Peru’s Great Divide: A Select Bikepacking Route

  • Distance

    213 Mi.

    (343 KM)
  • Days

    6

  • % Unpaved

    94%

  • % Singletrack

    2%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    8

  • Total Ascent

    29,160'

    (8,888 M)
  • High Point

    16,270'

    (4,959 M)
The 'Great Divide' route through the Peruvian Cordillera allows bikers to pedal through an incredibly varied mountain landscape from grassy plateau to the blue-green waterfalls of the Cañete valley, passing everything from immense slabs of folded rock and giant glaciated peaks in between.
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As long as you love vertical terrain, this linking-up of mine roads and 4×4 tracks through small villages provides a wonderful alternative for travelling down Peru to the monotony of the coastal Panamericana, or the traffic on the country’s main ‘Mountain Route’.

But it doesn’t come easy: to travel the length of the country this way entails crossing upwards of 50 4000m passes as you climb up and over, then down and into enormous valleys, canyons and ravines. The small section described here alone features seven high passes, the loftiest of which tops out at nearly 5000m. If you find this kind of vertical challenge enticing rather than off-putting, get yourself onto Peru’s Great Divide!

  • Highlights

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  • Must Know

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  • Camping

    home

  • Trail Notes

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  • The ride along the Cañete valley, above a river which is a long series of blue lakes linked by small waterfalls, is spectacular.
  • Most of the small villages on the route are still very traditional, and there is little traffic.
  • It’s common however to encounter alpaca and llama traffic jams!
  • Lots of climbing and some challenging unpaved surfaces.
  • This section of Peru’s Great Divide route begins on the Carretera Central (the main road from Lima to the cities in the mountains) and ends at the pleasant provincial (and cyclist-proclaimed cake) capital of Huancavelica; it takes at least six days to ride.
  • A number of roads from the coast to the largest mountain cities bisect the route, so it’s possible to join at different points. As with most routes in the Peruvian Cordillera, much of it is at high altitude and there is a lot of climbing, so it’s much easier with a good level of fitness and acclimatization.
  • The only singletrack section of the route – 5 miles of wonderful trail linking Tanta and Vilca – may well soon be replaced by a motorable track.
  • A few villages on the route offer basic accommodation, but camping equipment is needed for the more remote sections.
  • On many parts of the ride, beautiful wild-camping spots abound.
  • Paper maps covering all of Peru are of little use for finding dirt roads – download PDFs (by region) from the Peruvian Ministry of Transport and Communications website: <a href=”http://www.mtc.gob.pe/portal/transportes/red_vial/mapas_redvial.htm”>http://www.mtc.gob.pe/portal/transportes/red_vial/mapas_redvial.htm</a>
  • More detailed info on Andes by Bike at: <a href=”http://andesbybike.com/peru/routes/carretera-central-huancavelica/”>http://andesbybike.com/peru/routes/carretera-central-huancavelica/</a>

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

  • Looks like an amazing trip. I spent 4 weeks in Peru and it might be one of my favorite countries. I think I’d even like to retire in Cuzco.

  • Nice. This route is on my bucketlist, for sure.

  • Николай Бакалов

    hi!Can i bike from Huancavelica to Cusco? I can find a map..

  • Coburn Brown

    Curious to what size tires are recommended? Looks like the bikes in the photos are running 2.0/2.2 and are vintage bikes! Thinking about giving it a shot on a crosscheck with MTB gearing and 42mm Knards…

  • MakingJays

    I think that’s a Surly long haul trucker!