From the vaults: Peru 2003
This is a ride report, of sorts. A ride that occurred over a period of 10 days or so back in July of 2003. In Peru.
The set up
The story begins in January 2003 when I happened to be vacationing in Cuzco, Peru with my friend, Linda. By chance we ran across Juan Carlos, a Peruvian who was starting up a motorcycle rental company. On a lark I rented his bike at $50 a day and took it out for a couple of days, riding two-up with Linda. I was so enthusiastic about our little adventure that I thought it a grand idea to organize a return trip that summer, made up of my closest motorcycle buddies from Austin, Texas. I was thinking maybe 5-7 guys. Juan Carlos and I made priliminary plans to meet in the capital city, Lima, and lead a 5 day ride to Cuzco.
Me & Juan Carlos, Cuzco, Peru. January 2003.
Back home in Austin I talked up the idea but after 5 months I only had two buddies show even a modicum of interest. (And in the end…, even they backed out.) But Linda had a friend who wanted to go, a guy named John. He worked at a major computer company, is a gifted guitarist and song writer but possessed only minimal riding experience. Now I didn't know John all that well, but he had one big thing going for him: he was seriously intent on making the trip with me back to Peru..., to “ride motorcycles in the Andes”.
I worked on an itinerary. July seemed like the time to go partly because of an annual festival being held in Puacartambo that Juan Carlos insisted I see. Partly because that month would place us on dirt roads during the dry season. It was now or never.
When it came time to plunk down the cash for air fare, John didn’t flinch. My other two friends dropped out. In an effort to get John up to speed, two weeks before departure I loaned him my kick start, street legalized 1995 650cc Kawasaki KLX-R, and told him to put his car in the garage and ride this beast everyday, rain or shine, wherever he went. No matter what. Kick start and all.
Meanwhile, a plan developed. I wanted to see the rapids of the Pongo de Mainique, in the Amazon basin. We dropped the idea of riding from Lima to Cuzco. We didn't have that much time. John and I would fly into Lima, and from there onto Cuzco to meet Juan Carlos and pick up our motorcycles.
So we had 3 destinations: Machu Picchu (logico), Paucartambo and the Pongo de Mainique. How to work in Machu Picchu? Because there are no roads to Machu Picchu we would be forced to ride the train, however, once we left Cuzco we didn't want to ever return until the trip was over. We decided to ride the motos from Cuzco to Ollantaytambo, leave our bikes in Ollanta and catch the train from there to Machu Picchu, return back to the bikes via the train and then head across the Sacred Valley to Paucartambo and the festival. And after that, finally head for the lowlands of Quillabamba, Ketini and the Pongo.
Ready to come along?
Here is the map Juan Carlos supplied me.
Let the good times roll!
Here are a few teaser shots from the spur-of-the-moment rides I made with Linda in Jan 2003. It should be noted that in 2003 I was several years away from a digital SLR camera.
This was taken at the Qorao (or Corao) mirador, on the road to Pisac. 1st day on the Suzuki DR650. Corao is the name of the town down below.
Its hard to resist these guys. Also the Qorao (Corao) mirador between Cuzco and Pisaq
Small town on Pampa de Anta, between Urubamba and Chinchero
OK, just a few shots of Machu Picchu. What's Peru without Machu Picchu?
Wayna Picchu peak overlooking the ruins of Machu Picchu
Aguas Calientes, jumping off place for Machu Picchu. Also the end of the RR line.
Amenities at the base town of Aguas Calientes, at the "bottom" of Machu Picchu.
The incredible raging Urubamba River at Aguas Calientes. Rainy season, January 2003.
The daily tourist shuffel in Aguas Calilentes. Loading up for the bus ride to Machu Picchu.
Gorgeous! Thanks for busting out the archives! :thumb
After a couple of short day trips riding two-up on Juan Carlos's bike, we decided to take an overnight ride to Quillabamba, located on the same river, the Urubamba, that passes thru the Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes (at the base of Machu Pichhu).
From Moras, looking towards Ollantaytambo at one end of the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is roughly the portion of the Urubamba river (here called the Vilconota) that runs between Pisaq and Ollantaytambo. This section of the river was canalized by the Incas long before the Spaniards arrived, to increase arable land.
Ollantaytambo fuel stop, filling up before making for Abra Málagra.
This formation or place is called Peñas. Climbing towards Abra Málagra, looking back towards the Urubamba Valley and more mountain ranges beyond.
Abra Málagra pass, 14,157' elevation
Family at Málagra pass, 14,157'
Descent from Málagra http://trailblazer.smugmug.com/Trave...78_4mtre-L.jpg
An excerpt from an old email.
Notes from the 1st loop thru the Andes, Jan 2003
Echarate, 25 km from Quillabamba, and the bridge over the Urubamba. Still following the Urubamba.
Chahures, 48 km from Quillabamba. Linda and her cute shoes. We had no riding gear so we did the best we could, wrapping her socks and shoes in plastic.
Jan 5, 2003. The rain slowed down in humid Quillabamba by 11am and we managed to be on the road by noon. We took the "scenic" route home, which was also the long way. The rain caused all the rivers coming off the mountains to rise, so we had to cross lots of streams without bridges, in some of them the water waked up to our thighs. There was one place (Quellouno) where no cars/buses were crossing because the rain had not only made the river high but it had also washed down a ton of gravel. Motorcycles could still cross, however. Linda dismounted and I gave it the gas and charged across amid cheers from the sidelines. There were lots of people and vehicles there, waiting. The police too. Later, we learned that a bus had been swept off the road just there, and rolled down the hill. I guess that's why the police.
What a mess! Linda being escorted across the washed out road outside of Quellouno. Later we learned a bus had been swept away from this very spot earlier the same day.
High in the Andes after Dark
Needless to say we got pretty wet and muddy. And we were climbing towards another 14,400 foot pass. The higher we got, the colder it got, plus it was getting later and later in the afternoon (and colder still) and we were a looong way from Cuzco. I couldn't believe the road. Single lane dirt and rock hugging cliffs for hours. It was the coolest motorcycle trip I've EVER taken, and I've done a few. Incredible scenery, lush vegetation, waterfalls coming off the mountains everywhere.
At one point there was a big waterfall that fell crashing right on the road. There was no way around, you had to drive straight thru it. Now we were totally drenched. Then the chain fell off the bike. We put it back on. It got dark. The headlight was bad. The road was slippery and I couldn't see more than 10 feet ahead. Then fog. What else, I’m asking?
We were looking for a little town, Manto, we hoped to stop at. We stopped at some houses in the dark (no electricity) and asked directions from some Indians.
We had passed Manto.
Well, we'd passed it up without ever seeing it so I guess there wasn't much there.
The Indians told us it was half an hour more to the next town, Amparaes. We putt-putted on, very slowly to Ampares, feeling my way around blind curves and along abysses.
Of course, there was not much in Amparaes, a few lights, some buildings. I found an Indian hotel (kind of like some beds in an extra room in somebody’s house). We had to walk thru a improvised video movie theater to get to the room.
Humble but appreciated lodging in Amparaes
Poor Linda was so frozen that she began shaking uncontrollably. Her feet were frozen (wet tennis shoes, wet cotton socks plus cold air and wind). She could barely walk and made funny gulping noises when she tried to talk. The owner of the "hotel" jumped to take care of us. He and the unseen women backing him up brought boiling water and plastic tubs to our room. I added cold water until the temperature was tolerable and bathed her feet in it. She was really shaking. I got her out of her wet clothes and into dry long johns, sweaters, wool socks, etc, then put her to bed and piled on the blankets. The owner (Sr Ramos) delivered hot tea in a thermos, then thick hot soup. What an experience.
Our Amparaes hosts
The way it was
The next morning all was OK, we hoped we didn't pick up any cooties in the bed. Everyone was extremely friendly and we took pictures of the Ramos family.
Moto maintenance in the courtyard of the Amparaes hostal
Out on the streets, downtown Amparaes. Was last night a dream?
We got on the motorcycle and went on over the pass. Lots of Indians were on the road heading towards Amparaes for Sunday church and drinking. Alpaca grazed on the hillsides.
I think I see a shortcut. Looking back in the direction of Amparaes.
Abra Amparaes: 14,478' elevation
Looking down the other side of the pass, to the town of Colca at the bottom of the "V" in the Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley)
Civilization in Colca and a well deserved break.
We arrived in warm Cuzco at about noon, a day late. We had missed our morning flight to Lima, we tried to get on the 3:00pm flight but it was "full". They told us the wind was blowing too hard and the 'plane couldn't take on any more weight. Whatever.... So..., anticlimax. We killed the rest of the day in Cuzco. That afternoon it hailed so hard it knocked away chunks of the ancient buildings.
The July 2003 trip will follow.
Is anyone out there??
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