Jan 5, Mountain Biking in the Patacancha River Valley

Submitted by Danny Catt on Mon, 2007/01/08 - 10:19pm.

A good friend of mine runs an adventure travel (or multi-sport) operation out of Vancouver called BikeHike Adventures. When I told her I was going to travel independently in Peru for a couple of weeks, she told me that one of the best ways to see the landscape, meet the local people and get some exercise at the same time is to either bike or hike! I didn’t have time to do the full Inca Trail (which you can hike) but I did have time to do some biking! So early this morning a young fellow came to the hotel and asked if I was ‘ready to go mountain biking’? I wasn’t quite sure how the day was going to pan out (was I going to have to bike UP and then bike back DOWN?) … but I was prepared for anything and keen to go with the flow. My guide, Docty, is an experienced mountain bike guide as well as an Inca Trail guide and it was a pleasure to have some one on one time with someone from the area.

Patacacha River Valley, Peru
Patacacha River Valley, Peru

Docty lives in Cusco, studied engineering at university, but has returned to do studies in tourism as that is his passion. Both his father and one of his brother’s are engineers, so that is why he followed that academic path… but figures he is now on the right track with tourism.

As I soon found out, the day was not exclusively a mountain biking day… and the plan was NOT to ride up the mountain (phew!!) … but instead drive up a reasonable distance and then ride down the mountain (right on!!).

En route we bumped into a procession of locals heading into the big town (relatively speaking) of Ollantaytambo (population 2000). Over 90% of Peruvians are Roman Catholic and the group was escorting into town a small statue of baby Jesus in preparation for a celebration the next day.

Procession in Patacancha River Valley, Peru
Procession in Patacancha River Valley, Peru

The group, who were from one of the small villages up in the mountains, were very pleasant and insisted I take a picture of the baby Jesus sheltered in a glass case. They even washed the glass and opened the case for me to be able to get a clear photograph! Once my shutter was released, the glass door was shut and the procession continued to town.

Baby Jesus Statue, Patacancha, Peru
Baby Jesus Statue, Patacancha, Peru

We drove up the Patacancha valley to an elevation of almost 14,000 feet (what is that in metres?) where we visited some of the locals, and were given the opportunity to see how they live. I had a brief glimpse inside a small, dark cicular hut, which was home for two people (a mother and daughter). It was windy and cool, and the living conditions seemed challenging (to say the least) but we were greeting with smiles and generosity. It was a fabulous opportunity to observe the local customs (weaving for example) and gain an appreciation for the rich local culture.


Young Girl in Her Home, Patacancha River Valley, Peru
Young Girl in Her Home, Patacancha River Valley, Peru

After our visit we took our bikes off the roof of the vehicle and started our descent. I couldn’t help but stop every couple of hundred metres as there was so much to see (and photograph!). I watched a young boy catch a trout from the Patacancha River, while across the valley I could see a few women whipping their laundry against the rocks to smack out the dirt and grime. We passed two or three small rainbow trout farms and we even stopped in a small village where the local shaman performed a coca-leaf ceremony for me.

I was very pleased to have the blessing of the local shaman who told me (after reading the coca-leaves) that my journey would be successful, that I would have to work hard, and that I would be lucky in both my work and in matters of the heart. He did though tell me that I had to be careful with my health… and in particular with what I ate. Good advice!

Our close to 4000 foot descent under clear sunny skies ended in early afternoon. Time for me to try to do a bit of writing and photo downloading.

Another night in Ollantaytambo. On to Macchu Pichu tomorrow!

Submitted by The Catt-Trax2 Team on Tue, 2007/01/09 - 3:07pm.

Those are gorgeous pictures.

You're lucky you didn't have to bike up the mountain!

Submitted by Les Willis (not verified) on Tue, 2007/01/09 - 7:04pm.
The landscapes look amazing. Please keep posting shots when possible. Have you seen much in the way of large vertebrates? Llamas, alpacas, etc.
Submitted by Danny (not verified) on Sat, 2007/01/13 - 2:58pm.

Hi Les,

Thanks for the note... and I hope all is well in the sunny Okanagan of BC! It is hot and sticky here in Pucallpa, Peru. Yes, I have seen lots of llamas and alpacas... in the highlands, but not many vertebrates here in the jungle although I got some nice pics of some Emporer Tamarins which I will post too. I will be adding more pics soon so keep posted.

Cheers, D.

Submitted by Pikake on Thu, 2007/01/11 - 10:04am.

Hi Danny, so far your trip sounds amazing. I am enjoying the photography, of course! What kind of camera are you using? Are you using a tripod for some of them?

What global connections are you making so far? I am looking forward to hearing of your visit with the FWR grad, Krista Adamek.

We are working hard to get everything up on the web. The GPS coordinates are pretty amazing, aren't they? We should have them up soon.


Submitted by Danny (not verified) on Sat, 2007/01/13 - 2:20pm.

Hi Terry,

Thanks for your note. The camera I am using for most of the photos is a Nikon D200. For some though I am using a small Olympus Sylus 720 SW. The advantage of the Nikon is that I can use a variety of lenses... while with the Olympus I can slip it in my pocket and can pull it out easily and snap a quick pic. The Olympus is also one of the very few waterproof digital cameras so I can even swim with it!! I will be adding some new pics soon... including photos of my visit with Krista at the Los Amigos Research Station along the Rio Madre de Dios.

Stay tuned!



Submitted by Caresse (not verified) on Thu, 2007/01/11 - 4:40pm.

Hi Danny

Jen Young and I are having a great time following your adventures so far!  We leave on Jan. 27th for our own trip to Ecuador and Peru and can't wait for your itinerary to be posted to see if we might cross paths.  We fly into Quito on Jan. 27th and will be in Ecuador until about Feb. 19th.  Then we head to Peru for the last 2 weeks of our trip and we return home on March 4th. Ironically, Jen and I started planning this trip after chatting about the Galapagos at your wine and cheese party!  After seeing your photos, we've decided that a stop in the market of Pisac is a must.  We're also wondering what company you organized your bike trip through. 

 Cheers, Caresse

Submitted by Danny (not verified) on Sat, 2007/01/13 - 2:28pm.

Hola Jen & Caresse,

Great to hear you are planning your trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos. Unfortunately I will be in Brazil and Argentina from mid-Feb to early March... but you will no doubt have an amazing trip. I will send you an email with contact information in Quito, perhaps you can get out and volunteer for a few days. In terms of who I arranged the mountain biking with, you can email Trish Sare at info@bikehike.com

Trish can either help you or can give you the contact in Cusco! You MUST go to Macchu Pichu... I will be adding photos from there soon.

Hope all is well back home... and keep posted on the BLOG and the new Google Earth addition.



Submitted by Laurie (not verified) on Fri, 2007/01/12 - 3:36pm.

Hi Danny, the site looks great and it is amazing to be able to track the Catt in Google.  Your images of Peru are great and the communities look fascinating and the people charming.  We are following your trip every week and our little girl is having a great time looking at the images. 

 Stay safe and take lots of pictures!


Submitted by Danny Catt on Sun, 2007/01/14 - 7:11am.

Hi Laurie,

Thanks so much for your note... I have a wireless connection now so I should be able to add more photos today. I was having a bit of trouble with internet cafes and finding USB ports on some of the computers... so it is a treat to be connected with a high speed wireless connection! I am really pleased that you like the photos so far... I have been clicking up a storm and will continue to do so. As you know I am a very keen photographer... but I also have to learn to just sit, watch and take in the scenes around me without trying to capture it on 'film' (or on a digital sensor). I will though keep on clicking and look forward to sharing my experiences in words and images as I go. Keep in touch!

Danny :)

Submitted by bastiaan from holland (not verified) on Sat, 2007/01/13 - 2:50pm.

Hi Danny,

Wow what a geat trip your making. I will follow you closely.

What a faboulous pics you made.

Greetings also from marike

Submitted by Danny Catt on Mon, 2007/01/15 - 11:01pm.

Great to hear from you Bastiaan... and I hope all is well wherever you are (are you in Holland or Spain?). I think you would enjoy using your D200 here in Peru as the scenery is amazing. Please say hola to Marike and make sure she sends a hello when she can. Say hi to the kids too! I will add more pictures and newsy items to the blog soon!

Cheers, Danny

Submitted by fosse/cbc (not verified) on Sat, 2007/01/13 - 4:25pm.
terrific pics and an exciting journey. I will follow with great interest and envy. Just back from filming in the Falkland Islands (25th anniversary of the war). Perhaps your travels will take you there - is so, I can suggest a couple good places to see. Good luck with your travels and keep posting your wonderful images. eric foss
Submitted by Danny Catt on Mon, 2007/01/15 - 11:03pm.

Hi Eric,

Great to hear from you! When will your piece on the Falklands be aired? I am sure folks following this journey would like to tune in. I was originally going to see the Falklands in early February but decided to do some trekking in Patagonia. It was a tough choice...but time is limited. I will enjoy watching your piece when I return. Thanks again for posting a hello Eric!



Submitted by fosse (not verified) on Sun, 2007/02/04 - 11:00am.
should be on March 18/07 Sunday night 10pm CBC TV, pending breaking news. If not, look for it the week after. The anniversary of the conflict is April 1/07. much thanks. eric
Submitted by samira (not verified) on Sun, 2007/01/14 - 1:35am.

Hi Danny,

These pictures are amazing. could you please add some more pictures throughout your journey if it possible!...by the way, what is Coca leaves? is it like to read your future kind of thing?....do they have these things out there?....do local people believe on it?........They seem very kind and generous..! we are following your trip and wating to see more global connection.



Submitted by Danny Catt on Mon, 2007/01/15 - 11:17pm.

Hi Samira,

Thanks for your note and question. The coca leaves are used for many things ... including a delicious tea here in Peru (and other parts of South America) ... and also by shamans for blessings and ceremonies. In my case the village shaman selected a number of coca leaves, had me blow on them.. then dropped them three times and watched how they fell. It was these fallen leaves he read when he gave me his advice for my journey. In addition to tea and traditional uses, this same coca plant is also used to produce cocaine, which as you know is a potent addicting drug used mainly in in North America and elsewhere, but not in Peru. I hope that answers your question... and thanks for following along.

Cheers, Danny :)

Submitted by Marjo (not verified) on Mon, 2007/01/15 - 8:54am.

Hi Danny. On yet another grand adventure I see! Looking forward to seeing more photos and hearing the stories. Enjoy and be safe!


Submitted by Danny Catt on Mon, 2007/01/15 - 11:07pm.

Hi Marjo,

I am so glad you are following along! How are things on the Atlantic coast? I will post more pics and more content soon... I am going to have to make my posts a bit shorter... but I am learing quickly and the process will become less time consuming soon. Hope you are well... and please keep in touch.