After a month of cycle touring around Peru,I came to Huaraz.Upon seeing the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra I knew I had to dedicate my final month to this place.Immediately I began asking the locals who was the best guide to get me into these mountains and Julio Olazas name kept popping up. I ended up doing more than a dozen unforgettable rides with him ranging from 1 and half hours to all day excursions.There are a labrynth of trails and often they can blend into the tundra so having Julio present saved hours of route finding.Many of the trails date back to pre-Inca times with firm and fast surfaces flanked either by stone walls,eucalyptus groves,small farm houses, or livestock.Just being in this enviroment is inspiring but coupled with the accesibility of mountain biking it truly is worth every penny.
Without doubt riding in and around Huaraz on the Cordillera Blanca with Julio Olaza was the highlight of my whole trip. I have ridden the best trails in the world but after riding your trails I realised I have now ridden the Greatest trails in the world. Technically there is no comparison. The pre inca sections where everything I ever dreamed of riding. Through the guidence of Julio and his support team my ability increased to new levels. I was taken to trails that could never be discovered without him and his team and what trails they where. There is nowhere else worldwide you will ride at 5200 m and descend for 5 hours through ancient history on trails so technical and so tough that after I rode them i nearly retired, there is nowhere to go after that !
It was the highlight of all my years mountain biking. Thanks to the relaxed and fun atmosphere that Julio created I will always remember riding in Huaraz with a smile on my face. Everything was taken care of and my stay was very comfortable at Olaza’s Guest House thanks to Julio and his team. I look forward to returning this year.”
A love for the mountains is what drew me to Huaraz, Peru. My friend James Wilson, back home in Vancouver, Canada, mentioned he knew a guy in Huaraz who pretty much pioneered mountain biking in Peru. James had met Julio Olaza years ago in search of “the perfect single track”. The fact that he’d been back four times was enough to convince me to go! Danielle and I spent 2 weeks riding with Julio in January 2007 and everyday was better than the previous one! Julio knows the Cordillera’s Negra and Blanca inside and out and where to mountain bike in them. He observed our riding and asked questions the first day that helped him figure out exactly where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. This is a must have skill for any great guide. As I packed up my bike to head back home, I smiled realizing I had just ridden over 350kms of descent and dropped over 15,000m (50,000ft) in just 10 days. Where else in the world is this possible? If you call yourself a mountain biker, Huaraz, Peru should be on your checklist!
Pat Mulrooney, North Vancouver, Canada
Riding the Andes near Huaraz is a must for anyone who is seeking the best mountain biking the world has to offer. With the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca as a constant backdrop, Julio and his team are experts at sharing the best trails in the region from the serpentine back roads to the limitless singletrack winding through the beautiful and historic Peruvian countryside. Riders of all levels will find exactly what they’re looking for, from massive descents to leg-burning climbs. And at night, the friendly locals and excellent restaurants of Huaraz are the perfect way to unwind.
Grady Semmens. Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I like to see myself as a great adventurer and for the last 10 years I have completed a big annual challenge. The annual target gives me the incentive to keep myself fit. After cycling over (‘conquering’) Europe’s highest mountain road over Spain’s Sierra Nevada in 2004, my son and I decided to go for a ‘real big hill’ in the spring of 2006. After a long study of cycling adventure trips in the Andes we decided that Julio’s guided ride over the Punta Olimpica Pass (16,000 feet) and then back over the Llanganuca Pass would push us to our limits. That decision was one of the best I have made in my lifetime. Julio knows more about real mountain biking than probably anyone else alive. The Cordillera Blanca is one of the world’s most spectacular mountain ranges with many peaks of over 6,000 metres. The close proximity to the equator makes high altitude mountain biking possible for many people of reasonable fitness. I did the trip in my 50th year! It was our first time in Peru and we didn’t quite know what to expect. We landed at Lima’s ultra-modern airport and then travelled by taxi to our hotel in Miraflores, the fashionable tourist section of the city. From then on Julio had arranged everything – the hotel, luxury bus tickets, hotel in Huaraz, acclimatisation training rides/walks, bikes, mechanics, high altitude chef, en route accommodation etc. Included was a stay at the ‘Lazy Dog Inn’, a luxurious high altitude mountain lodge ran by Canadians Wayne Lamphier and Diana Morris. Diana has an amazing knowledge of the Andes and its people. Advice: A good few days of altitude training is necessary if you don’t want to run the risk of altitude sickness. Also keep drinking large amounts of water and coca tea. If you do this then, cycling slowly, you should make it to the summit of the Punta Olimpica pass without any effects of altitude. Some of our altitude training included incredible off-road downhills that do have an element of danger. These are optional rides and you should make sure you don’t injure yourself before the big trip. Take along a good camera. You will see some of the most incredible scenery on our planet. There are dozens of high snowy peaks, glaciers, turquoise lakes and ancient forests. If you like wild places then you will not be disappointed. You are almost guaranteed to see the Andean condors soaring above the valleys and, if you as lucky as we were, you might see them gliding effortlessly alongside you as you traverse the high roads. Don’t be surprised to see Cechuan children grazing their cattle at 14,000 feet. On the eastern side of the Cordillera Blanca we witnessed several little toddlers gathered around one of their sheep as it gave birth to a lamb. The mountain people are extremely friendly and will all wave as you pass. They don’t dress up for the tourists here. What you see is real people living and dressing as they have for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. As for Julio, I have enormous respect for this true gentleman. As a skilled guide he will egg you on, coax you, encourage you, joke with you and sometimes trick you into getting yourself and your bike over some of the highest roads in the world. During the ride I would regularly ask him, “how much further to the top?” and Julio would say “just a few hundred metres and then its false flat all the way to the top”. I soon learned that Julio’s ‘false flat’ really means ‘a very long steep hill’. If you are one of life’s true adventurers; if you want to see all the breathtaking wonders that the world has to offer; if your mottos include “you only live once” or “just do it” then Julio Olaza is a man you need to meet.
My son and I went with Julio on a mountain bike trip around Huascaran and it was absolutely incredible. Single tracking through Inca villages, going through spectacular mountain passes and the final day, starting at 16,500 ft, and screaming down switchbacks for 45 km trying to keep up with my son….it was amazing! Julio and his support team made the trip something my son and I will talk about forever. Thank you!
Our experience was one of the most memorable of my life and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a unique adventure. The opportunity to ride through a remote region of the Andes, a place seldom travelled by other cyclists, still exists. There aren’t too many places you can ride a bike to 16,000 feet!
” Julio Olaza makes the Andes a must for any mountain biker who is passionate about their sport . Infinite miles of trails , the widest range of challenges – descents that go for hours, all in the heart of the most beautiful mountain range in the world . ”
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The area around Huaraz is packed with al kinds of tracks. Some are easy to bike, some are very steep. For a visitor it´s hard to decide where to go because the choices are many. Julio Olaza, mountainbike expert in Huaraz, knows exactly where you can go. He offers good advice and knows the area by heart. So…check him out”.
Pieter Geluk (From Holland)
An adventure not to be missed, no where in the world can one mountain bike amongst 20,000 foot mountains and feel if you could almost touch their summits. The bicycling in the Cordillera Blanca is fantastic, a challenge for every ability. Julio was a fantastic guide and made sure that every member of the trip was able to ride at a level that was comfortable for them. Peru, a country full of color, history and wonderful people.
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Worldchampion Ecochallenge 1998
My ride with Julio in the Cordillera Negra was a great way to end my adventure in Peru. Beautiful vistas of Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca, plenty of opportunity to challenge myself on the bike, or to just take it easy. Julio’s kind and enthusiastic company was certainly a highpoint of my travels in Peru.
Thanks a lot for being an absolutely fantastic mountain bike guide and friend. Ron and I, who are both very well traveled, had our 4 best days of mountain biking ever! We enjoyed every little bit form the 1200m climbs on the narrow gravel roads, the fast technical single track downhills through the villages, the intense single track riding just below the glaziers and the night we spent at Lazy Dog Inn (3700m) with you Diana & Wayne. Everything that we did with you was worlds beyond our expectations. We get to ride top of the line Specialized dual suspension bikes. We get a responsible, but incredibly humorous guide that that speaks perfect English from his wild days enjoying Greatful Dead in California. We get a guide that absolutely trashed us up the hills despite us both being sub 11 hour Ironmen and among the best adventure racers in Texas. And as there are no maps, how in the world could we have found the tracks/roads that you showed us. It would have been impossible to do without a guide with your level of knowledge of the area. We are coming back next year for sure!
Arild Jakobsen – USA
I have been visiting Julio twice and each time has been a great experience. Biking in the Negra and the Blanca are probably the best way to experience what mountainbiking should be. Riding wheel to wheel with Julio, a great man with a great sense of humor, is one of those things you should do before you die. The tracks are fantastic; tons of miles with excellent downhill, through remote villages where you can experience the everydaylife of the people living there, and all the time you have great panoramic view to the big mountains in the Cordillera Blanca.
So, what can I say? Chakinani Peru is the best!
Kjetil Oedegardstuen, Norway
“During our fantastic three-day mountain bike tour of Huascaran National Park, Julio and Robin helped us to navigate the myriad of switchbacks and burro paths. The scenery was more splendid each day. On our third day, we began at a high mountain pass with a stunning panorama of ancient, snow-capped mountains surrounding us. We had an exhilarating descent down a road lined with exuberant magenta and violet lupine bushes, which perfectly framed the twin Llanganuco Lakes far below. Later in the day, we exited the park and had a fun, somewhat more technical ride on a deactivated road through farmland. Dusty and hot at the end of the road, we eagerly piled into the awaiting van, and headed off to sample some of the area’s best ice-cream, available in a rainbow of fresh fruit flavours. I couldn’t have dreamt up a better holiday!”
Dr. Louise Allaye-Chan
General Physician – Canada
“Julio provided a great off-the-beaten-track view of the Huaraz area for my wife and I. The tour was the highlight of our trip in South America. We cycled through farms and saw people who were working the land. Julio and his staff are flexible. They were able to accommodate people who wanted to go hard and hit the single-track or just take it easy and enjoy the sights. Julio is a good cook and provided nutritious snacks along the way.”
As we crossed the Punta Olympica pass any doubts that this trip might be easy vanished from our minds. Riding in the UK doesn’t prepare you for riding at 5,000 meters and even completing the Swiss mountain bike race the ‘Grand Raid’ a month previous didnt prepare us. The tour of Huascaran is mountain biking in the truest sense. Starting at 2,500 metres in the heat of the valley you feel you are on holiday. The first day’s riding up to the camp below the highest ‘road’ pass in Peru is spectacular. You pass through several communities and eventually emerge into the Ulta valley above. The ride might be only 40km or so but being steadily up hill all day, you feel like you deserve the fantastic meal served by Julio’s support crew. The second day starts with a 25km hill climb up to the top of the pass above the snow line. The support vehicle is on hand but we were determined to make it under our own steam. The shouts of encouragement from the team were appreciated though, as was the chocolate! A long downhill run took us down the eastern side of the Andes and small villages rarely seen by the western traveller. The hospitality is amazing. An ‘easy’ day and then we were headed up again towards the second pass. On day 4 we started to climb, thinking it might be easier now that we were more acclimatised. Easier, yes but no less spectacular. overnight at Yanama and we began to climb again heading for a high camp just below the second pass at 4,850m. You spend the night among the high peaks of the Cordillera Blanca and wake to fantastic views all around. Nowhere is the gradient steep but the climbs are long and we felt it at the end of the day. The cook made sure we ate well enough, producing some amazing food at high altitude. Julio is a good host and a fantastic guide and his support guys are great. He is a true adventurer and will make sure you will find what you are looking for from a mountain bike trip. This trip is not for lightweights nor is it beyond anyone who enjoys a challenge. We had two acclimatisation days where julio showed us some fantastic singletrack around Huaraz. The riding is equal to the best in the world and you will not be disappointed. On the main tour the riding is not technical but the altitude and hill climbs will challenge you whatever your ability and the views are out of this world. DO THIS TOUR !
Sarah and Derek Fuller (UK)