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Mar. 2 - 7, Day 144 - 149, PERU SOUTH

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DAY 144, Mar.2, 2012, Puquio, Temp 30-5C (320/18,680km)

A very late start to my ride due to an epic wine/pisco hangover!  I thought I didn’t have far to go so I didn’t push myself and left Huacachina around 2:30pm or so.  Catch you later Conor.

Definitely a bit warm in the afternoon desert, but not for long as I would soon be climbing up to about 3000m as I closed on Puquio for the night.  Cusco was 700+km from Huacachina so that was way out of the question on this hungover day.  Huacachina to Nazca Lines C3R7T4/5V7/8 desert, wind for 30km and the strange, but captivating Nazca Lines (2000 years old) seen from a tower oddly placed in what seems the middle of nowhere.  Apparently you can see everything from the air if you have a day to book a small plane.  I had no time so $2 from the tower was good enough. 

Very pleased with this photo while going 120km/h

extremely windy, one day those
trees will help

A real dual purpose vehicle

The sign says enough

Green valley in the middle of desert

Video from the Nazca lines viewing tower 

"The Hands" to the left of the tower

Nazca to Puquio was outstanding until the night fell and simultaneously the road turned to shit!  C7/8R7-5T2V8-0 curvy, high elevation, spectacular views and highland animals.  View rating went to 0 as the eerie night surrounded me.  Much less visibility than you would expect! 

Great views in this video as I climbed (once again) from sea level to 4000m!

Just look at the switch backs

Shop in the middle of  nowhere =
not much for supplies.

Entrance to the 2 mile high shop

Finally I made it in to Puquio after about an hour of slow, cold riding in the dark on a rough road with no traffic.  A town with not a lot happening and not a lot of accommodation either.  I found a spot with parking that I initially thought was 4 sols a night ($1.50 USD).  “I’ll take it!”  But it turned out to be 40 sols ($15) which I would have knocked down to $10 if I hadn’t already parked and carried all my shit to the room.  Good enough.

RECOMMEND: Ride from Nazca to Puquio in the daytime.  Roast chicken at the local spot in Puquio, outstanding!

Riding in the dark you can only see the lines, definitely not the potholes, urgh!

Getting dark and spooky.  Road
looked ok at this point, but....
turned to shit in the dark

DAY 145, Mar.3, 2012, Cuzco, Temp 5-25-20 C (520/19,200 km)  MAX ELEVATION: 4550m

A day of tests for the kid!  Here's the cliff notes.  Do to a feeling of ill possibly from the altitude I decided to keep the food in-take to a minimum which had started to become a standard on riding days.  Today it would be more than stomach problems as I had a long day through the mountains which began dealing with the "parking patrol / lunch" at the hotel (I am not a big fan of birds especially big turkeys!).  On the road and up and up some more.  After 3 months in summer riding gear it was time to put everything I owned on and pray for sun in the rainy season.  First 40 km out of Puquio C7/8R7T2V8 curvy climb, outstanding views.

Other items on the menu
Some of the menu items at the restaurant patrolling
 the parking area

Leaving Puquio

Climbing out of Puquio to about 4400m.
20km out of Puquio

Very cold in the highlands like the first shadowy chair lift to the top of the ski slopes before the glorious afternoon sun warms you up.  60 km of flat "on top of the world" riding C4R6T2V7/8.

On top of the Andes.  Beautiful scenery in this panning video.

Just me and the Alpacas

Top of the Andes

Housing in the highland villages

Local highlander
Back on the descent

View of mountain pens

It's cold, 9 deg C

A temperature break down to 3000m, valley riding
Always Good!
WTF, this looks like a solid delay
Then the first obstacle of the day in the form of a massive landslide!  At this point my hopes of making Cusco were fleeting.  Being in South America or even North America for that matter this looked like a major shutdown (may be even days!).  Fortunately in South America the road didn't need to be completely tidy to resume traffic, so a tight one lane path was all that was required.  1.5 hours later with breaks to avoid continuous after slides would be all that was required.  While this was happening I decided to take lunch 5 km back down the road (oddly I was the only one who had this plan, everyone else just waited it out).  Stomach didn't fair well with lunch, "the old in, then out."

CAT working away to clear the massive rock slide.
Unfortunately it was unable to work constantly due to
more falling rocks.  In total I only waited 1.5 hrs.

People racing through while the CAT
was back during more mini rock slides

Of course we weren't happy waiting
for the people interrupting the CAT 
Once through the landslide it was all business the rest of the day.  River bed riding to Abancay C5/6R6T2V7.  Roadblock 2 came in the form of a parade in Abancay that filled the main street and access going to Cusco, shit!  I only took a couple minutes to take some photos due to a bad stomach and business mode I had to go.  I rode up and down town until I found a seam and slipped through back in the direction of Cusco.   

River bed riding

Locals playing futbol even here?

Road block 2, parade down main street Abancay

This outfit was very capivating

50+km mountain climb out of Abancay C8R7T3V8.  Add a little rain to keep me honest. Estella to Huertahuayco 6R6T3V7 valley bottom riding.  Another climb out of Huertahuayco for 20km where I almost bit it needing to put my foot down to stabilise the bike as my ass end wanted to take over the front ends duties, C8R4T3V7/8.  
Climbing out of Abancay 
Twisty climbs

And finally, after 1 hour of night riding to Cusco I entered the town on what seemed to be one of the worst access roads since Central America with enough traffic and potholes to exhaust the city planning budget for years.  C3/4R6T5V7 straight road, but full of animals and locals making their way home on the only stable path (the highway) at dusk.

Found my way to Casa Grande Lodging where I stumbled upon two Aussie bikes, but no bikers.  The place was warm enough and very central for $27 a night with good parking.  Unfortunately I felt like keeping on the move so my only experience in Cusco was a freezing walk to get a meal at Antojitos and an early night trying to fight off whatever was roughing me up. 
RECOMMEND: Casa Grande Lodging and Antojitos for the chicken soup!  You definitely can spend 3 days in Cusco if you have the time and it isn't freezing cold (5 deg C).

DAY 146 - 149, Mar. 4 - 7, 2012, Machu Picchu and Area, Temp  5-20 C ( 60+180+180/19,620km)

Still suffering from altitude sickness and with an enticing offer of free accommodation closer to Machu Picchu I was on my way after only one night in Cusco (sorry).  I did manage to take a little tour of the town before I left to a secluded spot 5 km from Urubamba (which you all know, yeah right).

Plaza de Armas every Sunday they have a gathering of
military.  Initially I thought it was a Gay Pride movement
 based on the rainbow flag next to the Peru national flag.
That's actually the flag of Cusco.  Wow!

These guys are pretty bad ass

Another cop bike

Take a closer look!  They are carrying tiny lambs.

One more time, "Casa Grande"

I arrived at Q'awana Hotel, a Swiss looking boutique resort set on the River Vilcanota, in the afternoon.  This family owned place was offered to me by Dakar rider Carlo Vellutino who I met in Lima (very kind to get a lovely room here as it is not a place I would normally have in my 6 month travel budget).  Q'awana was a very welcomed place for a much needed rest.  It was definitely quiet being in the low season so I was given lots of one on one attention from the very accomplished Hotel Manager Marco.  I would have stayed a week if I had the time.

RECOMMEND: Hotel Q'awana!

Road note: C6/7R6/7T2/3V7/8 a very nice ride from Cusco to Q'awana Hotel (near Urubamba).    

Leaving Cusco

short ride to Urubamba

Winding back down to Urubamba

Finally, there's the Q'awana sign

Q'awana Hotel tour

Beautiful view for Bumble
Love the welcome bell

An early night and it was on to Machu Picchu (MP) the next morning.  I woke at 6:30am with a long, but economical plan to ascend to Machu Picchu knowing only bits and pieces of how to pull this plan off.  As many of you know I am a strong believer in the time / money paradox which I always state, "if you have time you can save money and if you have money you can save time."  I decided I had enough time to save money so I took the massive undertaking of riding the bike as close to MP as I could in order to save dollars.

*Note: Aguas Caliente is the town at the base of MP where virtually everyone spends the night if they want to try and be first to the park.  It's a nice place even though Lonely Planet hacks on it.

Option 1 (Highest price) 4 hour train from Cusco to Aguas Caliente $75, night in Aguas, MP bus $9 (up and $9 down), MP $50, return to Cusco on 4 hour train $75.

Option 2 (RECOMMENDED) 2 hour train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliente $35, afternoon at MP (or night in Aguas), MP bus $9 (up and $9 down), MP $50, return to Ollantaytambo on 2 hour train $35.  Note: park bike in Ollantaytambo 30 min from Q'awana.

Option 3 (Most difficult! see map below) 5 hour ride to Santa Teresa via Santa Maria essentially going (way) around MP.  1st) 70km C8/9R6/7T1/2V8 crossing a mountain range way up (5 deg C)! 2nd) 80km C7R5T3V7 down in to the jungle where you find rivers crossing the hwy and unpaved, pot holed towns.  3rd) 30km to Santa Teresa OFF ROAD C7/8R2T2V8 bad wash outs with rocks still falling and a nasty edge with a 100+m drop.  4th) 3km finding Cola de Mono where I parked the bike and took a shuttle with zip line enthauiasts.  5th) 30 min shuttle to Hydro Electric Plant.  6th)  11km train ($18) or walk (free) along the tracks to Aguas Caliente.  7th) Fantastic value: Mosoq Inti Inn in Aguas (RECOMMEND, $8 private!).  8th) 5:30am bus to MP $9 and MP $50.  9th) Walk down the shitload of steps from MP to the train tracks (anywhere from 300 to 1700?).  10th) 9km walk to Hydro Plant.  11th) 30 min Shuttle to Cola de Mono.  12th) 2km walk to Cola de Mono because the shuttle guy drops you at the corner you think is close!
13th) reverse steps 1 to 3 and you are back in your bed at Hotel Q'awana!  Easy, right?

An unbelievably tough experience, but I'm better for it and potentially I saved as much as $120 (after $20 for gas).  


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Racing the train to Aguas, yeah!

Cobble stoned Ollantaytambo

Up at 4000m again, incredible!

Wash outs on the main hwy

This was the main hwy

Bike + Mud = Not Good

Fantastic! Washing a bike
in a wash out
And now the rough road to Santa Teresa

Looks tight

Tough road to Santa Teresa C7/8R2T2V8

At least there's a bridge over this one

Not remote enough as this guy still
had mobile reception

Taking it slow as the rocks were still falling

at least Santa Teresa is paved!

Road in to Cola de Mono

So we have to walk 11 km down
some train tracks?

Extremely dangerous bridge in the wet

I chased 1 butterfly for 10 min to get
a photo.  1 km later I found this!

Track side restaurant in the middle
of nowhere.  Entrepreneur?

Tricky bridge crossing

Big gaps

A necessary video to convey the power of the river

Entering Aguas Caliente which sits below Machu Picchu

The place was lovely and inexpense
considering its a huge tourist spot

Best value of trip, $8!!!

A happy Brad at 5:30am.  I had to buy a poncho for $2 as I had forgotten my rain gear at Cola de Mono

First buses to MP 5:30ish am

Puffed Picchu

I made it!

Could spend all day shooting here

Tourists, haha

I tagged on to a tour for free

You can walk everywhere
except on top of walls

I'm guessing this was a team build.
One good mason and one bad one...

Shooting back towards the entrance

Incredibly green

A marking rock carved to
represent the backdrop

Man, these Alpacs make it anywhere 

Lots of cleaners and it showed well

Good bye from Machu Picchu

Discoverer of Machu Picchu


Down, down and more down

A rest stop was needed on the steps
for my struggling bad stomach

A summary of Option 3 as I get back on the tracks with a feeling of accomplishment
Entrance of MP at the bottom.  MP
in the top right corner of the photo

Sharing the tracks with a train

sharing with other tracks

Sharing the tracks with
one of the scariest dogs of the trip

Sad Side Story: When I returned to the Hydro Plant after leaving MP I met Juan and Carlos two latinos from Argentina and Costa Rica who were returning from MP also.  Unfortunately my heart broke a little when they told me they walked all the way to the top to the gates of MP to realize the price of $50 USD each was way too much.  They had completed Option 3) like me with the exceptions of taking buses to Santa Teresa, camping near Aguas for free and walking everywhere for free (their total cost from Cusco = $20USD total) and not seeing MP!  If you are from Peru and a student you can go to MP for $10 or something cheap like that. I felt so bad they didn't get to see inside the park that I just had to buy them a drink after the long hike.  Best of luck on the rest of your travels guys!

Tough crossing as I headed towards hwy 28B

I got wet ;o(

A sign... Nah...


Gas from a barrel in the back, yikes!

pavementless towns

That's a lot of mud!

Rain = Cold at elevation

Way up again

More crazy mountain dogs

Happy to be back at Q'awana I took a couple days to recuperate and prepare for Bolivia which is considered the poorest country in South America with the worst roads, great?

Dog Bite: While riding around town I stopped in to ask a question at one of the restaurants that just happened to have 3 dogs hanging around.  They didn't like the bike, but relaxed when the engine was off.  When I started off again the dogs went crazy and started looking intensely at the bike while barking their heads off.  As I put my leg up to go one of them nipped me on the shin, ouch!  I stopped the bike, got off and chased the little F'er for 100 m!  Checking my leg beneath my pants I discovered a bruise, but fortunately no skin was broken which was good because I never did get my rabies shots.   The girl asked if the big shaggy dog bit me and I said no, it was the little runty one.  She replied with a relieving smile.  I guess I was a lot closer to rabies then I realized that day.

Night watchman Sixto and
Manager Marco at Q'awana

Riding around town with my cool Lima helmet

Bring on Bolvia!

Other Stuff
Friendly kids hanging at Casa Grande

More heavy lifting

This is probably ok when they are empty, but...

good macro
A sign I was back in a town, but not a city

Peru lawn mowers

1 comment:

Donna, D'Angelo Studio said...

Wow. What else can I say you Crazy Canuck?! Hope the tummy is better. No after effects from the altitude?

Hugs from Calgary, Donna Cook