We spent our last day in Cusco doing a final spot of sightseeing, I think everyone was pretty tired from the early mornings on our side trip to Machu Picchu, so we just wondered around the picturesque town, checked out the Inca museum and made a trip through San Pedro market.
The skills of the locals are incredible, if only we had more space for souvenirs on the bike. It’s amazing watching the ladies weaving without any pattern to follow – the textiles they produce must take days and days of work.
The trip around the market ended up being an interesting one….to start with it was just the normal things you might see for sale….
But then it got weird…..okay, frogs legs I can understand!
…..but what on earth are these for!!! Ergh!
Our last night in Cusco involved the first of three goodbyes. After Mike’s accident he was flying back home to Canada (to buy another bike and plan his next trip no doubt 🙂 ). It’s strange to think we wont be riding together again.
Mike waved us off the following morning and we headed out of town with Chris to Puno. My parents were taking a slightly more luxurious and warmer method of transport – the Andean Explorer Train which is part of the Orient Express.
Their train left before we headed off, partly because we were struggling to get the bike out of the hotel reception! In fact Dan almost took one of their glass entrance doors off whilst trying to ride up the steps onto the street. It all got a bit messy and passers by were helping out, definitely the most difficult exit yet!!
A couple of hours down the road and we caught up with the train. I was waving frantically as we rode along – I’m sure everyone else on board was probably wondering why 🙂 I was starting to feel quite envious of the passengers as we gained altitude and it got colder and colder.
Luckily the scenery made up for the chilly weather…even on a dull day it looks amazing.
Chris bought some small LED torch’s from the UK and hands them out to the locals – they love them! Although it does look more like he’s trying to light the young boy a cigarette….haha – he really isn’t!
We met back up with Mum & Dad in the town of Puno, which sits on the edge of Lake Titicaca. The town wasn’t quite as beautiful as Cusco, but a great base for checking out the highest navigable lake in the world.
There was a huge street party going on one evening…we never did find out what it was in aid of – but as we’ve experienced in the past, they do enjoy a good street party in Central and South America!
We took a day trip out on Lake Titicaca to visit the nearby Uros Islands – floating islands made from the reeds. It was interesting meeting the local Uru people who live here.
These guys look like they’re waiting at their local ‘boat’ stop, maybe to get back to the mainland.
A local inhabitant explained the construction of the islands….it was weird to think people live out here. The base of the islands is made from cutting and floating sections of reed roots, they then lay several layers of reeds to create a surface on which they can build and walk around. The top layers rot and have to be replaced regularly and the islands are not permanent – some only last for 20 years before being rebuilt. The whole island feels squidgy under your feet as you walk. They have to anchor the islands with rope to the bottom of the lake to stop them from floating off and into Bolivia as they don’t have passports 🙂
After nearly two weeks, it was now sadly time for my parents to head back to Lima for their flight home. Goodbye number two. I hate saying goodbye to my parents…but we’ll be back in the UK in March, so not long until I get to see them again! They had seen quite a lot on their holiday, including the Dakar Rally, Cusco, Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca…..quite a tiring trip but I hope they enjoyed it 🙂
As they headed for the airport, we hit the road with Chris towards Chile. We reached an all time altitude high of approx 4650m and we stayed at over 4000m for hours, it was super cold and I hadn’t put enough layers on. Plus is was really foggy and at times we could barely see anything. Every time we started to descend a little bit I was hoping we would be on our way to the warmth of sea level…but then we would start ascending again…it went on forever!
Finally we reached the warmth near the coast and after about a month in Peru, we crossed into Chile. I had read that people compared crossing from Peru into Chile as being like crossing from Mexico into the USA….they were kind of right. Peru was really poor and there was a definite noticeable difference entering Chile, it almost instantly seemed richer. Unfortunately they have prices to match….fuel is super expensive as is accommodation and food. I guess we wont be spending too much time here then.
Our journey from Puno to the coast and into Chile had taken us into the Atacama Desert – the driest place in the world!! No need for my waterproof linings for a few days then 🙂
I’ve never seen scenery like it before….you would think driving through a desert would be boring – but this was far from boring.
Some of the roads were long and straight, but that just gave us a chance to relax whilst still riding along – although I don’t have anywhere to put my feet up!!!
A new country means new beer……for some anyway – I’m just here for the wine 🙂
We hit the coastal road for a couple of hours before heading inland deeper into the desert.
As we neared the town of San Pedro de Atacama the scenery changed again…so many different landscapes in one day on the road!
It was time to relax for a few days in San Pedro…..the sun was shining and we needed to plan some more of the trip – where will we go next??
We also used the day off to check out the local salt flats of Salar de Atacama…..
…which along with being home to lizards are also home to one of the rarest flamingos in the world – the Andean Flamingo. Quite a strange thing to see at altitude on slat flats, but this is where they migrate to in the summer months.
More great roads and scenery en route to and from the salt flats.
Now time for our third goodbye….Chris has to be in Buenos Aires before the end of the month, so he’s headed off for the Argentinean border. Now we’re back on our own….other than the odd day here and there, we’ve not been on our own on the road for months – time to hunt down some more overlanders I think 🙂
After a very lazy Christmas and New Year in Huaraz, it was hard to get back in the swing of biking but we needed to get to Lima to meet Lisa’s mum and dad and to see the start of The Dakar Rally 2013.
Mike and Chris had already set off a couple of days before and were heading deeper into the high mountains before getting to Lima. We later found out they’d had quite the adventure after getting lost, breaking down and then they lost each other for over a day in the difficult terrain on New Years Eve.
The route we took was a beautiful winding road from the chilly mountains to the humid coast as we joined the Pan American Highway into Lima.
Lisa made a surprise visit to her mum and dad at their hotel in Lima (We originally planned on meeting them in Cusco a couple of days later).
We then met up with Mike and Chris the next day to check out the Dakar Village on the beach.
Team HRC gained quite a bit of attention after 24 years absence from the event…..Go Honda!!
Lisa was taking a few days off the bike and flew to Cusco with her mum and dad and we arranged to meet up a few days later.
I didn’t mind as the next 1000km’s would be all boys stuff anyway – The Dakar and riding the Nazca to Cusco road!
Mike, Chris and I rode out of Lima down the coast towards Ica to check out The Dakar spectator zone.
We were staggered to see thousands of locals out on the streets waving and cheering us along!
(They might have been confusing us with someone else but we didn’t want to disappoint and just waved back)
The first few stages was in the desert sands. We managed to get pretty close to all the action.
After having our photo’s taken all morning with Dakar fans who think that all Gringo’s on bikes must be part of the race, we made our exit and headed to the small oasis town outside of Ica in the dunes.
We met up with some other bikers in our hostel, chatted, drank beer and Pisco Sours, before getting some sleep as we had a long day of riding the next day.
With our tanks brimmed with fuel we agreed to meet up later along the road if weather and light permitted, otherwise in Cusco a couple of days later.
This was to be the last time all three bikes would be together unfortunately…..
There was still another 600km of windy roads to Cusco and as I needed to get there within two days to meet up with Lisa and her mum and dad, I headed off in front to cover some road quickly.
The road out of Nazca was spectacular! Amazing scenery and beautiful bitumen….
You know you are at altitude when Llamas are around…..
Later that day, a man overtook me in his pickup truck and was frantically trying to flag me down as I rode through the town of Puquio.
It was bad news – his friend had telephoned him from just outside a town 20kms back and told him that my friend on a motorcycle had been involved in an accident with a taxi.
I raced back to the scene of the accident as quickly as I could. Chris was not far behind.
Mike had been in a head-on collision with a minibus taxi but was thankfully okay. The taxi driver was on the wrong side of the road going around a corner which unfortunately is not uncommon in Latin America.
The KLR was dragged along the road for several metres but Mike only suffered bruising and shock after the accident. He was unbelievably lucky.
The impact was so great that the front wheel on the taxi was shunted back.
We loaded Mike’s battered bike into the back of the taxi and attempted to get to the town of Puquio. The taxi was in a poor state too and the driver had to pull into a mechanics to get the front axle banged out.
The guy who pulled me over earlier that day left me with his mobile number in case we needed any help so we called him from our hostel in Puquio that evening.
The payphone ran out of credit while I talked to him and so I fumbled around for some more change when he entered reception and greeted us all.
Osirise with Mike – this guy is a hero and went well out of his way to help us out.
He drove us around town all night as we tried to arrange for Mike’s bike to be transported to Cusco in the hope of getting it fixed in a bigger town.
Osirise negotiated a deal with a truck driver who was heading to Cusco that night so we loaded it with the help of Osirise’s family.
Mike took a night bus to Cusco and we hit the sack after a long day.
Chris and I got up at the crack of dawn as we planned to catch up with the truck driver and meet him in Cusco.
More great riding as we rode up to over 4500 metres.
Mike arrived before us in Cusco in time to collect his bike with the help of some guys at the hostel that he had checked into.
He decided that the bike was not worth salvaging as the frame was bent pretty badly so made a deal with a local mechanic and sold it to him after some negotiating. Mike’s trip is sadly over.
We have enjoyed traveling with Mike on and off since Guatemala and are both gutted that his trip has ended so suddenly.
Cusco main square – tourists everywhere!
We pre-booked the trip to Machu Picchu so caught the train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu.
Bev and Dave enjoying the train ride…choo chooo!
One of those hairless sun-smart dawgs….
We woke up at 5am the next morning and arrived at the ruins early to beat the crowds….
To quote Dave (Lisa’s Dad) “It will be nice when it’s finished”
I can see why it is one of the Seven Wonders Of The World. It’s amazing!
We are now back in Cusco for a day but we ride to Puno tomorrow, where we will see Lake Titicaca, the largest, highest lake in South America.
We arrived in San Ignacio after a long day of dirt riding and checked into the best hotel in town to rest up for a couple of days.
Luckily Peru seems pretty cheap so even dining in the hotel restaurant you will struggle to spend more than $5 on a main course.
I’m gauging from the amount of stares we received, that not many gringos stop in this town.
Moto Taxi with extra bling…..
Met a Peruvian couple on a BMW GS when riding from San Ignacio towards the coast. They didn’t speak English and our Spanish is still rubbish but we managed to exchange some info about our trips.
We rode through beautiful landscape on the way to Chiclayo, getting in some foggy mountain riding before dropping down to lower altitude.
Sharing the road with some wildlife too…
Our first taste of crazy Peruvian traffic – in Chiclayo.
Our hotel was right in the thick of the city with constant noise from car horns and alarms going off.
We found a chicken grill restaurant that evening and had to shout over the table to hear each other over the traffic outside, the TV on full volume and kids running around, apparently excited to see the large fishtank that was centerpiece in the restaurant.
We left on the bikes the next day and decided to head over to a small relaxed town on the beach called Huanchaco.
On the way we noticed how dirty some parts of Peru can be when riding through the smaller towns. Rubbish is dumped on the side of the road and can be seen for miles in some places. Sometimes they burn it which creates massive smoke clouds that blocked out the sun as we rode through it.
Huanchaco. It’s been a while since we were on the Pacific coast and the water was freezing!
We met another Brit on a bike as we were heading out of town the next day.
Chris started in Colombia a couple of weeks ago on his KTM 950 and decided to tag along for the ride…..
….with his sheep.
Riding through the Peruvian desert was pretty hot but also picturesque so we pulled over to take some snaps and take in some liquids.
A llama with extra bling….
Dodging more animals on the road….
We rode up to an altitude of 4,200m before dropping to 3,100m when we arrived in the town of Huaraz in the mountains.
Many of the roads in town were closed due to roadworks, so we had trouble finding a place to stay but eventually found somewhere before it got dark.
We walked around the town later and bought some cheap fireworks. It’s funny the stuff you can find to entertain yourselves after a long days’ riding….
The next day, it was Christmas Eve so we decided to find somewhere a bit nicer in another part of town to spend the Holidays….
Canyon Del Pato is only 100kms from Huaraz so we unloaded the bikes and set off early on Boxing Day for some offroad fun.
35 hand carved single lane tunnels meander alongside a river which makes from some spectacular riding.
As it was only coming up to midday when we finished riding through all 35 tunnels (twice!), we rode back to Huaraz but took a detour to Laguna Paron in the Cordillera Blanca Mountains.
It was hard riding and all 3 bikes got stuck in the sand and mud.
Evidently the mountain that towers behind the lake is the one depicted in the Paramount Pictures logo. Unfortunately the cloudy weather had set in by the time we arrived there so you’ll just have to imagine it instead 🙂
Chris helping the locals (over) load a moto taxi on the way back down the mountain…
We spent the last few days just walking around the town of Huaraz, checking out all the popular restaurants and generally not much else….
The view from our hostel….
Chilling out in the thermal pools in the town of Monterrey nearby….
We still have a couple of days to kick around here before doing some pretty exciting stuff – 2013 Dakar, Nazca to Cusco road, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. I can hardly wait!!!!! 😀