Bicycle renting & trail riding, Saint John, New Brunswick

On a recent trip to Saint John, New Brunswick, we made Uptown Saint John our base and rented hybrid bicycles for $50/day from Consolvo Bikes for day trips.We only had a few short days in Saint John, so we packed in as much as we could. 

After wandering around the quaint uptown section of Saint John, we drove for just under an hour northeast along route 111, which offered picturesque views along the way, especially of the Sea Caves at St. Martins, with the striking red beach and rock.

Our destination was the Fundy Trail Parkway, a beautiful, low-traffic park road (paved) that offers a plethora of stunning vistas and plenty of short, scenic walks.   A full day is really needed if you want to make the most of your visit, though we packed in a lot with a half day visit.

For a $10/person entrance fee, we received a detailed map at the Parkway entrance. The scale of the map is misleading, (points of interest are closer to each other than the map might leave you to believe) and many of the scenic stops can be missed if you’re in a car and zip by the discreet signposts.

If you want to cycle the paved road (which you share with the occasional car), consider leaving your vehicle at the entrance, cycling the 10kms to the Interpretive Centre to enjoy the views and short walk/stops along the way, and then have one of your party hitch a ride back to your car to save you from another challenging cycle trip, this time in reverse.

Fuller Falls
Fuller Falls

There are several long hills with memorable inclines & declines on the Parkway (it is a rugged, winding coastline), and when you build in the time for photos of the Bay of Fundy, lunch, cycling those challenging inclines, and walking stops (such as at Fuller Falls, the Big Salmon River Suspension Bridge, or the very pretty Sea Captain’s Burial ground), the day goes very quickly.

Big Salmon River Suspension Bridge
Big Salmon River Suspension Bridge

Even though it is advertised on the Parkway website that there is cycling off-road on the walking trails, from what we saw and experienced, you’d have to be one bloody amazing athlete to pull that off. 

There are places along the paved, serene roadside where you can easily and briefly “off-road” it, but if you try to stay solely on those trails, they ultimately lead to root-gnarled, steep, rock-strewn narrow hiking paths (some with cable stairs, like at Fuller Falls) that even in my most wild, youthful days I wouldn’t have wanted to tackle as a full-day experience. TIPS: bring water and snacks, there are no stores in the Parkway, though there are cafes at the St. Martins Red Rock Sea Caves.

We also visited Irving Nature Park, with our bicycles, a very scenic spot just 10 minutes from downtown Saint John.  There is no cost to enter the park, but on weekends the place is very popular.

The road is gravel and therefore dusty in the dry summer if you are sharing it with a stream of visiting vehicles. We cycled the 6km gravel loop late in the afternoon, so traffic was, thankfully, scarce.  The park was peaceful, and silent save for the skitter of squirrels and the chirp of birds.

 There are trails you can mountain-bike, with varying degrees of challenge.  Most of them are pretty level and close enough to the main gravel road so that if you want a break from bumping over roots and dodging between trees, you can readily cut back to the road. 

A cycle path for the hardy
We “off-roaded” along several of the easier trails.

The picturesque coves en-route, the iconic boardwalk at the start of the loop, and the views of the Fundy make it all very worthwhile.  There is also the very scenic Sand Cove beach before the entrance to the gravel loop, with a fantastic sandy stretch offering splendid views of Manawagonish Island.Sand CoveWalking out to Sand Cove


Three days in Lima, Peru in May

x02_02On a recent 3-day trip to Lima, Peru, not only did we have the pleasure of meeting with members of the Peruvian aviation community & flying a rented plane over Lima’s nearby barren peaks and beautiful coastline, but we also visited some of the city’s spectacular sights.  Our itinerary for the 3 whirlwind days (and blog posts for each activity):

Day One: Huaca Pucllana, Mercados Artesanal, and a self-guided cycle tour with rented bikes in Miraflores, along El Malecon, the cliff-top promenade overlooking the Oceano Pacifico.


Day Two: Lib Mandi Aerodromo, Playa San Bartolo, Cruz de Hueso ultra-light airstrip


Day Three: Urban Adventures cycle tour of Morro Solar, Chorrillos, and Barranco; and a self-guided tour of the Basilica Cathedral of Lima, the historic district of Lima, and the Olive Grove Forest (Bosque El Olivar).

There are 10 million people in Lima, and the traffic is horrific.  Taxis are cheap and Uber is cheaper.  It’s a city of contrasts: sky-rises and shanty towns, manicured parks and barren hillsides, ancient ruins and upper-class manors, haute cuisine and greasy cafes. Modern meets ancientDuring the Peruvian winter (June to September), clouds frequently clot the sky along with garúa, a thick mist which is the only source of ground moisture in this subtropical desert region. Despite all the clouds, rain occurs only a few times in a century in Lima, making this the driest city on the planet.  Three days was, for us, ample time to enjoy Lima’s bustling main streets, historic plazas & architecture, and bohemian districts of artists and musicians.

Flying a Cessna over Lima, Peru

A Stearman in downtown Lima, Peru
Our aviation adventure started in the heart of Lima, where we discovered an old Stearman behind an imposing iron fence on Avenue Arequipa, Miraflores. The fence was ajar; we went in & snapped a photo. An armed guard politely but firmly prevented us from exploring further.

Lib Mandi is a privately owned and operated aerodromo in Lima, Peru (see below for airport info). It’s about 30 miles south of Lima; however, it’s almost a 2 hour drive to reach, not only due to traffic, but because there are so few exits off the highway.  We had to drive 30 minutes past the airport, then 30 minutes back down the other side of the divided highway to access the aerodromo entrance.



Even then, our driver almost missed the entrance to Lib Mandi, as there is no paved road; one simply pulls onto the shoulder of the highway at speed, then onto a dirt track.  Entrance to Lib Mandy
Peru has no “private” aviation and is home to only around 87 GA airplanes, all of which are commercially registered and operated, 17 of which are based in Lib Mandi.  The only way for us to rent a plane & fly as PIC was as flight students of Masters of the Sky, Lib Mandi’s sole flight school. Organizing this took place well in advance of arriving in Lima, with much assistance from Raul, a local aviation enthusiast.

Raul is the first one on the right, across from his brother, a retired military pilot

Aviation in Peru is far different than in Canada. It takes one year to register a newly imported plane, and during that year, the owner must pay storage fees and wages to keep a mechanic “active” for the plane. Fuel can only be purchased by those with a fuel purchasing license; this was originally done to control the use of kerosene (jet fuel) in purification of cocaine, but 100LL got caught up in the same bureaucracy. Transportation officials actively and openly discourage aviation so as to lessen their own workloads, and because Peruvian airlines prefer to hire Venezuelan pilots for half the wages of hiring Peruvians, prospects for young commercial pilots are very challenging.

Lib Mandy aerodrome, from the Control Tower
View of Lib Mandi, from the control tower

From the moment we arrived at Lib Mandi’s gate, it was clear that we were entering a markedly different aviation world.  The drive along the short entrance road into the bleak airstrip, looking up at the control tower atop its desolate hill, did nothing to dispel that unsettling feeling.Lib Mandy control towerAt Masters of the Sky, we were given headsets & high-visibility vests, then briefed by our flight instructor, a friendly Peruvian with the very non-Peruvian name of Halfdan Bryhner. The immaculate airplane was completely incongruent with the surroundings: a late-model Cessna 172 SP, with a G1000 Glass Cockpit.  Pre-flight briefingThe weather was about 200 broken and 1 to 2 miles visibility in garúa, a thick mist which is the only source of ground moisture in this subtropical desert region. But we did have a fully IFR capable plane with a G1000 cockpit, no possibility of icing, and plenty of fuel to reach nearby instrument runways, so we completed the start-up procedures and headed towards the run-up area.

Glass panel, location Peru
During my turn as PIC, David snapped this photo of the glass panel

The 3200-foot runway has an elevation of 240 feet at one end, about 180 feet 2/3 of the way down, and 200 feet at the other end.  Heading downslope, we were airborne well before the middle!  By about 2000 feet, we were above the broken layer, with no cloud above. Visibility was still only around 2 miles, so we headed south, looking for a break in the under-cast. Desolate, dry mountains surrounding LimaHeading back to the airport, we wondered if we’d be diverting over-the-top to Pisco, an airport to the south, to do an instrument approach, but Halfdan assured us there’d be a hole right over the approach at Lib Mandi. We rounded a partly obscured hill for base, flew down a short valley, and, as promised, found the only hole in the under-cast for 20 miles in any direction. Apparently, prevailing winds combined with land-forms conveniently provide this access hole.

Approaching base


Although the flight was exhilarating and Halfdan was a congenial and excellent pilot, we left Lib Mandi disturbed.  Where was the opportunity for a recreational aviation community, and for youngsters to pursue a passion for flight beyond a flight school? We found it at Cruz de Hueso, just across the highway from Lib Mandi.  Despite its close proximity, it was another amazingly long drive to reach it, due to lack of highway exits. 

Peruvian BBQ at the Cruz de Hueso pilot clubhouse.

Located in the seaside town of San Bartolo, Cruz de Hueso used to be a golf course.  Indeed, all the maps and aviation charts still list it is as such.  However, it’s now home to a thriving GA community of ultra-light pilots, with a few helicopters thrown into the mix.

Here we met the Presidente of iAOPA Peru, Guido Fernandez, an 85 year old retired airline pilot and current ultra-light pilot.

Accompanied by several tail-wagging canine co-pilots, Guido gave us a tour of the new taxi ways and helicopter pads under construction and the “control tower” atop the clubhouse.

Cruz de Hueso control tower
Clubhouse “control tower”

We were impressed by the existing airstrip and the plans & enthusiasm for the future of Cruz de Hueso. 



During an incredible BBQ of sausages, pork, ribs, and alpaca, with sides of steamed asparagus and delicious “asparagus cream” (a savory, velvety concoction that I will crave for the rest of my life), Guido regaled us with tales from his airline captain days, the most notable being how a combination of turbulence, fumes from a bottle of aftershave in the aircraft lavatory, and a flickering fluorescent light fixture caused an in-flight fire and explosion that haunts him to this day (yes, he safely landed the aircraft, the fire was successfully extinguished in-flight, and there were no casualties).

Pilot & asparagus king
Helicopter pilot & one of Peru’s top asparagus farmers, “The King” made some divine asparagus cream to accompany the BBQ

We ruefully learned from Guido that we had paid a “special tourist” price of $250 USD at Lib Mandi; a local student would’ve paid $180 USD. We deemed the loss acceptable in exchange for the gain received: an exhilarating flight at a truly unique aerodromo, and a valuable perspective on how crucial it is that we Canadian pilots continue to actively fight any restrictions and regulations that threaten our own freedom to fly.

Cruz de Hueso Ultralight field
Cruz de Hueso Airfield

After saying goodbye to the folks at Cruz de Hueso, we popped over to San Bartolo, strolled along the beach, then headed back to our hotel in Miraflores. The entire day was extraordinary, and truly underlined what a wonderful privilege it is to fly, and how it is essential in Canada that we protect our “freedom to fly” as private pilots.




Airport: SPLX or Lib Mandi Airport (about 30 miles South of Lima) in the town of San Bartolo
Elevation at SPLX: 200 feet
Runway 32/14 (we used 32) is 3280 feet long by 55 feet wide. Significant DIP 2/3 of the way down 32.
Only one taxiway on/off of the runway – Taxiway ALPHA at the 32 end.
Flight Service Station (Lib Mandi Radio) on 118.80


Bicycle rentals, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Cycle rental stall
Modulo Parque Alfredo Salazar S/N Larcomar Miraflores.

A broad, tree-lined bike route runs down most of the length of Avenida Arequipa in the district of Miraflores, Lima and continues on through to Avenida Jose Larco.  At the south end of Jose Larco, the bicycle path leads to El Malecon, the picturesque cliff-side promenade that links six gorgeous ocean-view parks. Looking southeast from Miraflores seacliff pathA bicycle rental shop is located right outside the Indian Market on Av. Arequipa, and another exists at Larcomar, on El Malecon itself: Modulo Parque Alfredo Salazar S/N Larcomar Miraflores.    A map comes with the bike rental, and there’s no end of parks and scenic viewpoints along the very popular cliff-top walkway. x05_05 It’s an easy, mostly flat ride.  We rode north from the starting point at Parque Alfredo Salazar to just past Parque Maria Reiche and back in just under 1 hour, with many photo stops along the way.

Faro de la Marina
Faro de la Marina
El Beso (The Kiss)
El Beso (The Kiss), Parque Del Amor

It was well worth the $10 US/bike fee. But you might wish to avoid cycling during a Sunday!  The route is enjoyed to an astonishing degree by locals on foot & bicycle, and bicycle races are common.  Weaving between dense packs of strollers, dogs on leash, pedestrians, ice-cream vendors, toddlers on trikes, and bevies of spandex-clad competitors was a truly unique experience & great for testing our reflexes.Cycling the Miraflores seacliff path