Monday, 13 February 2012


Our accomadation in Chivay

Our first day in Peru involved riding on the edge of Lake Titicaca up at 3800m. After a night in Puno we navigated our way to Chivay. The Peruvians aren't to good at using road signs also and we once again diced our way through traffic in the smoggy city of Juliaca and after several partly understood directions from locals we were clad to find our way out of the rat race. Before arriving in Chivay the usual afternoon thunderstorm arrived just as we headed up over 4000m and into the snow. Fortunately we were out of the cold and down in Chivay in quick time.

Chivay is at the head of the Canyon de Colca which along with it's northern neighbour Catahuasi are the deepest in the world. Our plan was to head down the canyon in the morning and then make tracks towards Cusco via a series of back roads. The ride down the valley was some of the best scenery so far, lots of little villages and farming activities on the steeply terraced slopes. We took in the views of the canyon as it rapidly dropped away further down valley and then began our return to Chivay. During our morning down valley a slip come down over the road so a detour up the other side of the valley was necessary. This road was very narrow and obviously saw little traffic and the muddy surface was causing all sorts of troubles for all the tourist buses that were also directed along the detour. Not to difficult on the motos though and we raced past all the stuck buses and on through some very sleepy little towns.



Canyon del Colca

Lady selling goods in the canyon
Unbelievably we bumped into the German bikers who we rode with back during our first few days in Bolivia. We had lunch together and exchanged stories before they headed south and we decided to delay our departure north to the following day as the afternoon thunderstorms had arrived early and we knew our planned route involved high passes and vast distances. Instead we fulled in the afternoon with some bike maintenance, I changed the engine oil and filter on the DR while Rob spent a couple of hours masterfully reshaping his spare rear brake pads to fit. Yes, once again he was given more incorrect parts for the Tenere!

The Germans departing Chivay

Just as hoped we set off in the morning under clear skies. We were soon climbing up high on a narrow dirt road and before long were up in the snow. The road was a slushy mess and dodging masses of put holes in about 40m of visibility in the mist was going to take several hours at our average speed, not the most fun riding. We stopped briefly up on the mountain top when we spotted a hut and a mob? of Llama's. A lady approached us out of the mist all dressed up in traditional kit, she seemed interested in what we were up to or did see just want some money like the many other people? We had a brief chat, nice lady, she was running around the farm barefoot in the snow, they must breed em tough in these parts I thought as we carried on along the road of pot holes.

Snow up on the tops

Where the hell are we? what the hell is along the road in front of us? impassable snow, washed out roads or swollen river crossings? And when is the daily thunderstorm going to arrive? Up high in the mountains in the mist this was what was running through my head and as it turned out these thoughts were a regular occurrence through out the day. We summited the pass and straight away the skies cleared offering views of the surrounding mountain tops, the road improved and it was a different ride, this is more like it!
The roads on the map seemed to be making sense and we were making good ground, we might make it out of here yet!

"Up here on the left there should be a junction were we make a left turn" I thought. "Yes, there it is but what the F, that looks like a goat trail! Check the map again, yep road heading off in that direction looks right, it does have a sign at least but the towns don't match the ones on the map! Well it's heading in the right direction must be right."

So we headed off on the road indicated on the map but in reality we rode over a broken up coarse way across the river round large bog holes and up a track that resembled a creek bed more than a road. We were heading up over another pass and had around 70km to the next town. The riding was fun but I couldn't stop thinking, were the hell, what the hell again.

one of the creek crossings

washed out causeway

Interesting rock formations on way to Yauri

We crested the pass and all of a sudden we were actually on a road again and immediately the pace picked up and we cruised down valley past interesting rock formations and apart from a couple of mishaps in a creek crossing and a difficult river crossing it was an enjoyable ride out to the town of Yauri for lunch. From Yauri it was all main roads and fast going, we decided to push on to Cusco and arrived just on dark. It was a big day out and definitely one of our more adventurous days on the bikes.


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