Category Archives: Peru

Cusco to Machu Picchu to Cusco, Saturday, 5 January 2013 to Monday, 7 January 2013, Day 186 to Day 188

Wow its even better in real life 🙂

Philly finally made it to Machu Picchu yeah!

One of the main reasons for coming to South America was to see Machu Picchu. This had been a live long ambition of mine for as long as I can remember so I was a little disappointed when I woke up and it was pissing down and cold. Mmmm does not look good. Had my free breakfast at the Hostel and packed an overnight bag. As the weather was so poor I decided to wear me bike jacket and I had my waterproof trousers on as well so I was prepared for the worse. I said Tata to Daisy and headed to the Microbus station. 2 hours to Ollyantambo where I had to get a train which was another 1.5 hours a pleasant enough trip. The bus cost 6 bucks for 90km but the train cost 70 bucks for 60km Cor blimey guv they are screwing the tourists here but I was in the mind-set that this trip was going to be special and I was not going to let money spoil it, it will cost what it costs and my wallet was going to take a hammering for the next couple of days but this is a once in a lifetime experience.

Train to Aguas Caliente

The sun came out when I arrived at Agua Caliente the small service town for Machu Picchu and then I thought I had planned for bad weather and I had not really thought that the sun could shine and I did not have the appropriate kit with me so I would have to lug a huge bike jacket around and I had no spare clothes as I was not expecting it to be hot and sweaty mmmm great planning mate.

lugging huge bag due to bad planing 😦

Agua Caliente is a small village full of restaurant’s and hotels so finding somewhere to stay for a couple of nights was no problem so with that sorted of to buy a ticket for Phillys big day tomorrow. There are 2500 tickets available a day and I had checked yesterday and there was 1600 left so it was no problem getting a ticket. I wanted to get a ticket for one of the mountains either side but for these you need to book this weeks in advance and I am not that organised and I had no idea when I was going to hit this spot. I did get a ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain so some serious climbing will be done tomorrow. I went for a walk and I had seen all of the village in no time and I walked along the river as I had heard you could walk to Machu Picchu so instead of shelling out another small fortune for the bus. 20 minutes walk to a bridge across the river and then 1.5 hours hike straight up. So I did the 20 minutes and I saw the hill and decided that tomorrow I would be getting the bus sod the expense and I will do a load of walking at the top without killing myself before even I get there. Walked back to town and had dinner at a cheap Chinese I had found good feed and then I got some carrot cake at a French boulangerie the French guy had told me about and then back to my room as I had set the alarm for 5.30am for my big day. I had not brought my PC with me so I  was at a bit of a loss of what to do as my evening rituals for the last 6 month revolved around my PC sad I know but I did have my Kindle so was reading an autobiography of Rafael Nadal called Rafa. Interesting and boring at the same time which is a weird combination but the bloke who wrote this pulled it off as have I with this blog mostly boring but with the odd interesting bit thrown in or is it just mostly boring!

  

Up at the crack of dawn down to the bus station and before I knew it I was entering Machu Picchu and the weather was good. So after wanting to be here for so long was it disappointing nope exactly how I imagined it so far so good. I Wander round near the entrance area trying to get away from the masses and thenI  head up Machu Picchu mountain as I was hoping few people would be there and I was right. The guy at the entrance to this walk said it would take 1 hour and 20 minutes and I made in exactly that time which felt good as it was up hill and steps all the way so lots of breaks to get my breath back as we are at altitude. Talking of altitude so far I have not had to much trouble with it except for the first night in Puquiro I was a bit short of breath and had trouble catching my breath and woolly mouth syndrome so some slight effects but as I took things slow and easy no problem and I have no problem with slow and easy 🙂

Slow and easy does it!

I met a nice Korean family on the way up and they gave me a Korean Power Bar which was nice and of course they insisted on having there photo taken with me as if I was some kind of celebrity. The top was at 3000 meters and there where great views over Machu Picchu and all the way up so I am taking loads of pictures. I had my breakfast up there and finished my water supply for the day oops. Going down was not that easy as the steps I had come up were quite steep and small and uneven.

      

      

 

Met a lot people coming up who kept asking me how far it is to the top and they look in worse shape than I did so considering I have not done any serious exercise in 6 months I am not in  bad condition and glad I got up there before it got to busy and that I was on my way downhill not up 🙂

I got back to Machu Picchu and had a little lie down as I had just done 3 plus hours hard climbing and then the next plan was to top up my water supply so headed back to the entrance to get a drink which cost a small fortune (5USD) I should have brought some more liquids with me but at least I had enough food as they where charging a fortune for that as well as they had the monopoly up here on what they could charge.

Back amongst the tourist blah!

      

      

      

So rehydrated and rested time to take a look at Machu Picchu up close as it was brilliant from up high and as it turns out it was quite brilliant close up the downside was that it was quite busy I would prefer to see the place on me own without other tourist but hey that is a big ask.

So after 8 hours wandering around this gorgeous place I was knackered so time to say goodbye and head back to my hotel. Funny thing was it had been pissing down in the village whereas up the mountain at Machu Picchu it was bone dry and been a gorgeous day weather wise all day.

Difficult in getting a shot without other tourist in it!

I got back to the hotel for a nap and they kindly informed me that they needed my room and could I move to another hostel. Short answer could I bollocks I was staying put. Strange conversation but in the end I was certainly not moving.

I had a nap and then to a nice square where I had a pizza and an Inca Cola my new addiction. Expensive but exactly what I needed then I spotted Alex and Andrea who had just arrived so I took them to the Chinese I went to last night and caught up with there recent adventures and then back to the room where I finished reading about Rafa and then moved on to Winston Churchill the only interruption was the owner knocking on my door asking to be paid for the room at 10pm which was strange but being asked to be move to another hostel was also strange.

Early start again as I had an early train to Ollantaytambo another pleasant train journey spent an hour or so wandering round the village which was nice as there was some sort of religious celebration going on in the main square as well.

Mean streets of Ollantaytambu!

Colourful festival!

     

I got a Micro taxi back to Cusco and the Hostel and I ended going out for dinner with 4 other bikers that where staying there.

Harry English 2 years on the road on a Diesel Royal Enfield

Glen Australian 1.5 years on the road or more on a Chinese bike brought locally in Peru

Miccu (I think) Japanese not sure how long on the road on a Suzuki DR400, which he had just dropped in a river so, he was waiting for new parts

Jasper Denmark not sure how long he had been on the road on a KLR650 his opening statement to me was why would any one bother bringing a bike from Europe as he had brought his in the US and was of the opinion that was the only and best way to do it. Arrogant Tosser.

We where looking for a curry house but this was closed so ended up in another nice place called Jacks Place and a pleasant evening as usual tall biker stories.

So that was my Machu Picchu trip I could call it quits now as I it was one of the main reasons for this trip but I guess there still loads more to see. I am happy that it lived up to my expectations as many a time these place look great in the brochure but not in reality well this one was better in reality I had a fantastic couple of days 🙂

Loads more excellent pictures on SmugMug just click on the  Smugmug ICON in the top right hand corner

Cusco, Tuesday, 8 January 2013, Day 189

Fashion styles and accessories differ on the streets of Cusco

I have been getting up very early for the last couple of days so the plan was to have a lie in but as you know it seems I have lost my ability to lie in so I was up reasonably early having a nice breakfast in the courtyard and in the sun. Plan was to go and have a wander around Cusco but it was pleasant in the courtyard folks to chat with so was not till about 12am when I got my arse in gear and I went wandering.

Nice sun trap for breakfast when its not raining

Four seasons in one day is what the weather is like here so from gorgeous sunshine to torrential rain and everything in between. I walked up a hill and it started chucking it down and the only place to shelter was a church. However all the churches in Cusco you have to pay to get in so as I was trying to shelter the lady asked me for 10 sols nope alright 5 sols is she haggling also nope. I have a principle never to pay to go in Churches as they are for the people built by the sweat of the people and I am not going to pay to any religious organisation especially one as rich as he Catholic church so I sheltered under an awning just by the door of a church until it stop raining.

weeeeeeeee 🙂

Four seasons in one day Cusco

Having wandered all over Cusco I headed back to the hostel where a Canadian guy with the help of Glen was trying to sell his Kawasaki KLR650. A couple of days ago near Puquiro he had a head on collision with a Taxi at about 70km the bike was a mess he fortunately was okay bruised ankle but definitely still in shock. He had managed to get the bike to Cusco about 500km away and to the Hostel and as he had only 3 weeks left of his trip left and the bike was probably not worth shipping home and or not having the time to attempt to fix it up he was selling it to a Peruvian mechanic a contact of Glen for a song. The mechanic guy was going to try and drive it home so after pulling off all of the bits that was rubbing or impeding forward progress off or out and topping up the radiator which would hold no water he got it started and out of the hostel he even was going to try and take his girlfriend with him on a seriously bent and knackered bike but we persuaded him to put her in a Taxi and of he went no helmet into Cusco rush hour. I have forgotten the Canadian guys name which is a shame as he also gave me a great map of South America but you could see he was very upset when the guy rode of his bike which he had had for a while since new and had just done a great trip on and in a blink was over because of some tosser in A Taxi cutting blind corners and claiming poverty and no insurance when the shit hit the fan. It could be anyone of us so food for thought. The final blow during the accident was that someone had nicked some of his soft luggage. Bastards!

Good luck mate and have a safe trip home.

Famous 12 sided inca stone the masonary work here that the Incas did was fantastic!

That evening I went for a Mexican meal with Glen and Jasper it is funny but the conversation seems always to dwell on negative things such as accidents and robberies and all of the things that can go wrong on a trip like this. This always seems to be the case when you get a bunch of bikers together no idea why and most off putting for me who’s confidence ain’t that high at the best of times.

mmm women in uniform makes you want to do the crime 🙂

Cusco to Puno, Wednesday, 9 January 2013, Day 190

Back in the mountains again yeah!

Back on the road again, but first another great breakfast in the sun in the courtyard. I had to get the bike out of the courtyard up a wobbly ramp into a seriously busy road. I managed this but for some strange reason my nerves and bottle today are totally shot. I am as nervous as hell on the bike, which is weird seeing as I have ridden 45,000km and today my bottle has gone. So I made my way carefully into the Cusco traffic it felt like everyone wanted the piece of road that I happened to be occupying at that moment. I guess that guy’s accident and all the tall stories had got to me so how do I resolve this? So my solution which is a really blokey type resolution. Get aggressive so before you know it I am blaring my horn at anyone and anything that dares comes near me and effing and blinding shouting at all the taxi drivers and bus drivers that seem to be driving aimlessly all over the road. Not that this has any effect on there driving but makes me feel better and slowly my confidents returns and before you know it I am clear of Cusco back in the mountains back in the groove as there is less traffic once you clear city limits.

Love it outside of the towns and cities!

Destination is Puno its gorgeous except it decides to rain again on and off so on with the wet weather gear and warm gloves on as I have some seriously high passes to get over. A great ride even in the wet scenery is stunning even though sometimes I had no feeling in my fingers from the cold. I finally hit a town called Juliaca, one word to describe this place “shit-hole”. It was awful and the roads the worst I have seen on this trip it was like driving on the surface of mars the whole ring road (I am guessing this is a ring road) had been dug up and then left. Huge potholes and as it had raining so the potholes full of water so huge puddles of which you had no idea how deep they where so I tried to go round them but this was not always possible and this would be just about manageable on your own but as this was a town your loony motor taxi’s and crap bus and taxi driver’s all trying to weave there way through this mayhem throw in all the pedestrian’s into the mix and I must say this was my worst experience of the trip so far and I made myself a promise that I would not come back this way. A short run into Puno which was not much prettier than Juliaca so I am already not liking it I was expecting a nice town on the shores of lake Titicaca not this brown blot on the landscape. I found the hotel I was looking for and checked in the usual hassle with the Internet (not working) and then I went for a walk to see if I could find the positive in this town. I walked down to the lake where they’re where 100’s of tour boats for the trips to the various reed islands. I am in tourist hell mmm not looking good so go for some dinner and back to my room where there is a note from Alex and Andrea who are in town to but I missed them for dinner I will try and touch base with them in the morning.

My idea of tourist hell these boats full of folks gawping at other folks!

So its decision time do I do one of those tours and go and see those floating reed islands or do I head for Arequipa and get my tyres sorted. Easy decision really I had no desire to go on mass organised boat trip to gawp at some folk living an alternate lifestyle that was probably practical originally but my guess is that now its purely for the tourist $  so I am heading back into the mountains I may regret this decisions but I did not fancy being a tourist for the day. Another decision I need to make is whether or not to go to Bolivia or not and that means coming back via Lake Titicaca or figuring out another route. A & A are in town as there is a Bolivian Consulate here and they need a visa so if successful they are going through Bolivia me I will decide in Arequipa once I have sorted me tyres.

Puno to Arequipa, Thursday, 10 January 2013, Day 191

Does my bum look big in this!

I sort of met A & A on the street as they had popped by earlier but I was in the shower so I missed them again. This time they where busy running up and down the street getting photos and photocopies for there Visa for Bolivia so I had a quick chat and a promise to meet up with them further down the road when I finally figure out which route I am taking but as South America gets thin at the bottom are paths will converge again I hope so they are good travelling companions. I was just about to pull the bike out of the garage and its starts to pour with rain. So I go for breakfast and I am hoping that it will be dry in 30 minutes. Nice Café good simple breakfast and for entertainment I see first Andrea running down the street and later Alex in the other direction trying not to get wet trying to sort the multiple documents needed for there visas.

So another attempt to get out of Puno its is sort of dry I am heading to Arequipa so it is back into the mountains my favourite type of scenery. Remember my promise yesterday about Juliaca well before I knew it I was back there! There was supposed to be a turnoff according to the map but I guess I missed it and my good friend the GPS was not playing at all well this morning as according to her Arequipa is 1,200km and the shortest route is via Bolivia and Chile! How can a machine be so infuriating its 300km in the other direction you useless piece of shit!!

So here I was back in my favourite shithole and there was no way I was going on that same road as yesterday even though that is where the GPS was now sending me yes she had decided to sort of work again and was now giving me more reasonable routes to Arequipa. So I ignored the GPS and went straight through the heart of Juliaca roads reasonable traffic chaotic but anything was better than that ring road.

Back in the mountains and beautiful run to Arequipa quite simply breath taking it was cold due to the altitude as I was above 4,000 meters most of the day but dry with the odd shower just to keep you on your toes. I love the Andes 🙂

Love the Andes!

I got to Arequipa in good time and I had an address for a Hostel in my GPS and it still took me an hour to find it due to the one way systems and my GPS sending me round and round in ever decreasing circles I  finally resorted to intuition and asking for directions screw technology.

I checked in and I had a huge room with 3 beds all for me and it was reasonably cheap so I had to ask 3 times about the price as it did not seem right for what I was getting.

I went on the Internet to try and figure where I needed to be to get my tyres and it turned out that the Hotel of Peru motors was only 1km away so I walked up there to organise the logistics for the tyres. I talked to Lars on the phone and the plan was to be there at 10am next day and work from there so that was easy and sorted so I walked back to take a look at the town which looks nice and a vast improvement on Puno so I grabbed some dinner (Burger King first time this trip which is surprising as it was quite tasty!) I walked some more and then back to the hostel working on this blog.

I have been trying to upload 100’s of photos onto SmugMug for past couple of days, as I had no Internet in Machu Picchu crap Internet in Cusco and for the past couple of days intermittent Internet so I am nearly caught up. Problem is I cannot update blog until pictures are loaded as they are linked so one of the reason blog running behind and that the story that I am sticking to 🙂

Dramatic Views!

Arequipa, Friday, 11 January 2013, Day 192

Who else looks in the mirror and sees this or is just me 🙂

Well as I did not have to be up early I enjoyed me nice big room and I had a bit of lie in. Then I headed up to the hotel http://www.lagrutahotel.com home of http://www.perumotors.com where I was to me meet with Carlos the mechanic who was going to sort out new tyres for Daisy.

Carlos and Eddy turned up and I followed them to the workshop, which was pretty large, with lots of rental bikes. Yes they did have a large selection of tyres but they all looked a bit ropey to me and were being stored in the sun but I guess beggars cannot be choosers. The first problem was that the 90/90/19 front tyres they had needed an inner tube and I am running tubeless and the only inner tube they had in stock was 110/90/19 inner tube it is a shame they did not have that size tyre. I was not going to risk putting a big inner tube in a small tyre this is a recipe for disaster so me and Eddy got on his little 250 Honda trails bike and we hit the streets of Arequipa looking for the right size inner tube and or a larger front tyre. Now I hate riding pillion at the best of times but on the back of a Peruvian local through his local town I can tell you I was shitting myself we never had so many close calls in such a sort space of time. I guess he knew what he was doing but I did not so I had my eyes closed for most of the time 🙂

We went to a couple of small bike shops no joy on a bigger tyre and we where going further and further away from the shop and I was getting more nervous on the back when eventually we found a tubeless 100/90/19 front tyre so back to the shop (One handed on the back of the bike now as I was now carrying a new motorcycle tyre) where Carlos had already fitted the rear 140/80/17 so not quite spec but should work! (Famous last words specs is 110/80/19 and 150/70/17 so even if you do not know about tyre specs you can see that front is thinner by 10mm and higher by 10mm and the back is also thinner by 10mm and higher by 10mm so some synergy there but that means that bike is 10mm higher and that all I need with my already to short legs this is going to be interesting that is for sure)

Eddy set to work on the front I was expecting a bit more delicate handling but nope loads of brute force and hammers no tyre changing equipment just tyre levers and using of the side stand of another bike to break the bead. All this works but I was expecting something more professional probably it is much better if I was not around to watch and just get the finished product as I was cringing as he had his full weight on one of the brake disc on concrete floor as he tried to pry the old tyre of.

Was expecting a big higher tech but this works!

Next job was an oil change but they only had 10/50 oil and Daisy likes 10/40 so I declined on this (I was not really confident in their ways of working if truth be known).

I got 2 empty oil containers to be used as extra fuel cans for the next bit of the trip, as fuel may be more scares as I head south.

So all done and dusted so how much did it all cost. I had paid for the front tyre already and had the price for the rear one from Lars plus a bit of labour.

The tyres were half the price I paid last time in the US and they where reasonably cheap there so if this experiment with size’s fails I will be not be too much out of pocket.

Back to the Hostel and I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Arequipa in the drizzling rain. Pleasant enough town but I am ready to hit the road and a new country I have been in Peru to long and I need a change.

Arequipa main square nice!

Choices Choices Choices

Arequipa to Arica, Saturday, 12 January 2013, Day 193

Straight roads to the hills!

Then twisty in the hills

I am in a bit of a funny mood I have been to Machu Picchu I have got me new tyres so all of my immediate goals I had have been achieved leaving nothing else left to do except the big one and that is the bottom of South America and that one seems miles away and that is what is so daunting and at this stage looking at the maps I am doubting my ability to be able to do it. I have no idea what is causing this lack of confidence perhaps I know more now than when I started and I was totally naïve when I set of on this adventure in June but as I have progressed my knowledge about the road ahead has grown and this is what is scary if only I could go back to being totally ignorant maybe that could help. Knowledge is king so they say but in this case I rather not know and meet up with it blindly and deal with it as it comes but at the moment I am fretting about the road ahead rather than looking forward to the road ahead. Ho hum onward and forward and all that. (Suck it up you ponce!)

Today is time to say goodbye to Peru and hello to a new country Chile maybe that will lift my spirits. ( I think I am a new country junkie :-))

Hope they where not aiming at fast moving yellow objects!

I had big plans on getting on the road early as I was heading to Arica, which was 430km away plus a border crossing. Out of the mountain Type Mountains into the desert Type Mountains so in other words still huge mountains only the colour changes from green to brown and temperature from cool to warm I stopped for breakfast in a strip of Road Side Cafe’s I have no idea which one to pick so I chose the one in the yellow Inca Kola livery and order some fried eggs and they also had some nice pork sandwiches as well so that perked me up. A lovely but cautious ride to the border as I was feeling out the new tyre set up as I had no idea how the new combination would  work but seem to be okay most of the issues are in my head and in reality they seem to be working as they should no strange feedback except the odd twitchiness over the tar mac banding where they have tried to fix the road but you get that with all tyres so it looks like my gamble (lots of in depth research actually) on the replacement tyres may have worked.

Had to go in the one with the Yellow Inca Kola livery 🙂 for breakfast.

I got to the border at 3pm and my GPS was telling me I would not reach Arica till 6pm and it was only 20km. So before I start another GPS rant it was right as there is a 2 hour time difference between Chile and Peru do not ask me why but meant that I was going to be late getting to my final destination as I still had to get over the border.

First the simple bit get Daisy exported out of Peru. Problem one huge queue one lady doing both export and import but she did export first as that is just a rubber stamp exercise. Problem 2 I needed a form not sure what it is called but it is the holy grail document at this crossing it had all your details on it and it gets stamped at every part of the process on both the Peru and Chile side and when you get all the stamps they let into Chile so first thing I had to do was to locate this form and get it filled in then next the stamps you need are

  • Export Bike Peru
  • Export self Immigration Peru
  • Import self immigration Chile
  • Customs Check Personal Chile
  • Import Bike Chile

So when you have all 5 stamps you hand in this special form and you are now in a new country.

This all took 1.5 hours so patience and the ability to stand in queues is a most and little more Spanish on my side would help enormously but I got through and made some new friends along the way.

Short run to Arica to a place called Sunny Days Hostel and I am booked in I have a complementary Lemon Juice and small piece of cake which is nice it about 8.30pm here so later than planned next stop money and food all within a stones throw from where I am staying. There’s a market but it is closed already but I find a sandwich shop and end having a huge meat ham cheese sandwich, which really hits the spot.

I went for a walk down to the beach caught the tail end of the sunset and stumbled on a 7 a side rugby full contact competition being played on the beach. So I settled in to watch this and it was great. There was sand flying everywhere, which added a whole new dynamic to a 7 a side rugby match. Unfortunately I got there to late and the game finished quite quickly so I wandered back to the hostel and worked on the never-ending chore of Phillys Big trip Blog. It was late when I went to bed but in my reality early due to the 2-hour time difference.

Another pleasant sunset!