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Old 02-05-2013, 06:31 PM   #52
huzar OP
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Sunday, January 27th, 2013 – Chivay to Arequipa

We wake to a gorgeous, sunny day in Chivay. After breakfast, we wander the town for a bit. It has a promenade that is lined with these funky statues, as if it were aspiring to something grander than it currently is. It also has a very cool old church, and an excellent market. We check out some fruits that Hewby has never seen before, and we stop in for a jugo. We try two – one made from kewicha, which, as near as we can tell, is a smaller relative of quinoa, and one made from quinoa, with sugar, cinnamon, and pureed apple. Delicious.

One of the statues:

Porwit-20130127-0802-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

And another:

Porwit-20130127-0805-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

They even have a gimp?

Porwit-20130127-0808-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Hewby is discussing quinoa recipes and agrarian policy:

Porwit-20130127-0824-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Hewby is in her element at the market:

Porwit-20130127-0828-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The town church, with snow-capped mountains:

Porwit-20130127-0847-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Having sampled the town, we hit the road. The road is mostly dirt, and leads down from Chivay to the Cruz del Condor. It is pretty nice, if slightly dusty riding. The valley to our right is verdant, the fields in bloom, and we have snow-capped peaks towering overhead. There is a little traffic, but nothing too heavy.

Fields in bloom:

Porwit-20130127-0849-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

At this point, the Rio Colca canyon is more of a lush valley:

Porwit-20130127-0850-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Porwit-20130127-0851-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Stone walls carve up the valley floor:

Porwit-20130127-0854-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

View point along the way:

Porwit-20130127-0855-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

One of several tunnels along the way:

Porwit-20130127-0858-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We’re told that the Cruz del Condor is a reliable spot to see these giant birds, and we are not disappointed. We see two, and one puts on a very nice display for us. Hopefully Hewby got some good pictures. We are still at above twelve thousand feet, and the wide valley from earlier has now become a narrow, steep canyon where the Rio Colca rages thousands of feet below us. Of course, to get to the Cruz del Condor, the Peruvians charge us 70 soles per person just to ride the road down there. That’s more expensive than admission to Yosemite.

The Rio Colca is now raging whitewater, deep at the bottom of a canyon:

Porwit-20130127-0864-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

A condor. Hewby got better pics of this, and I'll post up a link once she uploads them:

Porwit-20130127-0868-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We continue on past the Cruz del Condor, to Cabanaconde. The road here is paved. Right before town, we pick up a dirt road that heads south, towards Huambo. We’re once again on a pretty good dirt road, which we now have to ourselves. The roadside markers inform us that we have 100 miles of this before the roads terminates at the Panamericana, in the town of El Alto.
We stay high, climbing at times to over fourteen thousand feet. The views are amazing, with wide valles, snow-covered peaks, streams, and red dirt. There are herds of cows grazing here and there, but no other signs of human life. This section of the road is probably the best road I have ever ridden, anywhere. At times slow and twisty, at other times fast, the road thrills us turn after turn. Portions of the road have muddy ruts that have since set up in the sun, and there’s washboard here and there, but otherwise the surface is very good. There is no one else on it. All of the tourist traffic into Chivay comes the way we came the night before.

The old church in Cabanaconde:

Porwit-20130127-0869-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Great riding:

Porwit-20130127-0870-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Amazing views and great weather:

Porwit-20130127-0871-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Looks a bit like the Great Basin, doesn't it?

Porwit-20130127-0872-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

High desert riding at 14 thousand feet:

Porwit-20130127-0873-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The dried-out mud ruts occasionally demanded a bit of caution:

Porwit-20130127-0874-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Wide, grassy valleys:

Untitled by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Chasing Hewby with my visor open means a facefull of dust:

Porwit-20130127-0877-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Probably the best day of riding I have ever had in my life:

Porwit-20130127-0879-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Not a soul in sight for hours:

Porwit-20130127-0880-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Shanty town in the desert, just outside of El Alto:

Porwit-20130127-0881-Orig by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We have four hours of glorious dirt riding. I really cannot capture just how amazing this road was. It finally starts to drop with about 25 miles remaining, the environment changing, becoming more desert-like. We drop to less than four thousand feet by the time we reach El Alto. The last few miles were on straight, boring washboard, which passes though poor slums.
Once on the Panamericana, we haul mail back to Arequipa, arriving a little before 7pm. We’ve been hurrying, because I’ve made reservations at Chicha, a restaurant run by Gaston Acurio, who is a culinary god. We get there, only to find out that the restaurant is closed. Their reservation system let me made a reservation for a non-existent time. Bastards! Oh well, we’ll have to go back there for lunch tomorrow, before I catch my flight back to Seattle.
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