South America Blog Posts

Week 30 – New Years Eve in Lima

Happy new year guys!

A quick trip to Lima

In my last blog post I talked about the protests in Peru and how they had stopped overland travel while in full swing. With an announced gap in the protests, I decided to take the opportunity to head up to Lima. As I only have a couple of weeks left until my Peruvian Visa expires, I need to cover a lot of kms in a short period of time. With that in mind, I took a bus from Urubamba to Cusco. I stayed one night in Cusco, with the family who own the hotel I was staying in while I was in Urubamba. They are a really kind family and it was nice to say goodbye to them before I headed north.

The bus from Cusco to Lima was really long, around 1,100km, which took around 22 hours. I was super tired when I arrived in Lima, but I needed to cycle through the city to get to my CouchSurfing host’s place. I was staying with a local family in the North of the city. I was so grateful to find a host, as it was New Years Eve. So I assumed that people wouldn’t want to have a stranger staying with them. Luckily I was wrong and I got to stay with Angie and her family.

New Years Eve in Lima

This New Years Eve was a little different than I have experienced before. Firstly, everyone was wearing some yellow clothing, as yellow is seen as good luck. The celebrations didn’t really start until midnight. We all went up to the roof of the house and watched the fireworks being set off all around the city. We stayed up there for 20 minutes or so then headed down into the house for a strange tradition. On the table were some bowls of different foods. Specifically, lentils, quinoa and some kind of corn. Each of us then ate 12 spoons of each of these foods. One spoon for each month of the coming year. This tradition is supposed to make sure you have a prosperous year ahead. Then it was time to eat fruit, drink champagne and dance. Around an hour later we sat down to eat a meal of roasted meat and potatoes. I was so tired after the night on the bus, that I struggled to stay up as long as the rest of the family. So I hit the hay at around 2:40am.

Looking ahead into 2023

My plan from here is to get myself sorted with a replacement drone while I am in the capital city. Then take another long distance bus up to the north of Peru. I want to spend the last week in the north, visiting a few beaches and then cross over into Ecuador. I’m really looking forward to getting further north. I have heard some great things about the beaches up there. Plus the weather should be nice up near the equator. One thing that I really want to do this year is get some sailing experience. I am hoping to crew on some boats in the Caribbean to see what the sailing life is like. If it works out, I might end up getting myself a small boat to liveaboard and travel by boat for a while. But I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.

South America Blog Posts

Week 23 – Cusco and Urubamba

After around two months in remote areas, travelling through areas of the Bolivian and Peruvian Amazon. My bike and I were both ready for some comfort, a good clean and some repairs.

Casa de Cyclistas, Cusco

I arrived in Cusco and made my way to the Casa de Cyclistas. This one was located in the old part of the city and was actually in a courtyard with a restaurant and bar. The Casa de Cyclistas is great because you can stay for free and you can meet other cyclists. The only issue with this particular one is that there is only really space for two people. But when I arrived there were four of us in total. This meant that me and another guy had to sleep on the floor. To be honest, this isn’t really a problem as we are all used to camping already. The other three cyclists had been travelling for a while. One was from Mexico and was heading south. Another was from the US and was heading south to Argentina. While the final guy was an Italian who has started in the south and was heading north. I really enjoy spending time with other cyclists so that we can share stories and advice. It’s also interesting to hear the different reasons that people travel. Some just do it for fun, others for charity and some people have set themselves a challenge. For example, the Italian guy had set himself the challenge of cycling the length of the Andes mountain range, from the south to the north of South America. But we don’t only see the the good sides of travel, sometimes people are struggling with their motivation and decide that they want to go home. This was the case with the Italian guy, he was heading as far a Lima and was flying home in time for Christmas. I sometimes find it hard to think of a reason that I am travelling the way that I am. I usually just say that I want to see as many places as I can, while I can.

Exploring Cusco

Cusco is one of the main tourist towns in Peru. It’s the starting point for a lot of tours into the Amazon, where I just came from. But also for hiking tours to the many archeological sites in the area, including Machu Pichu. I explored a little and was surprised at how beautiful some areas were. Not at all like the towns and cities I had experienced in Chile and Bolivia. The Plaza de Armas is one such place, with a huge open square surrounded by old shops, cafes and a cathedral. But the place I visited most often was the San Pedro Market. It’s a cheap place to buy fruit and vegetables, but it also has stalls where you can get a meal for around 6 or 7 soles (£1.30-£1.50). So I headed there a few times a day.

Giving the bike some attention.

I spent a whole day sat cleaning my bike with a toothbrush and a couple of small sponges. After the muddy and dusty roads, then the river crossings, my bike was in need of some attention. I cleaned everything, including the gears and chain, until they looked like new. Then checked and tightened all the bolts. I also took the opportunity to stock up on spare bolts while I was in town. I had to replace them a few times after they had shaken loose on the rocky roads. I’m still trying to get hold of a decent tyre for my front wheel. Hopefully I will be able to find one before I move on.


I cycled to Urubamba to meet up with Huong. She has recently finished her workaway on a farm in the area and we will do some hiking trips together, including Machu Picchu. I am actually planning on staying in Urubamba, and the surrounding areas, for a month or so. Not only to explore the many archeological sites, but also to wait for a replacement part for my drone. It should arrive within two to four weeks. So let’s hope it’s not delayed.

South America Blog Posts

Week 22 – My first attempt at river crossings

After taking the boat ride from Boca Colorado to Boca Manu, I set off cycling to the south towards Cusco. The gravel road from Boca Manu to a town called Itahuania isn’t shown on maps, but is actually better than a few roads I have cycled before, which were shown on maps. It leads you out of the Peruvian Amazon back towards civilisation.

Disaster strikes!

It was a really nice day. The sun was shining through the trees and I always enjoy cycling on the forest roads. Unfortunately my good day wasn’t going to last long. I got out my drone and took some shots of me cycling along the gravel road. Everything was going well until the drone hit a branch. It wasn’t a bad crash, the drone was only around 5 meters high. I went over to check out the drone and nothing seemed to be broken. Only the gimble had popped out of the body of the drone. Then when I looked closer I saw that the gimble had tugged on the flex cable which connects it to the rest of the drone. Unfortunately this was enough to make the cable split on a corner. This isn’t an easy fix and would need a special cable specifically for the DJI Mini 2. I was gutted. It stuck in my mind for the rest of the day and made me irritable, so every small problem really annoyed me.

Clearing my head

The road was long and crossed a lot of small streams as it passed small farms and illegal logging camps. As I was in a bad mood, I got to one of these streams and there were hundreds, or thousands of butterflies drinking next to the road. I stopped and took a moment to relax and get things into perspective. I was in an amazingly beautiful place and there was nothing I could do about my broken drone yet. So I tried to put it out of my mind and continued on the gravel road to Itahuania. The last 20km or so was tarmac, but the stream crossings turned into river crossings. So I arrived in Itahuania tired, with wet feet. I stopped in a local shop to eat some snacks and drink a cold soda. It turned out that they had a spare room in their house, above the shop. We came to an agreement about the price and then they wanted to see my stove and see it boil some water. After a shower and change of clothes, I spent the evening chatting to the family and it really helped get my mind back on track.

The road to Salvacion

The next morning one of the children from the family wanted to know everything about my bike. He asked about all my equipment and bags. He wanted to try everything. The whole family were so friendly and I felt like I could have stayed there another day or so. But I wanted to get to a town with mobile phone signal so that I could start to process of fixing my drone. The only problem was that there had been a big storm in the night. The road from Itahuania to Salvacion has 8 river crossings, some of them quite big rivers. The mother of the family told me not to go because the rivers would be deep with the rain water from the night. But I had 20km to cycle before I would get to a river, so I figured I would be ok. I was the only person on the road and at points, the road was blocked with fallen trees. This wasn’t a good sign because it showed that nobody else had passed this way. Luckily, just as I got to the first river, a couple of trucks passed me, coming from the river. So I knew it was passable.

My first try at river crossings

This was the first time I had crossed a river with my bike. But as it turned out, I would have to cross around 12 rivers of varying sizes that day. It was pretty straight forward. First I would walk across the river crossing to find out how deep the water was. Then I’d decide whether I could just push the bike through. Or if it was a bit deeper, maybe just below my knees, I would just remove my front panniers and carry them across first. But if the water was really deep, balls deep as I say, then I would remove all my bags, carry them across first, then push the bike across. It was a really fun day and I got to Salvacion around sunset. I checked into a hostel which is in a parrot rescue center. I rested there a couple of days before continuing on to Cusco.

My plans for the next few weeks

I am planning to take some time to relax around Cusco over the next few weeks. There are a lot of cool places to visit here, including Machu Pichu. Huong is still in Cusco too after finishing her workaway farm stay, so we can visit some sites together. Aside from that, I can also have a stable address to get parts delivered to repair my drone. Hopefully it will be an easy fix. I really love the pictures and videos it gives me.

South America Blog Posts

Week 21 – Iñapari to Boca Manu

In last week’s blog post I had just been dropped off at the border between Brazil and Peru after the border was already closed. I ended up in a cheap hotel for a night before I could officially cross the border the next day.

Iñapari to Puerto Maldonado

I crossed the border and headed south to a city called Puerto Maldonado. I stayed with a couchsurfing host there who runs a tour company. He let me sleep in the office, which was actually quite nice. It even had a toilet and shower. He also let me join a couple of tours for free. So I went out fishing for Piranha and also took a boat ride looking for Caiman in the evening. I had already seen a lot of Caiman in Bolivia, on the road to Santa Rosa. But here in Puerto Maldonado they are more rare and are a different species. We only saw 2 on the trip. One adult and one baby. My host caught the baby and brought it onto the boat for us to get a closer look. Puerto Maldonado is a popular city for tourists to visit as they can take tours into the national parks. These trips are a bit expensive for me, but I’ll probably see most of the same things as them while I’m travelling anyway.

Puerto Maldonado to Boca Colorado

From Puerto Maldonando I continued south to a small town called Santa Rosa. From there I was turning off the main road to do another part of my route that I have really been looking forward to. That’s a boat ride from Boca Colorado to Boca Manu. The road from Santa rosa to Boca Colorado is a gravel track with a river to cross by ferry. It wasn’t a very long journey for the day and I arrived in the late afternoon. The next step was finding a boat to Boca Manu. There aren’t any regular boats running on this route. So I had to find someone who was going there and just ask to go with them. This is a pretty common way of travelling for the locals. I was told there would be a boat at 4am the next morning. So I asked if I could just sleep on the sofa in the express boat office. It wasn’t a great nights sleep, but it was free at least.

Taking the boat up river

It turned out there wasn’t a boat at 4am. But I was already awake, so I had a good chance to find another boat. I asked around and found someone. It was 50 soles to go up the river. This was actually a pretty good price because the trip took 9 hours. The journey was awesome. Taking the boat up river through the Peruvian Amazon. I couldn’t believe where I was. The best part was there were no other passengers, so I felt like I was getting a private tour of the forest from the river. It’s the first time I have ever taken my bike on a boat like this. The concept seemed so adventurous and extreme. But when I actually got to the time to do it, I was so scared of dropping my bike into the river while loading and unloading. Then, when we were on our way, I just relaxed and took in the views.

This was one of the best weeks of my journey so far. Definitely a week of memorable experiences. But next week had some firsts too. Some good and some bad. But I’ll tell you about that next week.

South America Blog Posts

Week 20 – Bolivia to Peru via Brazil

After being ill for most of the previous week, I was glad to get a rest day in the small town of Puerto Rico. But It was time to head off and get closer to the border. As I left town, the road surface suddenly stopped and I was riding on a compacted dirt road again. It was pretty rough going, but at least it was a dry firm surface. This wouldn’t last for long though

A hard day’s ride

This area of Bolivia is so strange. You can be riding on terrible dirt roads in the middle of nowhere and then suddenly there’s a really great road surface. You follow it for a kilometer or so and then there will be a beautiful ranch, which is obviously owned by someone rich and powerful. Then around a kilometer past their ranch, the road stops again and you are back on the dirt. I’d been making good progress when I got to an area that had been hit by rain the night before. The ground looked ok, but when I rode on it or stood on it, it stuck to my wheels or boots. It was like it was mixed with glue or something. The back wheel jammed up and I tried to push the bike, but I couldn’t even do that properly. I had to keep stopping to clear the mud from the wheels until I got out of that patch. The rest of the route was covered in these muddy areas and deep puddles. The worst thing about these muddy puddles is that you can’t see how deep they are. You think they are just a shallow puddle, but when you are in it, it can drop deep. It was a really hard day.

Rest stop turns to a camp spot

I was planning to get to a village called Villa Amazonica. But it was getting late and I couldn’t be bothered going much further. So I stopped at a shop to get a snack before I thought about heading further. The owner of the shop was really nice. He gave me a free bottle of coca cola and a bag of bread rolls. I asked if I could camp outside his shop and he said it wouldn’t be a problem. He even let me go around the back and take a shower. It was really nice to get freshened up after such a hard day. Maybe I looked rough and that’s why he was so kind. The next morning I saw how dirty the bike was. It was completely jammed up with mud, I poked as much of the mud out of the frame as I could. Then poured buckets of water over the bike to help clean it before I hit the road again. But when I started riding, the bike was making a horrible noise. Scraping and squealing as I was riding along. Luckily I found some discarded bottles of oil on the side of the road, so I was able to lube up the pedals and chain.

An amazing camp spot

The road wasn’t quite as bad as the day before. There were some sections of the road that had been surfaced. I actually found out that this road had been under construction, just like the long road north in week 18. The only difference is that this road was started twelve years ago and was an abandoned project. The government had run out of money and just left it. The worst part is that the local people have been told that there isn’t any chance of more budget for at least another 6 years. It was midafternoon and I was getting a bit peckish when I saw a small shed with a sign advertising food and drinks. I pulled in and they offered to make a special cheap meal for me that wasn’t on the menu. After I had finished, they asked if I’d like to take a shower. Of course I took them up on the offer. But I was shocked to see where it was. Around the back of this shed there was a swimming pool with tables and chairs as well as a terrace. I couldn’t believe it. I asked if they would let me stay the night and they agreed. It wasn’t as far as I wanted to get that day. But it was still half way to Cobija, so it worked out perfectly.

A strange border crossing

The next day I headed to Cobija and spent a night there before I crossed the border. This border was one of the strangest borders I have experienced. Firstly the Bolivian side is just an office that you could easily drive past if you missed it. Then the Brazilian customs is done in the police office. So you have to ride all the way into town to find the office in order to get stamped into the country. Its not at all what I am used to. But the border with Peru in Iñapari isn’t much different. I was only planning on spending a couple of days in Brazil. Just getting to Peru. But in the end I actually only spent a little over a day. This was lucky, because neither of my cards were accepted in the ATM, so I didn’t have any cash for the journey.

Friendly, helpful Brazilians

The first Brazilians I met pulled over in front of me when I was cycling and started talking to me. I was really suspicious of them. They asked me to come to their community place which was further down the road. I said ok, but I wasn’t sure that I would actually go. I just couldn’t believe that someone would pull over a complete stranger like that, just to help them. But when I got to their place they waved me in. They welcomed me with iced water and brought me a plate of food. I really couldn’t believe it. They were so nice. After I left their place I was thinking about it and I felt so guilty for not trusting them. But then I would think that it is probably best not to blindly trust strangers. I’m really not sure where to find the balance. The next people I met were at a restaurant. I had stopped there to eat and drink. They had a card machine, so luckily, I could buy things. But when I was there, a couple of guys in a truck also stopped for snacks. They said hello and asked where I was headed. Then they said they would drive me close to the border. About 20 km from the border. So I took them up on the offer and we headed out. The actually drove me all the way to the border and dropped me right at the Brazilian border. I didn’t know where I could sleep or where to go. But they drove off into the night and I had to deal with it.

A night in the border town

This border is another strange one. After you pass through immigration, there is a town before the border. Then on the other side of the border is another town, then the immigration is at the other side of that. So there are basically two towns between the immigration offices. I ended up spending a night in the Brazilian town called Assis Brazil. The hotel wasn’t great, but I negotiated it down to half price. I could deal with the border crossing the next morning and cross over into Peru to start a new chapter of my journey through South America.