We left Cajamarca on December 10th to make our way to Truillo to visit the Chan Chan ruins, capital of the Kingdom of Chimu. As we neared the coast we ran into a back up of transport trucks that went for about five kilometers. We cruised past the lineup to find an overturned transporter blocking the only road access for all heavy traffic in and out of town. People, trucks and cars were everywhere with everyone trying to get through the congestion. There was an old dilapidated bridge that was being used to move smaller vehicles, allowing us to pass, only to be greeted across the bridge by an equally long backup of vehicles. Definitely an advantage to being on a bike during times like these.
Rio Jequeteque valley cultivated with rice.
From Truillo we travelled to Huaraz. We started out on a rough packed dirt road through barren and impoverished landscapes. We passed many industrial vehicles and sites and passed through the saddest looking and most desolate villages we have seen so far. After riding through a no man’s land for about two hours we were beginning to wonder if we were lost as our map and gps were indicating that we needed to cross the river we were skirting, Rio Chuquicara. We finally came to the bridge and crossed thinking that we were leaving behind the gravel and dirt, but that was not to be. In fact we passed some of the most rugged terrain we had encountered so far.
Finding our way to the river crossing and the road to Huaraz.
Skirting the rio Chuquiara.
After a few hours of pretty intense riding we crossed a second bridge which we believed would bring us to pavement.
There was more traffic, that was a good sign.
But then the rains came and conditions deteriorated considerably.
Glad we did make it to pavement as we were riding into Huaraz with night having set in. We arrived exhausted, damp, cold and muddy. Then to add a bit more challenge our gps wasn’t cooperating so after struggling to find our hotel we finally gave up and hired a tuk tuk driver to lead us; turned out we were only a couple of blocks away and the driver charged us double what we negotiated.
But we had reached our destination for the night, the San Sebastion hotel, which turned out to be an oasis of warmth in the center of the city. We enjoyed our first taste of matte tea followed by a warm meal and a glass of wine as we sat by a hot woodstove.
After a good night’s sleep we were off to Huacho over a 10,000′ pass that would give us views of the Cordillera Blanca and Mount Huascaran, at 22,208 ft above sea level, Peru’s highest mountain. The ride was cold and damp with a bit of hail thrown in for good measure, but again we enjoyed every minute.
Next door as we were leaving the San Sebastian in the morning.
We arrived in Huacho around 4pm, found our hotel and tried to check in only to be told the hotel was undergoing fumigation so our room would not be available until 8pm. We decided rather than wait we would continue on to Lima.
We arrived in Lima as night fell and were greeted by the most tumultuous traffic we had encountered on our trip so far. It took us almost two hours to navigate through the masses of vehicles that were literally pushing and shoving their way to their destinations. At one point we were sandwiched between two vehicles as neither one wanted to give way….fortunately we managed to remain upright. The highlight of our stay in Lima was our Peruvian celebration at the historic Gran Bolivar hotel with ‘Cathedral Pisco Sours’.
We left Lima on December 17th riding the Panamerican Highway to Nazca before turning East to ride to Cusco. Our ride from Nazca to Chalhuanca saw us reach an elevation of 14,980 ‘ (4566 metres), passing though plateau areas with herds of Alpaca, cows and sheep and seeing Cerro Blanco, the world’s highest sand dune at 6,818’ (2078 metres).
Along the way.
Next thread Cusco, Machu Picchu etc and then on to Boliva.