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Humahuaca – Abra Pampa – La Quiaca

Yesterday I had a quite hard day – 86km from Humahuaca to Abra Pampa. But the hard bit wasn't really the distance, but the climbing – from Humahuaca, on 2936m, I climbed up to 3780m, and then I went down again to 3484m. Almost all the day I was pedalling at an altitude of more than 3000m – a lot more.

I was a bit worried about cycling at this altitude, and especially about doing 86km at this altitude (with such a climb), but there were no other options. In the end everything was fine – I had no problems because of the altitude, nor because of the physical effort at this altitude – luckily, as I will be cycling a lot at this altitude in Bolivia.

When I left from Humahuaca, it was still cloudy, but after 10km there was much more sun. Right from the beginning I was climbing up, almost all the time up to Tres Cruces – at 3692m, and 56km from Humahuaca – where I had a break. The views were impressive, but it wasn't really possible to capture them with my camera.

The climb continued for a little after Tres Cruces, until I reached the highest point of the road – and for me also the highest point in Argentina – 3780m.

After a climb of 56km – and of more than 800m since Humahuaca – began the descent. But not that much, as Abra Pampa is also at an altitude of 3484m. Shortly after I met another cyclist, who was taking a photo. I stopped, and we chatted a bit. He was from Uruguay, and had arrived from the south of Argentina and Chile by bike. He did between 120km and 200km every day – much to much for me. We continued together, talking while there was no traffic, up to Abra Pampa. I think he did the 28km to Abra Pampa slower than usual, while I did them faster than usual...

We talked about the experience of travelling by bicycle, the impressive scenery (we didn't stop again to take photos – it was impossible to capture the scenery on camera), and other things. We arrived to Abra Pampa, and he helped me to find accommodation, and then he left to continue until La Quiaca – my destination for the next day, and another 73km.

 

Abra Pampa is a village where there is little. My accommodation is very basic (and cheap) – there is no Wifi, nor hot water for the showers. I rested a little and then went to search for a lemonade (which I found, luckily). I went back to my accommodation, and later I went for another walk to look for a restaurant – much more complicated. In the end I ate some fried potatoes at the main square, and bought a beer and a juice in a mini-market to have later. I ate some more bread with avocado and tomato in my room, and ended the day writing the first part of this blog post.

 

Today I woke up at 7am, but I didn't get out of bed before 7:30am. I had breakfast, and I left at about 8:30am. The sky was pretty cloudy, and there was a cold and strong wind from the front, and so I didn't cycle very fast. After about one or two hours the wind got weaker, and I continued cycling in the direction of La Quiaca. I was cycling in a valley, with the mountains on both sides in the distance. Sometimes I saw some llamas on one side or the other, and sometimes a passed through tiny villages.

After three of four hours I passed through Pumahuasi, the last village before La Quiaca, and saw on the side of the road two bicycles, and nearby two people sitting on a wall. I stopped, and we talked a little. They were from France, cycling for 2½ years, first through the West of Africa, and then by boat from Dakar to Buenos Aires. We talked a little, and then I left, to get to La Quiaca sufficiently early. I did the last 20km in 1½ hours, and arrived to La Quiaca more or less at 1pm. I looked for accommodation and then I went for lunch. Later, I went back to the hostel to take a shower, wash some clothes, and rest.

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