I left Tarapoto – the jungle – without my French friends Ludo & Emilie, they took a bus to Jaen.
Leaving this town I decided to try to get to the next bigger town, Moyobamba. My map didn’t indicate at all that the 120km to Moyabamba wouldn’t be flat but included a climb of about 20km. I had some spectacular views on the jungle at the top of the several hills I climbed. Getting into Moyambamba I really didn’t have much reserves. A big bowl of fruit salat with ice cream helped to recover.
The next day I took it easy, my map not showing any villages. In fact there were villages all 5km and after 80km I decided to stay in the little village of Agua Claras. After I saw the room in the only hospedaje I decided to try my luck at the school. At the gate of the primary and secondary school I was warmly welcomed by a bunch of kids and the teachers. “No problema” was the answer when I asked if I can spend the night in the school. I really loved chatting with the teachers, answering all questions from the kids and watch the volleyball team at their training. School was out at 6pm, usually everyone would leave right away, but that day there was big attraction the “gringo” cooking his dinner with his camping stove. Surrounded by at least 20 kids I prepared my pasta. All evening I had few people around me, the last one leaving when I went into my sleeping-bag at 9pm.
I had an early start as the first people where in the school at 6.30am. That helped a lot because this day I climbed at the 1st pass for more than 35km and had even time to attack the second pass of more than 15km. Tired but happy about the great climbs I got into a village called “Florida”. All hospedajes were full (all roadworkers from the as I felt thousands of road works stayed in this village). As I’m now a professional in finding alternative accommodations I went to the school, where the director told my that the church at the plaza has an accommodation. Indeed the pastor was happy to let me sleep in a house a few blocks away from the church. Church – this is new in my collection of special places I slept on my trip.
From Florida a long downhill took me to the take-off to Chachapoyas. On the way I passed as the days before several road works, at one I made friends with some roadworkers and their supervisor, so that I didn’t have to wait an hour for the road to be opened, but got a personal guidance by the supervisor through the road works (everyone stopped working and had to shake a lot of hands).
I decided to take it easy and went with a tour to see the ruins of Kuelap.
Kuelap are pre-Inca ruins on the top of a 3000m mountain. There is barely no tourism in this part of Peru and in my opinion Kuelap can definitely comped with Machu Pichu. With our good guide we walked a few hours in the impressive ruins and had spectacular views on the mountains around, mostly covered into clouds.
The area of Chachhapoyas has a second sight, it’s the world’s third highest waterfalls – “Caterata de Gocta”. After having a huge breakfast and chatting some time with my family I headed towards the waterfalls. It was still more than 40km to go with a few steep kilometers to the nearest town of the waterfall – Cocachimba – where I arrived at around 3pm. Usually it would be to late to for the 5km hike to the waterfalls, but I convinced the lady at the entrance that I can hike the 10kms until 6pm and wouldn’t need a guide (which is normally compulsory). With a little time pressure I ran to the waterfall in less than an hours, enjoyed the spectacular view from the bottom of the waterfall. On the way the way back I met a local farmer – Bernado and his wife – and hiked back to village with them. Every young man in the village works as guide (I had there respect, because the saw me hiking to the waterfall in less than an hour) and there was football game going on at the plaza. There were also three argentine cyclists (Gunther, Facu and Jose) and Julio from Brasil. Together with the locals we played football until the night, everyone took it quite serious as the stake was 1Sol. Together with the other cyclists I slept comfortable in the communal house.
Mainly downhill I headed towards Jaen. Cycling in this part of Peru can be very pleasant, especially due to the cheap and great fruits and juices. On a usual day I would drink a fresh orange juice in the morning, before lunch buy an entire pineapple and finish the day with a mixed juice.
From the village I slept this night it was a short ride of 45km into Jaen. I heard about the Casa de ciclista of Miguel in his bike shop. As soon as I arrived in front of the bike shop I was warmly welcomed by Miguel and the entire family. The bike shop is a real family business with the brothers Juan and Miguel and their parents working and living in the bike shop. The backyard – their living room and at the same time workshop of the bike store is full of bikes. I enjoyed the afternoon in the casa de ciclista and tried to help a little bit fixing bikes. Miguel helped my to fix my bike the next morning, after 8.500km under the worst conditions there had been only few little repairs to be made. Thank you family Obando for the great time in Jaen – very good memories!
After lunch with the family I left Jaen, Miguel told me I should see his friend Milton in the town 60km north of Jaen.
So I did and arrived in the evening at the “casa de Milton”. Milton, his wife Daisey and their funny two boys live a bit outside of town, they have a farm with bananas and cacao. Milton as ancient mountainbike champion loves to host cyclists. Once again I was overwhelmed by the great hospitality, with his kids we had a great dinner, went into the village to meet his friends and in the end they gave me a bed in the only bedroom of the house. Next morning started with a tour in banana and cacao field of Milton, how great was that! Thank you Milton & family for everything!
My goal was to get to the border Peru-Ecuador, but the road got unpaved and very hilly. After 85km, almost 7 hours of cycling and many stunning views from the several hills I climbed, I stopped in the very tiny village of Linderos. Of course there was no hospedaje – which was good because I ran out of Soles (currency in Peru) and so the major offered me to sleep in the little communal shelter and to use the shower in his backyard. Within 15 minutes all 20 kids from the village were there and watched me cooking my pasta.
What great last night in Peru – downhill I went to the border, over the bridge and into my final country: Ecuador!