Saturday 23 June 2018

Day 67 - Fifty Miles to Limatambo

June 6th, 2018

Heavy frost in the morning, otherwise sunny and warm once sun was up

Sun up and ice melts from the tent as I pack everything away and remove the tent pole repairs. I am soon on the road with a five mile push ahead of me. Abancay is smothered in thick cloud which I am above and which fills the large valley as far as I can see. Only mountain peaks are to be seen above the sea of cloud, making for an incredible view. The cloud dissipates as the sun gets higher in the sky. A van stops to offer a lift and the driver can't understand why I say no. He drives off laughing. Wonderful people!
A Variable Hawk flies over and lands on a nearby fir tree top. I actually feel good. Yesterday's fever and sweatiness has gone and life is good once more. As I reach the top most point of the road I pass an area where thousands of small fir trees are growing, obviously planted not that long ago. The view down to the city of Abancay shows how the road twisted one way and then the other and the city looks to be thousands of feet below me.

The long descent begins and the kilometre posts go back wonderfully fast, so unlike yesterday when the push of the bike between each kilometre post seemed to take forever. I pass a road sign that states that my next destination, Limatambo, is sixty five kilometres away and the ever nearing Cusco one hundred and forty two. Sixty five kilometres, just over forty miles, I will take that if it all downhill like at the moment.
With fabulous views in every direction I stop to photograph a glacier atop a high mountain to the east and see a few favourite White-collared Swifts. After twenty or so miles I stop just after a large new bridge at an open sided church and have some lunch. By now the weather is very hot and sunny and I am grateful to be out of it and in some cool shade. Everyday I seem to be moving from summer to winter and back again.

Next to the church, along the road, two masked Peruvians are collecting plastic bottles for recycling. They ignore all other pieces of the dreaded stuff and they tell me that it goes to make fleeces. Great to see this being done but I can't help but think that this isn't cost effective. No matter though, at least the one use plastic bottles are being removed from the environment and that has to be worth their combined wages.
The wonderful views of snow-capped mountains continue and the tall, branched cacti appear once more as I descend further towards a large river, which winds between steep-sided bare rock hills. A jinx seems to be broken. Ever since Dr Rob Williams asked me to keep a record of all of the Andean Condors I see I haven't seen any. Therefore I am thrilled when I see an enormous adult condor soaring along a high ridge. I saw around twenty during April yet didn't see one during May.

Crossing the orange suspension bridge, it is unfortunately time to start pushing towards Limatambo. I have another ten miles to go and once the road leaves the large Apurimac River, it gets steeper and the going gets tougher. A superb mottled grey butterfly grabs my attention as I struggle uphill, as does a family of Smooth-billed Anis.

A beautiful and rather small sandy-coloured lizard has a black sash down it's side. I seem to recognise this road and yes, I know I have been down and up it a few times before when travelling on a Cruz del Sur coach on the way to or away from Cusco but the memory seems more recent. Turning I corner I know why I remember it so well. There is a large sign that states that the condor watching site I came to last year is located here, The Mirador de Condores - Chonta. 

I well remember the superb day I had there last year, seeing around a dozen condors flying past at close range with just three other people. So different to the crowds and tourist paraphenalia at Colca Valley near Arequipa.
I arrive in Limatambo after dark and find a hostel for the night.

Green Year list : 213 birds average new birds to list per day : 3.18 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 53.98 miles

elevation : up 6,929 feet, down 10,496 feet

altitude : 8,507 feet (high point during day - 13,098 feet, low point – 6,429)

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