15th December 2015

11 - 15 November: Peru Part 2…. cañons, mountains and some bike adventures…

So Wednesday morning I meet Ira shortly after Chimbote. She is from Germany and is on her trip with a BMW GS800 Adventure. She happened to see the photo with me and Nestor (Trujillo) in Facebook and has send me spontaneously a message. We decided to drive together the off-road track towards Huaraz, the famous "Cañon del Pato". While we have a few minutes our first talk and decide how to plan that day, Simon and Josefine - they were both on the Stahlratte – drive by accidentally when of course stop when realizing the 2 motorbikes with Swiss plates. What a happy coincidence! We exchange news and I give them the tip to stop by at Don Clemente.

As it is quite a long drive up to Huaraz we soon take off. After a short time the asphalt is replaced by great gravel and we ride into the Canon, always along the river. Ira is more or less the first time really on a gravel road, so we take it easy and do not rush – not possible anyway as we constantly “have to stop”: the scenery is incredible impressive and we take many pictures. 
Thanks god it has only few oncoming traffic, now and then a truck or a bus crammed with people of the surrounding villages. For once, an advantage that it is so dry - dust announces every vehicle on time as you often don’t see around the curve. Rather arduous are the pitch-black, single-track tunnels, some even with curves in it; I’m quite happy that there are not too many yet – there should come many more later on. For once even I take the advantage of the horn –like all Peruans do it all the time. My moderate (original) front light (a big thank to the manufacturer!) is absolutely useless in theses tunnels. Successfully - although meanwhile quite dirty - we come to the end of the canyon and drive on asphalt again. While taking a rest Ira says: “I’m happy that this off-road part worked so fine; it was quite an adventure for me”. I joke and answer her: look, it’s written on your bike; and where adventure is written, you will find adventure! This spell should prove to be true a short time later !! We soon drive on as we still have quite some kilometers until we will arrive in Huaraz, in best case 6.30pm the latest as we won’t drive in the dark. Again the road winds its way along another river, a really great landscape and the road: pure driving pleasure - up to now many tunnels, most of them one-lane again and without light. Again, only honking helps; Ira, who has mounted auxiliary lights on her bike drives shortly behind me so the lighting is sufficient for both ;-) 
Suddenly I realize that Ira is no longer behind me. I stop, wait a moment and drive. She stands at the roadside and it looks like the rear tire has suspiciously little air in it. We try it at first time with inflation and drive off again. But after a short time it is clear: the tire is flat! We even find the reason for the problem: a fat nail stucks in the tire. Phhhuuuu ... ..we are 20km away from the nearest village, it is already after 4pm and actually we still had at least 1.5 hours to drive. Load the bike up onto a pickup or so is out of the question as the BMW is just too heavy for that. The only sensible solution right now is to remove the rear tire and I drive to the next village and let it repair. Of course we could also expand the hose ourselves but that would take definitely much longer as we both are not really used to do that sort of work ;-) We have to laugh at how quickly my previous comment about the “adventure” would become true!! So we took first all the luggage down, put the motorcycle on the center stand, removed the rear tire and packed it onto my Suzy. Nice enough that exactly while taking the tire off a heavy but luckily brief thunderstorm run over. OK….now that would not have been necessary. But what the heck, I drive off like an express train towards the village, it is now just before 17h! Approximately 5km before the village there is once again a police check .... and of course they wave me off the road. No paper-control but simply chatting with me – as most of the times. That’s what I could not use just now!! One of the two policemen asks me about the where to, where from, why a the rear tire on the back, etc .... and all of a sudden the 2nd policeman (that one hadn’t said anything so far) says out of the blue: you have beautiful eyes !! Hääääää? Since I did not adequately respond well to his remark, he even repeated it. Now I stand there impatiently and rather would prefer to drive off as quickly as possible and he gives me compliments. I really almost fell from the bike! I thank him dutifully - I know by now that the South Americans totally fancy on my green eyes - and may actually finally drive on. In the village I don’t see right away any tire workshop (which you normally find in every small village), so I drive on to the gas station and ask there. And yeppeeaaa, exactly at the gas station is one: took the tube out (which has a crack of at least 3cm), patched it, tested it in the water bath, reinstalled it. Within a few minutes it's done and it costs me just 5 Peruan Soles (approximately CHF 1.50) !! Gratefully I give him the double, buy 2 cokes and some crackers and drive as fast as possible (note: not as fast as allowed) back. At nightfall - in other words with the help of front lamps - we build the rear wheel back and speed off towards Huaraz – this time Ira in front with her good lamps. Tired and yet quite exhausted we get around 9.30pm to the Hostel, have first to fight for a guarded parking place and then order 2 beers and 2 pizzas. Hands entirely black, the faces covered in dust and still in full motorcycle gear we sit in the lobby and enjoy the cold beers. We both laugh about that adventurous day and both agree that despite of – or maybe even because of – that incident that day had just been great. 

And the best for last, the hostel even had hot water ... .. what a luxury to take a hot shower after 14 hours on the road. Yet 4 months ago I would not have dreamed that I would appreciate hot water that much; in South America in most hostels, simple hotels and private accommodation hot water simply does not exist.

The next morning we meet with Daniela, who just arrived with an overnight bus to Huaraz (she too was on the Stahlratte) for breakfast and later than originally planned I drive off in the direction of Cisco. There are four riding days with a total of 1450km on the plan. I want to arrive in Cusco at the 15th of November the latest, so I still have one day to get prepared the booked trekking. OH wow… I’m rushing ahead again; sorry. 

According to Google Maps I will permanently on the 3S that is supposed to be national main road; However, I am just slightly optimistic as my Garmin partially indicates gravel on the 3S. Well, I will see. The appr. +/- 350km per day seem to us Europeans not a long drive but here you really rarely get over an average of 60km/h; 50km/h are even more standard - and therefore also clear that I will face every day at least 7 driving hours. And of course, the road is just on the first day - on which I took off too late anyway - a pure torture. What my Garmin indicates as a gravel road is now paved but it has so many and partially deep potholes that regular, fluent driving is simply impossible. The road winds its way along the valleys and in many corners the asphalt is washed off by the water coming down the hills and mud and dirt have taken over. As it is drizzling more or less the whole day these parts are not really funny to drive through. After some hours I’m even too tired to drive around all the potholes and drive over most of them – just standing up. My Suzy has a hard day with me and I’m grateful that she just drives on sturdy as a good horse ;-) The last 50km then again a "normal" street, I'm driving as fast as it is possible, curvy as it is. Shortly after nightfall I reach my destination for the day and just take the first hotel with a parking place. 

I'm really thankful that the next three days are just cool. The roads mostly in very good conditions, I still always find the time to take pictures of villages, people and the absolutely impressive landscapes - I drive actually quasi permanent along rivers and hills (naughty to call it that “hills” as I’am always more or less at an altitude of 3000 - 4000MüM !!). Only the driving style of the Peruvians reduces my driving pleasure massively. 


So I arrive in Cusco as planned on Sunday, found after a while through all the one-way-streets my hostel and am now looking forward to 4-day trekking towards Machu Picchu. Not the famous Inca Trail which is fully booked for months since limited to 500 people per day. I'm doing the so-called short-Salkantay Trek – also to find easily on www. I’m quite curious how good I will cope with the altitude and the fact that I did not much of hiking the last few months. But I am well acclimatized and feel really good ;-)

More about Cusco, my adventure to walk on over 4600MüM (and camp) and of course the famous Machu Picchu then in the next blog. Hasta luego mi amigos