Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Bike Ride Down the Andes Mountains on the Inca Jungle Trek

The Inca Jungle Trek, opening salvo: 12 adventurers are driven to the top of an Andean mountain before exiting a van at an elevation approaching 15,000 feet. We're beset on all sides by fog and clouds, limiting our visibility, the temperature hovers near zero.
All geared up and ready to bike
We put on protective gear- helmets, elbow and knee pads, gloves, a bright orange vest to warn any cars speeding around the curves of our presence, and a flak jacket for stray bullets- you can never be too careful.
We push off down the road, picking up speed as we gain confidence in our ability to traverse the "slippery slope." A frigid wind howls in our ears, my body chatters and tenses in the cold.

a view of the valley Far below- cloudy view
We arrive at a lookout over a valley far below, the view majestic and stunning. So much greenery, so tranquil and quiet at these elevations. 

Continuing down the mountain the vistas gain in clarity as the shroud of water vapor surrounding us begins to dissipate. 
A car traveling uphill speeds around the curve, whizzing by a few feet away, spraying me with the layer of water which permanently covers the pavement. Numerous mountain streams and small rivers roll down the hill and over the road, failing to obey a single traffic law, then continue down into the valley. We get soaked biking through them- freezing but fun. 

the valley below- closer and more clear

I pass a roadside grave, of which there are many in Peru, often in the most far flung locations. Perhaps they were hit by one of the stray bullets? I adjust my bike helmet and flak jacket.

roadside grave

one of many large stream flowing down the mountain and over the road

Further down the hill the temperature warms, birds fly about chirping, and butterflies line the roads deriving some sort of sustenance from them. We cross a bridge over a rushing river, and come to the end of our journey near the small town of Santa Marta. We've descended 2,000 plus meters down the Andes- the feeling is exhilarating. 
butterflies near a stream

video: highlights of the ride down the mountain

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