Camino Del Puma: a 780-mile tour through Peru and Bolivia

4 comments by Igor Shteynbuk

a guest post by Derek Schad & Andie Capace

Welcome to a snapshot of our journey.

Preparation and Planning

The Camino Del Puma is a 780-mile (mostly) dirt tour through southern Peru and western Bolivia starting and ending in the historical city of Arequipa. First routed and curated by Mark Watson and Hana Black, this route pedals through a collage of stunning country linking Peru’s Central Volcanic Zone, Lago Titicaca, and the northern reaches of the Atacama Desert. As it navigates through the Peruvian and Bolivian high-country, the Camino Del Puma finds its heart in the lands and lives of the Quechua and Aymara people native to the area, as well as many pre-Columbian archaeological sites and ruins. 

We stumbled upon this route on bikepacking.com - it hit all of our boxes. First, being a loop the technical trip planning is simplified - and it is of the ideal distance for the timeframe we had in mind. Secondly, hailing from Colorado Andie and I are drawn towards arid high-elevation terrain. By blending foreign culture and recognizable topography, the Camino Del Puma seemed the perfect mix of landscape familiarity and cultural dissimilarity. It felt comfortable, yet exciting. Lastly, I’ve always been drawn to South America. I romanticize the scarcity of industrialization and simplified lifestyle often portrayed south of the equator. South American landscapes - such as Patagonia, Cordillera Blanca, Valle Cochamó, or the Tierra del Fuego archipelago - have fascinated me since back when cable still broadcasted documentaries. That’s all to say, the Andes were our ticket - and the Camino Del Puma, our plan.

Bikes & Gear

Big thanks to Velo Orange for all their help on this journey of ours. Andie and I have been riding their Piolet for a few months now and couldn’t be happier with the frameset. It is durable yet playful and beefy enough that I don’t worry about abusing it a bit as gravity takes the reins. It is littered with mounting points for racks / gear and when paired with VO’s Utility Bar offers a limitless amount of packing configurations for one to customize as they see fit. 

Velo orange piolet bikepacking setup bolivia peru
Velo orange piolet bikepacking setup bolivia peru

Component highlights include Velo’s Utility Flat Bar and Ergon GP1 grips, our Brooks B17 (and B17 Short) saddles, Growtac mechanical brakes, and my hand-me-down Crank Brothers Eggbeaters. My ride is kitted out with a full assortment of Revelate Designs gear including their Tangle frame bag, 14L Terrapin seatpost bag, 11L Sweetroll up front, and Jerrycan for the easy-to-access. 

Velo orange piolet bikepacking setup bolivia peru

 

Velo orange piolet bikepacking setup bolivia peru

Andie outfitted her Piolet with a mix of bags from a few different manufacturers for an overall more colorful and unique aesthetic. Bags include: Revelate’s 14L Terrapin seatpost bag, Oveja Negra’s Superwedgie frame bag, as well as the Zeitgeist Pack and Sidekick Stem Pouch from Swift Industries.

Highlights hidden within include our Fujifilm X-T30II / X100V / Olympus Stylus, Nemo’s Dragonfly Bikepack OSMO tent, our Solo Stove Lite (for gas-free cooking), my Benchmade Claymore and hand-me-down Leatherman, our Patagonia Fitz Roy 20-deg  / Thermarest Hyperion 20-deg sleeping bags, and Andie’s watercolor travel kit. 

We each have roughly 6L of water-carrying capacity and will be toting the waterproof Big Dumpling hip packs from Rockgeist. To pair, we’ve made our own custom inserts for our cameras and fragile goods. Our repair / med kits are slim yet thorough and apparel spans the difference between storms at 16,000’ and the sun of the Atacama. All in all we’ve slimmed down the more traditional pannier-based touring set-up for bikepacking bags and a grip of Voile Straps. 

Velo orange piolet bikepacking setup bolivia peru
Velo orange piolet bikepacking setup bolivia peru

As we wrap up our final weekend in Colorado, break down the bikes for travel, and stash away our goods for the coming month, the days begin to slow down and anticipation grows. We tweak the bikes, prepare ourselves for the transition to instant coffee (easy enough for Andie - she loves the stuff), and organize gear only to then re-organize it. We’re both looking forward to the unknown - and more than anything else just psyched to unplug for a while. Perhaps, with a bit of luck, we’ll even manage to catch sight of my favorite feline - and the namesake of our route. 

Till next time - DnA -


4 comments


  • Igor

    We’ll be posting updates as they send them over! Service will be spotty, so it might be a bit.


  • Muse

    Great sounding start and I can’t wait for the follow-ups. Will you be updating the blog as you progress? Regardles, best of luck and I look forward to reading more about your adventure(s). Cheers! – cm


  • Dre

    Those are both really good lookin’ rides!


  • Basil

    GOOD LUCK ON YOUR TRIP!

    I’ve cycled some adventures in Peru myself. please let me know how it goes.


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