Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
March 6 Heading to(wards) Colca Canyon
Interesting day. Expected to be a fast 400 km from Cusco to Chivay at the top of Colca Canyon so, left late.
Came to a little town called Urcos and saw a number of ladies wearing these quite fancy hats. I call them the lamp shad hats.
Then got to the square and saw this Transita with a western hat
Turned off the highway to Espinar and the road immediately turns to dirt Ė decent quality and except for a few spots up hills chewed up by trucks can move along ok. Thinkin this may turn my fast 400 km day into a not so fast 400 km day. After about 20 km of this, turns into nice pavement. Smokin!
Arrive in the town of Espinar and will need to fill the bike and fill me. Decent sized town. Find a restaurant which is huge and packed. Ask for the Almuerzo (Lunch) Ė soup, something Iím not sure of but sure is good, some of those corn nut things that I ate with my soup and a glass of hot lemonade. Delicious!
Come out and my bike has attracted a crowd. Asked the usual questions about the bike and the trip. Notice a kid quietly looking over every detail of the bike. Ask him if he wants to sit on it . . . didn't have to ask him to smile
Lady with the "high bowler" seen a lot in this region. Also notice the knit leggings which have been very common in the colder climes.
Gas up and go. Road out of town is dirt and that condition doesnít change until the very end of the day. Decent quality road though and can maintain 70 -80 kph most of the time with ease. Road takes us through a big mine and processing plant. (Sorry SR, no pics)
A few wet spots that made things interesting Ė have to let cars and trucks get all the way through the mud bogs or Iíll run into them as they are going so slow. Too much traffic the other way to pass.
Beautiful country Ė rolling hills with volcano craters visible. Slightly to the right of center, stand two little peaks that are remaining sides of a crater
Slowly climbed and everytime I figured I got to a new high, the road would turn and go higher. Finally got to a new record altitude. Basicly I started the day at 11,000 feet in Cusco and reached 14,000 after a couple of hours and never returned to that level.
Some of the rugged, volcanic mountain peaks
A little house with its rock fences up against some interesting rock formations
Finally got a picture of a grass roofed house. Notice in front of the house is an adobe fence. They seem to always put some grass on top of adobe walls - I presume to shed the rain so it doesn't erode them.
Some alpacha crossing the road
Many flocks of sheep with a member of the family standing watch. As gained altitude, the sheep were mixed with Alpaca and Llama then just straight Alpachas and Llamaís. Lots of cattle along the way also. Stopped next to this lady herding her flock of alpacha, pull out my camera and ask if I can take her picture? She wags her finger at me and says no. So when I point the camera at her, she smiles anyhow. Good sport.
Often have dogs run out into the road to bark at me and chase me away. Nothing different today except this one border collie type came charging out and I didnít slow, as I normally donít, but I should have known better. This guy is smart enough to figure out the correct angle of attack to get at me and goes for my front tire. Iím doing about 50 kph and wham I feel him hit my crash bar followed by a yelp. Look in my mirror and heís rolling down the road ass over tea kettle. Stop and by the time I get off my bike, heís run back to his house. Iíll bet heíll have a headache for a couple of days. Pushed my right side spot light down a bit but no other evidence. Felt crappy about that Ė hope he was ok.
Finally get to the turn off to Chivay Ė road certainly looks much less used. Immediately encounter the biggest mud puddle in the world Ė must have been a hundred yards long but, foutunately, it only crossed the entire road for about 25 feet Ė water was deeper than the bottom of the engine.
Carried on with what appeared to be a decent road but not well maintained. Doesn't appear to be used much either as I encountered no traffic other than a gazillion Alpachas and Llamas grazing in huge herds. Iím thinking this is a bit weird and am starting to fear the road may be out. Figure I may as well carry on for a while and see whatís up. After awhile, came to a large dam and reservoir and the road goes downhill in the direction of the base of the dam. Sure enough, thereís a river and thereís where the bridge was.
Check out my paper map and it looks like I can get to Chivay by going back to the road to Arequipa and make a big loop. So, hi-tail it back to the turn-off. At the turnoff some guy in a car stops me to ask about the road. Wouldnít believe me when I told him it was closed. Finally convinced him just when another car goes barreling past us.
Take off towards Arequipa and come across a little town and ask a guy directions. He too was surprised the road to Chivay was out. Tells me the long way to get there. I head out. GPS finally figures out the route and says I will arrive about 9:30 Ė this detour will add 200 km to my route.
So, here we are. It's after 5 PM, getting dark, getting cold (now its 5 deg) and I've been watching these ugly and massive clouds building in the direction I now have to go. I thought about wild camping along the road but most of it is wet with a lot of standing water. I don't really want to ride that late in this stormy night so maybe somebody will let me sleep on their floor.
Although the GPS doesnít show any hotels until Chivay, I'm hoping it missed one - it's not unusual for it to not only miss many hotels, it sometimes misses whole towns.
We have about 60 km to the next turn and it looks like the road we turn onto is major and I'm hoping will be paved. It has now started to rain and I want to get there before this rain starts to accumulate on the dirt road and turns it into a mud road which would make for a long and tedious night.
Sure enough, turn onto a paved road. My temperature gauge is now flashing at 3 deg C. It is pissing rain, itís pitch black and Iím looking for a place to stop. I can see a few lights in the distance and my GPS shows the town of Imata. Get to this wide spot in the road Ė truckers stop. See a couple of restaurants and then spot the nicest sign Iíve ever seen. Hospedaje. Yahoo! (From the next morning) It wasn't a big sign but it stood out like a MacDonalds Golden Arches.
Sure enough, they have a room Ė 30 soles ($12), hell, he could have told me it was 100 soles and I would have nodded my head. Has toilets out back, but, not only is there no hot water, there are no showers. But they do have a restaurant. Iím smillin.
Guy wants me to ride my bike around back which as far as I can tell involves going up the road a ways, riding down a muddy ally and what looks like a junk strewn muddy field to get to the back of his place. I'm tired and I'm cold, I think Iíll just park in the front and hope my bike is there in the morning.
Change and get down to the restaurant. Cena? (Dinner) You betcha. Starts off with a cream of chicken soup and then a chicken dinner. Man did that taste good. Asks what I want to drink - no beer, I don't want coffee so, I opt for the Matte de Coca tea Ė which is coca Leaf tea and is supposed to help with altitude problems. The altitude has not bothered me but weíre at 14,500 feet and I figure Iíll be up here for awhile so might as well have a cup for preventative measures.
That was quite a day, I'm good now.
- RexBuck's Latin America
Information on travelling in Latin America.
Includes links to ride reports to Mexico and to South America