Rocks; very big rocks

July 31st, 2013

Whether it’s the towering peaks alongside the Pastoruri Pass outside of Huaraz or the mysterious standing stones of the Bosque de Piedras (Forest of Stones) near Cerro de Pasco, Central Peru has some impressive shows of rock.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a geology buff, but as we make we our way south through Peru, it has been impossible to ignore the swirls, textures, formations and sheer size of the Andes.


Sarah and James cycling towards Pastoruri pass, central Peru

Leaving the road after Huaraz to begin the climb to Pastoruri, the snowline is immediately visible.

A boulder in the fields near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

Enormous boulders lay strewn in the surrounding fields.

A bag of bread, near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

We are about to take another pass over the Cordillera Blanca and ride through remote sections for three days, so we take on-board the emergency “bread blanket”…you can never have too much bread.

James looking at the map near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

Only on the dirt road for a matter of minutes before we stop for lunch and James is found in his favourite resting pose: map gazing.

Sun going down near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

Progress halts for the day just 2km along the road – we can’t resist a sun drenched camp spot…

Sun setting over Pastoruri, central Peru.

…especially when the sunset develops into something really special.

Tilo & Sonja, cycle tourers from Germany near Pastoruri pass, Peru

We share our camping with German cycle tourers Tilo and Sonja.

Cycling towards the mountains near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

Day two and time for more ascending, past ominous grey rock faces…

Sarah cycling past a group of Puya Raymondii, near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

…towards a field of Puya Raymondii. 

In a field of Puya Raymondii, near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

These incredible, enormous plants – also known as Queen of the Andes – only grow here and in Bolivia, between 3200 and 4800m.

Close up of a Puya Raymondii, near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

Each plant can take can take up to forty years to flower and once done, it sadly withers and dies.

Looking down the valley near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

We climb, leaving the stunning valley behind…

Sarah cycling through snow near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

…and keep climbing, where the craggy faces get craggier and the serious weather happens – it is snowing here.

Sun setting over the peaks near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

When the weather clears, we have another pretty sunset…

Sunny field at the top of the pass, near Pastoruri, central Peru

…and another campsite where the curves of the ground are bathed in the last of the day’s golden sunlight. 

Camping near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

It’s always a battle between enjoyment and endurance for me at this altitude: camping alongside jaw dropping landscapes is incredible…

Ice on the water bag inside the tent when camped near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

…but you have to cope with seriously cold temperatures at nearly 5000m. The ice on our water bags freezes overnight inside in our tent…

Riding over Pastoruri pass, central Peru

…and it’s good to get moving again in the morning; on to more stunning backdrops.

Plant life near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

Vibrant, spongy plant life contrasts beautifully with craggy harsh peaks.

James, Tilo and Sonja stop cycling to admire the view of the cordillera, near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

Every turn brings a new view, a new snow-capped peak. We stop to absorb…

View of the cordillera near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

…shapes and colours…

Black and white view of the cordillera near Pastoruri pass, central Peru

…textures and light.

Bundles of corn hanging from the rafters near Chavinillo, central Peru

We’ve been wondering what the hanging corn from the rafters of a shop is used for…

Bowl of toasted corn and two mandarins in central Peru

…and, when we happen to ask, as always up in the mountains the hospitality is free flowing. We meet Lydia who quickly presents us with a bowl of the finished product: delicious cancha (toasted, salted corn) and two sweet mandarins to give us energy to finish the climb towards Huánuco.

Village sign for Llicllatambo, central Peru

On the way, I practice my Spanish/Quechua tongue-twisters trying to pronounce local village names – although this one looks Welsh to me.

Selection of food eaten whilst cycling in Peru

In Huánuco we stock up on supplies again – so happy to find broccoli! 

Sarah cycling up the valley towards Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

Our back-road ride from Huánuco to Cerro de Pasco via Pallanchacra had its moments. Some very pretty…

Llama with colourful cords through its ears, near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

…like stopping to admire llama’s pom poms (each farmer identifies their flock with different ear finery – tassels, pom poms, ribbons and bows)…

Group of children near Cerro de Pasco with a bowl of potatoes, central Peru

…and spontaneously being fed hot potatoes by a group of kids.

View of Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

Others were downright nasty. At 4380m, Cerro de Pasco lays claim to being the “highest city in the world” and with a whacking great mine in the middle of it, it can also claim to be “one of the ugliest”…

Choclate cake and two cups of hot chocolate in a bakery in Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

…and “one of the coldest”. The only sensible way to warm up here: hot chocolate and a big slab of chocolate cake. James fulfills a long held desire in Cerro de Pasco: to buy an entire cake and eat it all. Mission accomplished.

Sarah cycling towards Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

We’re happy to leave Cerro de Pasco behind and explore the Bosque de Piedras at the nearby Santuario Nacional de Huayllay.

A view of the Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

A group of over 4000 standing stones taking many different formations…

The elephant rock at Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru¬

…an elephant…

The cobra rock at Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

…a cobra…

A rock in the sape of a kissing couple at Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

…a kissing couple…

Close up view of rock at Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

…with beautiful textures when you get up close…

Horses in front of the rocks at Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

…colours of all shades…

Rock formation at Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

…and of course the most fun is identifying obvious formations that never quite made it into the official tour brochure.

James meditating in the magentic circle at Bosque de Piedras near Cerro de Pasco, central Peru

At the end of our walk, in the mysterious “magnetic” stone circle, James puts into practice some of the meditation techniques taught at Rhiannon; although I could have sworn he was thinking about that chocolate cake again…



11 Responses to “Rocks; very big rocks”

  1. Ma and Pa Says:

    Love the pictures. How strange that our visiting priest Fr Martin was talking to us about the standing stones in your photos only this morning! Love and miss you both in multiple millions!


  2. Jorge Iván Says:

    Espectacular. Como siempre, lo mejor y buena vibra. Los queremos.


  3. Lars Henning Says:

    Haha, especially love the elephant. I was recently meditating on the thought of a kilo of sticky toffee pudding with a litre of vanilla haagen daaz, but it never manifested.


  4. skip Says:

    Whenever I see your photos I am transported to a new place I want to experience. Somehow this post tugs at me more than before, the light, the open spaces, even the city leave me wishing I was with you. Thanks for the photo journals, I always love to see them and know that you are both well.
    All the best from both of us… Skip and Nancy


  5. Laura Bowery Says:

    Wow! Fabulous!xxx


  6. Dave Drudge Says:

    Excellent to see you both clearly enjoying your once in a lifetime experience. I could nearly feel jealous…
    I was thnking of you guys, I went to Cuba for 3 weeks, and I took the bicycle with me, and although this will sound nothing to you, but coming from a untrained, not as young as before man I did a little 600kms tour. It brought back the reality of past fun that I did with you all them years ago Jim. Wishing you both a good week…
    Best Dave


  7. Neil Says:

    Great snaps as always guys! Cerro de Pasco looks wonderful – maybe we’ll detour there. Do you think a fortnight would be enough to explore thoroughly?

    Were the puya flowering? They weren’t when we went past in June, but were last week – espectacular!



  8. Sam Wyld Says:

    An awesome snapshot, as always! The Major will henceforth be known as ‘Cake Slab’ Butcher. Very unusual thinking about the drop in temperatures and snow! You two will be hard as nails when you get home to Blighty. Love yous xxx


  9. Margy Says:

    Catching up again!! It really is outstanding, also sounds very cold!!!! I spent the weekend with your Mum n Dad, they took me down to Hyde Park for Last Night of the Proms…… Birthday Treat!!! It was lovely but very cold, well nothing like what you are experiencing but cold enough, a shock to the system after all our lovely summer!!!!
    Back to normal again and it is raining here and cold!!! Autumn has arrived!
    Love to you both and take care of each other! lots of love n prayers, Margy xxxxxxxx


  10. Mario Kausel Says:

    By just looking at your different and spectacular pictures I can feel the cold weather and start shivering.The changes in scenery are just incredible!!Keep pedaling!!


  11. Evan Guatemala Says:

    What an amazing location. Some great photos too. I love the ones with the bikes off in the distance – but I can’t imagine how much extra riding you had to do to circle back and pickup the camera! Cheers!


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