Interoceanica Challenge

8d / 7n, 5-day road bike tour from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado + 2 days jungle adventures

The Tour

Tasting the Road takes you on a five-day road bike ride to discover the magnificent diversity of this country in a challenging tour from the city of Cusco through the Andean mountains all the way to the Peruvian Jungle in Puerto Maldonado. After our cycling adventure, we spend two full days in the jungle, explore the Madre de Dios River and the Tambopata National Reserve by kayak, boat and foot. On the eighth day, we drive back to Cusco in our private transportation.

Number of participants: 1 – 6 (please contact us if you want to book a bigger group)

Level of difficulty: intermediate (road bike) and higher

Day 1: Cusco – Tipon – Andahuaylillas

Duration: half cycling day, approx. 40 km (25 miles) on bike, mainly flat, one short steep climb

On our first day, we start early in the morning right after breakfast, pick you up from your hotel in Cusco, and leave the city center in our private transportation. On our way, we stop for a fresh fruit juice at one of the local markets to charge our batteries for the cycling day. Once we are out of the city, we get the bikes ready and go through our safety briefing, where you get tips from us for today’s ride.

The first part is mainly flat, the road passes by some typical colorful towns. Most of them have one main product as the base of their economy and make their commerce out of it. For example, the first of these places is Saylla, the town of the “chicharron” – pieces of pork fried in their own fat. All around the main avenue, we can see fried pork skin on display in glass cabinets. The restaurants in this area normally serve a piece of this fried skin together with some “canchita” (toasted corn) before you make your order of chicharron along with some beers. We also pass Oropesa, the town of bread, and Tipon, the town of “cuy” (Guinea Pig). From there, we are going on a short climb, which leads us to the archeological site of Tipon. After we learn some more about the Incas and understand their impressive knowledge and skills on building aqueducts and water systems, we ride back down into town and enjoy a typical Peruvian lunch. Then we get on our bikes again and complete our tour for today. We enjoy an amazing view on Lake Huacarpay and arrive in Andahuaylillas about half an hour later, where we visit the church San Pedro de Andahuaylillas, also known as the “Sistine Chapel of America” because of the delicate art work applied from European Baroque. This concludes our ride, we check into our hotel in Andahuaylillas, freshen up, enjoy a delicious dinner and go to sleep early in order to be ready for the next day.

Day 2: Andahuaylillas – Ocongate

Duration: full cycling day, approx. 70 km (43.5 miles) on bike, one 18 km (11.2 miles) heavy climb, then up and down

Continuing our ride after a good breakfast on the second day of our tour, we reach the town of Urcos, where we pass by a famous small lake known by the locals as the “enchanted Laguna of Urcos”. At the local market, we buy fresh coca leaves and some other products we are going to use to perform an ancient Andean ceremony, an offering to “Pachamama” (Mother Earth) on the two high mountain passes we cross within the next two days.

The following place we pass is the entrance to the Interoceanica near the village of Muñapata. From here, we start the first big climb of our tour (approx. 18 km / 11.2 miles) until the mountain pass Abra de Cuyuni at 4185 m / 13.730 ft a.s.l. with amazing views on the nearby snow mountains. At this point, we make an offering to the Apus (sacred Andean mountains) and to Pachamama for our trip. We say thanks for the opportunity we are given to enjoy this panoramic view and ask for protection for the rest of our ride. After the ceremony and taking unforgettable pictures, we start our descent to the town of Ccatcca, a beautiful small community in the middle of this valley, where the Apu Ausangate appears omnipresent, dominating the landscape like a big guardian. Lunch time! After passing through Ccatcca, we get some typical food at a local restaurant, extra water and take more pictures. The profile of our tour changes now: it starts off flat, later on turns into a sequence of ups and downs, some short but steep climbs, and in the end a long descent until the town of Ocongate. We finish our ride at a beautiful place named “Ausangate Lodge” due to its wonderful view on the snow mountain. Here we have a delicious dinner and spend the night under the protection of Nevado Ausangate, an amazing night full of stars, typical for the highlands in the Andes.

Day 3: Ocongate – Quincemil

Duration: full cycling day, approx. 130 km (81 miles) on bike, one 40 km (25 miles) heavy climb, then long descent

In the morning, we enjoy a good breakfast at the lodge and get ready for today’s adventure. The first part of the ride goes all the way up to the top of our tour. We pass the town of Tinki, which is the place where most of the treks around Ausangate mountain start. We keep pedaling on the road for approximately 35 km (22 miles). The climb is long but not too steep, however, the altitude and the thin air represent the big challenge here. Throughout this entire climb, we have the chance to appreciate the amazing panorama of the great Ausangate snow mountain and its adjoining mountain chain, accompanying us on our right hand side. We arrive at the Abra Pirhuayani at 4725 m / 15.502 ft a.s.l.  and take a break. Up here we also find the village of Pirhuayani, a small community that feels like the top of the world. We take the opportunity for pictures of the amazing mountain panorama and make another offering to Pachamama. This time, we say thanks for the day, for a clear road, good weather and the blessing to be here. With three coca leaves in our hands, representing the Andean trinity, we also ask for protection for the rest of our trip and make good wishes for our families and friends. An unforgettable group picture is mandatory here, right next to the sign that indicates the altitude, a unique memory of the peak of our tour.

At this point, we have to put on some extra clothes and warm up with hot tea. We add warm gloves, a good jacket and maybe a face mask to our outfit because the weather up here is cold and the fast descend will let us feel the chilly air in our faces, hands and body. We start our way down now, a fun and fast section, where we must pay attention to the curves because the road surface might be a little bit damp. Fortunately, there is not much traffic here, and the asphalt is quite new. This part belongs to the Interoceanica Sur, a road designed to connect the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts of South America. This section goes from Cusco all the way into Brazil (Rio Branco).

After about two hours of descending into the amazing cloud forest in this area, we stop for lunch in the town of Marcapata, a small mountain community famous among the locals for its natural hot springs, and also because of an old Church. The Church of Marcapata is one of the very few Catholic churches whose original old thatch roof is still preserved. If we are lucky and the church is open, we have the chance to take a look inside. We take a longer break here and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, which helps us to recover and charge our bodies with some more energy for the rest of the today’s ride.

From Marcapata, we continue our descent for another two to three hours, depending on the pace of our group. The climate as well as flora and fauna change a lot on the way. We can feel how the air is more humid, it is getting warm, and nature’s sounds are becoming more prominent: we can hear crickets and see colorful birds flying around. Arriving in Quincemil, we stop at the main plaza of this beautiful jungle town. We take off the bike shoes and get into our car. The way to the hotel is just a few minutes on a dirt road. La Casona de Doña Rita is an old country house that has been changed into a beautiful jungle lodge. With only 16 rooms, it is a lovely and quiet place, really comfortable and relaxed. We take our time, enjoy a refreshing shower, put on light summer clothes, and meet for a group dinner in the main dining room. After dinner we go to sleep early in order to recover from this tough day.

Day 4: Quincemil – Mazuco

Duration: full cycling day, approx. 70 km (43.5 miles) on bike, undulating

After a delicious breakfast at the lodge, we get ready for today’s ride through Peruvian jungle area. That means short jerseys and cycling pants, lots of sun protection and several bottles for each rider. The first part is descending, then the route changes into a continuous up and down. We can feel the heat and humidity, which are so typical for this part of the country. The road leads all along the river, the same one we saw a couple of days ago as a small trickle coming down from the snow mountains. It is now a big stream guiding our way. The scenery is all green now, with yellow or red spots from some of the trees on the horizon giving a nice touch to the landscape, and birds singing all around us. On our way, we pass the border between the Peruvian states of Cusco, Puno and Madre de Dios. We arrive at the town of Mazuco in the early afternoon and check into our hotel. After a hot shower and putting on fresh clothes, it is time for a late lunch. We enjoy the rest of the day relaxing and taking a walk through this jungle town (optional).

Day 5:  Mazuco – Puerto Maldonado

Duration: full cycling day, approx. 130 km (81 miles) on bike, one 18 km (11.2 miles) climb, then mainly flat

After an early breakfast, we take on the last day of our bike tour. The ride starts off with a climb up to Abra Avispa (wasp mountain pass) at 1500 m / 4920 ft altitude. It is the last climb of our tour, and it rewards us with an amazing view on the surrounding jungle. We descent until the village of Santa Rosa, where we get back into the car in order to pass the local mining area. After about 35 km / 22 miles, we get back on our bikes and enjoy the last 100 km / 62 miles of flat riding all the way to Puerto Maldonado. We pass by a number of small villages, where people cultivate a great variety of typical products from the jungle. We can see the difference between these fields and the ones we saw up in the mountains a few days ago, feel the different climate and the warm air. In the early afternoon, we make a stop on the way and have lunch in one of those beautiful villages. After this, we continue our ride for another two to three hours until Puerto Maldonado. Once we get closer to the city, and depending on the pace of our group and the time, we decide whether to keep riding all the way into the city or stop and load the bikes onto our car at some point before. We go directly to our jungle lodge, check in, freshen up and enjoy a delicious welcome dinner and a well-deserved Peruvian beer to celebrate the successful finish of an amazing 5-day road bike adventure.

Day 6: Puerto Maldonado – Piranha fishing and kayaking on Madre de Dios river

Duration: massage, half-day river kayaking tour

After a good night’s sleep, we wake up not too early, have breakfast and enjoy a relaxing massage. Later on, a transport picks us up and brings the group to the Madre de Dios River. First we are going to try our fishing skills in one of the natural pools close to the river. With a little luck, every group member is going to catch at least one Piranha. After that, we move the kayaks to the banks of the river. Our private guide gives us an introduction on the paddling and maneuvering techniques, so we all can have a great time on this huge jungle river. Once we reach the famous Billinghurst Bridge of Puerto Maldonado after about two hours of kayaking, having a snack on the way and taking lots of pictures, we get picked up by our transport and go back to the lodge. Tonight we enjoy typical jungle food at one of the best local restaurants in town, along with beers and a delicious dessert, and share our impressions from the last days. We go back to the lodge in the early evening, relax by the pool and take a good rest.

Day 7: Puerto Maldonado – Sandoval Lake jungle tour

Duration: full day jungle tour, hiking and boat trip, animal watching

Today our group is up for an exciting day in the Peruvian jungle. We visit part of the Tampopata Jungle Reserve, a national park protected by the Peruvian government, where we can appreciate the native plants and animals in their own habitat. Right after breakfast, our private guide picks us up and we go on a short drive to the Puerto Maldonado river port. From here, we take one of the typical “peque peque” motor boats that brings us to the entrance of the reserve. We put on rubber boots and start a 3-hour hike through the jungle. With a little luck, we can see monkeys, parrots, big colorful butterflies and a great variety of insects. The hike goes into the Tambopata Reserve park and leads to the entrance of the Sandoval Lake. Here we find a small port for long barges without engine and board one of them. Moving slowly and only with the thrust of a punt pole, we enter the lake. If we stay quiet, we might have the chance to see caimans, monkeys, otters, turtles, a great variety of birds, butterflies, and many more animals. Just the plain view at this beautiful lake is already impressive because of its calm and quiet nature. After crossing half of the lake in our boat, we make a stop to enjoy some typical food and rest for a bit, get some extra water and have some time to change camera batteries, freshen up with some cool water, and use the bathroom. Then we go back on our boat and have some more time on this beautiful lake. Back at the lake port, we start our way back, hiking on the same trail that we came. On our peque peque motor boat again in the late afternoon, we enjoy a beautiful river sunset while going back to Puerto Maldonado. Our transport takes us back to the lodge. Tired and happy from today’s jungle adventure, we enjoy a delicious Thai dinner at the restaurant of the lodge, prepared by Wadee, our amazing and funny host. After dinner, we go to sleep and enjoy a quiet and long night of rest.

Day 8: Puerto Maldonado – Cusco

Duration: full day in car, approx. 500 km (311 miles)

Today after breakfast, we go back to Cusco by car. Our private transportation is already waiting for us, we can see our bikes, the machines that brought us here a couple of days ago, already loaded on the roof. The drive back takes about 8 – 10 hours, depending on traffic, weather and the number of stops we choose to make for pictures and meals on the way. Once we are in Cusco, we drop you off at your hotel and say goodbye, hoping that you had a great time with Tasting the Road and go home with a new taste of Peru. Thank you so much for riding with us!!

Itinerary

day 1 – Cusco / Tipon / Andahuaylillas by bike, overnight in Andahuaylillas

day 2 – Andahuaylillas / Abra de Cuyuni / Ocongate by bike, overnight in Ocongate

day 3 – Ocongate / Abra de Pirhuayani / Quincemil by bike, overnight in Quincemil

day 4 – Quincemil / Mazuco by bike, overnight in Mazuco

day 5 – Mazuco / Pto. Maldonado by bike, overnight in Pto. Maldonado

day 6 – Pto. Maldonado / river kayak tour, overnight in Pto. Maldonado

day 7 – Pto. Maldonado / Sandoval Lake jungle tour by boat/foot, overnight in Pto. Maldonado

day 8 – Pto. Maldonado / Cusco by car

Prices

1 guest:  $ 5500.00 USD per person

2 guests: $ 3400.00 USD per person

3 guests: $ 2700.00 USD per person

4 guests: $ 2400.00 USD per person

5 – 6 guests: $ 2200.00 USD per person

Included

two English speaking road bike guides for eight days, high quality road bikes (aluminum frame, carbon fork, 3×10 Shimano Ultra components, choice between SPD-SL, SPD and LOOK pedals) for five days, safety equipment (helmets, gloves, safety vest), private transportation (also safety car) with driver for eight days, full coverage with bike tubes, tires, spare bike parts and tools, snacks, drinking water and sports drinks for five days, fresh-made juice day 1, typical Peruvian breakfast days 2 – 8, typical Peruvian lunch days 1 – 8, dinner days 1 – 7, one Peruvian beer per guest on day 5, seven overnights in hotels and jungle lodges, entrance tickets to Andayhuaylillas Church and Tambopata National Reserve, guided tours through ruins of Tipon (day 1) and Lake Sandoval (day 7), guided Piranha fishing and kayaking tour on Madre Dios River (day 6), first aid kit & oxygen

Not included: any alcoholic beverages on all days unless indicated otherwise (beer on day 5), entrance archeological site Tipon – tourist ticket

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