Cycling above the Clouds

Riding the Andes by Bicycle

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Vibrant Valparaíso

“Valparaíso, what an absurdity you are, how crazy: a crazy port. What a head of dishevelled hills, that you never finished combing. Never did you have time to dress yourself, and always you were surprised by life.” – Pablo Neruda

The amazing view from my hostal over the hills of Valparaíso:

The wooden ‘Blue House’ on the hill: my wonderful hostal (for less than a tenner per night):

Valparaíso is a wonderful, sprawling, chaotic city. Built upon 42 (VERY steep) hills, it is also a nightmare for cyclists! Despite that, so many people had recommended a visit, that I diverted my planned route away from Santiago to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn’t to be disappointed. Continue reading

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Taking a short cut…

On my way down to Mendoza, I’d seen the main road up to the border was single-laned, without hard shoulder and extremely busy with lorries. It was also prone to being closed due to snow, ice and the strong cross winds. On the way up the wind would be pushing me straight into the path of these monster trucks transporting goods along the main trading route between Buenos Aires and Santiago.  Continue reading

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Marvellous Mendoza

A typical Mendozan street – an avenue of trees, an irrigation stream and with a view of the mountains in the distance.

After saying farewell to Patrick (who had decided to stop for the day by a stunning reservoir), Johann and I sailed down into Mendoza via a couple of side roads that were clear favourites with the local cyclists. Despite being in the desert, Mendoza is lush and green thanks to the sophisticated irrigation system that channels water down from the mountains and feeds the many famous vineyards, streets and trees of the city. This is the only city I know of where even its industrial zone looks pretty. Continue reading

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What a Bonanza!

As I rode out of the pass and river valley I shook off any remaining tension from dealing with all that Zonda wind the night before, and simply enjoyed being in this wonderful environment. The sun was shining and the wind was now a lot more manageable. I pedalled into the small town of Calingasta and sought out a cafe to grab a few empañadas for a relaxed lunch.

One brilliant initiative in Argentina is ‘internet para todos’ – or ‘internet for everyone’. In most towns and even villages, the central plaza with have free wifi service so everyone can access the internet. It’s extremely useful for travellers. The cafe was right on the plaza so having been out of signal for the past few days, I checked in and found an email waiting for me from Franck…

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La Zonda

From the two national parks, I had a spectacular descent out of the windswept ‘Sierra del Valle Fertil’ until I turned off to stay at a tiny town called Huaco. This was a quaint and sleepy town, with the first lush green I’d seen all trip. There were some fine horses in the fields and lines of poplar trees made me feel like I was in Italy.  I asked people in the main Plaza if there was a hospedaje in the town, and was directed two streets away, to the Hospedaje of Doña Irma. This was a large house that had been in the family for many years, and I felt like being a guest in her home with all it’s faded glory (and cobwebs!). At £5 a night it wasn’t going to break the budget.

The big descent – this little chap came to say hello when I stopped by the side of the road to take a picture

Horses and greenery for the first time on this journey!

Horse training by bike up and down the dusty village streets

Flowers and vines in Huaco

Faded glory at the hospedaje

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