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Old 02-03-2013, 10:24 PM   #51
huzar OP
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Saturday, January 26th, 2013 – Puno to Chivay

We got a late start today. After wrangling with the folks at the El Inti Hostel, who tried to jack up the rates from 40S/night to 60S/night, we were stopped by the police on the way out of town. Documents check. Mine went smoothly, but they seemed to give Hewby a bit of grief. After they finally waved us through, we went looking for gas, and dealt with the tire pressures on the bikes. I think it was noon by the time we were really moving.

I don't think the weather will be kind to us today:

Porwit-20130126-0767-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Cool enclosed stone households near Atuncalla:

Porwit-20130126-0769-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Google maps routes us on a road that does not have us go back through Juliaca. Hurray. Instead, we head towards Sillustani and Atuncalla. There we pick up a nice dirt road that heads west. After about seven km of nice dirt, we are routed onto a much less pleasant dirt track. Several large storm clouds circle nearby, and we are hit by rain and hail a few times. The dirt track becomes very muddy. Hewby can’t keep the bike up a couple of times, and once or twice I have to ride her GS through the slick stuff. I nearly biff it on the KLR, as the rear does not want to stay in line. I think it took us about two hours to cover those few miles. We finally get into a little town, where we’re told the piste to Arequipa is just over there. Another couple of miles of dirt, and we’re on pavement. Hmmm, maybe going through the center of Juliaca would have been a better option.

Pretty nice dirt, though the rain isn't far off:

Porwit-20130126-0771-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

More nice dirt:

Porwit-20130126-0774-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Decidedly less nice dirt:

Porwit-20130126-0778-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Wet, yucky, tracked-out slicker-than-snot mud:

Porwit-20130126-0780-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Something about artificial insemination:

Porwit-20130126-0781-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Hewby is determined to get through this muck:

Porwit-20130126-0782-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Nearing the end of the mud:

Porwit-20130126-0783-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We roll into a little town and get lunch. It is 3pm by now. We walk into a little restaurant and order two of what they’re serving. The soup is some not so tasty chicken noodle whatever that feels like it has been reheated day after day. The second course is a pile of rice, a potato, and a tiny piece of meat. I will be regretting that lunch the rest of the day, as it keeps trying to come back out the way it came.

Hewby's like: "Seriously, you're going to take my picture now?"

Porwit-20130126-0785-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Funky church:

Porwit-20130126-0786-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We’re moving again before 4pm. The road is nice, but climbs relentlessly. We emerge onto the altiplano at 14,600 feet, and are greeted by wind, rain, hail, and finally snow. Hewby is freezing, and stops to put on all the clothing she has. I suffer in silence in my t-shirt and riding jacket. We press on to the southwest, looking for a turnoff to Chivay. I didn’t see one in Intapa, so we continue towards Arequipa. I’m cranky, and just want a warm shower and bed, no longer caring if I ride the Colca canyon. The road goes through a preserve, and I see some vicunas in the distance, but none want to come close enough to be photographed.

Lagunas on the altiplano:

Porwit-20130126-0787-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Vicuna crossing:

Porwit-20130126-0788-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Volcanic and rocky snow-covered peaks emerge as we continue west. If it weren’t so damn cold, I might be enjoying this more. The road finally starts to drop a little. At 13K it is almost balmy, and my mood improves. We come to a fork in the road. We can continue down towards Arequipa, or take the road up to Chivay. After a short discussion, Hewby convinces me that I will regret it tomorrow if I do not ride the Colca river canyon, since this was one of the main points of my trip. We head up into the hills. It is 6:20pm, and we’re racing against the sunset.

It's wet, late, and we're heading towards snow-covered peaks:

Porwit-20130126-0789-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Volcan Minas and some snow-covered peaks:

Porwit-20130126-0790-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Alpenglow as we turn towards Chivay, 50+ miles to go:

Porwit-20130126-0792-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The road climbs again, up to 14.6, then higher still. The light fades. The ride could be quite spectacular, if it weren’t for the impending darkness, the cold, and the return of snow flurries. We cross the pass at 16K feet, being snowed on. The light is gone – only the faint headlights of the KLR and the GS pierce the darkness. The road has occasional potholes, and slide debris from mudflows that have been cleaned away recently. We also worry about black ice and stray llamas. As we start the descent, Hewby spies the lights of Chivay in the distance. The GPS shows a long, twisty drop into town. We ride carefully, as the crap on the road keeps us on our toes. At one point we go through a thick fog bank, with visibility reduced to nearly zero. Especially on segments that have been covered by mud slides, the reflective road markers are gone and there are a couple of moments of crap, where’s the road?
We roll into town a little before 8pm, having covered 85km since the intersection. All in all, we did nearly 300km, some of it in pretty challenging conditions. What was supposed to have been an easy day did not turn out that way.

We’re now back at a more manageable elevation of twelve thousand feet. The Lonely Planet guide recommended the Colca Inn as one of the places to stay, and we are not disappointed. Ample hot water, a super-friendly guy at the reception desk, secure parking, and (this is a first for me in Peru) a heater in the room. Hallelujah! We crank up the heat and shower to rewarm ourselves, and then head in search of food. We find someplace on the main plaza, but it wasn’t very good. Still, it was warm, and they were open and willing to feed us after 9pm. Back in the room, I search in vain for wifi. I’ll have to upload this another time.

Tomorrow, we ride down the Colca Canyon to Arequipa. The canyon is a good spot to see the Andean condor, so I have my hopes up.
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