Friday, 23 March 2012

Lima-Peru to Valparaiso-Chile.

Joe and I have gone different directions. I had to get back down to Valparaiso in Chile (3000km) to ship my bike home and Joe is heading north up to Ecuador,Colombia,Panama and onto the United States and maybe Canada.
Photo of Nazca lines from a tower about 20 minutes north of Nazca township.

I was slow getting started but managed to get away late in the morning. I'd only gone a few kms when I was pulled over again by the Police for riding in the bus lane. The Police women must have felt sorry for me and again I managed to avoid getting a ticket and I got directions onto the Pan Americana Highway south  only 200 metres further along, then hopefully from here on I shouldn't have too many problems for the rest of the ride. I had no map. Keep the coast on your right, how could you go wrong ?.I ran into the owner of a hostel at the viewing tower north of Nazca and went straight to his hostel.Too easy.

The terrain was dry all along the coast.

I had a long day getting myself to Arequipa ,the temperatures in the desert were mild and it was pleasant riding .Till I started to climb up to 2200 metres when it started to get cold. Unfortunately I arrived when it was getting late in the day and traffic was building up. I had done some homework on the Internet the night before riding into Arequipa & had drawn myself a rough map, however, my map was too rough. Once again I stopped and got directions from the local Police.
Leaving Arequipa

Arequipa is a tourist destination in Peru and has some nice volcanoes covered in snow..No time to look around. Onto Arica a mining city right by the beach, this was going to be a shorter day distance wise but I had a border crossing which I was expecting to take me two hours.I managed the border crossing with out too many hassles. Again I spoke to some Police when I got into Arica central city and one of them spoke pretty good English and put me onto a cheap hostel .. Busy city. No gringos around.

 Tacna 30 km north of Chilean border. Another dry city.

I had contacted Juan and Louisa a lovely Chilean couple I met in Change at the motorcycle rally in November to see if I could stay with them. So after eight busy days I was looking forward to having a day off at their home in Iquique.

I phoned Juan when I arrived in the city and he rode from his home and met me on his BMW. Lousia had prepared a beautiful meal for lunch. Later that evening more of their family arrived for tea. We had a barbecue   tea. Fantastic people and I hope they come to New Zealand some day so I can host them. Whilst there I experienced an earthquake. I started heading for the door. Much to the amusement of the ladies in the family who experience tremors all the time. I think my stay in Christchurch after the 22nd February has made me a nervous.
Juan, Luaisa and Valley.

The next day I had a guided tour of Iquique with Valley. Iquique is another mining city built up against a hill with nice beaches.A nice place to stop for a few days.
Iquique - east view to desert & west to the sea
A replica of a Chilean ship that was sunk off Iquique in war of the Pacific between Chile and Peru in 1880 something.
It was sad to leave but I headed off to Antofagasta travelling right beside the sea for much of the distance.

Leaving Antofagasta next morning for Copiapo. Another long day 580km. We had stayed in Copiapo two months before so it was back to the the same place to stay -  much easier this time. Next day it was two hours of cool damn fog until 11 in the morning when the sun came out.

Back to La Sarena to Torino motos who had given me the wrong oil filter and front sprocket and managed to catch them before they closed , then back to the same hostel. The hostel is owned by Hugh an employee at the motorcycle shop. The hostel this time was much quieter. The backpacker season having cooled off. This time as I headed south out of La Sarena I had the cool mist till 1pm when before I could take some clothing off as I rode to Valparaiso .
Chilean national MX champs race just north Valparaiso

The next day I caught up with the shipping agent in Valparaiso and organised for the shipping of my bike back to New Zealand. Getting everything organised to travel was much easier this time because I had the bike to get around and I knew my way around Valparaiso.

Tear gas on the street of Valparaiso. Police chasing student demonstrators. From window of hostel.

The last two days I spent updating blog and wandering around the streets of Valparaiso.
Market in streets of Valparaiso.

Now I'm back in New Zealand, & have been back at work for 5 days, I have a mountain of E-mails to catch up on and will start dreaming of my next adventure....I will always remember the hospitality & friendliness of the South Americans. Thinking back, some of the worst days of the trip especially the long days on dirt roads were the most memorable & challenging. Fellow motorcyclists that we met along the way were great company & we shared invaluable information on routes, hostels & places to eat. To everybody that made this trip so enjoyable, a big thank you.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Lima.Have you got a gun ?

Joe and I met a Peruvian guy at breakfast who said we should contact his friend in Lima who was a motorcycle enthusiast for help finding parts and motorcycle shops.A good start to the day.We made our way down to Lima. The coast was dry and the scenery nothing to get excited about I ended getting a head of Joe and I was stopped by the Police for allegedly speeding. I stopped and had a wee chat and they let me go.No fine. So I stopped at a Police checkpoint just a few hundred metres on and spoke to the Police there and waited for Joe.

Mean while Joe managed to have his Peru map blow away and then had to go back and retrieve what he could. He started to worry that he had passed me so he chased a another motorcyclist down and they told him I was up the road.
Sugar cane.

We stopped in a city which I wouldn't recommend called Barranca and sat beside a drunk in the restaurant who had a stall outside quite entertaining.

We headed onto Lima and decided we would pass three slow moving trucks but to do that we had to cross double solid yellow lines.They were going so slow and you could see up the hill for miles. So we passed them.  The next thing we were being pulled over by a  Police vehicle.
 Two Police got out and started to speak to us in Spanish. I told them that I couldn't understand anything they said in English. We gave them our licences which was a mistake. I told them to write the ticket out it wasn't a problem.
They were demanding we return with them to the local Police station I refused. Having done some reading on the Adventure motorcycle websites I knew they were going to demand we pay a bribe at the station, the boss would be there and they would refuse to give us back our drivers licence tell we payed.
We had a stand off and I told to keep the drivers licence and we were going. In the end I was poked in the chest a few times and told off and they gave the drivers licence back we left and paid nothing.
 Our journey into Lima couldn't have been timed much worse we arrived just after 5pm. Joe had made notes which he had in his tank bag. The part of the map we needed was floating around 250 km further south somewhere on the side of the road. My front steering head bearing was starting to go and my steering had become very stiff and locking up. Combined with three and four lane traffic and poorly sign posted roads the pressure was building. Lima drivers also like to cut across lanes in front of you. But they will warn you with a toot that they are close. I had two vehicles so close to me that if I had moved closer to them they would have been touching my pannier bags . So we had Joe in front as we got closer to the turn off on the motorway looking at signs ,traffic, his notes and trying not to leave me behind. We pulled off near where we thought we should be.

We waved a passing motorcyclist over and Larco was able to lead us in the right direction. We pulled in the Plaza in Milflores and a women who spoke very good English wanted to know if we had a gun. Just as well we didn't because I felt like shooting some of the crazy Lima drivers.
I was exhausted.
This women thought we should be carrying a gun with us.

After trying a number of hostels we found a small hotel for a reasonable price with parking. Downtown Milfores is expensive compared to the rest of Lima.

The next day we contact Edwin a local man who has a Kia dealership not far far away. He has done quite a bit of motrcycle touring and and was very helpful he took us to a local Suzuki dealer and we were both able to buy new front tyres. We came to his dealership and used his workshop and cleaning bay to clean the bikes change the tyres and oil on my bike.
 We went out for tea that night and had a few beers . Our last night together. I was a bit slow getting going the next day. It was sad to be separating but I have to get back to New Zealand to my long suffering wife and work. .

Canon del Pato -Chimbote.Pacific ocean

From Caraz we headed north into the Canon del Pato. This route was unexpected surprise for me. For about 15 kilometres the gravel road  ran through a very steep narrow canyon with 40 tunnels for vehicles.

Twenty five km from Caraz the road turned to gravel. Joe and I stopped many times to take photographs and some video footage.

We stopped in Huallanca a hydro electric service town and had a drink. Suddenly after quite a few weeks we had lost some altitude and it was hot and sunny again, we could get rid of some clothing.
The ride out was interesting with more canyon to negotiate with dust now and rough roads with roads that hadn't seen a grader for a while. Large gravel aggregate made concentration a must.

 The hydo trucks all had these mesh cages over them.

As we headed west down to Chimbote and the Pacific ocean I hit a rock that threw my rear wheel sideways what seemed like a foot whilst I travelling at 80km/h another close call. Not many people living in this area dry and arid.
We got about 80km from Chimbote the road returned to tar seal and land was being irrigated with crops of cotton and berries. Chimbote was a busy city with traffic  honking on there horns and trying to run pedestrians over. The smell of the fish plants was strong and many fishing boats were moored in the sheltered bay  at Chimbote, We found a hotel that had seen better days. It had hot water and wifi of sorts.Joe got a haircut for three dollars NZ. I was starting to lose the plot with Peruvian drivers who never give way to you on pedestrian crossings.

Huaraz -Quebrada Ulta and Laguna Llanganuco

Huaraz : 3090 metres above sea level. It is the main city in the Callejon de Huaylas with a population of over 120,000. Huaraz is the centre for high altitude sports and outdoor activities.The city was completely destroyed by an earthquake in May 1970.Within its duration of 45 seconds virtually every structure in Huaraz's city centre was destroyed. Within a few minutes the north of the city was obliterated by an avalanche of icy mud carrying boulders and other debris. As many as 20,000 people were killed.
The city is 420m north of Lima. There are many stores offering trekking or guided climbing trips.The central part of Huaraz is nothing to write home about. But further north in the town you have views of the mountains which are spectacular.
We decided to ride up a valley just south of the city after a couple of false starts we found the  right road. Roads are not marked very well and asking people doesn't always help.
Donkeys being used to transport bags of cement to a building site.

Quebrada Rajucolta valley south of of Huaraz. Not sure if the hut is for people or stock. Further up the valley a padlocked gate stopped our progress.
Bugger. Locked gate 7 km walk up to terminal lake.

After another day of catching up on chores. We decided to head north of Huaraz to a town called Carhuaz we then headed east up the Quedbrada Ulta valley and another high altitude pass. After going through some major road reconstruction we came onto a nice knew tar sealed road with no traffic on it. The government is obviously intending to make this a major tourist route in the future.
But for the moment we had one of the most assume sealed and gravel high altitude routes pretty much to our selves.

 Huascaran 6768 metres ?

Punta Olimpica 4890 metres. Getting slippery and narrow on the top.The highest point on our adventure so far.

Looking back up to Punta Olimpica

We stopped for lunch at Chacas. No tourists in this little town. People were steering at us like we had two heads. Off the tourist route now. Joe did a great job of navigating us over to Yanama on unmarked roads with our map which is okay if you are on the main roads.But scale not great. Route started to get pretty bad but then came right.
The road got worse. These guys were going the same way as us.Okay on the bikes .Joe pushing. They wouldn't have got much further . Road got muddier and steeper.
Heading west again and up to Portachuelo 4767 metres.
Portachuelo paso 4767 metres

This road dropped over 2000 metres in a series switch backs. Very steep not a great place to go to sleep.

A few crosses on one of the corners.
Laguna Llanganuco heading down to Yungay.

Yuncay is another town that was obliterated by a huge avalanche of water in recent times resulting in many deaths

 Took the advice of the Lonely Planet guide book and decided to stay in Caraz. Nice town. We were allowed to park bikes inside hostel. A long day, great riding.

Huancayo to Huaraz

We spent 3 or 4 days resting at the La Casa Buela hostel in Huancayo getting the blog updated cleaning bikes and riding gear.I changed my rear tyre which  had lasted since Punta Arenas-.    The owner of the hostel is married to a New Zealander and his grown children living in New Zealand. We had to move on and headed toward to Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca mountains and many snow capped peaks over 5000 metres.
Lunch stop and this guy was having a sheep head soup.Not for me thanks.

Buying lunch for the restaurant and haggling over price.

The day was all tar seal and we headed through La Oroyo a mining town which had the unenviable reputation as one of the most polluted places in the world.Stayed the night in Huancho in a hotel.

The next we had the goal of getting to Huaraz before dark.
Another sheep getting tranported about.

Cleaning dishes at road edge.

We decided go via a gravel road over a high pass and dropping down into the Rio Santa valley, but we had a few hiccups the day started to close in on us because of the gravel roads and slow speed we were travelling at and we had to make a decision . Ride over a high pass on a route that could turn horrible or take the tar seal and play it safe. We decided to to take the gravel route which looked more direct.

Its getting late its snowing,its cold the road is getting slippery. Bald tyre. We are at 4300 metres and only 15 km into route.We decided to turn around.Now its getting even later. My googles completely fog up at one point so quickly that I have to stop quickly before I ride over edge. Heart rate goes up abit.

Wet and getting cold.

We start to go faster to get to Huaraz before it gets dark. I end up riding in the dark for about 30 minutes. Its something I try to avoid because of chances of having an accident increase .I end hitting a rock I didn't see, then just miss a dog. Also stopped by the Police at a check point again no problems though. Find a cheap prison type hostel.