Peru Mountain Biking Guide
Mountain Biking is a relatively new sport in Peru, but new routes are rapidly being opened up, many of which offer excellent opportunities. Although thousands of miles of trails and dirt tracks exist, Peru suffers from lack of good maps to show you where to go. There are some good adventure companies in Cusco and Huaraz renting good equipment and offering organized tours with qualified guides. If you are coming to Peru just for the biking then it is good idea to bring your bike from home. You'll need to buy a bike box and bring plenty of inner tubes and brake blocks. Check with your airline first in case there is an extra charge. If your plan to hire a bike then, as a basic rule, you are likely to get what you pay for. Although cheap imitation bikes are available from US$10-15 per day they are not likely to be up to the rigors of off-roading. A quality bike with front shocks costs in the region of US$20-25 per day. Make sure that you have gloves and a helmet. a basic first aid kit, pump and a puncture repair kit.
Huaraz (El Callejon de Huaylas)
El Callejon de Huaylas is the name given to the valley that runs between the mountain ranges of the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra. The valley offers stunning snow-capped scenery and is located 8 hours by bus to the north of Lima.
This part of Peru should be the number one destination for serious mountain bikers. Peru's most professional and experienced mountain bike tour operators can be found here, either in the popular city of Huaraz or in the pleasant little town of Caraz. Julio Olaza of Mountain Bike Adventures (Huaraz) or Alberto Cafferata of Pony Expeditions (Caraz) are two of Peru's most knowledgeable experts and are an excellent source of local information, equipment rental and offer some good biking itineraries.
Cusco has the potential to offer some top class biking trips but, generally, facilities are underdeveloped and the quality of rental bikes is just about adequate. It won't take long until the situation improves, but until then serious bikers are better off bringing their own bikes.
There are several tour companies and equipment rental shops along Calle Plateros which rent out bikes from $10- 20 per day. All should come complete with helmet, pump, basic tool kit and puncture repair kit.
Excellent day trips include Chinchero to Ollantaytambo and from the Inca ruins of Tambomachay to Calca. Both routes are long downhill sections followed by flat sections along the Sacred Valley and are on paved roads. The start and finish points are easily accessed by local bus to or from Cusco. Just throw your bike on the bus roof and hope for the best! There are some off-road alternatives to the above routes but you must bear in mind that most trails in and around Cusco are frequently used by farmers and villagers; encounters with a large group of cyclists hurtling along can prove a little unsettling to the locals so please be careful.
Most companies that rent out bikes can provide basic maps and route descriptions, as well as guides and private transportation.
For the more adventurous, longer biking trips can be arranged. These are best undertaken with the support of an experienced tour operator who can provide professional guides and equipment as well as the necessary support vehicles. A popular route is from Tres Cruces to La Union on the road from Cusco to Manu (Amazon jungle). Some of the Manu specialists can arrange this beautiful, breathtaking trip.
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