After 6 days on rough dusty roads we had 2 rest days in Huanuco. Our lowest elevation so far at 1900 metres. In the late balmy afternoons we drank ice cold beers (Cusqueña brand) at a friendly little bar run by an old couple. Here is their even friendlier dog with strange eyes. The owner told us the brown was for the evening and the blue for the day.
On a good sealed road we climbed from 1900 to 4350m in 2 days. Here the road snakes its way along the edges of the puna.
We found a nice campsite by a small lake just below the pass at 4250m. As we were eating our dinner in the freezing twilight a herd of llamas trotted and friolicked passed our camp.
And in the morning a campesina and her daughters herded 250 llamas and alpacas passed out tent, while out on the lake a flock of Andean geese were honking and splashing in the morning light.
Then a long rather boring ride over the wide Junin plain, one of the world´s highest high altitude plains, passing by the vast Junin lake. WEe became tired of the flat sealed road and annoying traffic so we took a back route from Junin to Jauja via San Pedro, Palcamayo and Tarma.
We came across herds of nervous vicuña, like this solitary one, with ears pinned back displaying its fear and apprehension. Usually the lead male will position itself between the herd and the threat, staying vigilant abnd letting out warning grunts to his group.
Back into paradise. Spectacular scenery as the road drops off the barren puna and into an enchanted valley.
After San Pedro de Casas we cycled down a long series of steep switchbacks down a bumpy road, following a fast-flowing river to Pulcamayo.
Near Palcamayo there is a famous cave system Gruta de Guagapo., dropping over 2000m into the bowels of the earth. The cave mouth is on the far left and the stream from the cave spills out of a secondary exit on the right.
The cave is unlit and I followed one of the cave guides from 300 metres into the cave. A bit of technical rope work and short abseiling in the darkness. I don´t think caverneering is my thing - the blackness and claustrophobia. Judy stayed outside writing up her diary.
Back on the road. These Andean mothers have a special knack balancing 2 kids on their backs as they head home from a hard day in the chakra, or the fields.
Downhillon a rough road through a quebrada, Judy bounces along, covered in a cloud of dust from passing trucks. Lots of villagers working in the fields of camomile, sunflowers and wheat, while looming high above a sheer wall of craggy peaks.
A night in Tarma (3050m) and then back on a sealed road climbing to a pass at 4180m. I climbed a small peak on the pass as I waited for Jude to get up the long and winding road.
Down the other side into the fertile Mantaro valley, with fields of wheat and quinua ripening in the Andean sunlight.
Multi-colured quinua heads, ready for harvesting.
In Jauja as we were packing up our bikes outside the hotel we met the two Arturos, father and son, who were very interested in our bike journey. All along the central Peruvian Andes we´ve met friendly, curious and hospitable people.
A campesina little bo-peep knitting while she minds her sheep by the roadside.
These painted political slogans are ubiquitous throughout the countryside in Peru. This one in support of the convicted ex-president Alberto Fujimori and his daughter Keiko. He has recently been jailed for extra-judicial killings in the violent 1990s. Many Peruvians, especially in the poorer rural regions, still admire his legacy of expelling the Sendero Luminoso and building schools, hospitals and roads in the rural areas.