Oregon to Ushuaia on an XR650L

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ulyses, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. diegoteck

    diegoteck Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Done, It was much easier that going to a western union.
    I guess I was confused bc your signature only mentions Justin's recovery fund.

    Keep the frequent updates coming, I'm anxious to see how everything goes in Argentina, that's where I'm originally from. I hope I can help you with some information so f you feel you need to aks a local, just email me.
  2. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF ┬┐to post or to ride?

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,734
    Location:
    Shenandoah Valley riding wonderland
    You certainly have captured the sense of beauty of cusco in your images - nice job on the panoramic too. Bigger kudos yet on working around the standard tourist trap into M.P. - that's the spirit!

    :thumb
  3. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,188
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Day 97 (January 20, 2013)
    Cuzco, Peru to Agua Caliente, Peru
    Day's Ride: 150 Miles, Day's Train Ride: 20 Kilometers

    [​IMG]

    When going to Machu Picchu, you are required to enter through the town of Agua Caliente. The only way to get to Agua Caliente is by foot, train, or bus. Even though there is a road, you are not allowed to ride your motorcycle or take a privately owned vehicle into the town. I asked a few people if it would be possible just to ride in, and they told me that the Police have roadblocks to make sure no one tries to do something as pernicious and underhanded as that.

    In order to get to Agua Caliente, most people either take the train or do the hike from Cusco along the Inca trail. The Inca trail takes three days. For a one way ticket on the train from Cusco, you have to pay over $70! Then there is the entrance fee into Machu Picchu which is around $60, not to mention the money that you have to spend on food, lodging, and other things like taxis and bus rides. All in all, Machu Picchu is probably the most expensive piece of tourism in South America.

    In order to minimize my expenditures and maximize my time, I had been looking for a slightly cheaper and more DIY way to get to Machu Picchu. After talking with a motorcycle rental shop in Cusco, I learned that you could ride all the way around the mountains on the opposite side of Machu Picchu to a small town called Santa Theresa, park your bike at a Hostal, then hop on a train at the nearby hydroelectric dam and ride into Agua Caliente for a mere $17. If you were really feeling cheap, you could just walk the 20 kilometers along the train tracks for free.

    The owner of the motorcycle shop warned me that the route to Santa Theresa would go over a 4,500 meter tall pass, have a fair amount of dirt roads, and would take anywhere from five to seven hours. That sounded like a plan to me!

    Mike and I left Cusco at 8:00 AM and started riding towards Santa Theresa via the Sacred Valley. We had originally thought that we would wait one more day in Cusco and then make the trip; however, after waking up this morning, we decided to just bomb it. We did have a deadline though: the train left "hidroelectrica" (the dam) at 4:30 PM which meant that we had to have the bikes stashed in Santa Theresa before 4:00 PM so that we could get a taxi to the train station and buy tickets.

    The initial part of the ride was on relatively smooth pavement through a series of small towns along the Sacred Valley.

    [​IMG]

    We passed numerous ruins and archaeological sights......

    [​IMG]

    ....and eventually came across Hewby (Deb) and Huzar (Marcin), two other riders that we knew through advrider. Huzar was low on gas and had to turn back and refuel before continuing onto Santa Theresa, so we said our goodbyes and continued on.

    [​IMG]

    Upon reaching the town of Ollantaytambo, the road immediately cut north and begin climbing. The switchbacks rose in a crescendo of dizzying turns, climbing higher and higher into the clouds until all visibility was lost and the thick mist drenched through riding gear and rider alike.

    [​IMG]

    Eventually the climb topped out in a high alpine pass over 14,000 feet and then descended down the other side. Crystal white torrents of glacial runoff cascaded out of the clouds and down the green hillsides, creating an impressive view and distracting us from the treacherous road.

    [​IMG]

    As the road descended farther into the valley, large gaps in the pavement began to appear. Due to the rain and the traffic, these sections turned into muddy slogs for our bikes.

    [​IMG]

    We eventually reached the turn off for Santa Theresa and left the pavement for good. The final 30 kilometers were all on an amazing dirt road.

    [​IMG]

    Mike and I had an amazing time rallying down this track. It wasn't smooth graded gravel by any means. It was washed out in several spots, covered with potholes, strewn with large rocks, and overflown by several small streams; in other words, it was amazing!

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All in all, the ride from Cuzco to Santa Theresa was amazing! It was easily one of the top three rides I've done on this trip. It was an incredible mix of pavement and off-road, combined with breathtaking scenery and miserable weather; in essence, the perfect adventure ride!

    Arriving in Santa Theresa, Mike and I had a victory beer to celebrate the amazing ride that we had just completed....

    [​IMG]

    We then went about the business of stashing our bikes at a Hostel and finding a taxi to take us the remaining 10 kilometers to the hydroelectric dam and the train.

    We arrived around 4:00 PM, purchased our tickets, and sat down to watch the swarms of Gringo backpackers begin trekking down the railroad tracks.

    [​IMG]

    It turns out that the back door to Machu Picchu is becoming fairly well known. I saw one guy who was carrying nothing with him save a guitar and a small fanny pack. I began to joke with Mike that when the train finally caught up with some of the backpackers, it was sure to run over a drum circle or two.

    A few minutes later, Hewby and Huzar caught up with us, and we all boarded the train. The train was extremely nice; very reminiscent of the "Nariz del Diablo" train. It even had the forward and reverse switchbacks. The tourist car even had windows in the roof so that you could look up and see the mountains.

    [​IMG]

    Eventually we came around a corner and were treated with our first view of Machu Picchu perched on it's cliff high above us.

    [​IMG]

    Arriving in Agua Caliente, we hunted down a hotel and then went out to get some dinner. I finally buckled down and ordered the Cuy. Cuy is fried guinea pig, a traditional Incan dish. I had been holding out, trying to find a guinea-pig-on-a-stick from a street vendor or a market, just so I could get the "authentic" experience. Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to find one, so I just ordered one at the restaurant.

    [​IMG]

    In case you're wondering, it tastes like chicken!

    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow I wake up early (4:30 AM) and go up to see Machu Picchu.
  4. BcDano

    BcDano One Lucky Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    329
    Location:
    Rolling on the RTW
    Great report! Looking forward to more.

    Sara
  5. Spud Rider

    Spud Rider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,927
    Location:
    Idaho
    Thanks for the great report, Bryce. :D I eagerly await your photographs from Machu Picchu!

    Spud :beer
  6. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Incredible:thumb
  7. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,380
    Location:
    Central Coast, Cal
    Errrrr!

    :rofl
  8. Plasterman

    Plasterman Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    64
    Judging from the size of that critter and your usual appetite, you must have had to have about 10 of them before you were full.
  9. purpledrake

    purpledrake No Pretensions

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    334
    Location:
    Seattle-ish


    OK, I admit it: I cannot see the line. How in the world did you navigate this?

    I agree with your comments: Based upon the previous posts/pictures, this seems to have been one of your best rides yet. Very beautiful!
  10. Spud Rider

    Spud Rider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,927
    Location:
    Idaho
    I'm betting the road goes off off to the right; notice the traffic sign. :deal

    Spud :beer
  11. purpledrake

    purpledrake No Pretensions

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    334
    Location:
    Seattle-ish
    OK, that makes sense. Good eyes, Spud.:clap
  12. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,188
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Didn't you know that adding 100 lbs of luggage to an XR650L turns it into a trials bike? :D

    Spud is right; the road is on the right side of the picture, off screen.
  13. alvincullumyork

    alvincullumyork I wish I was cool

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,743
    Location:
    Mansfield TX
    Yeah they did a pretty good job.

    If you give me your Multi I will never buy a Harley.:evil
  14. alvincullumyork

    alvincullumyork I wish I was cool

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,743
    Location:
    Mansfield TX
    Sweet!!!:clap It's about time you recognize. I would have punched you pretty hard several times if you had not gone on this trip by the way. Are you still using the highway pegs?

    I went skinning on Saturday with some Jenna and some friends and had a great time. We took both dogs and Landry ended up doing a gainer over a small snow melt stream. I also got your truck slightly lodged in the snow.

    [​IMG]

    I bet Brown Falcon can guess were these were taken.

    [​IMG]

    When you get back we are going to climb South Sister and ski down.
  15. theturtleshead

    theturtleshead Tits on a fish

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    814
    Location:
    Medellin Colombia ain,t nowhere better
    God damn Hippies!
    [​IMG]:wink:
  16. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,188
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Day 98 (January 21, 2013)
    Aguas Caliente, Peru to Machu Picchu, Peru
    Day's Bus Ride: 5 Miles

    We woke up at 4:30 AM to the sound of rain. That is not a good way to start off a visit to Machu Picchu. Actually, Mike was out the door by 4:30; I got up and took my time. By the time I arrived at the bus station, Mike was standing there first in line drinking coffee. It pays to have somebody who's willing to take one for the team!

    From Aguas Calientes, there are two ways to get to the top of the hill to see the ruins: walk or take a bus. Initially we had been planning on hiking so that we could be up at the gate when the ruins opened and hopefully snag an entrance ticket to Wayna Picchu, the steep mountain overlooking the north side of Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, we found out last night that the entrance tickets to Waynu Picchu are now sold in advance and there weren't any available for the next week or so. Thanks for nothing Lonely Planet.

    In any event, since we weren't in any hurry to get into Wayna Picchu, we took the first bus at 5:30 AM and were at the gates when they opened at 6:00 AM. Unfortunately, it was still foggy and raining hard. We splurged and hired a "guia" (guide) for 60 Soles each and then entered the park. We soon emerged above the ruins and beheld this:

    [​IMG]

    Everything was totally socked in! It was very disappointing, especially after spending so much time and money (despite doing it the cheaper way) to get to this point. Our guide reassured us that the rain would stop soon, and he was right. Little by little, the fog began to clear and the rain began to abate.

    Not knowing if the weather might move back in before we got another chance to get pictures, I got my Machu Picchu picture in at the iconic overlook.

    [​IMG]

    The one really nice thing about the rain was that it drove most of the tourists away and for the first part of our tour, we had the place mostly to ourselves.

    Leaving the overlook, we descended into the city by the southern gate.

    [​IMG]

    Our guide then showed us an unfinished portion of the city where the rocks had been only partially quarried:

    [​IMG]

    Those massive stones are what were used to build Machu Picchu. Much of the splitting of the rocks was accomplished using fire and water, wooden wedges, or hematite chisels (a mostly metallic rock that is extremely hard):

    [​IMG]

    It was incredible to see how many of the buildings were integrated with the large boulders that dotted the landscape of the ruins:

    [​IMG]

    At this point, the weather began to clear a little more and we were able to get a better view of the ruins:

    [​IMG]

    Our next stop was at the Temple of the Sun:

    [​IMG]

    ...and then a rock in the shape of the Southern Cross that is believed to be a primitive type of compass:

    [​IMG]

    ....and then the Hitching Post of the Sun:

    [​IMG]

    ......followed by more incredible views of the ruins and surrounding countryside:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Check out the llamas grazing in the main plaza:

    [​IMG]

    This is the main aqueduct that supplied water for the city:

    [​IMG]

    Towards the end of the tour, the light began to improve and we were treated to some incredible scenes:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We finished up the tour right as the first big batch of tourists swamped in along one of the terraces:

    [​IMG]

    By the way, the terraces that all of those people are standing on were used for agriculture. The Incans used "flying stairs" in their terraces to maximize space for crops:

    [​IMG]

    Soon, the unrelenting hoards were swarming into the ruins and I decided that it would be a good time to get to some higher ground and take some better pictures.

    [​IMG]

    Luckily, right as I topped out at where we had started our tour, the sun came out and I was treated to a gorgeous view of Machu Picchu:

    [​IMG]

    I couldn't resist, I had to get another portrait of myself with the ruins:

    [​IMG]

    That tall, imposing hunk of rock above and to the right of my head is Wayna Picchu. There are actually ruins up there as well; however, as I said earlier, we weren't able to get tickets. Fortunately, we had been able to get tickets to Machu Picchu Mountain which lies to the south of the city and is even higher and more difficult to get to than Wayna Picchu; i.e., less people go up there.

    I started moving towards the trail to the summit of the mountain and stopped to take a few pictures along the way:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The trail to the top of the mountain consisted of a massive flagstone staircase that climbed and climbed for what seemed like thousands of feet. I soon named it the "Stairmaster From Hell".

    [​IMG]

    Still, I was able to maintain a slow but steady pace, and made it to the top in about an hour.

    [​IMG]

    At the top, I was treated to amazing views of the ruins and the nearby river.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    I hung out at the top and talked with some Argentinians and a few Americans. I ended up staying at the summit for about an hour until the weather started moving in and I decided to make a break back down the trail. The "Stairmaster From Hell" soon became the "Slippery Stairmaster From Hell". Still, I managed to jog back down to the bottom without killing myself.

    [​IMG]

    By the time I reached the bottom the rain was coming down hard again and it was time to leave Machu Picchu. Mike and I sprang for a bus rather than walking down in the rain and rode back to Agua Calientes. It was too late to catch a train back to Hidroelectrica, so we got a new hotel room and went for a soak in the local hot springs.

    In summary, here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of Machu Picchu:

    The Good: It's one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world. And it's just stunningly beautiful. The craftsmanship is incredible, the location superb, and the aesthetics impeccable. When the mist cleared up and we were able to see the entire city with Wayna Picchu in the back ground for the first time, I was blown away. With a decent tour guide that speaks your language fairly well, you will be astounded at what you learn about the city. It's just about one of the coolest things I've ever seen, despite what you are about to read below......

    The Bad: Expensive!!! Peru knows that everyone in the world wants to come here, and they can charge prices that will make your head spin. It's not like people are going to stop coming to Machu Picchu. A $140 round trip train ride to and from Cusco? Give me a break. I also learned that to hike the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu (a four day affair) requires a certified guide and can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000! It's a total tourist trap. Even doing it the (kind of) cheap way like we did is expensive.

    The Ugly: Aguas Calientes, the gateway into Machu Picchu, is a town build for one thing only: tourism. It's packed with wall to wall gringos and there are tons of pushers and touts standing in front of their businesses pestering you to eat at their restaurant, take a picture of their llama, or get a massage. Furthermore, as there is really only one way in and out of the city, they have a captive demographic from which they can charge outrageous prices and give horrible service. A few hotel owners blatantly lied to us about having hot water, wifi, and functioning bathrooms with toilet seats. When we called them out on it, they just shrugged their heads and went back about their business. They just don't care. There are so many people coming through this place that they can pretty much run their business however they want and still make a ton of money.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Here's a bit of info for those of you that may be wanting to do this trip or those of you how just want to visualize where the places are that I'm talking about. Below is a little panoramic view of the the route in from Santa Theressa:

    [​IMG]

    From Santa Theressa you can either ride, walk, or take a taxi or minibus to Hidroelectrica. You can leave your bike at Hidroelecrica behind a shed, or you can park it in the lobby of the Yakamama Hostel for 10 Soles a night. From Hidroelectrica, you can either walk (free) or take the train ($18, $12 return) for the 20 kilometers into Agua Caliente. Once in Agua Caliente, you can walk to Machu Picchu (free) or take the bus ($18.50).

    Another piece of advice, if you want to climb Wayna Picchu, you should try and reserve it at least 10 days in advance.

    Below is the rough route from Cusco to Santa Theresa. There is good signage and Google maps will give you good directions. See my previous day's post for a rough description of the route with some pictures. You can also get a good diagram/paper map and advice from the guys at Peru Moto Tours (bike rental shop) in Cusco.

    [​IMG]

    Hope this helps!
  17. Ol Man

    Ol Man Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    407
    Location:
    Apple Valley, Calif
    I would say that the weather you encountered yielded stunning photos. Thanks for sharing your day. I enjoy all of your postings.
  18. alvincullumyork

    alvincullumyork I wish I was cool

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,743
    Location:
    Mansfield TX
    Totally. The clouds made those pictures great.
  19. junkyardroad

    junkyardroad Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    210
    Location:
    Colorado
    Yeah, it is the coolest place ever. I really like the map overview of where everything is. Never seen anything like that before.
  20. Leminkainen

    Leminkainen Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    84
    absolutely!

    Great info about the machu pichu stuffs! better than lonely planet:D

    Lem