Category Archives: Ryan Wilson
Out of the Bolivian Yungas and into the Cordillera – Ryan Wilson

Out of the Bolivian Yungas and into the Cordillera
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After plunging into the depths of the Bolivian Yungas, your brain likes to trick you into overlooking the relatively low altitude ups and downs of this area, while focusing in on the inevitable slog back to the thin air of the high mountains. But these Yungas roads have a way of telling you right away that just because you’re not at 16,000ft anymore doesn’t mean you’re getting away unscathed here. What the Yungas lacks in pure altitude, it easily makes up for in relentlessly steep, hot, and dusty roads that zig and zag across the rippled terrain. Make no mistake, the challenge here definitely stacks up with just about anything else in the area. (more…)

Sep 19, 2017 16 comments
Taking the “Death Road” to the Edge of the Bolivian Jungle – Ryan Wilson

Taking the “Death Road” to the Edge of the Bolivian Jungle
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Coming into Bolivia, it’s hard to know what to expect. Where Peru’s reputation is pretty much all happy people, ancient ruins, and fluffy alpacas, the stories you hear about Bolivia prior to visiting are a bit more of a mixed bag. Some are very positive, but one thing repeated pretty often (other than how bad the food is) is that outsiders aren’t quite as popular with the locals. Rather than the welcome party you get in nearly every village in the Peruvian Andes when you roll in on two wheels, the Boliviano response is a bit more tepid… At least that’s the reputation. (more…)

Aug 14, 2017 52 comments
A Goodbye to Perú Through the Ausangate – Ryan Wilson

A Goodbye to Perú Through the Ausangate
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

For my final stretch through Perú (for now), I jumped onto the instant-classic route that Cass Gilbert and Michael Dammer founded one year prior (http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/tres-cordilleras-boliva-peru/), with a few tweaks. The highlight of this area is unquestionably the circuit around the 6,384m aka 20,945ft wall of rock and ice known as Apu Ausangate. The majority of which is pure backcountry single track through seemingly endless glacial peaks and pristine lagunas. (more…)

Jul 6, 2017 20 comments
Bikepacking Peru’s Valle de los Volcanes – Ryan Wilson

Bikepacking Peru’s Valle de los Volcanes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After dealing with a dead Garmin and a bricked iPhone (my only GPS devices) for a while during my last stint in Perú, I decided to put the trip on hold for a few months and head back to the States. It was a nice break to sort a few things out, skip a little bit of Peru’s rainy season, and take it easy for the holidays. (more…)

May 9, 2017 39 comments
Gearing up for Life on the Bike: Camera and Tech – Ryan Wilson

Packing for an open-ended bike tour through remote areas of developing countries can be a bit intimidating. You don’t want to get there and realize you’re missing something crucial that you’re going to have trouble finding locally, but you don’t want to overpack and feel required to haul a bunch of stuff that you don’t really need.

With that in mind, I wanted to start a series of posts discussing my personal gear setup and some of the things I’ve learned in my first 7 months of living on the bike in South America. First up I’ll dive into my electronics setup and touch on the question I get asked most frequently… “what camera are you using?” (more…)

Feb 28, 2017 31 comments
Traversing the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu – Ryan Wilson

Traversing the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

By far the number one thing people bring up when they find out you’re going to Peru is Machu Picchu. In fact, that’s probably the response at least 95% of the time. To be fair, prior to stumbling upon photos of the Cordillera Blanca on Google Earth one day, Machu Picchu was always the first thing that came to my mind as well, so it’s a hard thing to fault. (more…)

Feb 23, 2017 56 comments
A Sudden Shift of Seasons in the Peruvian Andes – Ryan Wilson

A Sudden Shift of Seasons in the Peruvian Andes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Continued from “Taking the Scenic Route to Peru’s Great Divide

It happens without notice in the Andes. One day it’s mostly clear skies as far back as you can remember, then one good thunderstorm rolls in and with it seems to come the daily barrage of rain, hail, and snow. This marks the true beginning of the “shoulder season”, nestled in the southern hemisphere’s spring. For me, this timed out exactly on the first day of starting this section of the Peruvian Divide, following a quick re-supply detour to Lima*.

*As a side note regarding life in Peru… the majority of people here do not own cars. This is especially true in the quiet areas that are the most interesting for riding. As a result, many of the villages have small vans (called colectivos) coming and going at least once or twice per day toward the larger towns, and they’re typically only the equivalent of a few bucks even for a trip that lasts a few hours. This is quite helpful if you want to check out a bigger city that is a ways off-route and have a chance to pick up a few things that might be tough to come by in small villages. It’s also helpful if you’re running low on dinero and need to find an ATM, which can occasionally be tough to locate in remote areas. With the divide route intersecting the main road toward Lima, it was a perfect opportunity for a trip to the city. (more…)

Jan 23, 2017 20 comments
An Unexpected Glimpse into Peruvian Culture – Ryan Wilson

An Unexpected Glimpse into Peruvian Culture
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

EDITOR’S WARNING: This gallery contains content that may offend the lovers of fluffy animals. There are slides in the gallery which give you plenty of warning to turn back. Keep in mind, this is part of the Peruvian culture, so please maintain an open mind.

My final stretch on the Peruvian Divide Route started like much of the rest. Incredibly quiet roads lined with as much spectacular scenery and as many furry friends as one can possibly handle. Bobbing and weaving between storms (without much success), and drifting in and out of the occasional small village filled with welcoming locals.

As far as bikepacking/dirt touring routes go, I can’t really think of a more complete experience. Where the Cordillera Blanca to the north wins on pure scenery, the Divide easily wins on way-off-the-beaten-path dirt road riding (if that is your thing). This makes for easier wild camping, and even more interesting interactions with locals who simply don’t see tourists around with any kind of frequency. (more…)

Dec 7, 2016 47 comments
Taking the Scenic Route to Peru’s Great Divide – Ryan Wilson

Taking the Scenic Route to Peru’s Great Divide
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Continued from “Beasts of the Southern Blanca

Following my trips through the Cordillera Blanca, I knew I would be heading for the Peruvian Great Divide Route. This route was established fairly recently by the masters of all things cycling related in the Andes, Neil and Harriet Pike (andesbybike.com). Their website and books are absolutely invaluable resources if you have any interest in riding in the Andes, so I would highly recommend checking them out.

The divide route is almost entirely along quiet dirt roads that endlessly undulate between 10,000′ and 16,500′. It also passes through many remote villages that are far off the tourist trail, where the locals are always excited to see you (and probably welcome you into their home for a hot meal and coca tea). (more…)

Oct 31, 2016 24 comments
Beasts of the Southern Blanca – Ryan Wilson

Beasts of the Southern Blanca
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After finishing up the circuit around Huascarán, I landed in Huaraz. This is the capital of the Ancash region of Perú and the central hub for all activities related to the big snow and ice capped mountains that dominate the landscape. While Huaraz is not totally flooded with tourists, it is certainly the most visited town in the area, and a “gringo” barely gets a second look there when compared to the surrounding villages. Most importantly, Huaraz has pizza, so it makes for an obvious place to spend a few days taking it easy and swapping stories and routes with fellow cyclists and trekkers passing through the area. (more…)

Oct 3, 2016 25 comments