Monday, 28 July 2008

Cycling from Lethem to Georgetown, Guyana - In wet season!

Guyana is a small country in located on the carribean coast on northern south america. Nearly all of its small population live on the coast, and mean that exploring the highly undeveloped interior can be a dificult task unless you go in a tour or have a MOUTAINBIKE!!! Lethem is on the border with brazil, and the road is 450km of dirt, then a final 100km of pavement linking the town of Linden to georgetown.
Here is the machine that carried me and my gear - shown in its element.
My trip started off like this. A red dirt road winding through a beutiful green sabana lined with hills in the distance.Day 2 took me to an area that was completely flooded by water. The wildlife was amazing and i had crocodiles darting of the side of the road as I cycled past. The dead one above was the only one I managed to get a photo of.
Being the wet season the grassland wasnt the only thing in flood. At times the water was up past my knees and I couldnt pedal. I didnt have to swim though. That was good. There aint much privacy out in the savana when you need to relieve yourself. Fortunately there is also hardly any traffic on the road. During 150km of savana I was passed by less than 10 vehicles.The road then goes through the jungle. Here is me showing one of the best things about Guyana - cheap and readily available peanut butter!!

The road through the jungle is incredible. 300km of narrow, muddy, rough road that passes only two small villages and a very small handful of other establishments

Here is me sharing my beer with a new friend. This was one of my stops in the jungle just after crossing the essequibo river by boat. This place was like heaven for me as it had everything i needed to stock up for the rest of my trip.
This was typical acomadation for me. hammock strung up under a roof.

I almost ran straight over this little guy. His tactic must have been to not move so I wouldnt see him. Doesnt work quite as well on the road as it would in the bush. Here is another guy who was hanging out on the road. He wasnt looking very alive, so poked him with a stick and he hissed at me and gave me this great photo pose. Wouldnt move off the road no matter what I did. I was concerned the that the next truck would just run him right over.
I pimped up my ride. There were heaps of tropical birds around, especially in the mornings, but you hardly ever see them good enough to take decent photos, especially with my little camera. These above are the more wild version of my friend in the photo higher up.
The "pac-man". Yes he was alive and yes i had great trouble removing him from my hand cause as you can imagine, a bug that size can cling on pretty good.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Cycling La Gran Sabana in Venezuela

The "Great Savannah" is located in the south eastern corner of Venezuela and extends slightly into Brazil and Guyana. It is a rocky plateau of grassland characterized by tabletop mountains called tepuis.

Possibly a perfect elevation to ride at here in the tropics as its not so hot. I did suffer a bit of cold in my hammock at night though. Click on the map if you want a larger view. Its a tourist map of the route showing the tepuis in orange. Not all of the "services" shown on the map were actually there or open.
Long straight roads with uphills that look a few hundred meters long, and are actually a couple of kilometers. My camera has a 10 second timer, and you cant adjust it. Therefore its a mad rush to get a shot like this.
They have a type of sandfly in the savannah that makes life alot less comfortable. Its much smaller than the NZ sandfly, but has a similar nature exept that its bites leave behind little blood blisters.There are many waterfalls to see. This was one of the most popular ones, and right beside the road which was good for me. I slept the night in a little hut nearby. The tepuis are seen very clearly in the background.
Tepui means "house of the gods", and they are the oldest exposed rock formations on the planet. They are known for their unique flora y fauna because they are like forest "islands" because their sheer cliffs rise abruptly 1000m from the surroundings.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Cycling in Colombia

I Cycled 870km from Bogota (the capital) to San Cristobal in Venezuela.
The first impression that I had from Colombia is the amount of people out riding bicycles. Cycling is very popular, and this made me feel comfortable riding around.
Map of my route through Colombia shown in blue pen. When travelling by bike you get to see all the little towns in the middle of nowhere, which otherwise on a bus you would just wizz straight past. This tiny and run-down place had an impressively big and modern church. It was in little villages like this that the people are the friendliest.
Lots of the colombian andes is like this. Green rolling hills.And this...there is always plenty of contrast.
Then there are the hills. Lots of hills.And "dangerous corners"...
This was one of my most enjoyable rides - an almost 30km downhill into this canyon, then up the other side. It was baking.
Bucaramanga, Columbias second biggest city. I took this photo partway up the massive 50km uphill.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Equador to Peru by the Napo River

The amazon (shown above) is the largest river basin in the world and contains about one fifth of the worlds fresh water. It also has the most abundant wilderness on the planet, having the highest diversity of birds and primates, one third of all fresh water fish species, 60000 species of plants half of which are endemic to the region. Unfortunately nearly 20% has been lost to industry development and logging and thousands of square kilometres are still being lost every year.
My journey started in the amazonian region of Equador from the town of Coca, located 9hrs in bus east of Quito on the Rio Napo. The Map above shows my journey down the rio napo flowing from Equador to Peru and joining up with the amazon river near the City of Iquitos. The normal route to Iquitos/Amazon river is via Yurimaguas in Peru. Travelling via the Rio Napo meant we got to see a region that sees relatively few tourists.
The boat to Rocafuerte on the Equador-Peru border is a slow moving passanger boat taking 12hrs.
From the peruvian border town of Pantoja there are only a few boats every month. One of these boats had just left the previous day meaning a long wait of unknown time until the next one. Luckily there were 5 other travellers attempting to travel the same route and we could afford to hire ourselves a motor-powered canoe to take us 2 days down river to a place where boats come more regualarly. Above is the team. Below is me showing what boat travel in the amazon is all about!
This is the typical dwelling here along the river. These houses sometimes are in communities or villages, but often just randomly scattered along the riverside every kilometre or so. A "house" is often just a roof and floor with varying amount of walls. We stayed 2 nights in the houses of families, and visited several friends/family our driver en route. The kids do nothing but stare at us and are too shy to talk to us. Perhaps some of them had never met foreigners before?

Our canoe trip ended after 2.5 days at the village of Santa Cotilde, a small part of the town is shown above. The next day the fast boat arrived and we were sped to Iquitos and covered roughly the same distance in 4 hours that we had covered in the previous 3 days!
Iquitos is the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road, and is the largest city in the amazon with about 400,000 inhabitants. It located at only 106m above sea level even though it is more than 3,000km from the mouth of the Amazon at Belem in Brazil, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated 125km downstream of the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañón rivers, the two main headwaters of the Amazon River.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Climb of Nevado Pisco (5752m), Cordillera Blanca, Peru

My dad and I climbed Mt Pisco in 4 days. We were taken right up to 3900m my minivan where we went for a walk and camped the night. Day 2 we woke up early and hauled our stuff to base camp. Day 3 we walked to high camp and camped at 4900m. Day 4 we left at 1.40am under a full moon, and after 7 hours we were on the summit. We walked back to the road that same day and took another minivan back to civilization.Our tents at basecamp (4660m) with Pisco in the background.

Pisco. We climbed the ridge from the left side.

Nevado Huandoy (6395m) in sunrise.

My dad ascending the ridge around 6am.

Our tracks coming down the highly glaciated summit cap.

My dad looking out over the highest mountain in peru (the rounded one at the back) - Nevado Huascarán - southern peak the rounded one at the back (6768m) and northern peak on the right in front (6655m).

My dad on the summit. Chacraraju (6112m) is directly behind and Pirámide (5885m) to the left.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Tourist Atractions in Peru

Cruising around in Peru there are some things you just have to see... Machu Pichu is one of the most impressive acheological sites in the world.

You go there to soak up the atmosphere and the surroundings I say, not just to look at a bunch of old stones - go climb MOUNT Machu Pichu!!

The floating islands of Lake Titikaca (3800m). They are made of roots and reeds that need to be constantly replaced.

They travel around and between islands on these cool reed boats that take like 3 months to build and then last for about a year before they disintegrate.

The Colca Canyon. Aparently the second deepest canyon in the world at just over 3000m! But how do you measure it? Obviously from the top of the highest mountain to the bottom. We did a walk down to the bottom of the canyon from a town and only had to drop down 1200m. Still it is an amazing place and the canyon is big enough.

The Nazca Lines. Got a good deal, did the 30min flight. These lines were made 100's of years ago before planes existed, and are one of the worlds great misteries as to why and how they were made - when there true form can only be seen and apreciated from the air (they are massive). The above foto is of a spider.