Friday, January 21, 2011

Freebies and Freezing

We left Puno and headed for Cuzco. We saw many hillside terraces for growing crops.

Peruvian agriculture

During our lunch stop enroute, a couple of bikers pulled up to join us. A father and son, Mark and Michael, from Chilliwack, B.C.! We had a quick chat and decided to meet up for supper that evening in Cuzco.

Michael and Mark from Chilliwack
We arrived mid afternoon and checked into a hotel. We organized transport to Machu Picchu through the hotel. Our scheduled time of departure 4 am! We headed to Norton Rat's to meet up with Michael and Mark. Norton Rat's is run by a British guy who rides a Norton motorcycle and has a book for motorcyclists to sign and share stories. Grif signed us in. The book was dated back to 2005. A few burgers and beers later, it was time to head to bed.

 In the morning we rode in a van for an hour and a half to the Ollantaytambo train station. Then, we boarded the train to Aguas Calientes which took another hour and a half. Next was the half hour bus ride up to Machu Picchu. We got through the entrance gates and the views were spectacular. Absolutely breath taking. The environment had completely changed and we were in a rain forest. The clouds were moving up and down the mountain tops, spreading a fine mist of moisture on Machu Picchu. The temperature was 20C and very humid. A wonderful place to have a palace!

Machu Picchu
 After a full day, we returned to Cuzco. For dinner, we met up with Michael, Mark again and Martin, a German guy travelling south. The last morning in Cuzco, we got some money back from the hotel as the bus to Machu Picchu departure time was messed up. In the end, we received two nights of accomodation free and got back a small portion of the transport costs.

We left Cuzco late in the morning and had a full day of riding. There were lots of switch backs, climbing and descending mountain valleys and canyons.

Peruvian switch backs
The sun was setting and we were not close to any accomodation. We were also at 4500 m, it was cold and rain clouds were setting in. Grif made the decision to bush camp before it got too dark and started to rain. It was nearly 7 pm when we got our camp set up. Lisa jumped into her sleeping bag, with all her clothes on, plus toque and scarf to keep warm. Grif cooked up some pasta and we had dinner at 9 pm. The night was a chilly one! There was lots of condensation on the inside of the tent, and ice on the outside. In the morning, there was ice all over the ground and Sammy! It was -5C! Fortunately, there were no clouds in the morning, and the heat from the sun evaporated all the moisture, but it took a couple of hours!

Ice all over Sammy and the tent
After breakfast two motocyclists went past and decided to stop. Two Polish guys, Andrzej and Jacek were heading the same direction we were, Nazca on an Africa Twin and a  new Yamaha XTZ660 Tenere. They told us that the road was closed due to a Peruvian car rally! They left, planning on dodging the rally cars, and shortly there after, rally cars went racing by. They cars were going very fast, passing each other and driving on the wrong side of the road! Grif did not want to take the bike on to the road for safety reasons, so we waited an hour or so. By then all the cars had gone past and it was safe to travel!

Jacek, Lisa and Andrzej

Rally car in Peru

Shortly after we left, we met Charles, a French guy heading south from Colombia to Ushuaia. Grif offered to  help him with his Honda TransAlp, Charles mentioned that it was not running properly at altitude, so Grif opened up the air box and showed him a few things he could do to make it run better.

Grif helping Charles

We rode at  altitude, 4000 m, most of the way to Nazca. Rain clouds were closing in as we passed through Pampa Galeras National Park. There were lots of vicunas and it was freezing. We made a quick stop and put extra layers and rain gear on, even Grif had five layers on... that's unheard of! Both of us were still cold!

As we decended into Nazca the clouds dissipated and the temperature warmed up dramatically! It went from 5C to 25C within half an hour and the hillsides were all sand and scrub. It was nice to be warm!

Heading into Nazca

Nazca sunset
We took advantage of the warm weather in Nazca and aired out the sleeping bags and did some laundry. After chicken dinner and a few beers it was bed time!


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