Photo Gallery: Cycling The Peru Great Divide

With the diverse landscapes, wild views, amazing camping and lack of cars, I’m convinced the Peru Great Divide is the best touring route in the world. I pushed my bike for just 500 metres in total, so it’s also very rideable.

Here’s All The Route Info You Need:
Peru Divide Part 1
Peru Divide Part 2
Peru Divide Part 3
Peru Divide Part 4
Peru Divide Part 5

MY BIKE: Koga WorldTraveller-S
MY 25KG GEAR LIST: Here
MY ROUTE: Here

Cycling The Peru Great Divide Touring Route

Hiking down an old Inca staircase in the middle of nowhere! The stonework from the Inca time (15-16th century) is simply outstanding and will undoubtedly outlast anything we construct today.

Since the beginning of my trip nine months ago, I’ve been riding just ONE set of tyres. I’ve clocked over 15,000km on my Schwalbe Almotions and reckon the front is still good for another 5,000 at least. I wish I could have ridden them till their death, but with my parents visiting from Aus it was too good an opportunity to pass up some fresh tread! A big thanks to BikeBox for the replacements which should now get me to somewhere in North America!

This photo was taken near Macusani, Peru after a big dumping of snow. It’s one of the most memorable days I’ve had on the bike because the vistas were so incredibly majestic!

So I turned 30 the other day. While this early milestone hits some with the realisation that they aren’t quite where they planned to be, I’ve managed to pull off a particularly calculated life, on my own terms. It’s not always easy to balance your (selfish) needs and desires with your ethics and morals. But by continually questioning everything, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of that. So yeah, don’t expect me to have some kind of crisis, sell everything I own and do that thing I’ve always dreamed about. Because I’ve already done that. Twice! Here’s to the next 30 years, you beautiful humans – I’m super pumped for what the future holds. Big love from Peru!

Perched at 4500m/14700ft in this gorgeous valley, I’m not sure if I’ve had a more tranquil nights sleep. My location was completely exposed to whatever the weather wanted to throw at me, but on this particular night it couldn’t have been stiller – my tent fly didn’t even rustle once. As I closed my eyes I tried my best to listen for a noise, any noise, but it seemed that all the animals were tucked up in bed too. I awoke to a great brightness a few hours later as the moon rose over the mountains. For a while there I could clearly make out every item in the tent (it’s quite surreal), but soon the clouds swooped in to turn the lights off again. My next waking moment was to the inoffensive chirping sounds of tiny birds playing around in the grass next to my tent. What a lovely reminder that I have more mountains to conquer today!

“Your Facebook photos and stories are great, but how are you, really?” This is one of the first questions I get when I’m chatting with my close friends from home. And it’s fair enough too because social media allows us to choose the story we want to tell the audience. Let’s face it, we mostly share the moments of our lives that (perhaps unintentionally) are great. We then collate all these great moments into an app and benchmark ourselves against a (possibly) warped perception of reality. For all you know, I could just be a master storyteller, weaving the misleading adventures of my life and my happiness. Don’t believe everything you see and read! Right, with that preamble out of the way, here’s how I really am. You’re gonna have to trust me here. I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m motivated, I’m excited and I’m alone, but not lonely. I sometimes wish I could ride or cook or debate the future of humanity with someone else. I don’t really have bad days or feel sad or get frustrated. There are times when it’s pretty tough, but I’ve always controlled what I can, accepted my situation and moved on. I am in total awe of the universe and all of its marvels and how insignificant I really am. I know I can’t be this lone, nomadic wolf forever. After all, we humans have evolved to be social animals who need to feel loved, valued and part of a physical community. But for now, it’s such a luxury to explore the world, in my own time, on my bicycle.

Hailstorm in 3…2…1 💦 I’ve been getting caught up in storms every afternoon! This is a sure sign of the changing seasons from the dry winter to the wet summer. Luckily, it’s still much drier than not.

One of the coolest things about spending so much time in nature is that you develop the ability to predict changes in weather. Your senses fine-tune to slight changes in humidity, unusual breezes and the shape, colour and movement of the clouds. You notice patterns in animal behaviour too, often hours before you get a whiff of the changing weather yourself; birds disappear from the landscape and ants work hard to build taller mounds when adverse conditions are on their way!

Someone recently left a comment that annoyed me. They questioned why I go to all the effort to photograph and film myself on this trip yet provide “zero practical information” like the location of water, shops, good campsites etc. My answer is simple: go on your own bloody adventure! My job is to provide you with a taste of what it’s like to see the world by bike. I even provide the GPS tracks for my entire journey if you really want to trace my tyre treads. Trip research is an important skill to have in your arsenal because conditions are always changing. You’ve gotta stare at maps, ask locals questions and make tonnes of educated guesses. When you make mistakes along the way, great, you’re learning – plus you’re now on an adventure of your own making! That’s infinitely more rewarding than getting me to plan your every metre.

I called this lake ‘Two-Tone’ for obvious reasons, but its real name is Lake Quinine. Why? When you ground-up the bark of the nearby cinchona trees, you get a chemical compound called Quinine. For hundreds of years, the mountain people have been mixing Quinine with sweetened water to make a muscle relaxant drink that stops shivering in sub-zero temperatures. The tonic water you drink at home also gets its flavour from cinchona bark, albeit at a MUCH lower dose!

The Peru Divide is (possibly) the best touring route in the world. Seriously! It follows a section of the Andes Mountains where water falling just a centimetre to the left or right could have its fate in the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. The route is the most geographically diverse place I’ve ever travelled. In just a few kilometres you’ll see snowy, jagged peaks, insane formed rocks, colourful mineral deposits, grassy hills and piles of volcanic rubble. There are lakes and forests and hot springs to explore. You’ll meet vicuñas, viscachas, altiplano mice, hummingbirds and if you’re lucky, you’ll see the largest flying bird in the world: the Andean Condor. A lone car or two per day will stop to check you’re ok, but with views as good as these, of course, you are!

When you’re a child, everything is new and shiny and different. You have no preconceived ideas about the world. Every day you get to go on a journey full of adventure, curiosity and intrigue. As you grow older you become a creature of habit; you can still live a happy and dynamic life but everything eventually becomes familiar and/or predictable. The closest I’ve ever felt to my eight-year-old self is when I’m exploring the world by bike. Everything is new again; my life is full of wonder and ever-expanding curiosity. Every day I’m bursting to tell the world about all the cool things I get to see and learn about. This feeling is both my biggest addiction and also my greatest motivator. I wouldn’t be out here taking risks, feeling uncomfortable and exploring the unknown without it. It’s inevitable that familiarity will one-day try to take this feeling away from me, but I’m hoping the creativeness with how I approach life will always get it back.

This can’t be real life. Can it? So I pushed my touring bike on some hiking trails through the Cordillera Huayhuash to get up close and personal with the mountains. But over three days, I had just ONE hour of sunshine and mountain views… total. The other times I was getting hailed/snowed on while sliding around in the mud. It was pretty rough, but worth it for this incredible photo, right!!? Right!?!

Does it surprise you that I’d rather ride up a massive mountain, rather than down? Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE descending! But there’s something special about finding your rhythm, getting into the zone and observing the wild vistas around you.

Rocks on rocks on rocks. It’s incredible that roads in Peru are constructed through terrain as harsh as this!

After spending all of the winter above 3500m, my poor legs have lost their colour! I’m pretty excited about soon feeling the sun’s rays on my skin as I approach the tropical climates of Ecuador and Colombia.

As someone who spends 99% of my time exploring and appreciating the natural world, climate change is a particularly important issue for me. The world’s climate experts recently warned that we have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe. If you like the world as it is, it’s time to look to the scientific data and make some hard decisions about how you live your life.
Here are the things you can do which have the greatest impact:
1. Many tonnes CO2 saved per year – Vote and engage. Politicians have the ability to enact policies which curb huge quantities of emissions. It may go against your socioeconomic or fundamental political ideologies, but voting for a party that offers strong environmental protection is the most important thing you can do. If you have the time, join and donate to environmental organisations that put additional pressure on political leaders too.
2. 58 tonnes CO2 saved per year – Procreation is natural, so don’t take this the wrong way if you’re a parent. But the numbers don’t lie. Choosing NOT to have a child is, by a factor of 50x, a decision that can have the greatest positive impact on the environment going forward. Plus, there are 153 million orphan children already on the planet who need homes.
3. 2+ tonnes CO2 saved per year – Right now, avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your personal environmental impact on the planet. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife, as well as the biggest air and water polluter. Like steak and cheese? Try to consume these foods on special occasions only.
4. 1+ tonnes CO2 saved per year – Reduce your motorised transport use. 17 hours in a plane, or 3000km in a car (by yourself) results in about 1 tonne of CO2 emissions.
5. <1 tonne CO2 saved per year – Buy fewer things, buy them to last & reuse them. There is an insane amount of embodied energy in everything we own, especially large objects like cars and houses. Buy second hand where you can, and try to spend a bit extra for objects that will likely last decades.

I’m nearing the equator and it’s just 1.5 months from summer, so I kinda wasn’t expecting blisteringly cold conditions and a decent whack of snowfall. But I guess at 5000m/16400ft this will happen whenever it bloody-well likes.

My Peru Divide film is FINISHED! I’ve collaborated with a professional film colourist for this episode! The raw footage looks incredible, I can’t even imagine how INSANE this is going to turn out.

I’ve been super lucky with river crossings in South America. For some reason, the water always seems more aggressive on the days I don’t need to cross. It’s like the rivers know to stem their flow for my passing!

I get quite a few requests to ride with me, which I love! I’m totally happy to do that with any of you.
But there are a few things to note:
– Firstly, my timeline is very rough, so you’ll probably have to come and find me.
– Secondly, given I don’t know you personally, I can’t commit to much more than half a week. I’m open to travelling longer, but we’d need to see how well we travel together first.
– And lastly, I’m super fit! You’ll need to have decent fitness (8 hours of riding per day is typical) and enjoy the hills because my routes are often 2000m/6500ft or more per day.

Pushing a touring bike on muddy hiking trails in the driving rain and snow… is exactly as rough as it sounds!!

My Peru Divide film is up on YouTube and I think you’re going to love it. 🎞 With the diverse landscapes, wild views, amazing camping and lack of cars, I’m convinced this is the best touring route in the world. I pushed my bike for just 500 metres in total, so it’s also very rideable.

Camping is the answer. Who cares what the question is.

Within your own experiences, you give everything meaning. Some things you’re taught and accept to be meaningful, but ultimately, you can make anything as meaningful or meaningless as you want. It’s totally up to you. Take the sun. This is a giant fireball in the sky that sends heat to the Earth that is converted into the food that powers you along on your long bike rides. You could just not pay attention to what’s going on here, and the sun will be meaningless to you. But here you are, eating sun-grown avocado on toast, which is repairing your muscles from yesterdays ride, and yet you’re wondering about whether to upgrade your tent to something 500 grams lighter…? Look, I don’t think like this all the time, but it’s something that I remind myself of pretty regularly. This pattern of thinking helps me to constantly find more meaning in more things as I cycle about the world. It also gives me all the meaning I’ll ever need to understand my existence on Earth. That’s pretty cool, don’t you think?

One of the things that makes Peru unique is the mineral deposits that cover the mountainsides. You’re never far from large swathes of red, green, blue, purple or yellow colouring your field of vision – or if you’re lucky, it’s all colours at once!

Alee is a bike and travel addict who has cycled through 80+ countries and doesn't really have any plans of stopping. Along the way, he creates technical resources, in-depth reviews, inspirational videos, how-to guides and more. If you've learned something from him, you can support his mission to create the best bike travel content HERE.

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