03-28-2013, 02:13 PM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Mar 8 Colca Canyon and Arequipa
Was originally planning on staying here for another couple of nights and get caught up with the housekeeping stuff I needed. But, when I found the hotel only had internet on one crappy computer in the lobby and no WiFi, it was a no-go and back on the road. It is amazing how dependent we travelers become on technology like WiFi. From doing these ride reports (which includes a lot of time to upload pictures - not even talking about videos) to route planning to looking after personal stuff, it becomes our umbilical cord and watch out to the establishment who doesn't provide a decent plug-in.
Colca Canyon is a remarkable sight and is billed as twice as deep as the Grand Canyon – which technically it is, from the river at the bottom of the canyon to the top of the adjoining mountains. OK, it ain't the Grand Canyon but this canyon has its own beauty and I really enjoyed being there. One of the big draws here is to see the Andean Çondors who nest on the sides of the canyon.
One of the guides at the hotel got me some info about the road in Colca Canyon. At first the advice was to detour to the other side because of a wash out but then we found that the main road was now open. The advice also was to not take the road past the town of Carbanaconde as that road becomes quite remote and is known to have some decent slides and wash outs. Apparently, the rumor goes, a group of bikers went that way and one guy lost his bike in one of the washouts. Doesn't take that much to convince me.
Decent road to the next town that you have to detour through because of a washout on the main road below it. Dirt road after that was generally good except the few slides and washouts to cross. The bulk of this little slide is out of sight around the corner
And this little stream flowed down the road for a hundred feet or so - pretty good volume of water pushed a bunch of sand, gravel and rocks onto the road
They even bored a hole through this mountain to bypass the old road you can barely see on the right clinging to the mountain where it hasn't already fallen off. Not good for the Tour Bus industry . . .
Continue on along this spectacular canyon.
Arrive at the lookout where the Condors nest to try and get a glimpse of one of those magnificent birds. Didn’t happen. Not only didn’t see any birds but fog started rolling up from the canyon floor quickly blotting out any chance of seeing squat. They are down there somewhere.
Headed to Carbanaconde and the road turns into a beautiful paved road with perfect pavement . . . and no traffic. Evidenced by the relaxed nature of Junior here seeming quite comfortable having lunch in the middle of the road.
Came around a corner and notice a bird flying around. Well, I’ll be, I did get to see a Condor after all – kind of far away but there it was. These are supposed to be the second largest birds in the world and larger than Bald Eagles (which if any of you have seen one up close, are frickin huge) and is the national bird of a whole passel of South American countries. It ain't much but it's all I got.
I’d heard from some other travelers that the road past Carbanaconde was open so I thought I’d go see what it was like. The pavement dumps me onto dirt just before Carbanaconde and the road was generally decent. It was pretty well all dirt so the hard rain last night created a little mud with the odd slimy section. As I gained altitude the slimy sections got longer and rattier. The strangest thing with this road is that there were no vehicles on it. I never came across any other vehicle the whole time I was on it. Creepy! Started to remind me of that road I was on a couple of days ago to the bridge out. Nothing.
After about 30 km and still climbing and the mud getting a little slicker, I’m thinking I have another 150 -200km of this with a really remote section yet to come – this section was feeling pretty remote.
Pretty up there though
I’m thinking I had to cross a 16,000 foot pass to get to Chivay and this road must get pretty high itself to get over the top which could mean all sorts of weird conditions. Combine that with the admonitions and rumors from the locals and I decided it was wise to stick to the original plan. So, after 30 km I decided to head back to Chivay and over the big hill and then down to Arequipa.
Great ride up the hill. Little foggy at the top and then wandered along the altiplano trying to avoid Alpacas, sheep and dogs. One of the many large flocks of Alpaca on the Altiplano
Back on the main highway and get into spurts of fog. Make good time though.
Into Arequipa. Holy Crap! This is a big city. Wasn’t expecting that. Had the name of a hostel and headed for that. It was closed! Rats! Look around, there are tons of places – just need to find a place to park to check them out.
Finally, notice Casa Andina on my GPS list which I remembered seeing somewhere. Very scientific. Pull up and it’s a pretty deluxe place. They tell me they are all out of regular rooms but have a “Superior Room” for 450 Soles. Uhh, no thanks. When I turn around, they dropped it to 390. Still more than I want. Finally say they have some other rooms “downstairs” for 200 soles. OK, I’m listening now.
Take me down and show me three rooms . . . I thought you didn’t have any regular rooms? Then 190 . . . they are 90% full, not down here. The room was quite decent and very deluxe for me.
Gotta note here that I am getting more comfortable riding in big cities. I have always gone out of my way to avoid cities as the traffic scares the bejesus out of me - North America also. Now they seem pretty straight forward – you really have to pay attention but I guess I’ve developed a better sense for city traffic. I seem to swear less.