Etappe 7 (part3)

bicycle boat jeep/bus train plane

The third part of Etappe 7 is almost done, which also concludes my South American journey. More than 6000km of cycling  is enough for this continent, eventhough I did 1000km less than my original plan was.

As you can see from the map, the last stretch Cuzco-Lima will be done by bus and not bicycle. Reasons for this decision were as follows:

-I lost approx. one week by altitude problems between Salta and La Paz

– I have still 10 days to reach Lima, but I want to see Machu Pichu properly. 1000km in 10 days would mean too tough challenge.

– Honestly, I’m already fed up with the driving manners down here. No respect what so ever for cyclists. Gringo-shouts are also getting annoying as well as the dogs running after you and your panniers.

These reasons helped the choice, that I will enjoy Cuzco for last week and then take a direct bus to Lima (20hours). I will make up the lost 1000km in U.S. or Canada. Whereas in Thailand I was sad because of the last week’s cutting, here in South America I’m not regretting at all.

This third part of etappe 7 was definitely the hardest part of my whole journey. Being continiously above 3000m had it’s effects, and I was feeling most of the time weaker than normally. Luckily I could cycle most of the time with swiss biker Nedo, who helped me a lot to go onwards. Our collaboration ended in La Paz, but from there my health was already very good, and I had no problems to do the last 600km to Cuzco.

Here are reviews of Bolivia and Peru (for some reason the table doesn’t work in these computers in Cuzco):

BOLIVIA:

Roads: The infrastructure is improving in Bolivia rapidly. I decided to take the roads which were mostly paved and these stretches were in good, or some excellent condition. However, in some years from now these newly paved roads will be destroyed by the truck traffic I’m sure. Though the traffic is not even close to the one in Brazil or Argentina,  closer to La Paz it can get smoggy. There is no reason to worry about Bolivian roads, just be sure that you are climatized for the altitude.

Mentality: If you are not close to La Paz, you’ll be in outback. Meaning, that the closest gas station, accommodation or even village can be far away. There are lots of jeeps driving around Bolivia, some trucks and buses. None of them respect cyclist, because if they knew what is cycling all about, they would not honk at you and over take you with 1 centimeter distance. Customer service is not known word in Bolivia, and country’s poverty can be seen in the quality of all services. But as everywhere, people are generally nice towards you and if you need help, you’ll get it. Just speak some Spanish, please. The landscape is overwhelming, wind heavy and as said before, climate challenging. Watch out for the dogs!

Costs: Cheapest country so far I’ve been. Accommodation from 1e, lunch from 1,5e, internet can be 20 cents for an hour. If you want some comfort, you’ll pay 4-5e for a hostel, 2-3 for a meal and 50cents for “speedy” internet. Also, if you want the same comfort as back home (Europe), you’ll pay not much less than back home.

RANK: 2,5

PERU:

Roads: The roads I took were poor. Firstly I had to face the demonstration area with road blocks, then heavy traffic and finally poor pavement. Don’t know how is the rest of Peru, but the 600km I took was bad. Also, road signs are approx. every 100km. Vehicles are as unrespectful as elsewhere in South America, gas stations have no refreshments. In total, big dissapoitment.

Mentality: Gringo! Gringo, plata! Gringoooooo. Hahahahahaa. If I was the mother/father of these poeple, I would spank them very hard. I finally lost the appetite for cycling in South America in Peru. India was challenging for sure, but at least there people respected me (though not my privacy). Here I’m just a silly gringo riding on a bicycle. Mentally frustrating to get laughed at by uneducated prats. Dogs are not big, but can attack you without warning. I also heard stories (mostly northern Peru) about hi jackings, thefts, gun pointings etc. I experienced 80km of road blockage, where people said that I will be robbed if I go through there. On contrary, the demonstrators turned out to be very friendly towards me… which means not all Peruvians are bad. And yes, landscapes can be also simply gorgeous.

Costs: Much cheaper than I expected. You can get bed for 3-4 euros, but lunch can be as cheap as 0,70 cents!!! But again, quality and comfort does not come with these prices. Snickers, pringles tube are more expensive than in Europe.

RANK: 1,5

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