A Travellerspoint blog

Nazca to the Chile Border

From East to West across a Continent

sunny 24 °C

Leaving Nazca we immediately hit desert. Mile after mile of nothing but parched land and big skies. We experienced some desert riding last year when we travelled through Death Valley but this was different. Surprisingly for us it was quite cool in places, especially as we began to drop towards the ocean.

When we reached the Pacific it was spectacular. That fresh sea smell and giant waves rolling in and not a surfer to be seen. We travelled down the coast for some 200 miles and saw no commercial exploitation to speak of. The scene reminded us both of riding down Highway 1 in California.

So we had crossed a continent. All the way from Buenos Aires on the East Coast to the West. It had taken three thousand miles and three countries to do it. We had reached heights of over 4,300 metres and now we were back at sea level and able to breathe normally again !
The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean


April and the Pacific Ocean

April and the Pacific Ocean

We then headed inland for a two day stay in Ariquipa. This was to be our last in Peru before moving on to Chile. First though we were delayedin road works which meant we entered the city in the dark. Not recommended when you have little idea of where the hotel is. On the plus side we had all grouped together so there were seven bikes travelling together. This was handy when we had to muscle our way through the evening rush hour traffic.

Ariquipa itself is known as the white city. There are a couple of theories as to why. The first is that it is built in the Spanish Colonial style and still has many original buildings still standing. Most of these have white walls hence the name the white city. The second reason is a bit more disturbing. When the city was founded by the Spanish the indiginous population was kept outside the city walls and it therefore became known as the white city. Whatever the truth the central plaza is beautiful.
Main Plaza Arequipa

Main Plaza Arequipa

The only downside to the city are the thousands of very tiny yellow taxis that buzz around and around the city streets like little tiny wasps. None of them seem to be carrying any passengers though.

We had a day to explore he city but we were so shattered we did a bit of wandering sat in a couple of cafes and watched the world go by.

For squeamish people stop reading now. his was the place I tried Cuy or fried Guinea Pig. For those of you who thin this barbaric it may satisfy you to know that I got my cumupance beacuse it tasted like chicken, gave up no more than a mouthful and cost a packet.
Cuy

Cuy

Cliche Corner

Watched the world go by. Of course it didn't !

Random Thoughts

[b]On people we have met

We are about to leave Peru and are told that Chile is a different world to the rest of South America. It is more prosperous. More European. So I've been thinking about some of the people we have met in Bolivia and Peru. Like Clara who we met in Macchu Picchu. She was from Ariquipa but was working for a short time for a friend to help her out in a bar. She was happy because she had just started her own travel business in Ariquipa. She was tiny and full of enthusiasm and energy. She had a lot of optimism for the future and in a way seem to enbody some of what Peru seems to be trying to do. It has a mushrooming tourist industry with many Americans, Canadians , Australians taking package holidays to discover the natural beauty of the country.

In Bolivia, all the people we met were friendly and curious. Life was obviously hard for many of them but there was something very edearing about the way people went about their daily business. All of the group enjoyed the people of Boliva,none of us can say exactly why.

On South American Dogs

Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be a South American dog? First of all there are alot of them. They wander the streets in towns and villages,they wander the roads miles from anywhere,they rummage in bins and on rubbish heaps and enjoy sleeping in the middle of the road. But above all if you were a South American dog you would enjoy chasing motorbikes. For some of them it seems that is what they were put on this earth to do.

There we are riding along minding our own business when the flea ridden sneaky type, lurking behind a bus or hidden in a doorway sprints to maximum speed and hurls itself at your wheels. Or there is the long range "head off at the pass" type that you see from three miles away on an intercept course that you can't avoid. This one runs three or four miles to hurl itself at your wheels!

I'm busy perfecting my kicking game but feel I need some sort of implement. A sort of polo stick would be perfect. Now where can I get one of those ?

Posted by Mick G 15:43 Archived in Peru Tagged motorcycle Comments (1)

Cusco to Nazca

If Carlsberg made roads this would probably be the best road in the world.

sunny 30 °C

Four hundred and fifty miles of motorcycling bliss. Ups and downs, twists and turns. No good talking about it. If you get the chance just do it !
Switchbacks

Switchbacks

Great Road

Great Road

Road from Cusco to Nazca

Road from Cusco to Nazca

If you do ride it watch out for the concrete culverts built to direct rain water over the roads. When they have water in them they are very slippy wbich one of our group found out to his cost. The bike he was riding somersaulted a few times and ended up in the back of the support van. Fortunately the rider was fine. Remarkably the bike was patched up and is running again.
Patching up a Gs Adventure

Patching up a Gs Adventure

Posted by Mick G 17:00 Archived in Peru Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

Cusco

A day off to wander the city

sunny 25 °C

Cusco is a little bit different from the places we have visited so far.Its a bit more touristy and street wise. There are many street sellers, more restaurants and attractions to see. It is a great place though. There is a central plaza where the gardens are surrounded by Spanish colonial buildings with shaded archways. One of those buildings is occupied by the Norton Rats Bar.

The bar is on the first floor and has a great view of the Plaza. Its owned by a Norton motorcycle fanatic and has a comments book open to anyone who arrives in Cusco by motorcycle. Consequently we signed it as had many others before us. The remarkable thing about the bar though is the fact it serves a great pint of Speckled Hen or Abbott Ale. How on earth they import it and how they sell it for the same price as a pint in England I have no idea.

Our day off coincided with a parade around the Plaza and some sort of competition between various local dancing groups. Many were bizarely dressed in costumes that varied from paradies of past colonlial masters to Doctors and skeletons. To foreigners with little Spanish it was all a bit difficult to work out.
Festival in Cusco

Festival in Cusco

Festival participant

Festival participant

If you ever find yourself in Cusco though go to the local indoor market. It is a sight to behold. You cna buy most things there. Divided into sections there is the meat market including the monkeys head subsection. There is the fruit market and coat and zip repair section. We seem to have lost our ability to repair things but here in Peru the skills are alive and well.

One of our fellow motorcyclists broke a zip on his motorcycling jacket and managed to get a new one fitted for the princely sum of £7.

One downside to the place is the poverty that invades even the city centre. There were beggers who had obviously fallen on hard times. We watched one man on crutches,blind and elderly begging for money. What surprised me most was that it was some of the other poor who were contributing to his begging cup. And so did we.
Street beggar Cusco

Street beggar Cusco

Posted by Mick G 15:58 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Machu Picchu

A day trip to an old mountain

semi-overcast 18 °C

When I say a day trip I mean a day trip. It started at 3.00am and ended at 11.30 pm but it was worth every minute.

Its a long journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu. It took the Incas 7 days on foot and at the moment because of landslides caused by heavy rains it takes nearly as long. The train that normally runs from Cusco can only start from a small station about two hours away by coach. So it was we caught a small mini bus at 4.00am to catch the 7.30 am train.

The line has been badly effected and many parts of the track had been washed away completely only weeks before we arrived. It was obvious that superhuman effort had been put into restoring the destroyed sections but also that there is still alot of work to do. This was evidenced by how quite the train went as we crossed some sections where there we were feet from sheer drops into a raging river that runs beside the track. In one short section workmen were still putting the track together and the train virtually stopped and then inched its way across the moving and swaying rail!

It took a good fifteen minutes to extract the seat from our bottoms because we had been gripping so tightly!

Machu Picchu is iconic and as breathtaking as all the films and photographs lead you to believe it will be. So much so that both of us, for the first hour, felt the visit was a little bit surreal. There we were sat on the walls of this place that felt so familiar but that we had never visited before. The classic view over the ruins just didn't seem real and yet we were taking the self same photos from the same angle that we had seen so many times before.
The Classic View

The Classic View

We had a guide and I'm glad we did as he dispelled some of the myths around the place. I won't bore you with the facts because there are so many good books and websites devoted to Machu Picchu and I couldn't do it justice. Save to say that one thing I hadn't appreciated was that it was built as late as the sixteenth century and only occupied for about 80 years by approximately 500 people.
Terraces

Terraces

Words fail me in describing the place. Even the fellow tourists who were wandering around in there hundreds couldn't spoil the atmosphere of a place surrounded by giant mountains and thick jungle. In fact the other visitors probably gave some idea as to what it looked like when it was populated by 500 people.

Another aspect to the city was the Inca trails that led to it. We took a short walk along one of them to the Inca Bridge. It is truely incredible how the Incas managed to build these paths into sheer rock faces. Walking along them was enough to give you vertigo. How the Inca managed to herd Lama and carry goods along them I have no idea.
Inca Bridge

Inca Bridge

Posted by Mick G 16:53 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Puno to Cusco

245 miles of Altiplano riding at up to 4300 metres

sunny 28 °C

Interesting
Leaving Puno we rode along the shore of Lake Titicaca for a few miles before leaving it behind to head Northwest along the Peruvian Altiplano.

After a few miles we had to negotiate a ring road around Juliaca. The first problem was finding it but once on it the traffic was manic. Peruvian drivers seem to be a little less forgiving than Bolivian drivers. As the traffic increased we were attacked from all angles. Buses, cars, bikes pedestrains,dogs and most deadly of all the little three wheel" putputs".

Even the road conspired against us when without warning it went into a dual carriageway. All the locals seemed to know it was a dual carriageway so why bother putting up signs to show outsiders that it had changed!! Consequently we found ourselves travelling the wrong way against the traffic. The strange thing was that none of the opposing vehicles thought to tell us. We had to figure it out from the fact everything travelling in our direction seemed to be about ten metres from us and divided by a concrete barrier. A quick change of direction found us on the right side of the road only to find within a short distance that the road was blocked because of road works. This being South America however, not only was our side blocked but the previous enemy terriitory of the opposite carriageway was also blocked by a large mound of earth!! What do they say if you can't go around it just go over it and thats just what we did and carried on. No one batted an eyelid !
Juliaca by pass

Juliaca by pass

Quite Interesting.

The road from Juliaca rose gradually to a high pass at 4,300 mtres where we found another group of bikers this time from Chile who were doing a similar route to ourselves but in the opposite direction. At the rest stop were a number of women dressed in traditional costume with Alpacas who managed to get money out of passers by for a photo with them. This started me thinking, as a true Yorkshireman there must be a business opportunity back home. So if in the future you are passing Carter Bar on your way to or from Scotland and you see a man dressed in a strange costume, talking with a Yorkshire accent and asking for some money for a photograph with him and a couple of Cheviot sheep just pay up it'll help towards his retirement fund.

Alpaca

Alpaca

Pass on the way to Cusco

Pass on the way to Cusco

Posted by Mick G 15:48 Archived in Peru Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

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