View Single Post
Old 01-18-2013, 04:00 AM   #5
huzar OP
Pastor of Muppets
huzar's Avatar
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Bellevue, WA
Oddometer: 2,273
Monday, Jan 14, 2013 Nazca to Cusco (part 1)

After breakfast, we load up the bikes. First thing we do is head out to the famous Nazca lines. We had wrestled with whether to drop the coin on a flight over them, and finally decided against it. Instead we just ride out to the observation tower and I get to see the few figures that are visible from the top. I think a tethered observation balloon would be a better viewing platform, but so far no one has put that into effect.

One of the figures:

IMG_2293 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

And another:

IMG_2294 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Hewby is at the bottom of the tower with the bikes:

IMG_2295 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The rather straight and boring roads near Nazca:

IMG_2301 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We then turn around and head towards Cusco. I had heard a lot about how great a road the 26 is, and it does not disappoint. What makes it even better is the almost complete lack of traffic on it. Our plan is to head to Chalhuanca, which is midway between Nazca and Cusco. This would make today a 200-mile day. I’ve been told that Puquio, midway to Chalhuanca, would make a good lunch stop.

Nice and twisty:

IMG_2303 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Hewby enjoying the turns:

IMG_2305 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Moonscape and asphalt:

IMG_2306 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Another turn:

IMG_2307 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The brown, lifeless hills seem to go on forever:

IMG_2310 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We climb away from the coast, the 26 wowing us with every turn. Eventually, the road straightens out a bit as we are on the altiplano. We ride straight through the middle of a Guanaco reserve, and soon see many of the llama-like camelids on both sides of the road.

The first bits of green appear on the altiplano:

IMG_2312 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The first of many guanacos:

IMG_2316 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

About as close as I could get without spooking them:

IMG_2320 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr


IMG_2322 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Unfortunately, we also see that the eastern horizon is now black, and we’re heading straight for it. This is the rainy season on the altiplano. I close up my vents and Hewby puts on her waterproof liners, and we press onwards. The first drops of rain are quickly replaced by painful hail pellets, which are accompanied by a light show and a chorus of thunder. The guanacos are nowhere to be seen. The road turns white, and we ride on slowly through an inch-deep layer of slush that has appeared. Fortunately, this only lasts maybe 10 minutes, and the hail subsides to a more gentle rain.

Looks like trouble:

IMG_2325 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Yup, definitely trouble:

IMG_2326 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Fortunately, the skies soon clear:

IMG_2327 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The thought of a hot (if late) lunch in Puquio keeps us going. We ride through the rain, and drop down to the small town of Pachan. Hewby spies a small roadside restaurant and we stop there for lunch. They have something called sudado trucha on the menu, which sounds intriguing, so we get that. It turns out to be a great call – sudado means the trout is poached in an exquisitely flavored broth of tomatoes, onions, and aji peppers. We wolf that down and it warms us up, and our moods improve. While we were eating, another thunderstorm had moved past, so we lucked out in our choice of stops.
I check Google Maps, and it seems we’re maybe 20 miles from Puquio. We realize we will not make it to Chalhuanca for the night. Off the main drag through the town I see a church tower off to the left, and figure that’s where the plaza is. We head there, and as we enter it a man runs out of a shop and starts waving us over. Turns out he runs a hotel right on the plaza. Around the corner he has covered, secured parking for the bikes and there’s hot water, but no internet. Good enough.

The lush, green slopes east of the alitplano:

IMG_2328 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

And some nice twisties:

IMG_2333 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

A sheep herder in Pachan:

IMG_2338 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

I pull my bike around the side, where our host has constructed a steep ramp to get me over the tall curb and two very tall steps and into the large, enclosed space. I don’t really think about it, but line the KLR up, gun it, and I’m in. Woohoo. Hewby asks me to do the same with her F650GS. Unfortunately, I overthink it and stall the bike on the ramp. Futilely searching with my feet for purchase, I and the bike fall off the ramp to the right. I feel something pop in my right knee and a hot, throbbing pain has me sitting on the curb, clutching my knee, being useless as the bike lies there, practically blocking traffic. Fortunately, our host and two other men push the bike up the ramp.

Hewby failed to get a picture of me dumping her bike

I manage to hobble inside. Almost two years ago I tore the MCL and ACL in my right knee in a skiing accident. That same knee bore the brunt of the fall, but I do not think I tore anything this time. After hobbling around for 20 minutes, I manage to make it up the stairs to the room and pop an 800mg Motrin. Hewby applies some pain relief cream to the knee, and I take a nap.

We wake up around 7. My knee is stiff and achy, but I can sort of walk on it. We go down to the bikes, to see that our two have been joined by a third. The rider is an Italian, Gionata, on his modified 1987 Transalp. He’s been on the road for 8 years now. He asks to join us for dinner. We get an excellent recommendation from our host for a little place called “La Estancia” that is three blocks away. For six soles per person, we have a tasty chicken broth followed by rice and some sort of vegetables. I’m normally good with knowing the names of what I eat, but this name escaped me. The vegetable tasted a bit like spinach, and we were told it is local to the area. Gionata and Hewby swap road stories. He’s heading north, to Colombia and then Central America, so she tells him of some roads to avoid and others not to miss. He just finished a one year stint as a motorcycle guide, so he tells her of the Salar the Uyuni and the road down to Ushuaia. This being only my second day on the road, I can’t really contribute much to this conversation, so I try and listen, albeit with more than a hint of envy.

Gionata's 1987 Transalp:

IMG_1236 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Nice, secure parking with plenty of room:

IMG_1237 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We head back to the hotel, where we spend some time fiddling with the bikes. I hook up my heated gear, and Hewby tries to diagnose why her heated liner does not seem to be working. Eventually we come to the conclusion that it still works, just much more slowly. Plugging my jacket into her controller gives me almost instant heat, so there’s something wonky with her jacket, but I’m pretty sure Gerbing does not have service here in Peru. At least she can still use it to drive her heated glove liners.

It’s almost midnight when we finally hit the sack. Tomorrow, to Chalhuanca (and beyond?)

huzar screwed with this post 01-30-2013 at 04:58 PM
huzar is online now   Reply With Quote