This day contains some of the best and worst memories of the trip. The best: the place. The worst: mechanical issues, specially flat tyres.
Said goodbye to the paved road on Chuquicara; the unpaved road and the spectacular views start as soon as you leave the town. The mountains and their rocks are amazing, and so are their colours. Pictures cannot capture how big they really are. This is a great place, honest.
Still, the same rocks mean trouble. They’re falling constantly, so be careful, and expect some closed road sometimes. If you’re lucky, you might see some workers getting rid of the rocks that are about to fall. They basically throw them downhill, and this is just spectacular!!! (That’s why they close the road).
Maybe you’ll see some other random things, like trucks too big to cross a bridge and therefore trying to cross the river… Crazy. Also, wind still be on your side. It got very strong after 10:30, and that helped a lot!!
The problem, as I mentioned, is the rocks. Even if the clean the road, small stones stay there. And since these ones are new, and therefore not rounded by lots of cars driving over them, they’re increadibly sharp. So yes, I had 3 flat tyres in less than 50 km. That’s a lot, specially if you consider that in previous kilometers (more than 2500) I had just had one flat tyre!!! And yes, I had been riding offroad before…
So yes, this is something you should consider when riding this route. Maybe I was just unlucky, maybe not. Without the weight it’d have been perfect, I guess.
Still, I recommend you to take this route. The colours, the mountains, the tunnels, the cannyons… Just great!!
I ended up camping before the real uphill began, some 8 km before Yuracmarca and its crossroad. It’s at the bottom of the road that takes you to the small “town” of San Pedro; you can get food and drinks as well there if needed, or wait for 8 km (uphill). Just ask the guys in the houses before the bridge.
There were some bars on this route: one’s at km 15ish and the main second one at km 40. At this point there’re also entries to both main mines here. Tungstene and gold are extracted in this area. Well… If you see them you’ll know my opinion on them. Still, talking to people in the area, there’s a big variety of persons here…
A funny thing was to talk to local workers. Not the ones on the mines, but the ones on improving road conditions. They didn’t know how local authorities were going to pay them, where they were to get the money from (looks like the major is who pays them), but they were still going to work… worrying they were not going to see a penny for that.
Oh, you might hear they’re going to pave this road sometime soon. I honestly can’t see that happening. They’d need to take down the mountains…