Peru’s Great Divide: A Select Bikepacking Route
213 Mi.(343 KM)
The Andes by Bike
(for the full version of the Peru Great Divide route, see here)
As long as you love vertical terrain, this linking-up of mine roads and 4×4 tracks through small villages provides a wonderful alternative for travelling down Peru to the monotony of the coastal Panamericana, or the traffic on the country’s main ‘Mountain Route’.
But it doesn’t come easy: to travel the length of the country this way entails crossing upwards of 50 4000m passes as you climb up and over, then down and into enormous valleys, canyons and ravines. The small section described here alone features seven high passes, the loftiest of which tops out at nearly 5000m. If you find this kind of vertical challenge enticing rather than off-putting, get yourself onto Peru’s Great Divide!
- The ride along the Cañete valley, above a river which is a long series of blue lakes linked by small waterfalls, is spectacular.
- Most of the small villages on the route are still very traditional, and there is little traffic.
- It’s common however to encounter alpaca and llama traffic jams!
- Lots of climbing and some challenging unpaved surfaces.
- This section of Peru’s Great Divide route begins on the Carretera Central (the main road from Lima to the cities in the mountains) and ends at the pleasant provincial (and cyclist-proclaimed cake) capital of Huancavelica; it takes at least six days to ride.
- A number of roads from the coast to the largest mountain cities bisect the route, so it’s possible to join at different points. As with most routes in the Peruvian Cordillera, much of it is at high altitude and there is a lot of climbing, so it’s much easier with a good level of fitness and acclimatization.
- The only singletrack section of the route – 5 miles of wonderful trail linking Tanta and Vilca – may well soon be replaced by a motorable track.
- A few villages on the route offer basic accommodation, but camping equipment is needed for the more remote sections.
- On many parts of the ride, beautiful wild-camping spots abound.
- Paper maps covering all of Peru are of little use for finding dirt roads – download PDFs (by region) from the Peruvian Ministry of Transport and Communications website: <a href=”http://www.mtc.gob.pe/portal/transportes/red_vial/mapas_redvial.htm”>http://www.mtc.gob.pe/portal/transportes/red_vial/mapas_redvial.htm</a>
- More detailed info on Andes by Bike at: <a href=”http://andesbybike.com/peru/routes/carretera-central-huancavelica/”>http://andesbybike.com/peru/routes/carretera-central-huancavelica/</a>