6th to 10th April

Sunday 6 April

We get up early, just at sunrise. We take breakfast with the father Paco (nickname of François in Spanish), where he explains us how to go to the ruins of Machu Pitumarca. It’s the rest of an Inca settlement on top of the mountains, with some houses and a citadel controlling three valleys. We reach there after a nice bicycle ride, on a trail(not as bad as we are used to!). For the moment, the site is not exploited by tourism industry. In fact, we didn’t see any tourists in any of the three excavations sites. As it is Sunday today, we see many Cholitas passing from one village to the other, through this site, in order to go to sell products, and buy some for the week.

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Once on the site, a boy of the nearby village of Pitumarca explains us about it, just like a guide. There are three sites, one with the rests of 6 houses, another one being like a city centre with a citadel and the house of the chief, and a third one with more houses. This site is still used nowadays for some Quechua ceremonies.

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The site looks like Machu Picchu, but in smaller. And with no tourists! After this nice visit, we go back to the village, with our guide on Nata’s bike. We leave for Cusco at 11, one hour after what we had planned. It’ll be hard to reach Cusco before night (but we are starting to get used to this).

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The road is globally flat, with some hills. And we have front wind. We stop for lunch in a small village, at a restaurant announcing we can eat cuy (a kind of hamster). Unfortunately, the clients just before us asked for the last one. So it’ll be trout.

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In the afternoon, the road seems much more fastidious. Now that we are approaching Cusco, the villages are becoming more numerous, and in these villages, there are many errant dogs. I don’t know why, but these dogs don’t like cyclists at all. They are very aggressive, barking at us, and often running after us, with the objective to bite us. So we prepare our defence. Julien gets his pepper spray ready to be used. And Mick makes a stick. And this is how he invented the dog polo! a couple of times, we hear a big dog barking at us, running next to the bike to bite our legs, when suddenly, the barking becomes much higher, and the dog stops its racing: Mick has touched the nose of the dog with his stick. Hopefully, the dog will remember the lesson and stop aggressing the cyclists. Not everyone will be showing as much good will to educate it as us 😉

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When the night falls, we are still some 20km before Cusco. Nata, with some stomach problems, prefers to stay here to sleep. Mick and Ju, we continue to Cusco, at a slower pace to be able to avoid the holes on the road. We finally arrive in Cusco around 19h. As we are crossing the city to go to the hostal La Estrellita (advised by several cyclotourists), a car stops near us and we start to talk. Cesar, the driver, is pleased to discuss with foreigners. He helps us to find the hostal, and afterwards, he drives us in the city to a good chicken restaurant.

Monday 7 April

We had a good night of rest in the hostal (which is very comfortable for a quite cheap price, 5€ per person). For breakfast, they prepared us a table outside, in the patio, with umbrella, food and drink. Nata joins us for noon. In the afternoon, Ju updates the website while Mick goes out to do shopping, and arrange the simcard problem.

After picking up Andrea, the girlfriend of Nata who came from La Paz by bus, we are invited to have dinner at the house of Cesar.

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Tuesday 8 April

In the morning, we go to the city centre with the idea to visit the Inka museum. On the way, we stop by some of the shops for tourists. Then we see the famous stone walls built by the Incas, in the neighbourhood of San Blas! finally, it’s too late for the museum, we decide to go to eat.

Can you see the puma drawn in the wall?

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Here is the answer.

In the afternoon, after a rest at home, and working on the website, we go out to visit the city centre; the several churches, the Plaza de Armas, and we climb on a hill to have a view on the city.

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Wednesday 9 April

Since we don’t go to the Machu Picchu, we can at least visit the religious complex of Sacsayhuaman that is on a hill above the city of Cusco. But when we arrive there, the price is absolutely crazy: 70S./ (i.e. 18€) for seeing a few stone walls. So we’ll go to the free places: from the white Christ statue nearby, it’s possible to have a good view on Sacsayhuaman and on the city.

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And also, we can go to a few Inca ruins on this hill, like the Moon temple or the Q’enqo. Without a guide, we do n0t understand much of the Inca civilisation, but at least we can admire the quality of their walls. The stones composing them are huge, several tons each, and they adjust perfectly even though the shape of the stone is generally not rectangular, but with many more angles.

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For lunch, we go to a high class restaurant, Café La Paz, that proposes a menu for 22S./, i.e. we eat local specialties for less than 6€ per person. We all enjoy the alpaca steak. Like the llama, the alpaca meat is without fat. And it is cooked in a very god way, with some onions!

In the afternoon, we finally go to the Inka museum. It is very interesting to learn about the pre-inca civilisations, the Inca traditions, religion, architecture!

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Thursday 10 April

This morning, we have our bus for Lima. But before going there, we make some reserves of croissants and pain au chocolat, at a small baker’s near our hostal, where they make wonderful viennoiserie. There is no problem for putting the bikes inside the bus, we only have to pay an extra, as always. The first part of the route, till Abancay, is very beautiful, that’s gret we do this part in the day. The road goes through a canyon, climbs a very high pass! it would have been wonderful to do it by bicycle, but also very tough (there is more than 50km of climb in a row!). We continue through the mountains for most of the night. The problem is that the driver goes very fast in the curves, so it’s impossible to sleep. Only the few hours of the route is along the coast, so with not so many curves.

Here is a video of these days:

Well if you have a problem with the explanations in Spanish, here comes the Quechua version of Pitumarka: