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martes, 2 de noviembre de 2010

ONE YEAR AGO: The Lake Titikaka bike tour.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Lake Titikaka bike tour. 
One year ago I was on my way pedaling around Lake Titikaka the highest on Earth, 3,800 m.a.s.l. Memories of that experience come back to my mind. A loved and unforgettable adventure that would like to do again.  This is the story that I’m glad to share one more time.
It was long time planned and dreamed.  After a couple of days recovering and readapting myself to the usual environment and life, the memories of the splendid cycling experience around LT are still there in front of my eyes and come out to write this trip report article. 
Strong adventure, intense, impressive and indescribably beautiful across the high andes plateau.  Those 3800 masl make things difficult to the lowlands people not adapted to the altitude, at least on the first day.  Afterwards, pedaling improves in crescendo as the road progresses and more and new sights of the lake and surrounding scenery opens to our eyes.  The high Andes plateau is impressive, large immense plains become lost on the horizon and melt with the blue lake.  Only where the sky meets the ground the profile of the distant mountains is seen. 
Day 1.  The paved road from Puno to Yunguyo, along the Urcusuyu, the western side of the lake, is hostile, with lots of heavy vehicles traffic, and dangerous as all the highways.  That is why from Plateria we –Raphael Piguet and me headed our bicycles eastward closer to the lake’s shores by Pallalla and Titilaka with its hotel, a surrealistic dream; passed by Charcas beach and Socca to ride across an area that according with the maps is covered by water, however now is dry and allowed us to get close to flamingos habitat on the shore of the lake.  The afternoon ride continued along an unpaved road by a nice rural area dotted with pretty villages.  In one of them where I thought death is almost unknown a 17 years old kid riding his bike was killed by a heavy truck the day before. Something so absurd and difficult to imagine for such a peaceful place. The funeral rituals at the accident site by the family and relatives were sensitive for us.
Ilave, a town sadly famous for not nice events happened months ago, better not to comment about, we just passed through, it was already dark.  We had night ride under bright moon light and aided with headlights down to Juli, that was nice, nice fresh and interesting. 
Juli, a nice village located among four hills, very steep streets, four colonial churches and some other interesting details.  Here de odometer read was 110k. Time to sleep. Those were about 12 hours on the saddle.  Ideal for a quick acclimatization. 
Day 2.  Juli farewell us with a brutal steep climb to get up to the highway.  The route follows to Pomata and Yunguyo.  Here is the border pass at Katani and from this point to Copacabana in Bolivia those are 8k. Copacabana, crowds of gringos everywhere, a nice, clean, active and interesting town. Its port with many boats has a picturesque look.  Overnight here. 
Day 3. The way out from Copacabana is another brutal climb 12k long up to 4270 masl along the road running by the top of the peninsula allowing spectacular views of the lake to both sides: the Peruvian to the west and the bolivian to the east, then the road goes down to the Tiquina strait where the pass on board the wodden carrier boats transferring vehicles from one side to the other of the strait is an exciting experience. The way out from Tiquina is a climb too until we reached the plain shores at lake level by Huatajata, a sort of extense beach where the bolivians use to go for summer holidays, there are many hotels and country restaurants of diverse size and quality standards randomly distributed.  Overnight here. 
Day 4.  Early departure because we had  long journeys in front of us. For Raphael all the way down to La Paz, for me to Ancoraimes.  At Huarina the road forks as our destinies: southward to La Paz, northward to the Omasuyu, the eastern side of the lake.  A couple of last pictures and goodbye to the swiss bike tourer following his way across South America on the custom fit bike we assembled for him in Lima.  The paved road to Ancoraimes is quite nice, not much traffic and the scenery is pretty rural and relaxing.  Soon appears Achacachi, the last town with this days technology available as internet cafes.  Further from Achacachi follows an extensive plain almost endless with strong wind against my face making pedaling slow and difficult.  Finally Ancoraimes is reached and was found celebrating the Día de los Muertos with dancing groups and bands playing the bolivian terqueada music.  There was no other option but to stay overnight in the unique very basic local lodge available in the town. 
Day 5.  One more time, the way out of Ancoraimes is a strong steep climb, not too long but hard. Follows the plain above LT with superb views of it.  This is already the bolivian Omasuyu region.  Beautiful landscapes and views impossible to forget.  Chaguata, Carabuco and Escoma –a bit distant. villages pass by.  The pavement ends, the scenery becomes even more beautiful, more rural, wilderness arises.  The Omasuyu at its best, put in one word just H A L L U C I N A T I N G. Puerto Acosta appears on the way, this is an actively commercial town with live exchange of merchandise coming and going as smuggling between Peru and Bolivia.  The town didn’t seemed so friendly to me, the people talked and looked at me in a hostile manner so it was wise to disappear from the streets and enter in one of the very rudimentary lodges waiting to leave to Peru, my home country, the next day early morning. 
Day 6-  Again the way out of  the town is a steep climb forcing to push up the bike to the top of the dirt road leading to the boundary Post N° 3 the border with Peru across the high plain at 4100 msasl.  The scenic beauty in this area is superb.  The return to my home country provided me the breeze and feeling of peace, safety and relax.  The Peruvian Omasuyu is really beautiful too, right after each turn of the road a prettier view than the previous shows up.  The villages pass one after next: Tilali, Conima and Cambria.  Here is found the embarcadero to visit Suasi Island. 
Suasi Island and Casa Andina Hotel is another story. A unique and personal experience.  It is a matter of sensations of peace, tranquility, environmental beauty, relax and disconnection from the rest of the world.  The setting is functional, rustic, nice and perfect, the gardens, the surrounding woods, the lake, everything is almost a magic dream. The sunset watch experience from the top of the island was awesome and indescribably beautiful.  Moving colors and changing reflections on the surface of LT is something I have never seen before.  Moreover, arriving this place after the last three days without having a decent bed and shower and not eating well is like arriving the paradise and the experience of that extreme contrast between the very bottom and the top, the almost nothing and all the good pleasure and comfort one could expect to have and enjoy.  Overnight here. Total peace. 
Day 7. Return to the Cambria shores on the zodiac boat of Casa Andina to continue the last 15k of the trip on the Omasuyu to Moho.  Here the odometer reading was 447k.  The rest of the trip to Huancané, Juliaca and Puno was made on a bus due to time limitations and commitments I had to accomplish with local organizations. 
In summary the bike tour around Lake Titikaka was H A L L U C I N A T I N G.  One of the best I have ever made until now. 

The full set of pics are here:

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Kind Regards 

CTP – Cicloturismo Perú
Peru cycling tours
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