41. HUANUCO TO CUSCO

41. HUANUCO TO CUSCO

2017-09-16T05:12:32+00:00February 27th, 2016|2015-16 Ride|

We finally get away from Huanuco – both with new motors on our cooling fans and a new bolt on my sidestand! The road south is picturesque and we start to climb – this is the “wet” season so it always rains in the early afternoon – and depending on your altitude, it means the rain can turn to hail – and it gets really, really cold!

But if you head off early the riding is very pleasant with good temperatures. The KTM’s aren’t missing a beat with the changes in altitude and are so good to ride over twisty mountain roads!

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The original Puente Colonial de Izcuchaca

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“Playing” in the Andes!

We  stop for the night in Huancavelica – a pretty colonial town nestled between craggy peaks – bursting with churches and plazas! This town is right off the “gringo trail” and sits at an altitude of 3676m – with a low of 4 degrees – cold floors and lots of blankets!

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Huancavelica is said to be the poorest city in Peru!

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Traditional dress with the blanket used for carrying children or produce!

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The plastic bag over the hat for when it rains!

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Peruvian women all love to knit – anywhere and everywhere – with the wool wrapped round the back of their necks to keep the tension!

It’s a crystal clear morning as we head out of town – the soft clouds are still hugging the high peaks and the road becomes remote immediately!

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We start climbing and ride through a vast plateau at 4200m – the llamas come on the road and are very curious with their elongated necks and cute faces.

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They all have ribboned tags on their ears which just adds to the cuteness!

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Hard to believe the altitude is 4200m – no snow but it is cool

The scenery reminds us of Kyrgyzstan as we start climbing over the “pass” and set a new record “high” of 4876m! We skirt several huge lakes with trout farms (“trucha”) and then start descending. As we turn right at Rumichaca, the road becomes two lanes and like a race track with spectacular views and another pass at 4450m. The switchbacks coming down the mountain are unbelievable – fast and perfect – just an amazing ride! The Peruvians really know how to build roads! South of Huatara the vegetation finishes and becomes bare rock and as we come down to the plains – we are in desert again with massive sand dunes. The contrast is remarkable and in less than two hours the temperature has gone from 7 degrees to 30!! We watch the sunset in a beachside bar at Paracas and celebrate one of our most special and memorable days riding.

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Paracas Beach is inundated with locals enjoying the warm Sunday afternoon

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Local fishing boats at Paracas

Local people in Paracas lead a more “charmed” life than their peers in the mountains – hard to believe they are so close and yet so far apart! The ride from Paracas down the coast to Nazca is through the coastal desert again – vast areas of sand dunes, barren rock mountains and remoteness.

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Coming down the mountains to the Nazca Valley

Nazca is one of the most arid regions in the world and it’s where all the tourists come to see the famous Nazca Lines. An earthquake in 1996 totally destroyed the city and its surroundings but it has since been completely rebuilt. We take an afternoon flight over the city and out to the “lines”, enjoying a different perspective to the desert and this part of Peru.

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The road we came across to Nazca through the desert which runs the entire length of the coast of Peru.

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We rode past this lookout spot where you can climb a tower to view some of the “forms”.

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The impressive system of underground aqueducts called Puquios that still function today.

The road from Nazca to Cusco is on the list of most rated roads in the world for motorcycles – and from the get-go leaving town we begin a magnificent climb up the bare rocks to a plateau. The temperature plunges and it becomes very remote and bleak as we ride through tiny villages where the people just seem to “exist” – no fuel so no heating and not much growing – it’s just so hard to imagine what they “do”! The heavy rain reduces our visibility – then over another massive pass with low clouds and thick hail still on the road. The road dries out as we make a huge descent to Chalhuanca – and once again our accommodation provides two thick Peruvian blankets (made from cotton and llama wool) and a bedcover. The “weight” is enveloping and cosy – like when you were a kid – we don’t use blankets so much nowadays! The new day has much warmer conditions and the scenery changes yet again – the ground is green and trees are appearing as we come down into a river valley.

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Following the river valley before another climb up to Abancay.

The views are spectacular over more passes with lots of rockfalls, huge rocks on the road and challenging river crossings. We arrive in Cusco, with it’s cobbled roads and the Plaza del Almas – a huge cathedral, tourist shops and restaurants – all catering for the crowds who come for Machu Picchu.

Tip of the Day

 

If you are in Peru and you see “cuy frito” on the menu – just a little tip that it actually means fried guinea pig!!

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Guinea Pig is NOT something either of us are willing to try!!

On Two Wheels

 

We have checked in to a “bike friendly” hostel in Cusco and find these two Italians – David and Valentina – who have done around 35,000km two-up in the last seven months. They flew their bike to Russia and did Mongolia – then on to Japan – then shipped it to Santiago in Chile. They have been down to Ushaia and are on their way north to Colombia where they will fly the bike to Barcelona. They have no GPS or maps – they just use the app Maps.Me – or they stop and ask people!! They have found themselves on all sorts of secondary and minor roads and he just takes it all in his stride – oh to be young, carefree and fearless!

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Their 2008 Yamaha Fazer 1 road bike has over 200,000km on the clock!!

Story of the Week

 

We are in Nazca and have decided to take a “joy ride” in a small, six-seater plane over the famous “lines” in the desert – really the only way to appreciate these giant symbols etched in the plains 200 years B.C. While waiting in the small departure lounge, we find our fellow passengers – two young Japanese guys – so we introduce ourselves and laugh about how our prices are different!! Finally we board – the pilot and co-pilot in the front, Paul and I in the middle and the Jap guys in the back. I turn around and tell the “boys” that if they need to be sick, that’s what the little white bags are for, and not to do it down my neck!! We all laugh but as we taxi down the runway, the guy behind me already has his head back!! The take-off is fine and soon after we are approaching the “lines” which is where the pilot starts to “bank” very sharply – first to one side and then the other – so everyone gets a chance to take photos. Well, our Jap guy has started being sick during the first loop!! His friend is madly taking photos out the window – and of him!!

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There are about 900 “geoglyphs” – enormous geometric forms that include straight lines, triangles, spirals, circles and trapezoids – with the longest straight line going nine miles across the plain.

There are lots of theories as to why these markings were made by the Nazca people – to do with religious ceremonies and praying for rain. The lines were apparently made by brushing away the red pebbles on the desert surface and uncovering the white colored sand. In most places wind, rain and erosion would quickly have removed all traces of this within a few years but at Nazca, the lines have been preserved because it is such a windless, dry and isolated location.

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There are some 70 animal and plant figures grouped together in one area on the plain and apparently they were constructed 500 years before the geoglyph lines. They include a spider, a hummingbird, a monkey and a 1,000-foot-long pelican.

Afterwards we check in to a hotel in town – and guess who else is staying there – the Jap guys!! They are about to board a bus for a 16-hour road trip to Machu Picchu Village and we can only imagine how that guy is going to feel winding round all the corners!!!

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14 Comments

  1. Phil and Evol Prince March 3, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Yes, I’ll do that for you. The Kiwi way – eat the lid first, eat what is inside and than eat the base. The only way to enjoy a pie.
    Happy travelling.

  2. Aunty February 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    As I read what you have written and see the photos Lee everywhere you have been sounds like the most exciting ride or place. Just shows what an adventure you are having and what memories you are creating. So glad you can share it with me because it is the only way I am going to see most of these place. So good to have been along with you and Paul even if only in my imagination. You do paint wonderful pictures in your writing 😀😀.
    Love you xxxxxxxx

    • Lee March 1, 2016 at 2:16 am

      Thanks Auntie! Pleasure to have you on board!! xxxx

  3. Hilda Pye February 29, 2016 at 2:31 am

    Hi Paul and Lee, what great photos!! We did not try the Guinea Pig either or the Alpaca – stuck to their seafood. Peru is all about the food. Make sure you get to the produce markets in Cusco if you have time. Awesome. Can’t wait for the next instalment. Safe riding xoxo

    • Lee March 1, 2016 at 2:17 am

      And you know exactly what’s in the next instalment!! Heading for the Bolivian border tomorrow xxxx

  4. Beverley February 28, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    How were the potatoes in Peru? Fabulous ride! On the road and in the air.

  5. Gail dickason February 28, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Fabulous as usual at painting a picture in words. Must be like second nature by now. Sounds and looks wonderful as always.. When are you back

    • Lee February 28, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      Hey matey! Peru is the definite favourite South American country to date!! Just awesome! We hope to be home around mid-April – all going well! I’m looking forward to some chicken-wire lessons!! xxxxx

  6. Wendy and Paul Buckingham February 28, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Alpaca steak is good though. Takes me back to my Inca Trail trek. Can’t wait for your next instalment. Fabulous photos. Nearly a year since we met in a pub in Chiang Mai.

    • Lee February 28, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Wendy and Paul, great to hear from you and there is so much that has happened since Thailand – but talking to you guys was just like yesterday and it’s all about the people you meet along the way! Cheers for keeping in touch xxxx

  7. Marcia peacock February 28, 2016 at 6:09 am

    I’d try the guinea pigs… why not!! So wonderful to see your stories. I keep reading them from time to time. Makes me want to go traveling!! All the best x

    • Lee February 28, 2016 at 11:46 pm

      Hey Marcia – great to hear from you! For us it would be like eating a fat rat…and we couldn’t do that either!! Peru has been just wonderful xxxx

  8. Phil Prince February 28, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Great photos guys. Don’t think we would be trying Guinea pig either!!

    • Lee February 28, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      There’s some things you just can’t bring yourself to, aye Phil!! It’d be like eating a rodent! They eat so much chicken here – it’s unbelievable! Breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want!! Have another pie for me would ya! xxxx

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