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Old 07-05-2011, 02:41 PM   #24
poolman OP
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Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Darnestown, MD
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The Cliffside Ride from Santa Maria to Santa Teresa

We were eager (but slightly reluctant) to get on with our journey. The track from Santa Maria to Santa Teresa has been listed among the most dangerous roads in the world. It is a single-lane 40 KM long slice that has been carved high into the mountainside, and in certain places a fall would mean a 2,500 foot vertical drop to the raging Urubamba River below. This road is not for the faint of heart, and would provide an excellent opportunity for me to cure my fear of heights.

Departing Santa Maria.

We climbed above the Urubamba River.

Recent landslides added a bit of challenge.

Not many pictures, but we captured some video:

Finally we reached the village of Santa Teresa. I was amazed by the warmth and friendliness of the people. It is hard to fathom that in 1998 a massive landslide buried the original town, killing a large portion of the population and destroying the bridge that was the only link to the markets near Machu Picchu. The resilient survivors reconstructed the town in a safer location, and in 2007 completed construction of a new bridge. Next time I feel sorry for myself, I will remember this amazing example of determination and perseverance.

We found a hostal with secure parking for the bikes.

Hot showers (we don't see many 220 volt shower heads at home).

After a quick break in Santa Maria, we were off to Hydroelectrica for a short train ride to Aguas Calientes. It had been a spectacular day of riding, and the train ride would have been a nice reprieve except for the fact that it was well over 110 degrees F in the glass-topped coach cars.

The railway followed the Urubamba River through the jungle, and the scenery was incredible. I found it odd that Juan couldn't ride in the same train car as us. For some reason, Peruvian nationals are forbidden to ride with international visitors. At this point I realized that a paradigm shift had occurred: Juan was not just our guide any more, he had become our friend and traveling companion. A quick 90 minutes later we arrived in Aguas Calientes.

The view from our hostel.

That night we had a delicious dinner of local pizza and fire-grilled Peruvian meat. I was happy to be feeling well again, and my stomach was proving to be incredibly robust.

More to follow...
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