On April 16, 2015, photographer Martijn Doolaard rode his Surly Long Haul Trucker bicycle out of Amsterdam. One year later, after days in the Dasht-e Kavir desert sun and nights in Indian jungles, he arrived in Singapore. “It’s not about getting to China,” he wrote in One Year on a Bike, a book he published about the experience. “It’s about everything in between.” In between: Eastern Europe, Turkey, Iran, Tajikistan, India, Myanmar, and Thailand, among other places, plus a redefinition of what home means.
Doolaard just returned from another long, sometimes strange trip, from Vancouver to Patagonia—and another book, to be released in 2021, is in the making. He shared a sneak peek of his time in Peru, days 548 to 672 of the journey, with PRIOR.
“Cajamarca is a charming colonial town where I spend a few days catching up on work. The street outside of my house goes straight up to Santa Apolonia, a little chapel on the hillside. A few blocks further is Mercado Modelo, where locals and people from the pueblas come to sell their harvests: fruits and vegetables, spices, and guinea pigs, a favourite meal in Peru. It’s mostly women in the market, wearing colourful outfits and hats so big, they’d keep you entirely dry in the rain.”
CAJAMARCA TO CARAZ
“Not far outside of a town called Cachachi, I found a place to camp: a secluded spot with a great view, located just before the long down hill to Cajabamba.
The last two days towards Caraz promised to be easier than the previous ones. Most of the roads would be paved… The landscape changed drastically, as it does if you decline in altitude quickly. It was a lot drier and warmer, with brown soil and cacti. There were hardly cars on this road, so it was a pleasant downhill ride with the most amazing views.”
“The sand dunes of Huacachina, my last destination of the 600km desert ride along the coast. I parked my bike at the oasis and walked into the desert onto the highest dune until the sun set. It was the best part, and the most beautiful desert I had ever seen.”
“I was lucky enough to be in Ayacucho during this indigenous festival. Three days of colourfulness, parades, brass bands and dancing. I watched the festivities from the balcony of cafe VíaVía, located in an old colonial house on the Plaza de Armes.”
SALINERAS DE MARAS
“A day ride out of Cusco to the salt mines of Maras. Because of protests in the Sacred Valley, there were no cars on the road—villagers had blocked it with trees—but they was non-violent and I could easily pass with the bike. At the end of the afternoon, I reached the small town of Maras, from where a dirt track went down to the salt mines. Local communities have been harvesting salt here since pre-Inca times. Because of the rain, the mud was sticky—I had to carry my bike until I reached hard soil again—but the countless pools looked like a valley of mirrors.”
AREQUIPA LOOP / VOLCÁN MISTI
“There’s a great dirt road going from the altiplano down to Arequipa in between the two volcanoes, Chachani and Misti. With Pascal The best part is just before the volcanoes.”
“Throughout the south of Peru, there are many mineral-coloured mountainscapes to be found, around altitudes of 5000m. Rainbow Mountain is the most famous one and receives hundreds of visitors every day. I found an alternative location called Palccoyo, a little village about 100kms from Rainbow Mountain with a much more versatile landscape. A long dirt trail climbs up slowly via the terraced mountains past many small alpaca farms. The higher you get, the more red the soil becomes, which contrasts beautifully with the green grass. An otherworldly landscape.”
THE ROAD TO VOLCÁN TICSANI
“I don’t have to tell you anything about the landscape; these photos speak for themselves. It’s a serene and deserted beauty all around. The only thing I can’t capture is the incredible silence you hear when you stop, and the grinding through the gravel shuts off.”
“After a long day of cycling, I reached the foot of the Volcán Ticsani, which is situated in an incredible sandy valley. As I continue upwards, the sand gets softer and the air thinner. There’s nothing else here but sand and rocks in one colour.”
VALLE DE LAS ANIMAS
“La Valle de las Animas is densely packed with rock formations that look like giant cathedrals. Thanks to an exploded tire, I had time to go for a hike.”
Note: Captions have been edited for space and clarity.
Julia Bainbridge is an editor who has worked at Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit, and a James Beard Award-nominated writer whose stories have been published in Food & Wine, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, among others. After building a career around why and how people gather, Bainbridge pivoted into why people don’t, launching The Lonely Hour podcast to explore social disconnection and other forms of loneliness. In the years since, the show has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, Psychology Today, Women’s Health, Bloomberg, the BBC, NPR, Calm, and more.