After we left Cajamarca we rode down Highway # 3 to Huamachuco and found a nice hotel “Mama Wasi” whose owner Roberto gave us a good deal on a room, because he is a BMW rider as well. His Hotel is almost brand new and of course we had secure parking for the bikes as well. The road to Huamachuco was fabulous through the high Andes with lots of switch backs over questionable wooden bridges, high passes (up to 4200 m) and through lots of little mountain villages. The downside was that it took us 5.5 hours for 180 km. That seems to be the norm up here. The town is 3200 m high and has a nice authentic touch. There is a lot of high altitude “puna” (grassland) around in that area. We went for a stroll in the city and this was the first time that I noticed that people (especially women and girls) look at me as if I am from another planet. They giggle and can’t help but stare at me. I believe they rarely see white Gringos with no hair. It seems amusing to them, or maybe they find me sexy – who knows. I feel like a freak :).
Anyway let them have some fun.
Next day we left early to reach the Cordillera Blanca area, but of course we did not reach our destination of Chuquicara in time before sun set. We stopped at a little village high up in the mountains (“Pallasca”) and found a room in the only “Hotel” in town, which was very basic and we only paid 12 Soles (around $ 4) for the night. Since it was Sunday we were lucky that the only restaurant was open as well and we dined for 10 Soles and had Breakfast the next morning for 5 Soles. That is just incredibly cheap. But the food was o.k and we were glad to support the local economy. It always amazes me that poor people go out of their way to help you and serve you the best food they can afford to buy. I am loving Peru so far. It is an incredible country.
The next morning, we were about to leave when a woman asked us if we needed fuel. We did not see a gas station, but she had stored a few pales of fuel in her garage and so we left town all fueled up for another adventure ride through the Andes. By now we have not used our 4th and 5th gear for days, it is just not possible with these roads here.
We finally reached the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountain) area after another incredible day of riding but we were dead tired as well. Most of the day we rode along several rivers with the Canon del Pato with its narrow gorges and canyons with sheer rock walls and dirt roads as the high light. The first part was a grueling 60 km washboard loose gravel road – we were all shaken up afterwards and were surprised that the bikes did not disintegrate or lost any parts.
The tunnels were really fascinating and scary, no lights in the tunnels and there was only room for one vehicle. So you better honk your horn before entering and hope for the best.
We settled at Hostal “La Almeda” in Caraz which is operated by a very friendly old lady and she even had covered space for the bikes – wonderful. Caraz is a pretty town that was fortunate enough to survive several recent earthquakes with relatively little damage. Fields of flowers line the roads and the other side of town groves of orange trees sit beneath mountain peaks. As it turned out Caraz is a good starting point for exploring the mountains as well. So we settled here for several days and went to the only tourist info/expeditions store (Pony’s Expeditions) in town and we really got intrigued by the possibilities here.
For a starting point we went up a little hike up the mountains around Caraz to have a nice view over the valley and today we went up to 4200 metres on our motorcycles to Laguna Paron on a tough 32 km (one way) gravel road which took us 2 hours. But the reward was incredible. You could see the turquoise glacier lake and the surrounding snow covered peaks of the White Mountains – what a treat.
The Cordillera Blanca stretches 180 km parallel to the sea line and offers gorges, emerald lakes, remote trails and towering peaks rising more than 6000 meters. Mount Huascaran is the highest peak in Peru at 6768 m. This area has the highest concentration of 6000 peaks outside of the Himalayas. So we talked to Alberto at the expedition store and decided that we would book a four day trekking tour into the mountains. Food, shelter and guide are provided and we even gonna have pack animals (donkeys which have to work in this country) with us to carry all the gear. I am really looking forward to that. We will leave tomorrow and will be back in four days (Saturday), so no internet and we will be offline once more. See you later my friends.