Friday, 24 February 2012

Wet season in Peru

After a rest day in Cusco and more cold rainy weather it was hard to get enthusiastic about setting off. We where about to head right along Andean high lands on a route dotted with small towns connected by dirt roads and more than likely centred right in the wettest part of the country in the middle of the wet season. This was going to be interesting.

Lots of Water about

Them there hills are big mothers. After lunch in Abancay we left the pavement and wound our way into the network of dirt roads. After 30km and about an 3/4 hour Abancay was still just over there, what the heck, had we been travelling in circles? well this hill was so damn big that it had taken all of that time just to climb up out of the valley.

One of the big climbs

Crops growing up high on the hills

Without an accurate map it was with relieve that at the end of the day a decent size town called Andahuaylas emerged out of the mist. It was obvious that not to many tourist make it through these parts, we got many hola's and waves as we rode around town looking for some accommodation. The next day it was more up and down. Down in the valleys it was tropical and hot, up on the tops it was snowy and cold. Luckily for most of the day it was clear and sunny and we got big views as we traversed big ridges on not so big roads containing rather big buses. Care was required to avoid a head on. The bus drivers over here are nuts. The road just kept on going and this was bloody awesome stuff. We were still up high when the heaven's opened up and it was a cold and wet end to the day as we ascended into Ayaucho.

Break time in Uripa

Removing thermal liners down in the tropics

carnival activites

In Ayaucho we got to enjoy the carnival. Lots of locals dressed up, dancing and singing. Quite a different experience for us than maybe 10 -20 years ago when this area was apparently the centre of terrorism in Peru and off limits to tourists. Up until now we had managed to skirt around the many slips and deberi on the road created by all the rain. The days ride started off well as we attempted to make Huancayo, the largest highlands city in Peru. Before long though we were off down a muddy slippery track that didn't really resemble a road as marked on the map. We consulted a few locals and yes this was the road, well what do you reckon?

After some indecision we slid our way down the trail and and into the unknown. The road improved a bit , the sun was shining, the scenery was great and the riding was sweet, but if it rained we would be in the shit, slippery red mud to be precise. At the next town a conversation of sorts revelled that the road ahead was "no possible" but then it was, no it wasn't, what the hell, is the road possible or not? On edge about what may lay ahead it was difficult not to get frustrated and angry that our simple questions could not be answered. I thanked the locals, had a laugh with them about my bad language skills and headed off up the road with the understanding that there would be a river about 5 km up which may be impassible.

The rio was up and the road badly scoured out but we walked the moto's through without any problems. The problem was just up the road a few more km where a mud slide had engulfed the road for more than a few hundred meters. The bikes powered through until they sunk up to the axles in wet concrete like slop. We pushed em through, us suffering from exhaustion and the motorbikes suffering also, the stony slop binding up in the drive chain, the clutches struggling with the load. That was no fun, damn hard on the bikes too but we were through.

Muddy flood waters

Didn't see the wet concrete sign!

Not far up the road was the next mud slide, bloody hell this is going to grind our bikes to bits- and us too. However, a loader was on the other side busy clearing this one and while waiting we got to chat with the friendly locals who were stranded by the damaged road. The delay was annoying but it was nice to actually spend a bit of time with the interesting people of these parts as apposed to just whizzing by on the bikes and wondering what the heck they get up to. I had the map out and was surrounded by the curious crowd, apparently it would be no problemo through to Huancayo, but I wasn't holding my breath. We carried on along side the muddy flooded river, the road pinched between it and the steep hill sides, in places it was narrow and chiseled into sheer vertical cliffs. The scenery, the dodgy road, the massive flooded river, the unpredictability was all shaping up into an eventful day out.

Hanging with the locals

Perfect road conditions, for trail bikes!

On arrival at the next town we were waved down, "not possible to carry on, the road ahead taken out by the rains and no one working on it " we were told. The seamingly easy task of getting the right information on the road ahead was again proving frustrating. Just as we were about to consider the unpleasant idea of turning around and back tracking for a hole day it seemed that there was an alternative road not marked on our map that was ok . Why didn't you tell us that in the first place? Where was this road and was it actually ok? After several minutes of hair pulling we left in search of our last hope still unsure of what we would find.

As it turned out we found a beautiful little road that had us zig zagging our way up and onto the ridge well above the valley. We were now traversing along the top of a mountain ridge with 360 degree view's, mountains everywhere in the distance. It was late in the day, we were gunning it along this ridge top road, the late light and misty cloud way up high around 4000m adding another dimension to the day. Our luck had turned good, the road out of the slip infested valley was a beauty and clear of any flood damage, and we found some accommodation in the town of Pampas just on dark and with the rain setting in. What a day.

Adobe buildings high up on the ridge

Views up on the ridge

The next morning after the previous days big adventures, Rob needed pancakes for Breaky. After several attempts to order some with mixed results Rob decided that we had to go out back to the kitchen and show the friendly family run restaurant how to make pancakes. It was an eye opener back there, we mixed up our pancakes while right across the table some chicken soup was being prepared, nothing was left to waste as feet were chopped up and bit's went flying, luckily not into our pancake mix!

Fueled up on pancakes and ready to roll

Time for a new tyre at La Casa BuelaHostel- Huancayo,Peru.

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