Cycling above the Clouds

Riding the Andes by Bicycle


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Caseras, Cholitas y Brujas

What have you been up to Sarah B? You may well ask!

I’ve essentially been hanging out in La Paz for a week and a half, primarily waiting for a date to do a TOEFL English test (as part of a visa application) but also getting to know this beguiling city in the process. The big downside of course is that I’ve said a fond farewell to one of my dearest friends in the world, and cycling companionista, Sara-Ann. We’ve had such a fabulous six weeks together and I’m genuinely gutted to have parted ways.

Here we are enjoying the views from the La Paz Teleferico on our last day

So what’s been keeping me busy?

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La Paz – arriving in style

So here we are on our last cycling day together before Sara-Ann hangs up her padded lycra and waves farewell to a never-ending supply of perfectly ripe and creamy avocados. Blighty awaits for her to be ‘Best Person’ at the wedding of Mark & Helen – and I’m hard pushed to think of a better reason to head home.

But for now, here’s La Paz. We made it! And boy did we arrive in style.

We were warned we’d be in for this…


But what we got instead was…

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The Majestic Lago Titicaca

Gorgeous views from Isla del Sol

I feel very remiss in not writing about Lake Titicaca* earlier (*as we were instructed – to be pronounced ‘kar-kar’ not ‘ka-ka’ which sounds pretty unpleasant in Spanish!). We’ve just been enjoying ourselves too much:).

First the factual bits: Lago Titicaca sits at an elevation of 3812m and is famous for being the ‘highest navigable lake’ in the world and the largest lake in South America at 8300 sq km. It’s shores straddle both Peru and Bolivia and it’s the ancestral land of ancient and prevailing Andean cultures including the Quechuas, Aymaras, Uros, Pajaces and Puquinas. In Andean folklore, Titicaca is the birthplace of the sun.

After a few weeks travelling through the Peruvian mountains and cordillera, riding along the glistening shoreline of Lake Titicaca was also a very welcome change of scenery. The views just kept getting more beautiful the further south we rode and the Bolivian side of the lake was definitely our favourite (so my advice is to read this post from the bottom up!).

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We have (little people) visitors

As part of a glorious ride along Lake Titicaca between Puno and Copacabana (and into Bolivia), we’ve had three days of riding with relatively few accommodation options. At the end of the first day we decided to camp. Given the terrain is pretty flat, wild camping is a tricky option as it’s not so easy to hide yourself away out of sight, so we decided to ask if we could set up camp in someone’s back yard.

Meet Grandma Maria and her clutch of grandchildren!

Maria & granddaughter Sara. Maria is knitting herself a cardigan from alpaca wool.

Maria & Hector’s house and land

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Colca Canyon


You need a stomach for heights!

After arriving in Puno and to the shores of Lake Titicaca, we promptly booked ourselves on a bus (yes, a bus!) to take us straight out again to visit the famous Colca Canyon. With a depth of 3,270m, this vertiginous river valley is nearly twice the depth of the Grand Canyon.  Much of the canyon is used for agriculture with the lower valleys producing crops and the upper levels being used for grazing sheep, cows, llamas and alpacas. The pre-Incan terraces lace the steep valley sides and are still very much in use by the local farmers.

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Back on the road

After our wonderful break in Ayaviri, we got back on the road to head to Puno and Lake Titicaca. The route took us through Pukara, where we’d planned to camp. It turned out they had a big fiesta for the local saint’s day with a huge market bursting with everything from food and clothing to mattresses and furniture. The small town was all abuzz and heaving with people. We were regularly told to be careful of our things so plumped for a local hospedaje on the main Plaza de Armas instead.  That gave us the peace of mind of having the bikes being out of sight but was also our least salubrious accommodation to date, with smelly well-used bedding and no running water in the bathroom (no cooking to be done there this time that’s for sure!).

Lighting candles in the cathedral for the saint’s day

The market ran right through the town and all the way up the cathedral steps


Buying bread at the market

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