Saturday, 18 February 2012

Cusco to Mitchu Pitchu

We spent the second and third days in Cusco on guided bus tours firstly around the city then on the second day we had a full day tour to the Sacred valley and viewed a number of Inca sites that were impressive because of the time and labour and thought that went into building these giant structures.

Pisaq. Incas grew potatoes and maize here.

We ended being taken to a more markets than we would have liked.

The following day we had a day of cleaning bikes and doing some maintenance. I decided to change my front sprocket on the Tenere but as usual things didn't go to plan I had problems undoing the nut holding the sprocket on. But we got there. We have become regulars at Paddy's bar where the food is real good and reasonably cheap in the plaza De Armas.   .

We left Cusco and headed for the alternative route to Mitchu Pitchu most people travel up and over the hill out of Cusco to a town called Ollantaytambo by bus then catch a train that takes about two hours to get a small tourist town at the foot of Mitchu Pitchu called Aquas Calientas(sp).
Our route went past Ollantaytambo which is at about 2300m. We then went up and over pass that got to over 4300m. The road was tar sealed and had numerous switch backs. We descended to Santa Maria at approximately 1250m. Where things felt much warmer and we had to strip off all our thermal gear. The hill was long and took us over one and half hours. We lost count of the number of corners.

The intention was to ride from Santa Maria onto Santa Tersea this road was gravel and following a narrow steep road that wound along side of the hill up above a swollen Rio Urumamba.
 This slip just about stopped us. We checked it out. On the left was porridge foot thick mud. I gunned the Tenere into the bog and about 8 metres into I hit a large rock. The bike stopped dead the back wheel came off the ground and I  nearly went over the handle bars. The sudden stop also loosened my handle bars. It took us a few minutes to pull the bike of the porridge. Very amusing for the local youths who thought we were crazy. We tried again and managed after a couple of goes to get the bike up and over on the left side of the slip.

We got another 3-4 kms along the road and were stopped by  300 metre land slide that had completely taken the road in two places. We back tracked back  for 6 km's over the first slip and found a nice hostel   right on dark  called  Yellow River that was a ecolodge down by the roaring river. The hostel was surrounded by tropical fruit trees and was like an oasis to us. The owners Andrew and Titaca were overseas but her parents Olga and Angel looked after .The power was out but they managed to cook a nice meal for us.

The next day we walked for nearly two hours toward Santa Teresa then shared a taxi to Hydro another very small settlement where we had to walk to Aquas Calientes another two hours.
The next day we left yellow river and started walking to Santa Tersea. We walked over the slips and met a taxi at the other side and shared a ride to Hydro another village where the train track starts and take passengers to Aquas Calientes.

Notice the water come out of the mountain. part of the hydro power scheme we presumed.

The walk up the railway line was pleasant the gradient was good, the flooded boiling river was right beside us. We could have caught the train but it didn't leave tell 4.30 and we had heard the walk was pleasant.

The view looking up valley near Hydro

View from our hostel of the flooding. The roar was deafening. You could here the boulders rolling around on the river bed. On the other side of the hotel was the railway line. 

We shot up to Mitchu Pitchu that afternoon with Chris from England and shared the cost of private guide. We had some drizzle but we still had good views. MP was cool but after having seeing so many photos and reading about it neither of us felt that excited about it. We were more impressed with the location and how inaccessible the area is.
The next day Joe and I spent more time walking than I would have liked and I had blisters by the time we walked into the Yellow river lodge again late in the afternoon.

A digger had arrived to clear the the huge slip we couldn't get by on our bikes.The workmen are looking for falling boulders.

 We had another pleasant meal with candles again. The trip out from the Yellow house was uneventful. Joe had Olga on the back of his bike for half the the distance. It also rained and was coldd going back over the pass again. Pleased to get back to our hostel in Cusco. 

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