The world is beautiful

It seemed as if somebody threw some buckets of colours over the mountains in the north of Argentina. Amazing face of the world, unbelivable composition. After some relaxing days in San Pedro de Atacama I found my way to country number 8 on my way down south in Latino America. A lonesome region on high altitude, a dry desert, lagunes and salt lakes, decorated with vicuñas, wild donkeys and Llamas. But this time I could lift my eyes and observe my surroundings more than on the Lagune route in the south of Bolivia, cause this time the road was paved and so my joints and my affected but we’re happy to recover a bit more.

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From San Pedro I hitchhiked the 2000 meter uphill until the point I came from Bolivia, a truck from Paraguay gave me a lift and so I found my bike inbetween cars, which are transported from Iquique at the coast of Chile to Paraguay. Heaps of these trucks drive this 2000 kilometers way several times a month.

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So I was on 4600 meters of altitude again to start my way through the desert on the so called ruta del desierto. The wind was already there but this time it was pushing me into the land. Due to the advanced day I searched a shelter after a few kilometers in this impressive landscape, which appeared to be like in the mars or moon. Next to a lagune with some ducks a found a small wall which served as a shelter. The night was bitter cold, so that my water in the bottles were totally frozen and I also felt a bit cold for the first time on my travel.

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On day 2 the landscape presented me rock constellation, more lagunes and after I arrived the highest point of Paso Jama on over 4800m it started to go down. Finally I arrived Argentina and although officers at the border worked slowly like rusty trains, everything went without any problems. Looking on a map I realized that I had wrong distance kilometers in my mind and so I augmented the daily kilometers to reach Purmamarca within 4 days. At the Laguna Ana I found an old bus behind a small hill. I felt like in „into the wild“ and also the interior was not as comfortable as in movie I decided to camp inside this rusty vehicle.

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The first little village I arrived was Susques. A calm place were I could by some fruits and chocolate to get some power for the next kilometres. I went up some hundred meters before I went down a beautiful valley with cactuses and weird rock formations. It felt like in the wild west. Some kilometers further the valley opened for the great plain with the Salinas Grandes. But before I entered it, I set up my tent next to an abandoned house. From there I could observe a rising thunderstorm, which arose to an enormous spectacle during the night, the beautiful ceiling full of stars with a play of lightnings  at the horizon in the distance.

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Through the plain to the Salinas Grandes and up another 700 meters to the top of the last big mountain, I had my first lunch in Argentina: A small empanada de queso, humanitas  and for dessert goat cheese with cane honey. The last ascent was quite tiring but the way down on the other side a real pleasure. The next valley was amazing. First of all the canyon and more cactuses. And at the end, the colourful mountains round me. Blue, red, white, orange, black, I couldn’t stop to marvel.

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Finally I arrived Purmamarca. The evening I spent with a guy from Buenas Aires, we had some beer, shared a pizza before we had a red wine from Mendoza with some cheese back in the hostal. The next morning I had a walk inside thesencolourful mountains.

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When I went down to San Salvador de Jujuy, the landscape changed a lot. More and more plants transformed the natur into a green forest, it became more humid and more clouds covered the ceiling.

Sand, Salt, Rocks and Wind

San Pedro, a oasis in many regards after a week of tough cycling in the South of Bolivia. The famous route of the Lagunes on an average altitude of 4300 meters, without many possibilities of food and water supply, heaps of climbing, lots of strong winds, cold nights, intense sun, dry air and paths covered with sand and rocks. It was definitely the hardest section of my way down south so far. BUT, it was so worth it! Every single day the landscape gave me new energy! But let’s start in Oruro, where I met Sam again to take the train to Uyuni!

It was a beautiful travel trough on the flat altiplano. We saw a thousands of flamencos in the huge lake of Poopo, before the sunset atmosphere encased us with a wonderful play of colours.

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A interesting spot in Uyuni were the old trains whose shapes out of steel rust in the surrounding sand and create an special atmosphere especially during the light of a further sunset.

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We left to the Salar de Uyuni where we camped in the middle of nowhere on this huge white field of salt. It was very windy, so that we had to wait for the sunset again to put up our tents afterwards, when the wind was subsiding.

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We left the middle of the Salar, but camped another time on the salt, this time mixed with clay and therefor easier to mount our tents into the ground. In the night a sandstorm swept across our housings but both tents withstood the force of nature.

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In San Juan Sam decided to go directly to Chile, so I was on my own to proceed towards some days of adventure in the mountains of Bolivia. After some comperative easy kilometers on another plane salt lake I faced the first climb. It was horrible to ride, so that I had to push my bike several times. I first glimpse on what was coming in the next few days. I imagined to arrive at the short section of the main road but I ended up settle down for the night a few kilometers before.

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The second day I arrived at the first lake, Laguna Cañapa, where I observed the birds, flamencos and seagulls, before I cooked myself some mashed potatoes.

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For the night I arrived at the Laguna Hediondo where I asked to camp next to the Ecolodge de Los Flamingos. But instead I was offered to stay inside. They even provided me water and breakfast for free. Very nice people, so that I gave them my beani as a present when I left in the next morning.

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On my further way I saw another cyclist in the distance nd when I got closer I saw that it was Camille, a friend I’ve been hiking with near Cusco. He had a problem with its pedal, but first we cycled together and found a nice shelter to camp in the evening.

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To get out of the tent in the morning some motivation was always needed, cause the temperature at night and in theearly hours wasn’t that comfortable. During the day I passed some rock formations, one of the the árbol de piedras, a rock which looked like a tree.

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The way down to the laguna Colorada was very hard to ride, the destination close but it seemed not to get closer. But finally I was next to the lake, where the national park „Reserva National de Fauna Anadina Eduardo Avaroa“ started. Inbetween the day the Camille had further problems with its pedal, so that he arrived after me with one of the numerous trucks, which drove around the tourists.

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The pedal was fixed, welded by a mechanic and this in the middle of nowhere. After a night in the Refugio we started together, but after 10 kilometers the pedal brake again. So we had a last lunch together, before I went on climbing up the highest section of the Lagune route, while Camille went back to his mechanic.

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After another tough drive I arrived the geyser field. Steam was coming out of the earth and was blown away by a strong wind. Behind an abandoned house I set up my tent, with 4880 meters the highest point I ever camped on.

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The highest point I ever ride my bike followed the next morning, 4926 meters. After I reached the pass it went down to the Lagune de Chalviri, where a thermal bath waited for me. I directly rode my bike next to it and jumped in to relax. Two hours long I enjoyed the comfortable water and the nice view onto the Lagune.

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It was still early and so I decided to go on to the next highlight, the laguna verde and the laguna blanca. After another climb with headwind it went down again. Due to some sandy parts I was more sliding than riding down my bike. And when I arrived I was happy again to have found a nice spot to camp with a beautiful view over the Laguna Blanca.

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The Laguna Verde was just 2 kilometers away from my sleeping spot and at the time I arrived the outlook full of people. Some of them coriously started to ask me questions, below them as well other cyclists. And so again I felt like a wild animal or an mascot with whom you take fotos with. But the people were all friendly and took a foto of me.

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The last day in the south of Bolivia, heading to Chile and San Pedro de Atacama was less easy to ride. The wind already woke up in the morning and my imagination about the last pass was much more relaxed. On top my legs were quite tired after the last 6 days. The border was no problem again and finally I was on a paved street again. 2000 meters downhill sounded on tarmac sounded like a dream, but another strong head wind significantly prolonged the time to arrive in the Oasis of San Pedro de Atacama!

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Finally I arrived back in the civilisation, with all culinary amenities and a hot shower. It was a great ride and great motivation to do similar treks, apart from the main roads with significant sceneries around!

Skin to skin with the Pampas

I’m surrounded by thousands of little lights in the darkness, some steady at the ceiling, others blinking around me and some seems to be underneath. The visual appearance is accompanied by a cloud of constantly humming noises sometimes drowned by croaking noises. I’m sliding slowly through this atmosphere until… somebody puts on a flashlight and I’m back in reality,  back on the river, surrounded by sounding insects, the stars of the sky and the blinking lights of humming birds, whose lights are reflecting in the water.

I’m surrounded by thousands of little lights in the darkness, some steady at the ceiling, others blinking around me and some seems to be underneath. The visual appearance is accompanied by a cloud of constantly humming noises sometimes drowned by croaking noises. I’m sliding slowly through this atmosphere until… somebody puts on a flashlight and I’m back in reality,  back on the river, surrounded by sounding insects, the stars of the sky and the blinking lights of humming birds, whose lights are reflecting in the water.

3 days and two nights we spend in the Pampas, near Santa Rosa, in, on and close to the river Yacuma. After a three hour bus trip we changed into a long boat which was head a powerful motor at the back.

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The riversides were full of animals and so we saw heaps of alligators, turtles and huge birds as well as some capibaras and caymans.

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We were staying in one of the lodges along the river, where we had further animals to observe, like Luisa, the pig of the house and all the little monkeys, which were frolicing around.

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In the first night we entered our long wooden boat again to observe the alligators by night. Their eyes reflected the lights of our torches, so that we could see all the yellow lights all along the river.

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Our guide Gary fetched a little baby alligator so that we were able to hold it and feel the texture of the flaky skin.

The next morning we discovered the area next to the river, traversed head-high reed, small rivers with the water up to our knees or swampy pont-water. The idea was to find an anaconda, but although we were trying hard with the help of our experienced guide we couldn’t find one. But still it was an adventure and we saw an eagle and further animals.

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Notice the king of the air in the treetop.

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Gary pulled another alligator out of the thicket, this time a little bit bigger then the one from the night before.

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The afternoon we were in the river again and this time we stopped to fish Piranhas. It was amazing how fast we were able to fish them, not 5 minutes passed as I got the first piranha in my line. But it remained the only one,  although it was always able to feel how the fish nibbled on the meat. At the end we had enough for dinner. At the end we found out that they just had a little meat inside, but it was tasting good.

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Before going back to our lodge we stopped to see a beautiful sunset over the Pampas.

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The last day we were riding on the river again to find a spot where we could swim with the river dolphins and after a few minutes of searching we really found them. They were not that trusting as I thought they would be, but here and there they showed themselves, emerged, dived into the water again and passed us without us noticing it. We were told that they would also protect us from all the alligators and caymans which were also hanging out around us. And also the Piranhas kept away from us.

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It was definitely a very good experience to see all the animals and to  feel the liveliness of the nature. While this entry gets online, we will be on a boat with our bikes to go to Guanay, traversing the jungle of the national park Madidi.

On the glacier of Huayna Potosí

After the volcano Cotopaxi in Ecuador, where David and I climbed to 5600 meters of altitude, it was time to start my second try to exceed the magic number of 6000 meters! Huayna Potosí with 6088m of altitude it just 30km away from La Paz and the ascent shouldn’t be that technical. But what I learned from the Cotopaxi experience was

After the volcano Cotopaxi (5897m) in Ecuador, where David and I climbed until a height of around 5600 meters of altitude, it was time to start my second try to exceed the magic number of 6000 meters! Huayna Potosí with 6088m of altitude it just 30km away from La Paz and the ascent shouldn’t be that technical. But what I learned from the Cotopaxi experience was that my body needs more time to get used to the altitude. Although I had no major problems on the glacier in Ecuador, I was close to the inner border of my physical fitness. Furthermore it was the first experience for Sam on that height and so we decided to climb step by step to give our bodies time. Another thing I learned was to have a close look on the equipment before booking a tour and so we spent over an hour in the tour agency and tried on pants, shoes, helmets, jackets, crampons and so on! The equipment was not brandnew and some parts were not in the best condition, but nothing what would impair our safety or comfort. And so we booked a 3 day tour and bought ahead the necessary things for the ascent.

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DAY 1:
In the Casa de Ciclistas in La Paz we were on an altitude of 3500m. The days before next to the lake Titikaka we were always between 3800m and 4350m, so the first aclimatization step was already accomplished. Because of a strike of the buses in the city, which blocked the streets in the whole city, we had to leave very early to leave the city. With the taxi the agency collected us from our accommodation and at their office we switched into a van to leave the city. On our way we heard that another group, who tried to leave later, was not able to get out of the center, so we were lucky. After leaving the city boundaries we went on a dirt road into the mountains towards the first refuge on 4750m. We were welcomed by a indigenous lady of the Amayram tribe. I was still quite tired and we still had time and so I first took a two hours nap in our shelter. Well rested we had lunch with a tasty vegetable soup and for me a vegetarian main dish with rice, egg, french fries and salad while Sam was having chicken instead of the egg. I was suprised that I was asked in the tour office about being a vegetarian – very considerate!
After the strengthening we accompanied by our host woman and her child to a nearby glacier where we met Adrian, our guide, who gave us a first briefing how to use the equipment. On our way we were walking to the clouds of a thunderstorm. The noise of the thunder was reechoing in the mountains and generated a mighty atmosphere. We arrived the glacier and got to know Adrian. The first few introductions where easy to learn and viable, the second part was new to me and more challenging. Sam and me had to learn how to overcome the steep face out of ice and subsequently a vertical ice wall. And although we will not face a vertical wall on our way to the top, we were happy to have gained that experience. After that lesson we went back to the refuge were we had an extensive meal in the afternoon and plenty of time to relax.

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DAY 2:
We got up at around 7:30 and had an extensive breakfast. Before  ascending to the second refuge on 5130m, we explored the surroundings of the first refuge cause there were still some more time left. For the water supply they constructed a canal from a upper lake, which is filled by glaciers. Furthermore the use all the glacier water to produce energy, so huge power grid transport the energy to La Paz and El Alto.

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At 10 a.m. we left, the weather was good, some sun and some clouds took turns. The equipment for the glacier in our backpack, as well as some food and the sleeping bag, we had to carry around 15 kilos up the mountain. The way was good to walk, the altitude bounded the speed but after two hours we arrived in Campo Alto! The day ended by playing the card games ‚Rikiki‘ and ‚Belotte ‚which were teached by group of belgium travellers. The atmosphere was very good under all the groups who wanted to climb to the top! At 7 o’clock everybody went to bed to gain energy for the next day.

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DAY 3:
At midnight a guide entered the bedroom by making the noise „bru bru bru“ to imitate an alarm and one by one everybody went on their feet! Somebody was playing a song on their cell phone and suddenly everybody were tapping in the rhythm of the song. It seemed as if everybody were excited to go up.
Sam and me were informed that we will have another guide for the ascent. Juan seemed to be a little tired at the beginning, cause he first forgot to get on his crampons and after he put them on, he left his gloves in the snow. Good start, I thought, but no further similar incidents happend. The way up was again taking ages – step by step we were walking up. In the dark the world of ice and snow around us as well as deep holes and slopes were not visible. Only the lights of the other groups and the alighted feet of Sam and the snow in front of me were able to be seen.

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Steep parts and nearly plane parts alternated. After around 4 hours we were going up on a steep ridge of maybe one and a half meters wide, where on both sides it was going down into the darkness. Leaving that behind it became to get lighter – the sunrise was getting closer until we could turn off our headlamps.

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The last part of the path was possible to see and with it the steepness of the last few meters to the top. Some groups were already inside that part, struggling to go up. Other groups already turned around and I also had my problems. I had to fight against a rising headache and while we had a break I was getting tired. The guide already asked if we should turn around but we were close and so Sam and me mobilized our last energy. The steepest part at the end was demanding everything of our endurance and concentration and I was again at a point to give up.
When I was finally reaching the top, I was so touched by the view and by the fact that I had really reached the top of Huayna Potosí, which is an insane 6088 meters high.

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We enjoyed the view for some minutes, but due to the rising temperatures we had to start the way back to the refuge. After 6 hours of such a hard climb we still had to stay concentrated for the descent and it appeared to become a very challenging way down cause due the sun the ice was starting to melt. This fact entailed that the crampons were full of snow and so the grip was getting less. Now we were able to see all the beautiful forms of the glacier, but also the steep slopes directly besides us. Reaching the ridge, the situation was extremely dangerous. We went down very slowly, removing the slippery snow underneath the crampons nearly every step. After another 3 hours we were happy to reach the Refugio. Here we had one hour to rest before we went down another 1 1/2 hours to the second refuge were the car to la Paz was already waiting.

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It was another amazing experience, but I guess I wouldn’t do it again. The view from the top is mind-blowing, but it does also demand everything of yourself, it’s definitely not healthy and also not without a risk!

Over the altiplano to La Paz

In and around Cusco I’ve spent heaps of time. The time in the town itself, Machu Picchu, Choquequirao and the development project in Quiquijana hold beautiful experiences. After the trek with Vincent and Camille, we went back to Cusco, where I met Sam for the first time. He wrote me several weeks before and revealed that he will cycle from Lima down south and that his way might cross mine. In the meantime we are traveling together since some days. But as well as Vincent and Camille, he still wanted to visit Machu Picchu and so I initially went on with my travel by my own! And at first I had to go back to Quiquijana, where I left my bike and some of my stuff. A last time in the Albergue Uñacha to say goodbye to the volunteers and the nuns. Due to the advanced day, I decided to stay another night in the accommodation of the volunteers.

The next day I was cycling uo next to the river towards the altiplano. The first night I was quite exhausted and the altitude made me feel tired. Only a few kilometers before the pass La Raya I needed to take a rest and finally set up my camp in a garden of some locals. The nights became colder due to the altitude of around 4000 meters but till now my equipment always provided me a warm and comfortable night. The highest point of my travel on my bike I reached in the morning, Abra La Raya with 4335 meters above the sea level.

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I’ve reached the altiplano and after some meters of descent the street was more or less plane. In Pukara I was allowed to stay in the garden of the police. When I was about to push my bike into the shade I didn’t recognize a little house with 7 little puppies inside and before I realized was was happening I felt the mouth of the mother dog around my ankle. The first time in my life I was bitten by a dog. Fortunately the dog didn’t bite that strong, so that only a small mark could be seen and I had no further pain, but I was a bit suprised by that incident. But not enough – during I my discover of the village and their ruins, the dog attacked my tent and left behind a hole in my outer tent, luckily on a spot where is not that fatal.

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On my way to Juliaca, the biggest city of the province Puno, I saw several Alpacas and Llamas as well as the Peruvian Train who connects Puno to Cusco.

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Juliaca itself was the next stop and another nest of chaotic traffic. Geovanni, a warmshower, who is having a Casa de Ciclistas hosted me and offered me a good place to save my picture in my cloud and to change my oil of my Rohloff, which needed to be changed after more than 5000 kilometers of riding. With a instruction video in the Internet it was not a big thing.

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In the evening I cooked with Geovanni while having a good conversation. A nice person, who is doing woodwork in his house and already hosted over 1000 cyclists in his house. From Juliaca it was just 40 kilometers to arrive Puno, next to the lake Titikaka. The town is not that beautiful, but it does have a nice vegan/vegetarian restaurant called the Loving Hut.
The floating island as well as the steady islands Amantani and Taquile were worth a tour from Puno and so I was in the harbour very early to catch one of the boats. The floating islands of he uros are very touristic but the history behind it is great and the construction of the islands as well. And so we stopped on one of island where president Ernesto explained us how the island is constructed. The tortora reed, which grows in huge amounts in the lake, is the basic element for the buildings, their traditional boats and the ground of the island. In the time of the incas the uros people used their islands as a refuge in case of attacks, nowadays just around 70 islands are left.

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On the boat I got to know two girls from America and one from England, with whom I was staying in a house of a local family on the island Amantani. After lunch we went up to the highest point of the Island, where the temple Pachamama was placed. Besides the nice view over the lake I got to see the most beautiful sunset of my life.

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The day I came back from the islands Sam and Camille arrived in Puno, but they were about to see the islands as well and so I was again goin on on my own. In Juli, a small village next to the lake, I found a perfect spot to camp directly next to the water. Sam, who missed the departure of the boats in the morning, decided to hitchhike to Juli too, so that we both camped next to the lake. But not enough – a guy from Uruguay showed up, traveling by walk and is already 4 years in the road. He was only having a backpack with his tent and some arts he sells in he road – crazy and amazing person. So he stayed as well next to us, so that it felt a bit like a camping spot. A hundred meter from our tent accumulation a french couple stayed in their van and invited us for breakfast.

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The next day I started my first cycling day with Sam and my last day in Peru. This day we were about to cross the border to Bolivia to reach Copacabana. And in contrast to Equador, where I had two flat tyres in the last two days, my tyres had not one flat tyre in Peru, so two months without the need to patch my bicycle tube. Most of the time we were riding next to the lake with a beautiful view. In the middle of the day we met Chase, an Australien police officer,  and Shima, a 65-years-old Japanese, whit whom we were cycling until La Paz. The border-crossing was again no problem, like it had been on all borders so far.

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Arrived in Copacabana we found a nice campsite, where they also offered beds, which were just some cents more expensive than the price for a tent, so that we weren’t that motivated to set up the tents.

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A nice concert in bar of a german and an australian musician and a trip to the Isla del sol were the highlights in and around Copacabana.

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As a multicolored bycicle group we left Copacabana through the mountains to the ferry over the lake Titikaka. The ferries were quite old, around 40 years old the captain was guessing and so it was like a little adventure to cross the water on that wobbly construction out of wood.

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Savely arrived on the other side in San Pedro de Tiquina, we met David, another cyclist from Australia. Due to the advanced time we decided to find a place to camp and set up our five tents next to each other on the rim of the lake.

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113 kilometers were left to La Paz and for Shima it was the longest distance ever, so that we started early in our last cycling together. Suddenly Sam warned me that something is wrong with my Ortlieb bag at the back and as I had a look I realized that one screw was missing and my bag was hanging down a bit. I first fixed it with a rope but later that day on a bad road inside a roadwork the bag was about to fall again. A second screw came off and got lost and so I had to fix the bag again, this time with a cable fixer, but on the last meters downhill into La Paz the plastic of the cable fixer  got broken, so that I decided to put my bag pack on my back and the Ortlieb side bag into the middle of my rack for the rest of the day. Here in La Paz, we stay in another Casa de ciclistas, where Christian, a half german welcomed us. Here we will spent some more days, time to find new screws to repair the bag, to discover the city and to talk to all the other cyclists from all around the world, who are staying as well in the Casa de Ciclistas. But as another highlight of my trip, Sam and me decided to climb Huayna Potosí, a 6088m high mountain, 30 kilometers from La Paz.

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Chance of a better future

I was sitting in a kind of big classroom, when suddenly a young peruvian girl was coming up to me to give me a hug! I was overwhelmed by this cordially gesture and said to myself that all people on the world should have the same possibilities to develop in life!

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Two weeks ago I visited the German development project „Kinderhilfe Cusco“ in Quiquijana, a small village 70 kilometers in the south of Cusco. I arrived at the „Albergue“ in the evening and received a warm welcome by the volunteers and the nuns. The time was an interesting experience for me. Helping children with their homework, teaching them english, playing soccer with them and get to know their backgrounds moved me and offered me a good variation in my current cycling life.

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I spent three nights at that place to gain an impression about the work of the volunteers and the project as a whole. The project Kinderhilfe Cusco – Peru e.V. started in 1989 by supporting a lunch table in Cusco and from 2001 on a second one in Quiquijana. Cause of a missing infrastructure this involvement led to the construction of a youth center, which was opened in 2008. Besides offering a place to stay for up to 100 children, it’s a place for social and pedagogical education.

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The main goal of the project is to fight the poverty and to help to improve the education and food situation. Over the years further support grew in the area of Cusco.
The children in Quiquijana come from tough family backgrounds, live in poor conditions and some of them wouldn’t even have the possibility to attend school, cause their homes are to far away to go this long way two times a day.
In the „Albergue“ in Quiquijana 6 volunteers work for one year to support one local teacher, a cook and three nuns of the sisterhood „Siervas de Christo Sacerdote“. The 4 girls and 2 boys just finished school and most of them found the project over weltwärts. They had a prepartion seminar as well as six weeks of a spanish language course in advance. Furthermore the local teacher seems to have a lot of experience and a good apprenticeship and therefor can support the young and motivated volunteers. This combination make sure that the children get a good support. Besides the time with the children, the daily schedule includes some hours of work in a nearby farm in the morning.

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In two greenhouses vegetables are grown to supplement the daily meals for the children. A third greenhouse is in construction to plant roses, which will be sold to gain money for the  facility.

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More information you will find on the official page of the german development project.

So, why do I think this project is worth to support? For me some things are important to declare it a helpful and meaningful project:
– collaboration: decisions are taken together, the local people together with the donor
– local support: investments involve local enterprises, so that the money support the economic development of the region
– transparency: the use of the donations is transparent for members and supporters of the projects
– sustainability: to act in a sustainable way, help to self-help

In all of this topics the Kinderhilfe Cusco is doing very well and I was impressed by the effort of the founder Dr. Heinz Gravenkötter and the volunteers.

If you have any further questions about my experiences about this development projects, feel free to ask!
Three of the current volunteers share their experiences on their blogs, which will give you another insight about their work and the project jn general:
sarahserlebnisseinperu.jimdo.de (Blog of Sarah)
einjahrinperu.jimdo.com (Blog of Ronja and Leander)

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Choquequirao

Choquequirao, the small sister of Machu Picchu, doesn’t get so much tourist attention, indeed there were only 3 more persons around us when we visited the place. So it felt, as if we had the ruins on our own. No officers who tell you were you are allowed to go ( in Machu Picchu there are plenty of them), rathermore a pleasant silence without a mass of tourists. Choquequirao was also one of the last bastions of resistance and refuge of the Inkas and therefore an important historical place.

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I’ve already left Cusco to stay to nights in Quiquijana, 70 kilometers in the south of the city, when Vincent, a Canadian cyclist ask to join him to do a trek. And so I left my bike in this little village to return to Cusco. The bus took two hours and just cost 5 soles. Of course I took the chance to have another meal  in „Green Point“, the vegan restaurant with the amazing lunch offer. There I met Vincent and Camille, a french cyclist, who were also in to do a trek. We had to choose between Ausangate, Choquequirao and a tour into the jungle. Before I received the recommendation from a local to do the hike of Choquequirao and it was also the easiest considering the organization, so the decision was taken.

We left Cusco very early at around 5 a.m. to start the hike from Cachora in the late morning. The weather was beautiful, maybe to good, because the heat of the sun made the hard trek of Choquequirao not easier. After a just a few kilometers and the first descents, Vincent figured out that the rented shoes had a metal thing in the front, which let him suffer while going down. This escorted him half of our tour and we had to slow down to made it endurable for him. And after a rather flat part it was going down the rest of our first day. Still not crossed the Apurimac river we found a beautiful campsite to put up our tents. The view was breathtaking, the sunset behind the mountains opened up a colourful sky followed by the bright shining stars!

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The next day we reached the river, the sun was burning down on us, which made the climb on the other side of the river a big challenge. 1500 meters uphill. We had to break several times but we were willing to reach the campsite close to Choquequirao to discover the place in the morning. On our last kilometers, we met two other cyclists, one of them carrying a second pair of shoes with him – the salvation for Vincent you suffered a lot under his bad shoes. The place to camp was another time blessed with an amazing view into the valley, so that Camille and me enjoyed taking pictures again.

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Day 3, climbing up the last few hundred meters to Choquequirao. Still tired of the last day we were dragging ourselves through the ruins inbetween which we had to overcome some other ascents and descents. But it was worth all the way. Nearly alone on that hill we discovered the remains of the culture of the Inkas. After some hours we started our way back, which started with a long way down back to the river! This time Vincent was much faster, so that we reached our last campsite of the trek early. Totally tired we cooked and watched the stars again. The temperatures in the evening were just perfect, but the Mosquitos were not our friends during all the days.

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The last day we had to go up another 1500 meters again, but we arrived early on the top and catched a taxi, who took us back into direction Cusco.
A beautiful, but also a hard trek to visit Choquequirao!

Here are some facts about how to get there from Cusco: there is a bus station in the street Arcopata, which is in the north of the historical center, Here small buses leave from 5 o’clock in the morning to Curahuasi (15 Soles and about 1:45 hours of driving). From Curahuasi you can take another small bus or a taxi to Cachora (15 Soles and about 45 minutes). In Cachora there is the possibility to go to close to the Mirador de Capuliyoc to save about 10 kilometers of the trek. For the way back the prices are the same.