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Old 02-15-2010, 02:27 AM   #31
Race with the devil...
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Congratulations wonderful ride
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:09 AM   #32
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Thanks "Che". Another Poderosa, eh?
Glad you're enjoying the ride.
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:47 AM   #33
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Mas adentro

Mas adentro
From Quillabamba we rode 5 hrs of dusty, bone jarring dirt road with lots of truck traffic to the frontier town of Kiteni.

Echarete (eh-chah-RAH-tay). No time to explore nearby Siete Tinajas. The road crosses the Urubamba by a bridge here.

Soda break in Echarte

School kids in Chaguarez. Here the road crosses the Urubamba again, to lead to Kiteni. Recognize the gal at the far right?
You last saw her here.
January 2003

Road to Kiteni is long. Lots of traffic. Huge dust clouds behind busses and trucks blind us. Significant stream crossings. I soak my boots. John performs admirably. We had one incident with one of the bikes running poorly and becoming unable to re-start. Diagnosed the problem. We were riding with the choke closed! I had to laugh at Juan Carlos’ last advice before leaving Cuzco. “Milton, don’t ride with the choke closed.” Hola, Juan Carlos!

Kiteni looks like a gold rush town, but this is 21st Century Petro-gold. There is a huge natural gas project going on in Camesea, well out in the jungle, and Kiteni is the closest thing to civilization to Camesea. From Kiteni it’s helicopter to Camesea. Rumor has it that they’re building a pipeline from Camesea to the coast but who knows. All sponsored and supported by your local World Bank, taking a nice bite out of the rain forest ecosystem in this neck of the woods. Oh, but don’t worry. There's a saying around here, La selva nunca acaba, (the forest never ends). Or so they say....

But I digress.

Kiteni. Frontier town. End of the line, (almost).

We arrived 5pm completely covered with dust, head to foot, having played Road Warrior for 5 hrs with big flat bed trucks trailing maelstroms of dust. We walked up to the first gringos we saw and asked, “So, how do we do it?” Get to the Pongo, that is. No further explanation needed. All gringos in Kiteni are here to see the Pongo de Mainique.

My clutch hand is killing me. Actually, both hands. We take a room at a hostal with no name. We tie right in with Daniel, a Peruvian tour guide of sorts who had just that day returned from the Pongo. Negotiations thru the evening. Finally money passes hands and we’re locked in for an excursion downriver to the Pongo de Mainique.

We shop for food, retire early.

Hostal with no name
A jungle hotel. A bit cramped. Paper thin walls, you could hear every sneeze, sigh, and argument in a three-room radius. It’s like a “porters’” hotel, only they ain’t porters here, they’re boatmen. Some English travelers wake me up after midnight to beg 15 soles. Asswipes, then talk loudly in their room. I’m ready to change hotels but I can’t find my reading glasses before they quiet down. (The Kamesia Hotel next door is much nicer and only 15 soles per person. They have animal skins on the walls, stuffed animals and and insect collection.)

A little river trip
“8am” departure time the next morning (make that 9:30 Peruvian time), we are on board a 65′ long canoe shaped lancha with 65 hp Evenrude motor and a crew of 4, not including our guide. The crew includes Naydu, our hotel owner. We’ve chartered this whole 3-day shebang.
“Weeell……..,” drawls John, “looks like we’ve got ourselves a little river trip.”
The motoristas are drunk, of course.
“Everything is under control,” Daniel assures us.
Daniel has spent 3 yrs in the states, and speaks good English.

Charging down the Urubamba. We were not the only traffic on the river. Daniel, our guide, sits in the orange life preserver, Mario, the boat’s owner steers.

We fly down river, into the rain forest. Kinda. 1½ hours later we pass the absolute last road dead-head, a bunch of trucks parked on the bank. Nada mas.

Our lancha at Ivochote, 1½ hours from Kiteni. Across the pedestrian bridge a truck is parked near the absolute end of the road, the limit of vehicular traffic out of Kiteni. It is possible to catch public river boat transport downstream from here, but return is unreliable.


Pongo de Mainique
Another 1½ hours down river brought us to the Pongo (or canyon), a very unique and beautiful place. The Urubamba narrows and passes between two steep walls of a gap thru the last ridge line before entering the flats, the Amazon basin. There are waterfalls falling off on both sides. The vegetation is lush, lush, lush. Really a remarkable spot. The Urubamba drops some 500 meters between Quillabamba and here, and another 500 meters the rest of its way across the continent to the Atlantic (via the Amazon).

Entering the Pongo

I first learned of the Pongo in Peter Matthiessen’s 1961 book, The Cloud Forest, the non-fiction precursor of his novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord. The rapids of the Pongo were also used as a filming location for key scenes of Werner Herzog's 1982 film Fitzcarraldo starring Klaus Kinski; namely the scene where the river boat crashes down the rapids.

The Pongo is potentially a dangerous place, there are supposedly some 100 deaths per year here due to a fierce current. But this was the dry season, the river is low and did not seem dangerous.

We climbed around one of the falls. Lush vegetation, we saw Cock-of-the-Rock birds.

This makes it all worth it.

Daniel, Mario and his wife, Maria

Another boat headed downriver with a load of carga.

One of the motoristas, Naydu, was now dancing in the lancha just to prove how drunk he was.

We stopped at a little hut on the flat, far side of the pongo and set up camp, sleeping bags on mattresses in a thatched roofed hut, with waist high walls made of chonta palm.

I crash. Nap time. The jungle lazies take their toll. A short walk with Daniel into the “jungle” behind our hut. Nothing much noted but termite nests and an impressive swarm of army ants. The lowland jungle looks much different than the cloud forest.

Guides. What a strange breed. Daniel is a cross between two worlds. He is our interface with the Peruvians. He is always asking the Peruvians what this or that is.

A lancha and the Urubamba River, on the flat side of the Pongo. It’s Amazon Basin from here to the Atlantic. Along the water’s edge are make-shift rafts of balsa wood.

Trillions of stars come out at night to a symphony of frogs along the river bank. Meteors and lightening bugs. During the night, Naydu awakes cold in the dirt where he has passed out and tries to crawl into John’s sleeping bag…., with John.

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Old 02-16-2010, 08:13 AM   #34
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The Pongo

The Pongo
Today we went fishing.
Well, how can I put this? We dynamited fish.

A fishing expedition

Some of our crew had brought these quarter-sticks of dynamite and we’d go to some appropriate spot, they’d light the fuse and throw it out into river, KABOOM it went, with an echo in the jungle, the underwater explosion just like in the submarine movies. Then they’d all run out into the water and look for stunned/dead fish. Cool, but inefficient. Saw our only pair of macaws on this foray.

Another nap. Lunch.

Another trip to the Pongo, Naydu sits in his underware as we motor past the World Challenge Expedition campsite.

sat on the rocks by another set of falls. Saw Cock-of-the-rock birds, as well as lots of orapendalos and their colonies of hanging nests.

Talked to a group of English who were camped on a beach right in the Pongo.

A peaceful scene. The camp of an English outfit called the World Challenge Expedition. They left Kiteni shortly after we did. The chaparones are seated to the right, the kids together as a group to the far left. The kids had the assignment of planning and preparing their own evening meal tonight. Myself, I stuck close to the native cook seated in the middle cooking up a batch of fresh fish. This group’s guide, Sergio, an ex-pat Belgian living in Peru, can be seen standing, passing out shots of pisco. He told us he had “permanent rights” to this beach camp at the Pongo.

World Challenge chaparones and tour guides

One of the helpers demonstrates a balsa raft

John was a little perturbed. He pointed out the fact that the English “went on a 2hr walk thru the jungle, then went upriver and swam…., all while we dynamited fish.”
Well..., he had a point.

Just go with the flow. Everything is under control.
“It’s against the law, but they bought the dynamite from the police”, Daniel insisted.

Don Pablo, the man who actually lived at the hut where we were staying at, took us for another stroll in the gathering darkness. Now he was incredible. Calling out to monkeys, and loud, wild turkeys, pointing out all sorts of things, including giant viente-cuarto ants. (So called because their bite, actually a sting, can cause pain & swelling for 24 hours.) (Don't ask me how I know, I thought my arm was going to fall off.) The army ants were still swarming. We never saw the monkeys, too dark, but we heard them answer back to Don Pablo’s calls. All this just behind our hut.

Another night of stars and frogs. Campfire. Tons of driftwood. Satellites, and the giant red planet Mars. Scorpio on its tail directly overhead at the zenith. So weird, the sky all twisted.

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Old 02-17-2010, 12:28 PM   #35
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Wow! Doc you haven't aged since 2003. Must be that flux capacitor thingy

Great ride Milton. Sadly I have not done the west coast of South America. My wife has and I remain envious. Did you eat any of that roasted guinea pig on a stick while you were there?

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Old 02-17-2010, 07:16 PM   #36
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Cool beans, TrailBlazer ... keep them coming please.
Indecision is the key to flexibility.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:25 PM   #37
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Eat more cuy

Originally Posted by Pedro Navaja
Wow! Doc you haven't aged since 2003. Must be that flux capacitor thingy

Great ride Milton. Did you eat any of that roasted guinea pig on a stick while you were there?
Moi ??

hummmmm. Not this time, though I have had it before. Little feet and all.

Too many bones.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:27 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by phoenixtoohot
Cool beans, TrailBlazer ... keep them coming please.
I'm on it Phoenix
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Old 02-18-2010, 02:24 AM   #39
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Reality check

Our trip was coming to a close. We had accomplished our objectives: Machu Picchu, Paucartambo, and the Pongo de Mainique. It was time to head home.

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Old 02-18-2010, 02:26 AM   #40
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Thursday, July 24, 2003
Leaving the Pongo

Early morning start for our return upriver.

Mario and Naydu, leaving the Pongo

Pushing against the current

The Kamesea passes us

Daniel said these were prehistoric petroglyphs from unknown times

It took us 6 hrs to reach Kiteni, pushing against the current thru various rapids. That’s twice the travel time of our descent. Had to disembark at one point, and walk thru coffee and cacao trees while the boatmen physically pushed the 65’ lancha up thru a set of shallow rapids. Visited an orange plantation at another point, tasting different varieties of oranges. A helicopter passes overhead, headed for Camisea. At Pangoa, school girls in grey and white uniforms go to school in canoes.

Cacao, from which chocolate comes

School girls at Pangoa.

In The Cloud Forest (1961), Matthiessen writes of staying in Pangoa.

Ivochote. 13 boats with motors today.

Arrived Kiteni and immediately pack up, start the bikes and head out, totally forgetting to settle our bill at the hostal with no name.

Back down the dusty road. Truck traffic is lighter today. Finally leave the Urubamba valley. Get in 2 ½ hrs of riding, stop in Quellouno, $3/bed hostal, the owner is also the Justice of the Peace.

Quellouno and the Yanatile River, finally leaving the Urubamba

Big night in the town square with every kid in town surrounding us. They were all sizes all dirty and all happy. Just a bunch of kids in the town plaza. No playgrounds, no playscapes, no toys. They had one skateboard between themselves. That and a sloping sidewalk was all they had, nothing else, and they were happy! They asked to see photographs of our country. They didn’t have a clue. They don’t even have Hollywood here.

John made a long distance call and as many people as possible accompanied him into the phone caseta booth, just to watch and listen in uncontrollable curiosity.

Surrounded by the incredible kids of Quellouno

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Old 02-19-2010, 09:06 PM   #41
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Friday July 25, 2003

Quellouno. Looking for a jugo stand.

Up early, ready for our push over the pass to Calca in the Sacred Valley. Morning clean up, freshen up, arrange our things, plan on cold weather later on going over the pass. Motos still loaded from yesterday. Re-check and secure the packs strapped to the bikes. Start ‘em up, loop around town to find a jugo stand. Then gas up. Leave town about 8:10am.

Yanatile valley, just outside of Quellouno

Headed home now, we calculate how long it’ll take to get over the big mountains to Calca in the Sacred Valley. 4 ½ hours of single-lane dirt, kidney-jarring road up the Yanatile Valley, thru Quebrada and Colca, (not to be confused with Calca).

Long road up the Yanatile Valley. Two hours to the town of Quebrada, just like the gasoline salesman predicted. Some truck traffic.

Quebrada seems to have everything. Hostals, llanterias, mechanics, auto parts stores, schools, restaurants. We stop for orange juice and bananas. Gas up, check the bike’s oil, air, and strappings.

From Quebrada the Yanatile Valley gets more and more narrow. John and I swap bikes periodically, the 400 is so rough.

Swapping bikes

Another truck has taken the plunge over a cliff. This time killing the driver. A policeman is measuring distances. The tractor-semi is nowhere to be seen, just the marks on the edge of the cliff where the wheels left the road, and a group of people milling around, way far down below on the steep slope.

30 minutes above Colca, “The Pride of the Yanatile”, (lots of fruit), a major bridge is being built at Pacchac, site of a January 2003 landslide, the one that took out the road just days after Linda and I passed.

Colca on the Yanatile River, not to be confused with Calca in the Sacred Valley

Climbing out of the upper Yanantile Valley

Building a bridge at Pacchac

At Pacchac, I question the hardhats. They tell me it’s about one hour between Colca and and a place called Manto where the road splits, one way to Amparaes, the other way to Lares. I’m worried about missing the cutoff at Manto again, since I never saw it my last trip thru here. Turns out Manto is nothing but a bridge and a house, not a town at all.

hugging cliffs

Arrive Puente Manto about 1pm. My kidneys are barkin'.

John at Puente Manto. It’s easy to miss this place.

10 minutes past Puente Manto is a 2nd bridge and then 4 ½ hrs out of Quellouno we leave the main road and take a very insignificant looking cutoff, dirt & rock track two more hours up to Lares (alt. 10,000’).

The obscure, un-signed cut-off to Lares, near, but not at, “Monto”, which should be thought of as "Puente Monto"

Lares road

Dacturas (Beladona) tree

The road to Lares

Beautiful valley, the rough road runs along a stream. The altitude is higher now. Cool air mountain streams awesome breathtaking scenery. No way to describe it. Misting rain. Taking our time, taking photos. The last two hrs, off the main road, no other traffic encountered except one bulldozer and one Toyota. They are making road improvements. Soft earth makes riding more difficult. Lots of photo stops.

Confused at Choquechancha, I thought it was Lares. Light rain, we don our rain gear.

Choquechancha on the hillside, upper right

At 2:30 we arrive at Indian village, Lares, hobbit-land. Rock huts with straw thatch roofs, old woman spinning yarn in her doorway. This is an Indian town. Much more so than Puacartambo. Mud church at the town square.

Lares. Hobbit town.

Only one restaurant in town and its too late for lunch but we beg egg and cheese sandwiches. The restaurant lady convinces us to take in the hot springs. We decide to stay the night. Raining. Hot springs. We soak and relax away the afternoon, enjoying the rain from the comfort of hot pools.

The hot springs near Lares. What a treat!

The hot springs are very relaxing. We take a $3.60 rustic room at the springs. Stash our gear in the room. Then to town for dinner at the only restaurant. Even though its Friday night, Lares is not as lively as Quellouno. Very little electricity.

At dinner (72¢ each, without drinks) we meet Sharon and Simon, two British subjects. Backpackers using Bryant’s Trekking in Peru and Bolivia. He: white. Sharon: captivating, Guianan descent, dark chocolate skin, European features, brilliant teeth and a flaming British accent. They’ve had a devil of a time with the weather, being snowed out of their Salkantay hike last week. They eventually plan to travel up the Amazon to Guiana on a paddlewheel riverboat.

More rain during the night. I check into a second hotel, (at these prices, who cares), a $2.10 room in town. Sleep well under 3 blankets.

John, who has become more acclimated, opts to return to the room at the baños outside of town.

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Old 02-19-2010, 09:31 PM   #42
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Thank you for taking the time to post!

Hope to get back to that area in March, and your maps and pictures are helping us plan......

Thanks again!
"I am in California, but my brain spends 90% of it's time in South America"

Over 27,000 miles in South America -- which is NOT enough!

Here is a link to the South American Ride Report...

Trip Index Page.... If you are interested in one spot in South America, you can click on this link and go directly to your point of interest.
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Old 02-20-2010, 01:32 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Flyingavanti
Thank you for taking the time to post!

Hope to get back to that area in March, and your maps and pictures are helping us plan......

Thanks again!
Wow, I'm honored, Flyingavanti.

Only got thru about 10 pages of your AdvRider report. Will have to finish it in installments, later. I like your style and spirit.

Reading your RR reminded me of my adventures in Ecuador in 1979, driving a VW van. I never will forget seeing my first llama at Ingapirca, where we camped in the van. Also, believe it or not, I actually ended up spending time in Guayquil, and even liking it, after a while. Wooden hotels and all. Was it fuuunky!! Got addicted to Bruce Lee movies there.

Have a great trip back in March. I'm starting to dream up a return to Peru this coming August. And I still want to see Chile.
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Old 02-20-2010, 01:59 PM   #44
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My birthday

It's Saturday, July 26, 2003.
My 56th birthday.
Light rain, I take an early morning walk around town.

The streets of Lares

Lares, an Indian town

Hook up with John at the hot springs. We are seduced by the ambiance in temperature. The rain breaks, and we head for the pass.

Climbing higher out of Lares

Came across this woman and her sheep herd, carring the baby ones

She was gracious enough to pose for a photo

Later on down the road I met these gentlemen. They were much more curious as to what I was up to.

Jeeze. 1hr 15min after leaving Lares it is snowing! Ice crystals sting my face, and I’m freezing without gloves. My gloves are packed on the 600cc XR, the bike John’s riding. He mercifully waits at the top of 14,435′ Huillcapunco pass and I’m able to retrieve my gloves from the gear packed on his bike.

Huillcapunco pass, 14,435 feet. That's me on the moto at 4 o’clock from center.

Nearing Huillcapunco pass, 14,435 feet

On the Cuzco side of the pass

Over the pass, down the Cuzco side, out of the rain and snow, more beautiful scenery down to the warm Sacred Valley and Calca (9600′, pop 15,000), civilization and pavement. The trip over the pass (Lares to Calca) took 4 hrs but seemed like a couple of lifetimes.

Beautiful day in the Sacred Valley. A swing over the plateau, Pampa de Anta, to Chinchero on paved road before landing in Cuzco, right behind yet another parade of dancers.

The town of Urubamba (lower right) and the Sacred Valley. You can see the swithbacking paved road climbing the mountan side. Some guys were hang gliding from this spot.

The plateau of Anta

The pueblo of Chinchero

The pueblo of Chinchero

Arrive back in Cuzco behind yet another parade of dancers! We feel like hardened veterns returning home. Impatient with the traffic. At the central Plaza de Armas we pass a traffic cop. We both do double takes. John and I circle the Plaza back to the policeman. It is Antonio, the same guy we met in Machu Picchu at the beginning of our trip. We laughed and yucked it up there on the street like we were old pals, and I guess we were.

And that's about it.
Highlands, jungle, motorcycles, danzas, lost passport, crash. Ahhhhh.... El Peru!

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