Cycling Peru Part I

Cycling La Balsa to Cajamarca

Coming from Ecuador we crossed the border with Peru at the town of La Balsa. La Balsa is nothing more than a tiny dot on the map, its very primitive, has hardly any shops, no restaurants or bars and no ATM cash machines.
It is in this village that we camp our first night in Peru. Luckily in a small store the lady is willing to change some US dollars in the local currency, the Peruan soles. The store has not much to sell so we eat some dry bread with cooked eggs for dinner.

The days after we discover the roads in Peru are much better and less steeper to cycle on then in Ecuador but for the rest it’s all much more primitive. No fancy clothes or cars anymore and the people are definitely not used to white tourists. For us it feels like a draw back after much more civilised Ecuador.

In Jaén we stay a few nights in a cheap hotel to get Arjan’s bike fixed again and to do some serious shopping. (Yes!! We found a real supermarket in this town since weeks)
We already figured a route south to Cajamarca, the next bigger town on our way south but our bike mechanic Miguel suggested an alternative, ‘little’ longer, ‘little’ more challenging route. A route along one of the highest waterfalls in the world, through a stunning canyon, along Peru’s only but beautiful cable car ride over a deep valley and along some famous Inca ruins. The route ends with a stunning 60km downhill and an challenging 50km uphill to Cajamarca.

We dubbed our own route or Miguel’s more challenging route to Cajamarca.
See what happened below:

Welcome in Peru at the small Migration Office.

Breakfast with tea at our first camp in Peru in a tiny village a few miles after the border crossing.

Many many houses in Peru have political paintings. In front they are drying coffee beans, just on the streets.

Who can count his legs?

The Peruan Mountains.

More coffee beans to dry on the roads.

The guy of the house in the distance saw us camp here and offered us to stay with him but we builded up camp already... Maybe next time 😉

Cycling in just another village.

Waiting in line to get Peruan soles out of the cashmachine. (3 soles = $1)

Fin de Asfalto? I don't hope so!

25km downhill. Luckly still asfalto.

The river side is nice but rubbish everywhere.

Beautifull camp spot along a river.

Dinner. Pasta. As usual.

Tea in the morning. We survived the 8.1 earthquake last night. Very wierd experience, it was like in a rollercoaster but while standing on vast ground.

Leaving the earthquake side again.

Cycling into some Swiss friends who we met before in Mexico.

Four on the road now.

Check the roadsign, how steep can you go?

Rice fields. Flashbacks to cycling in Asia.

Birds over the rise fields

Arjan's rear break was broken. In Jaen he got a complete new system. Never ever Magura again!!! (His front break broke in Central America, now the rear break in Peru)

We guess they feld the earthquake in this town as well.

Also Arjan's rear hub did have problems. A new one is installed here.

While Miguel from El Ciclista installs the new rear hub we went to a big mall to do some shopping for the coming weeks. We don't exept much real shops on the route we gonna take so we want to be prepared.

Jaen has the most Moto Taxis of whole Peru Miguel told us.

Many thanks Miguel. Arjan's bike is fixed again.

Second time along the mall for some last fresh groceries.

The river we gonna follow up steam.

Old bridges to cross the river a few times.

Like cycling in the United States.

Street dogs. We see them a lot in Peru as well. Kim has some dog food with her to give them something to eat.

Miguel skizzes a nice route for us to take to Cajamarca.

Not the best spot to camp but we couldn't find any better. Loads of bugs and stinging bushes.

Nice views.

The road leads into a canyon.


The canyon continues.

Camping on a volleyball field.

The canyon gets deeper.

Many waterfalls.

Overhanging rocks.

Eating fresh melon.

Side track, off the main road to the Gocta Falls.

The Gotca falls are one of the highest in the world. 771m in two stages.

Camp in front of the tourist centre near the Gotca Falls.

Dogs like to hang around at our tent.

Next day; Hiking time to the foot of the Gotca Falls. An 12km hike in total.

Some bridges to take.

Coming closer.


One of the dogs in the village hiked with us the whole day.

From here on we only can see the second stage of the falls.

We called him Yoda because his big ears.

Impressive falls.

It all comes down.

Yoda is waiting. Making our way down again.

The hike route. Starting at the bottom in the small village.

Stunning views on the way down again.

After the hike we hop in the bikes again. We pass this beautifull side river.

Overhanging rocks again.

Only for lower trucks?

Scary to cycle under.

We arrive at the town of Tingo Nuevo. Home of the Kuelap Inca Ruins. Here we did hide our bikes and hope to get a ride up to the only cable car in Peru.

Up to the cable car.

Very funny. Stand on your number to hop in the cable car.

In Austria we did cable cars at wintersports but this is defently the highest and most impressive one we've bin in.

Going from 2272m to 2930m in 20 minutes over a very deep valley.

Hope we don't get a strong wind on our way back!

At the top you can get a horse ride to the Kuelap Ruins.


A small stand to get some local food.

One of the kids around.

And back again.


At night we camp close to a red bridge. As many of our camp spots, found on the iOverlander app.

The area is very dark at night and this night there is no moon. Here the Milky Way in clearly visible over our tent. (Picture is made in 25 minutes facing south)

Red brigde the next morning. Breakfast time.

Oatmeal, raisins, tea and coffee.

On the raod again. Rainy day today.

Climbing from 1800m to 2200m before lunch.

Our public along the road.

Still rainy.

After lunch we start climbing higher. Our goal for today is the top of the Calla Calla pass at 3600m

The views getting better.

Rain rain rain.

Slowly we climb up.

The higher we go the wors the weather.

Fresh mountain water

At night it still rains a lot. The water floats into our shelter. At 6 degrees celcius.

Our shelter at the top of the pass.

The last few meters to the top.

The shelter is very dirty but we arrived in the dark in the rain so it was welcoming but because the floading at night we had to barricade the entrance to keep our stuff dry. We slept on top of our tent to keep our beds clean.

Cooking in the morning.

Ready to take off again.

Still rainy outside.

Over the top.

From here on 60km downhill from 3600m to 800m. It started in the cold and rain but the lower we got the better the weather.

A little blue visible already.

Stunning views into the deep valley.

Road works because of land slides.

Road piggies

More road piggies.

And cows just hanging around close to the steep and deep valley.

Kim flat tire in the middle of a road construction.

Cooling my breaks.

How deep can we go? 60km downhill is realy a lot, it takes a few hours to get down on these narrow mountain roads.

From 6 degrees to 35 degrees celcius.

That will be our next climb tomorrow. From 800m back to a 3200m pass.

After the long downhill we take a lunch a climb up again for half a hour to reach our campsite for the night.

Yes made it to our campside.

Outdoor shower with a lot of privacy (not!)

The campside owner of Oasis Del Condor.

The next morning we start climbing again. 50km to the top of the pass is our challenge for today.

Pfff... still hot up here.


With the valley underneath.

There is just one raod in the valley, we cycle it all today, slowly going up.

By the end of the day the sun sets. We are close to the top.

Yes!! Made it before dark. We camp in front of a small chapel with the most stunning view you can have.

Dinner time.

5:45 in the morning waiting for the sunrise from inside our warm sleeping bags.

Still no sun.

Getting closer.

Sunrise, a new day is born

Watching it from inside the tent. One of the best camp spots we had for so far.

The clouds are still deep in the valley underneath.

A house underneath gets the first sunbeams as well.

What a view. In the deep you can see the road we came up yesterday.

Not a bad place at all.

Camp with a view.


On the road again. Going down to Celendin to do some shopping.

Pulp Fiction

Check the pig in the tree.

After we cycled down to Celendin we climbed up to our highest mountain pass for so far at 3750m. While cycling up we saw Dutch overlanders in a van, sadly they didn't stop for a chat. It were the first Duch licence plates we saw in more than a year. Very wierd.

At the top of the pass. It's chilly up here but the weather is good.

Going down we meet two other cyclists. He's from New Zealand, cycling for two years already. She's from Colombia, cycling for a few months now. Both going to Ushuaia in 1.5 years.

At the campsite close to Cajamarca. Shoes off, little sun, good read. We stay a few nights before heading further south again.


Bikepacking Ecuador


Cycling Peru Part II


  1. Hans

    Weer Mooie foto’s en verhalen

  2. Mariëtte

    Bikkels zijn jullie. Kijk uit naar het vervolg. Wat een avontuur. Leuk om te volgen!

  3. Leuk verhaal en Mooie foto’s! Jullie halen ons in ?

  4. John Mercer

    Epic pictures. We loved cycling up all day with a reward of a big nice decent after.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén