Bicycle Touring Through The Peruvian Desert [Video]
After spending more than 2 months in Ecuador, it was finally time to cross the border to Peru.
I was enjoying my time in Ecuador so much that the morning I was meant to get back on my bike and ride towards the border, I went hiking to El Cajas National Park with a couple of Swedish Guys from my hostel instead.
I still wasn’t ready to leave Ecuador after the great time I’d had there.
Watch the video below to see everything I got up to after crossing the border to Peru.
While I was hiking in El Cajas National Park, I fell into a river of mud, covering my shoes and pants and making it difficult to ride my bike that evening
Instead, the Swedish Guys told me that I should take a bus to Mancora, a small beach town in the North of Peru that they had just come from.
Not needing too much convincing, I was on a night bus and crossed the border to Peru later that Day.
Visiting the Beach in Mancora
I really enjoyed my time in Mancora. It was the first time I had seen the beach since I was in Mexico in February, so I was more than eager to go for a swim and try to body surf the waves (which I did).
The town itself is incredible. It isn’t too touristy like many other beach towns in Latin America and had a relaxed Caribbean vibe.
I pitched my tent at a campsite only 50m away from the beach for $3USD a night.
After having an amazing time in Mancora, I didn’t want to leave. I was really enjoying relaxing on the beach and going out for cheap Ceviche (fish cooked in lemon) every day.
And as much as I would have liked to stay for a little while longer, the desert was calling me.
Riding Through The Desert
I left Mancora on Sunday the 23rd of July and road for 60km through the desert to Lobitos.
In the first hour of riding, I rode 23km and was making great time.
But as soon as I started bragging to myself about how good I was at riding now, I had a 6km all uphill which took more than an hour to reach the top.
I was really happy once I got to the top because I thought that the rest of the day would be smooth sailing down hill.
I couldn’t have been more wrong…
I made the decision to get off the highway because it was starting to bore me. I took the more interesting route on one of the side roads instead.
And it was very interesting indeed.
More than 20km of sand roads was what was in store for the rest of the day. The sand was so deep that the wheels of the bike kept getting dug into the sand which made the bike fall over with me and all the gear still on it.
At least the sand was soft and cushioned the falls.
Because of this, I had to walk the bike for the majority of the journey in the hot desert sun, with vultures following me overhead, waiting for me to get exhausted, fall over and die so they could eat me.
Luckily, I had the will to move on (with no other option) and after a couple peanut butter sandwiches, I had a second burst of energy.
Eventually, after more than 7 hours, I made it to the town of Lobitos. It was another small town located on the beach.
As I entered the town, I saw nothing but abandoned buildings everywhere. It seemed like the town had been deserted.
Thankfully, there were still a few places open and people living there (mainly local surfers) and I was able to pitch my tent in front of a hostel for $3USD a night.
It was the toughest day of riding I had done thus far, so I decided to celebrate with a nice cold beer.
Taking It Easy To Tallara
The next day I decided to take it easy, sleep in and only ride to the next town which was only 15km away. I arrived in Tallara only an hour after leaving Lobitos.
The road to Tallara was made of gravel and felt like riding on clouds after riding/walking in the sand the previous day.
But the gravel road did take its toll on my tires. I had my first puncture and quickly changed it so I could get to Tallara and find a cheap hostel.
This proved to be more difficult that I could have imagined.
I arrived in Talara at 1.30pm and rode around town for about 3 hours looking for a place to stay. Not being a place tourists usually stop in, I found it difficult to find a hostel for less than $45USD a night.
Eventually I found somewhere for $12USD and stayed there the night.
The good thing about being on a tight budget means you stay in places that you normally wouldn’t stay in if you had the choice.
This means you get to live more like a local, interact with those who live there and get a feel for what the people are really like.
My Longest Day On The Bicycle
The next morning I woke up early so that I could ride to Piura. I thought it was only 60km away and that I would be able to get there in one day if I took the highway.
After riding for 15km on the highway I saw a sign that said it was still 104km to Piura. Not sure how I got that wrong.
My arse was really sore from riding the previous two days and I was really struggling to ride on the windy highway. I took a break on the side of the highway and an American guy stopped, had a chat and told me about the bicycle touring trip he did across the states.
He was so enthusiastic about everything it definitely lightened my mood. He gave me some food and water and I kept going.
Being the desert, there were plenty of places to stop and camp if I needed to. I rode for about 40km without seeing anything but a small, bumpy highway and no towns.
After walking the bike for a km or 2, I got back on the bike and felt really good, the walking must have stretched out my muscles and arse.
I rode for more than 70km that day and was planning to ride another 20km (I was on a high) until I was flagged down by an American guy (Andrew) who was also travelling on his bicycle.
Riding With Another Bicycle Tourist
Apparently, this American guy had heard about me from some of the other locals in Mancora and had been trying to catch up to me for a couple of days.
We ended up staying the night in a small town called Mallares at a locals house for $6USD. It was the restaurant (house with charcoal bbq outside) we had dinner at, and we just asked if we could stay at their house for the night
They loved it because there were no hotels in the town (population around 200 people) and they never had any white people come through their town, let alone stay the night there. We walked around town and kids were taking pictures of us on their phones which was pretty funny.
It was a house full of sisters and they kicked the kids out of their bedroom so we could stay in their room for the night. It was really funny because in the middle of the night the kids head kept popping their heads over the wall of the room and looking in.
In the morning the young girl came in to show us everything from her room and wanted us to play with her.
I felt a little bad about kicking these kids out of their room but it was really funny when we realised it was the kid’s room (we didn’t know this at the time).
The sisters (4 of them) all proposed that we stay there a little while longer and have kids with them (not joking). As tempting as that was, I was looking forward to riding with the American guy the next day.
We were fed dinner, breakfast and lunch by these women free of charge, which was awesome!
Should I have just have given them a baby?
Andrew was a late sleeper and preferred riding at night, but I made sure we got on the road by about 10 am.
It was again on the highway all day and we were headed for Piura.
We rode 49km but it went by really quickly, felt like the only 20km.
Andrew and I said goodbye as he was going to ride to the jungle and I was going to take a bus to Huaraz.
It was definitely a different experience riding through the desert in Peru than it was riding through the Jungle in Ecuador.
While I enjoyed the beach in Mancora, Peru, I was definitely ready to leave the desert and explore a different landscape.
Now that I’m in Huaraz, I can’t wait to go hiking through the mountains on multi-day hikes up to 4750m and ride my bicycle through the Peruvian Andes.
It’s going to be extremely difficult but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Have you ever been to the desert? How did you find it?