It’s been almost two months since I parked by bike in Cusco, got an apartment and started studying Quechua. Never did I consider my biking journey through South America over, just temporarily on hiatus. The culture, language, sights, and people of Cusco were just too enthralling to pass up. Not to mention I needed to get some serious work done.
Despite the fact that I’m happy in Cusco, that I’m happy with my friends, and that I’m happy studying Quechua, the itch has been gnawing at the back of my mind. My bike has been giving those depressing looks every morning like a dog who hasn’t been walked in months. The road has been calling my name, that wide black road that snakes up the mountain side out of Cusco before dropping into the Sacred Valley following the raging Urubamba River passing hundreds of years of Inca history in the process.
It’s time to take a vacation from Cusco. Next week is Semana Santa (Easter Week). Some friends and I are going to visit the jungle near the small town of Puerto Maldonado some 500km from Cusco. Two of us are going to bike there.
Tomorrow the two of us leave for our 5 to 6 day journey. My sketchy map claims we face two large passes 4100m (13,400 ft) and 4900m (16,000ft) in height before the long gentle descent into the jungle at near sea level (180m/600ft). The route is marked on the map above in purple.
The road leading from the Andes around Cusco to the jungle has historically been a terrible and difficult, with the Lonely Planet describing it as “vile” and “requir[ing] hardiness” (and that’s traveling by bus!). Since that publication, however, the road is said to have been fully smoothed and paved. They even gave it a fancy name: Interoceanic Highway. Usually I take judgements about road conditions from locals with a grain of salt, but this fellow has crossed the expanse in motorcycle 9 times. Though he thinks were crazy to tackle those two passes on bike. He’s probably not wrong.
Where Is Casey?
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