Peru’s dirt roads….awesome, awesome, awesome…
The border crossing, La Balsa, from Ecuador to Peru was tiny and though we were the only ones there, it took a fair amount of time. The staff at the border were hilarious so we had a lot of fun.
Surprisingly the small dirt road turned into smooth tarmac road as soon as we crossed the border into the Peruvian side. We had totally misunderstood it. We thought the road should be a lot worse than it had been on the Ecuadorian sida. This was a very nice surprise as it was rather late and getting dark. When all the papers was sorted we headed for San Ignasio which was only 50 km away and it didn’t take long. I was very excited and a little bit disappointed as we couldn’t see much as it was pitch dark most of the way. In San Ignasio we quickly found a hotel and we were exhausted after been on the road since early morning, done over 330 km, most dirt roads, and no food so we fell asleep before we hit the pillow.
The day after we had a quick breakfast and then rode the 110 km to Jaen. The road was in a brilliant condition so it didn’t take long. On the way we come across this run over snake… eek!!
It is amazing how a country can differ so much from a neighbour country. The north part of Peru felt more like Asia with the traffic being more chaotic… not Indian chaotic though. There were tuc tucs (or tuk tuks) everywhere and it looked like they where in a race. We thought even the smell and the sounds were more like the ones in Asia. We loved it!!
We stayed two days in Jaen due to that we arrived on a Saturday and we needed to buy bike insurance and of course it was closed Saturday and Sunday. Anyway we found a very cheap hotel with a fan…. Oh yes that was needed because it was hot hot hot. We have lately been up in the mountains so this came as a shock as we thought this part of Peru was on high altitude. We spent the days checking out the town and met some fantastic friendly people.
We left Jaen just before lunch when we had bought the insurance for the motorbikes. The road was in implicit condition and very very straight at first. After about 100 km the road got more bends and the landscape was fantastic. We climbed to just over 2000 metres and it was a nice cooler temperature.
So far we have noticed that there are no large food stores, just those ‘whole in the wall stores’ where you only can find fizzy drinks, water, crisps and cookies.
We arrived in the afternoon to Chachapoyas and found a hotel just outside the city where they let us pitch the tent at the back. The morning after we woke up just after 6am and packed the tent very fast so we were on the road before 7 am which felt awesome.
The first 100 km was a wonderful winding road that followed the river Rio Utcubamba down in a valley. The road was just as close to perfect. We were passing small villages where people were waving and smiling. After these wonderful 100 km we started to climb a serpentine road with terrifying drops. The road became more and more narrow and we were very pleased that there where very little traffic. The landscape changed from green luschy scenery to majestic cloud covered mountains. Every turn, we made comments like wow, stunning, amazing, so beautiful…
After a long exciting day we arrived, pretty exhausted, to Celendin which is a little town where the gringos not found the way to just yet. The first night we only went out for a meal and than straight to bed and then zzzz
Celendín is a town in northern Peru, capital of the province Celendín in the region Cajamarca. This area of Peru is not the usual route most tourists take, which is probably why it is still very traditional and has preserved its authenticity despite the passing of time.
The day after, we spent a few hours waking around the town photographing, mostly people in big hats.
We left Celendin early and rode to Cajamarca which is the capital and largest city of the Cajamarca Region and an important cultural and commercial center. It is located in the northern highlands of Peru at about 2,750 m (8,900 ft) above sea level.
Though we would have liked to stay longer, we only stayed for one night as we were getting stressed to reach Patagonia no later than February as it after that will start to get cold.
Wow wow wow!!! The road from Cajamarca to Huanchaco was just awesome… Oh well not all of it. It started of with a winding tarmac road and after a while the dirt road started and we were climbing up, up, up. The road was very narrow and at some parts, of course where it was the steepest drops, there were only place for one vehicle. I really have a hate and love relationship with those kind of roads. As I still ‘suffer’ a bit of phobia for heights the adrenaline was pumping like mad. First the fog was thick as pea soup and we couldn’t see ten feet in front of us but OMG when it suddenly cleared up I became scared spit less in a weird positive way.
We past a village with very slippery roads.
After the fun ride up in the mountains we rode a straight tarmac road to Trujillo, which must be one of the ugliest cities in the world. All houses was half build in an undefined colour and it looked like a war zone. We both said to each other ‘we cannot stay here’ so we continue to Huanchaco, which was slightly better. There is the sea but honestly, as beautiful the mountains had been as ugly was this part of Peru. Unfortunately it never crossed my mind to take a photograph…
We found a place where we could pitch the tent and and met the super nice couple Sabine and Andy that we had met a few times before. One day Anders and I went into a shopping centre in Trujillo as I was desperate to get a few new t-shirts. We also had some fast food, which we regretted deeply the night after… eww!!
We had to stay another night in Huanchaco as I was not well enough just yet. Before we left we took a few photographs and honestly it wasn’t that bad after all. When you have had a good night sleep, some food and a blue sky showed up, everything looks so much better.
While in Huanchaco we become friends with two tortoises or actually one of them. We think it was a she as ‘she’ was the smaller one. ‘She’ loved that we scratched her neck and walked back and forth between Anders and I and stretched her neck towards us. I actually felt a bit sad to leave the tortoise and tried to convince Anders that we should take it with us. I could just strap ‘her’ on my top box 😉 Anyway, we left ‘her’ as we had a feeling that she wasn’t prepared to travel around the world on a motorcycle just yet.
We left Huanchaco for Caraz which is a town located at the altitude of about 2250 m in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. The town was full of smiling people in big hats.
We had decided to ride the famous Canon del Pato with its 36 tunnels and steep drops. As usual we were late so we ended up riding these tunnels when pitch dark. While riding I said to Anders that ‘I am so glad that either your mum or my mum know about this as they would have been terrified’. A couple of days later we rode through the tunnels again and this time in daylights.
We arrived to a campsite where again we met Sabine and Andy. We were tired, sweaty and very very hungry when we arrived and they cooked us a delicious meal with home made bread (cooked in a pan). Honestly this was the most delicious meal we have had for quite a while. Lovely lovely people.
The day after we spent time washing up all our cloths and then walked down to the town and the fantastic market. Wow so much vegetables and fruits.
After spending a long time on the road, small towns we decided that we wanted to visit Lima. The first stop in Lima was the Touratech shop. We bought new tyres that Ivan who runs Touratech in Peru helped us to change. Whatever country we go to we always try to visit the Touratech stores, and we are always meet generous and kind people. Ivan and his wife took us out for a meal at a very nice restaurant. They showed us Lima by night in a car and the day after Ivan came with us out for a ride to show the same view point over Lima in daylight.
Next up was to visit Huacachina, which is a desert oasis and a tiny village just west of the city of Ica in southwestern Peru. We had a lot of fun running up and down these sun dunes.
If you go to Peru you kind of have to visit Machu Picchu. Many people hike to Machu Picchu but we had heard that it was very crowded with tourists so we decided to ride the bikes there instead. The road was as fantastic as the scenery.
Part of the road was very challenging due to heavy rain.
At last we arrived to Machu Picchu, which was magic. Luckily it was off season… though we thought it was lots of people we were told it was nothing compare to high season.
Random photos from Peru