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PERÚ: TRES CAÑONES — ESPINAR — LLAMAC — PUNO — YUNGUYO

Perú is endlessly fascinating and l feel I have barely scratched the surface but there always comes a time to leave. With the Andean wet season setting in, the prospect of – maybe – getting to Patagonia this season, rather than next, starts to beckon. I have tarried longer than most on this Americas bike tour and with this in mind I wind my way out of the Arequipa highlands to Espinar via the mild but extremely beautiful Tres Cañones route. Between Espinar and Llamac there is a pass or two, a snow storm, frosty fingers, river bed camp sites, rolling pampa, clouds, sky. And then Puno, an ugly, bustling town, softened only by the hospitality of the bomberos. I exit Puno on the highway, the PanA, long avoided, which now draws the border and Bolivia close, a matter of a day or two.

The road winds...

... into...

... a series of three intertwined canyons.

Tres Cañones is the site of some impressive pre-Incan ruins. I don't know anything of the site's archeology but the round buildings remind me of Keulap in the north of Peru.

The ruins are extensive and beautifully situated and unlike at Macchu Pichu there is not a tourist to be seen...

...despite quite legitimate claims to wonderment.

Off the untouristed tourist circuit, untended roadside graves,...

... the odd waterfowl...

... and some more lonely roads are my only companions.

I arrive in Llamac after a long foodless day's ride over a pass in a snow storm. At one point my fingers were so cold that warming them up again made me cry. Llamac is pretty and I stay an extra day to rest, eat...

... and admire the roof tiles.

Lake Titicaca doesn't really draw my attention but provides a pretty backdrop to some highway riding and being on the PanA...

... I find myself on the cycle touring main line. I encounter three cyclists while passing through a small town and we end up sleeping in the class room of a primary school further down the road.

Eva and Jan are a honey moon couple from Slovakia on a eccentric world trip that has encompassed a sailing cruise through the Carribean, a working holiday in the States counting whales off the east coast and finally a bicycle tour of Central and South America. They are heading back to their native Slovakia for Christmas with their family in January.

Hugh, on the other hand, is a young British lad taking a spontaneous three month bike trip before embarking on his legal career.

The lake drifts by...

... and then the time comes. Bye bye, Peru...

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