Day 196 to 203: Huancavelica to Lima.... and FINISHED! (Peru Divide, Part 2)
FINISHED! (For now )
Some time in the afternoon of Friday 14th June 2019, this tired sod hauled his arse down from the mountains and into the chaotic urban traffic mess of Lima, the capital of Peru. After approx 5600km cycled from Mendoza since February, part two of the great Andes cycle adventure shuddered itself to a conclusion. Combing it with the Ushuaia to Mendoza cycle back in 2016, my line across this awesome continent now runs nearly 10,000km from Ushuaia up to Lima.
I’ve been generally too whacked to write an update since then. To say I underestimated how tough the “Peru Divide” would be is an understatement, and I’ve basically just been eating, drinking or sleeping since my arrival into Lima. The Copa America (4-yearly football tournament of all South America national sides) started the day I arrived which has made for some background entertainment.
The final week after Huancavelica continued the epic scenery of the weeks before, with the rough gravel road almost touching 5000 metres as it twisted its way past lakes and mountains. I spent one night sleeping just shy of 4700 metres which was both beautiful and insanely cold in equal measure.
For my last 120km down to Lima the gravel ended and I picked up the notorious “Carretera Central” to the Peru Capital. This is one of the major roads out of Lima serving the rest of the country and the traffic was insane. Like truck and trailers overtaking each other on blind corners with double yellow lines, and me taking evasive action off the road completely avoid the worst aspects. Mental. Lima has about 10 million people, and in the true urban sprawl of a developing country’s largest city, the traffic got more insane the closer I got.
As I neared Lima I passed a cyclist heading up on the other side. We stopped for a quick chat to discover that just as it was my final day having set out from Argentina, this was his first day and he was headed from Lima to Argentina! And thus the great relay baton of cycle touring was passed on.
[Anyone who wants to know more about options to continue the Peru Divide further north up to Huaraz should check this link from bikepacking.com ]
The last 4 months was definitely more of a challenge than Patagonia 3 years ago. I’d naively assumed it would just be “more of the same”, but the terrain is just that much tougher further north, not to mention the difficulties caused by the central Argentina heatwave that plagued my first few weeks out here. For most of the previous few months I’ve had a general feeling of being “hit for 6”, and two different sets of pharmacy scales confirm I’m 20 kilos/ 45 pounds smaller than February.
Thanks for reading, you’ve been a fantastic audience!