Finally my body was feeling great. Just in time for another tough part of the trip!!
This was a day (and a place) I don’t think I’ll ever forget. If you want no spoilers, don’t keep on reading; just receive my recommendation to cycle this route.
The uphill after Leymebamba is not that hard. At least, I didn’t find it hard at all. Paved road, no traffic at all (reason: later), steady and soft climb, cool weather (the morning started rainy but it was ok later on. Cloudy but no rain. Not hot)… perfect conditions for a long (almost 30 km) climb. I really enjoyed it. Looks like the top is always foggy; it just cleared up when I arrived, so I guess I was lucky. Still, it was covered as I was going uphill. There are almost no places for food or drinks along the way; be careful. There are some houses though. And people willing to drive you to the top 🙂
When I got to the top… Wow. What a view. Increadible. What a great moment and feeling. I’ll leave this to you, not going to say anything else. And no, pictures don’t do justice.
Some kilometers after the downhill started, the road was closed. Funny: there was a sign in Leymebamba saying the road would be closed until the 30th of october. There was the same sign here. But it was 16th of November…
A bridge (and surroundings) had fallen, so no cars and no bikes could go through. No walking either. The solution provided by “the authorities” was to open a walking path through the Paramo (yep, the landscape turns into Paramo above 3000m-ish) to border it. It took me an hour to dissmount my bags and carry them by foot to the other side. Some guys helped me with my bike (for a small tip, of course).
Small local buses “can” pass the place: the bus ends the journey at this place, but there’s another bus waiting at the other side of the walking path. Big, long distance buses cannot (or do not) do that.
I’m telling all of this because it’s pretty obvious this happens every so often. Also, rocks fall constantly. Careful with that.
Apart from that… what a downhill. What a view. 60 km, 2800 m. What an experience. Landscapes, climates, animals… everything changes as you go downhill. And every single one of them is great. Totally recommended.
Actually, so far this is the best and most spectacular part of my whole journey. Honest. And of some other journeys as well.
And then Balzas or Balsas… Well. What a town. It’s not the little town by the bridge, careful!! You must cycle some more 5 minutes. Strange place. Unappealing, maybe. Desert spirit is here. Feels like the Grand Canyon, maybe. Just ok to spend a night, grab as much water as you can (it gets EXTREMELY hot here!!!!), and save some energies for the tough uphill waiting next day (so tough I was considering catching a ride to do it; I was even offered one by the locals without me asking for it…).
Anyway, and as I have mentioned, one of the cycling days of my life. It’s great that places like this exist. It’s also great (and increadible) that Perú made a road here. Even more that this road is so ballanced…