After some days complaining that there was something wrong in my body, it finally happened. I had to spend 2 days sick in bed. Before that, I had one of those touristic van tours. So with less weight and quite weak, this was going to be an easy day for my body to start getting used to cycle again and to start recovering weight.
Before, I go on, a recommendation: Chachapoyas Backpackers is the best place I’ve found on the trip so far. Clean, very friendly staff, great rooms and lots of extras made me feel like staying on a hotel (and therefore easier to cope with my sickness). And it’s the same price (or cheaper) than others I’ve found. You haven’t read many recommendations from me here so…
More: everybody will tell you that this route is not paved. Not true. The whole Chachapoyas – Cajamarca route IS PAVED. There are some 12 kms on downhill of the last pass, the one close to Encañada, not properly paved, but they’re working quite fast on it (or so it seems).
Back to cycling. You can’t find an easier route than this one. Just take a look at the profile. After the crossroad towards Leymebamba, the road turns into a single line road (for both directions), but the traffic is almost non-existent, so it’s just perfect. It’s not as spectacular as previous kilometers in the valley, but it’s very nice, specially cycling so close to the river you can almost touch it.
I decided to do the Tingo – Kuelap hiking trail, the so-called La Herradura (9 km, take a look at that route as well if interested). You can cycle up there as well. It’s 37 unpaved kilometers that will not be easy but neither too dificult. I stayed in old Tingo, by the road, not in the new one, a little bit higher up and from where you can catch a combi to Kuelap.
Questions about Kuelap:
1. Is it worth visiting? Yes
2. Is the hike difficult? It can be if it gets very hot. Only a fountain halfway through. Otherwise, is steep, but not much more. The hardest part are those 5 km (1 to 6) in the middle. Then (and before) is easy.
3. Kuelap or Karajia? I can’t say. They’re very different. I think Kuelap is more spectacular, both the size and the place (and therefore the views). Karajia can be more authentic, but it may feel like a hell of a ride for a small thing.
4. Hike or cycle? Hike. The road looks spectacular from above, but it may not be so much when you’re on it.