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Lake Titicaca + Southern Peru

I left La Paz and headed up to the suburb El Alto on the crazy highway, where drivers sometimes overtook others on the right side by using the shoulder! The same day, I reached Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. I had a nice time cycling along the peaceful shores, watching people harvesting the abundant reed and herding their animals. Something that never stops to amaze me is how almost all mountains and hills have got terraces for agriculture on them. This was particularly apparent around Lake Titicaca, but maybe it’s not so strange after all since the area has been inhabited since around 3000 B.C.!

La Paz with Illimani (6,438 m) in the background

Herding sheep

Lake Titicaca

Agricultural terraces at Lake Titicaca

I lost my appetite the last couple of weeks in Bolivia due to very little variety in the local countryside cuisine. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were very often the same: a soup and then rice with either meat or chicken. Sometimes with yucca (in the lowlands) or corn. And I didn’t have a great number of options from the small stores when I cooked myself either. I started to sleep badly and just didn’t have much energy in general. However, coming to Peru was such a pleasure!

When travelling like this, the big (and sometimes obsessive) focus on food becomes very tangible. The Peruvian food is the best I’ve encountered so far! I’ve been eating smoked salmon salad, Turkish kebab, ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime/lemon juice), Chinese food, olive squid, guinea pig (!), fresh yoghurt, carrot and cardamom cake with cream cheese, mmmm… After talking so much about food, I just realized that I don’t have any photos to share since I’ve been so busy eating it.

I cycled on the altiplano for some days before descending down to Peru’s second largest city Arequipa, where I revisited the spa El Paraiso where we used to hang out in 2006. Then I continued down towards the Pacific Ocean and I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the sea (and eat fish)! I camped on the beaches every night, falling asleep to the repetitive sound of breaking waves.

Cycling on the Pan-American Highway along the coast has been easy. I’ve had a slight tailwind and it’s much more flat than up in the mountains, so I’ve been averaging over 100 km’s per day. The landscape has been arid and desert-like, but the soil in the valleys is very fertile and I’ve seen all kinds of plantations: olive trees, cotton fields, oranges, mandarins, fruit bearing cacti, strawberry fields, carrots, pumpkins, sugarcane, corn, bananas, apples and avocados! It’s winter here at the moment, and the coast is constantly covered in low clouds or fog, so the photo opportunities have unfortunately been few.

One of the biggest tourist attractions in this part of Peru is the UNESCO World Heritage Site called The Nazca Lines. These are ancient geoglyphs believed to be created between 400 and 650 AD. The geoglyphs represent figures like spiders, monkeys, birds etc, or just simple lines. No one knows the purpose behind the figures, and several different theories exist. What mostly confuses the archeologists is how they managed to make the figures so exact (some can span nearly 270 m), when not being able to see them from above. You have to fly over the area to see it properly, but there was a viewpoint tower next to the road where you could see a couple of figures.

Nazca Lines

After Nazca, I came to Huacachina, which is a small oasis in the desert outside of Ica. This desert is full of huge sand dunes where you can do dune buggy rides and sand boarding. A beautiful place!

Sand dune silhouette

Sunset in Huacachina

Sand dunes in Huacachina

Dune buggy

I came to Lima after having covered over 1,000 km’s in 10 days since I left Arequipa. The traffic in Lima (which has about 9 million inhabitants) was absolutely crazy, but I made it alive and found a nice hostel! I stayed 5 nights and was very happy about seeing Jenny and her sister before they returned back home. Next up is the mountains at Huaraz, possibly one of the highlights of Peru!