A few days in Trujillo afforded time to rest, eat, and even visit the sprawling ruins of Chan Chan – the largest adobe city in the world, and capital of the Chimú kingdom.

I left Lucho’s fantastic Casa de Ciclistas in Trujillo with Eva and Jan – we headed south along the PanAm highway .. before turning inland along the gravel and baked mud road that heads for the northern bank of the Rio Santa. The road climbs gently away from the Pacific – the wind is still persistent, but in a friendlier direction. 50km later there is a bridge over to the main road and a few kilometres of blissful tarmac before the tiny town of Chuquicara. The local police were kind enough to allow us to camp next door.

We followed the road roughly east from there – again leaving behind the tarmac behind following the course of the river – winding gently back up into the Andes. My bicycle isn’t hugely suited to such rough roads– tyres not so much a problem as there isn’t so much deep sand, but lacking suspension made progress quite hard work. A farmer kindly let us camp in the porch of one of his buildings, and enjoy the spectacular views from his entirely out-of-doors facilities.

I wasn’t feeling excellent, so overnighted in Huallanca (only a little further on) while the others pushed on to Caráz. A good sleep, many litres of water and some good food put me back on form.

The road climbs away from there, but continues along the course of the Rio Santa along the Cañon del Pato (‘Duck Canyon’) .. the canyon that divides the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra.
Squeezed into the narrow space the canyon is also home to a dam that controls water flowing to the hydroelectric plant at Huallanca. The flow to the plant is not by way of the river, but through an 11km long tunnel- evidently the river is but a shadow of what it once was.

My route to Caráz passed through 35 single lane tunnels- most are reasably short, but a few were long enough that I was glad of powerful lights. The lorries and pickups that form most of the other traffic on the road are careful enough, though the few coaches that there are tend to prefer their horn to their brakes. At one point in the middle of perhaps the longest tunnel, I buried my front wheel in a sand-filled pothole – I turned turtle in undignified fashion, the dusty air of the tunnel turning slightly blue.. there wasn’t any traffic though, and no damage done.

The snowline is around 5000m here(Caráz); many of the surrounding peaks are a great deal higher than that.
Tomorrow I head for Huaraz and the cooler air above 3000m.