Video & Photo Epic: Travelling the Wilds of Peru by Bike

Sep 25, 2018
by mauricio de avila  

Words: Mau De Avila
Photos: Haitman Rivas
Video: Gerardo Flores

Views: 4,522    Faves: 47    Comments: 8

A couple months ago the Trail Quest crew headed to Perú for an amazing MTB expedition, the plan was to camp for a week high in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, at the base of Mt. Ausangate, a 6,400-meter high peak. After getting acclimatized and warmed up for a couple days at the Sacred Valley, we started the road trip up the great Ausangate. With a fully loaded truck and an amazing crew, we drove for six hours straight with coca leaf tea keeping us warm and awake. When we finally got there, our minds were blown. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so scroll down and check it out yourselves.

Flying to Cusco is an adventure itself. Sitting at 3,310 m (10,860 ft) It feels like landing on the face of a mountain. We were happy to meet the rest of the crew for the trip, it was great greeting our Peruvian friends after a long time of not seeing each other.

A quick stroll down the streets of ancient Cusco, surrounded by live culture and so much history was the perfect way to start this trip. After some shopping, we headed to Calca, a small town right in the town of the Sacred Valley, two hours away from Cusco.

The road trip to Calca was as beautiful as everything else on the trip. We stopped at an awesome viewpoint and popped some Coronas just in time for the sunset. It was definitely the cherry on the cake and the best way to wrap up an already amazing day.

The Sacred Valley is littered with hundreds of ancient Inca trails. We went for a warm-up ride on some of our favorite ones and once more got blown away by the amazing views and terrain.

A quick local breakfast got us started as we headed our way up to the Andes. One last photo of the crew while we were still clean and comfy.

The road up to the Andes is absolutely stunning. Raging rivers, infinite mountains, huge pastures and beautiful valleys prepared us for what was yet to come. It was amazing driving through small villages right at the end of the world. We were lost for words when we realized we were just about to camp for a week at a spot you could only dream of.

After setting up camp just in time before sunset (5:30 pm), we had one of the coldest nights in a while. It felt the coldest right at dawn as the temperature dipped to -15 C and we were eager to feel the sun rays heating our bodies again.

Once the sun came up we were able to move around and cook the first meal of the week. Note to self: bring more food next time and take on some cooking classes.

After a half-decent breakfast and feeling all warmed up with the beautiful sun, we took on our first day of riding. Starting at 4,500-meters (14,760 ft) was no easy feat and we felt the altitude hitting us hard, but the plan for the day was somehow getting up to 5,200-meters (17,060 ft). The landscape up there was absolutely incredible with hundreds of ancient trails and llama paths weaving over the huge mountains.

We didn't meet many locals, or anyone at all, during the trip but the few encounters we had were once in a lifetime experiences. Although communicating with them was kind of hard since the only language they speak is their native Quechua.

As we went up, we started to reach one of the Ausangate's huge glaciers. We chilled for a bit, mesmerized by one of the blue lagoons before continuing our journey upwards.

At moments it felt like the hike was never ending, as we summited hill after hill just to realize there was another one left to climb. After chewing A WHOLE LOT of coca leaves which are an Inca remedy for altitude sickness, we were able to finish our first day with 30 Km of riding/hiking on this sacred place, right in time before sunset and the temperature drop.

With day one in the books, we headed back up to conquer yet another peak with a summit of 5,100-meters (16,700 ft), but this time we did so with most of our camp on our backs and some beautiful horses that Florencio (our local friend) prepared for us.

It was a tough way up, especially with all the added weight and camera equipment which we all helped carry to the top, but the scenery and the whole vibe of that place made it all feel like a dream. The descent was genuinely mind-blowing as we made our way down to camp two.

A unique combination of high alpine flow and raw, tech trail got us ultra stoked. Suddenly we got to the point where we could see the beautiful valley where we were camping that night, surrounded by three different lagoons that are fed by the rivers running down the glaciers.

We couldn't help but stop for a minute before finishing our ride since the place that was upon us was absolutely heavenly. Riding down along that golden ridgeline with those green lagoons in the background definitely was something we won't ever forget.

The riding back to base camp was as diverse as it was fun. There's an ineffable feeling of freedom that you get when riding up there, surrounded by hundreds of llamas and huge peaks and glaciers that remind us how tiny we really are.

On our last day we decided to explore and look for some freeride lines. After finding what seemed like the perfect sand chute from the bottom we hiked our way to the top of it only to realize that it was definitely not rideable. Lucky for us the super steep grass line we hiked up was also perfect to ride back down.

After a whole week of riding and exploring, our friend Florencio prepared a really special gift for us: Pachamanca, an ancient Inca celebration which consists of killing a llama and cooking it inside a traditional oven that we made that same day. We can't think of a better way to end this expedition and felt enormously blessed and grateful to be part of Florencio's life, at least for a week.

Until the next adventure. Until the next Trail Quest.

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  • 20 1
 This dogo is such a good boy
  • 15 1
 Oh yes. Peru is on my bucket list. Adventures like this is what it's all about.
  • 2 0
 I‘ve been riding today in the valle sagrado with haku expeditions, just amazing. Finish the day with sone urban stair bombing next to the cathedral Smile
  • 4 0
 We are in the middle of a series of First descents in Huayuash region Peru right now with a serious group of hard hitting riders.
Follow our adventures for the next few days on instagram.
I am the poor guy carrying all the camera gear.

This country is incredible...
  • 5 0
 I was fortunate enough to live in peru, and it is truly the best undiscovered mountain biking destination.
  • 3 0
 Thanks to the photographer the lugged all that gear around to share the experience! Must have been incredibly difficult at those altitudes.
  • 2 0
 @haitman really went over the top with this one, the whole crew did! Were glad you enjoyed it.
  • 4 0
 Holy... That is really epic! What great views out there!
  • 1 0
 Thanks! We can't wait for the next one.
  • 1 0
 @trailquestbike: Really hope you guys could come to ride in China some day. There are endless spectacular scenary here on the other side of the planet!
  • 1 0
 @milanboy1986: We would love to! Please send us a message and maybe we can put it together
  • 1 0
 @trailquestbike: No problem dude!
  • 7 5
 Looks amazing trip but why are all the photos massively under exposed? Should be able to correct most of these if taken in a RAW format.
  • 2 1
 I accidentally ‘negative-propped’ you! Sorry, it won’t let me change it.

I was wondering exactly the same thing...
  • 3 0
 Maybe it's the photograher's style. Idk I would have developed them brighter as well.
  • 4 1
 We have no idea what reality looked like. The photos may actually be realistic and the photographer didnt want to lose that just to make the pictures brighter. It's in the deep southern hemisphere afterall, who are we to judge if it looks accurate or not?
  • 1 0
 @thesharkman: It's not in the deep Southern Hemisphere. Peru is around 8 - 15 degrees S of the Equator, But yeah - that may be the photog's style
  • 2 0

Nah, having travelled all over peru and the altiplano its not the angle of the sun.

What doesn’t help is the altitude - skies come out very dark, and light is harsh. But there are ways to meter the camera around it, use a bit of exposure compensation, and the odd Neutral density graduated filter to stop the mountains blowing out. It looks like the photographer may have used a polarising filter which makes matters worse at high altitude.
  • 1 0
 We specifically asked Haitman to be as "real" as possible, we wanted people to really get in there and get the feel of what this epic adventure was like. Light was not ideal all the time and he worked with what he had, at high altitude, all while moving a camp around the Andes. Maybe we're a little biased, but we totally loved the outcome, we hope you guys can enjoy them too.
  • 2 1
 This guy riding the Specialized would have a hard time knowing that he shouldn't ride his forks... "Send it back to Ausangate basecamp somewhere in the Andes in Peru, you'll find it! I promise!"
  • 3 0
 Bloody EPIC, my dream expedition. I love South America, so authentic
  • 2 0
 Thanks! This expedition definitely marked the whole crew for life. We're doing a couple trips to Perú this winter, hit us up if you ever feel like embarking on an amazing adventure!
  • 3 0
 looks like the adventure of a lifetime
  • 1 0
 It really was!
  • 3 0
 Great Video. Looks like an amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing.
  • 1 0
 this mark who used to work at RB??
  • 1 0
 @mdscherrer Thanks! It truly was the adventure of a lifetime. It's great to see that people liked it, we think that this is what mountain biking is all about, getting out there and enjoying every minute of it. If you ever feel like riding some amazing new terrain contact us!
  • 2 1
 So much landscape the average cyclist will ever see. It's articles like this that make me know there is so much more to our planet than my So. Cal Singletrack!
  • 1 0
 So Cal Singletrack ain't that bad! But you're right, there's an amazing whole world out there, if you ever want to try some amazing new riding hit us up! Oh, and thanks for the compliments!
  • 3 0
 exelente trabajo felicidades haimat
  • 1 0
 muchas gracias mike
  • 3 1
 Can I get the contact information for your guide? I would like to get in touch with him.
  • 5 2
 @bags1. Not to be spammish but there are two local outfits who can either arrange transport, logistics and food droops depending on needs. I've used Holy Trails and can highly recommend them. Friends have used Haku and sing their praises

I do have maps and scrawls of the area but many are dated as the glaciers have receded so quickly altering drainage. I haven't got around to scanning them unfortunately. It's the "Ocongate" basemap which isn't in the Univ Texas database
  • 2 4
 We would be happy to help you out, please send us a message. You can also contact us at
  • 3 0
 Yeah Mau and Haitman! Dream team!!
  • 1 0
 Thanks eff, I hope you have the opportunity to return to mexico and join this dream team on a nice trip of MTB bikes, you are always welcome
  • 1 0
 Thank you Jeff! We need you for the real dream team though!
  • 2 0
 Se ve bien perron saludos
  • 1 0
  • 2 0
 wow! Real Mountain Biking! Amazing! Respect!
  • 1 3
 Well, there wouldnt be so many pictures if it were real mountain biking.
  • 1 0
 Thanks! It really was an amazing experience!
  • 3 0
 Buen Trabajo..Good Job
  • 1 0
 Uffff... Perú perú perú... Fuí una vez y puta que heché de menos mi bici, volveré!!!
  • 1 0
 Chile no se queda atrás!
  • 1 0
 I didn't see a tree in any of those photos. What elevation was this at?
That frost on the bikes, wow!
  • 1 0
 We camped at 14,000 ft and hike/biked all the way up to 17,000 ft. It was not easy at all but so worth it. At night temperature dropped to -15ºc.
  • 2 0
 @trailquestbike: Holy smokes!
  • 1 0
 Awesome video guys! So stoked as I'll be riding Peru next week!

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