abra Suijo (4710m), Punta Pumacocha (4990m).
Amount we had to push: 0km (H), 0.2km (N – on the climb to Abra Suijo)
Days we got rained on: 15
Days we cycled with thunderstorms around: 10
Maximum Temperature: 44C (well, we don’t know what the real maximum temperature was – this was the highest reading given by our cycle computer in the strong Andean sun)
Minimum Temperature: -5C (camping near Abra Putongo)
Punctures: 2 (H)
Cycle Tourists met: 0
Fuel: 46 chocolate bars, 3450g pasta, 29 menu meals and 18l of pop guzzled each.
Conococha – Huancavelica