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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by clumsy_culhane, Jul 14, 2017.
Awesome RR and pics!
Looking forward to more.
Thanks mate, it's nice to know people are reading it! (As much as I tell myself the RR/Blog is mostly for my own memories and record keeping, there's definitely a bonus from having people enjoy it)
Edit - Just noticed you are from Melbourne! We should go for a ride when I return!!
Always remember, you have many more readers than commenters. And people will be reading this years after you are done and home.
What he said -- ride safe as your RR is great.
Cheers! Heading the Kuelap ruins today, and Gocta falls tomorrow so I will be in Chachapoyas for a while yet it seems. Then off to Cajamarca to find a rear tyre - from past experience getting tyres can be an all day event due to the amount of running around required. Cant wait
I’m reading too...mainly to see if you pull any bloody awful hook turns.
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Big update because I've been too busy having fun and not enough time writing!
I ended up staying three nights at Aventura Backpackers in Chachapoyas, as I met a great group of travellers to hang out with and see the sights.
Chachapoyas itself isn’t a remarkable town, and especially so because the main square was under construction there wasn’t anywhere to really hang out in town and it felt like it lacked character, but it was a great launching place for both the Gocta falls and the ruins at Kuélap!
We headed to Kuélap first, heading up the newly installed cable car. I normally don’t get too much out of visiting ruins but these were pretty special. Almost 1000 years old, the whole city is somewhat intact, with the walk around/through them taking hours. Unlike many of the other ruins I’ve visited so far, here you could actually imagine it as a city, with lots of houses and the main temple intact.
Kudos to the Perú tourism board for investing in a fantastic museum at the top as well, which explained very well what you were seeing and other details about the ancient Chachapoyan people that lived there, without this context the trip would have been much less interesting.
The day after we headed to Gocta falls. We took the slightly more unconventional route of getting a colectivo up to San Pablo, then hiking up to the base of both falls rather than just the lower one. This was well worth it as the top half was super impressive!
Depending on how you measure it, these falls are the fifth tallest in the world, dropping almost 800m over two stages. The mist spread hundreds of metres downstream which made it hard to get photos, and there was no way we were going to try and stand underneath them!
All up the hike was 17km and a full day, a little harder than we expected, especially because I was only wearing Vans (casual shoes), I didn’t have room for hiking boots on the bike!
Yesterday I rode to Cajamarca, where I am staying for two nights to chill out and buy a rear tyre for the bike. I turn up to find Marine, a Belgian girl I had met earlier hiking, and my new Peruvian friend Erick joined me today as well! Marine and I might end up travelling for a bit, her taking buses and me riding, we’ll see.
The road from Chachapoyas to Cajamarca is epic, a single lane for the first 200km winding through two mountain ranges. The drop-offs were immense and with lots of blind corners, it was a little stressful just hoping a bus wouldn’t come around the corner wiping me out! When you could see ahead though, burning through the mountains was great fun. I’m getting better at skating over the gravel that is omnipresent on these roads, just like riding on dirt except it hooks up a lot more quickly.
Today’s plans extended to buying a new rear tyre and changing the oil. From past experience, this is best allowed a full day to complete! Today was no different, getting bounced around a few shops before finding one. They only had a 140 width tyre (KLR stock size is 130) but after searching around a 140 would fit, with people running the same tyre (Pirelli MT60) on their KLR’s.
The owner of the KTM store offered his house as the workshop, so off we went. Turns out he is a motorcycle fanatic, with over ten bikes, all of them rare in Latin America! KTM 990 ADV, a gold wing, proper enduro bikes, an old BMW airhead tourer. We even shared the same taste in cars, he had a BMW E21! We got the wheel off, then two of his friends arrived in a pickup and we all drove off to the tyre shop to get it swapped over. To celebrate beers were drunk of course, as is the tradition by this point.
After changing the tyre I mentioned I was going to change the oil, and again he offered to take me to another shop to buy it as the KTM shop only had expensive synthetic which the piggy doesn’t need. No need to my bike he said, jump on the back of mine – so off we went on the tiny Honda 110 bike, me looking ridiculous in full ADV gear, him wearing only a helmet as is the norm here. All in all another great experience, so far every time I’ve needed to work on my bike everyone has fallen over themselves to help me!
Today’s ride was pretty epic, almost 300 km from Cajamarca to Truijo. It took more than an hour to ride outside the picture above! I went Google advice for the route, opting for a shorter option through smaller roads. This meant dirt, and lots of it! Winding through tiny villages, it was mostly well-maintained gravel with large rocks outside the tyre tracks, making the hairpin turns kinda fun if you strayed from the path!
The new tyre came in handy, the extra width of the 140 seems to help a bit, especially when aired down to ~25 psi. I think it also makes the rear end look a bit more meaty, and hopefully it will help me get traction on the Salar in a few weeks time.
I’ve mentioned it before but again today I felt like I was riding in Australia at points because of the gum (eucapltus) trees, with the reddish dirt roads it could be somewhere a few hours from my hometown!
The final 60km stretch on pavement to the PanAm was in stark contrast – cold, on the coastal desert past abandoned houses, it was pretty bleak. No photos because by that point I was over riding for the day, I just wanted to arrive in my hostel. I’ll be here for two nights, going exploring tomorrow with Marine with her on the back of the KLR.
You mentioned El Salar de Uyuni? Balam Ibarra a close friend ride South America over 10 years ago, crossed El Salar, he got help from a guy in a Toyota SUV driving tourists from a town near El Salar carrying extra fuel, water, etc. I recall he told me the guy delivered his goodies and a handful of dry grass, he watched the grass, not knowing what to do with it, the guy told him: for the bike! He remained wondering what for was it, so the guy told again: for the radiator, and grabbing the grass, stuffed it between the grill and the radiator, explaining the wet salt, will form a crust on the radiator, leading to overheating and catastrophic failure in the middle of the Salar, he told me also, that advise only worthed the money he paid to the guy. I guess it depends on the ambient conditions but salt is highly hydrophilic so must be wet in vast areas, so keep this in mind.
He was riding his 96 KLR and he said it was the best bike because you can get parts almost anywhere, not OEM sometimes.
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Great story! I'm looking into options for salt-protecting the bike for the Salar, but I hadn't considered grass! I'm thinking WD-40 on everything (including electrical connections) and a very thorough wash in Chile when I'm out should hopefully do it. I'm more worried about fuel, water and food so I'll be buying fuel canisters and rigging up some more storage so I make it through the Salar alive enough to tell the story afterwards.
Last night the hostel owner recommended we go to a local church for a choral recital, which started off pretty terribly with a kids group but improved when a university level choir came on. As nice as was, the two other backpackers and I were soon falling asleep from the long day of travel, so we snuck out at the interval. Still a nice change from just walking inside and taking a picture!
We found Marine a helmet (local Chinese style, but at least it was full face!) and off we went. It was fun but strange to have someone else on the back of the KLR, for so long I’ve ridden however I felt like, but today I had to worry about someone else and as such rode much slower.
Marine and I went out to the ruins at Huaca de la Luna, which are almost 2000 years old and a very intact example of the Moche civilisation. Huge areas of the ruins are yet to be studied as they luck the funds to continue excavation of the huge temple. The colours shown on the carvings are actually original, which is incredible given the age of the artefacts!
We had an excellent guide all to ourselves who spoke very clear Spanish and slowed it down for my benefit. It was very satisfying to be able to understand large chunks of the explanations, so it felt like a free two hour Spanish lesson!
After the ruins, we rode for the beach at Huanchaco for lunch and had my first proper ceviche, which is raw fish served in a very acidic sauce that ‘cooks’ it somewhat. We were recommended the restaurant by the hostel owner and I can see why – the fish was incredible! The dish is famous in Peru and was well worth the 50 soles ($20 AUD), which was one of the most expensive meals I’ve had so far on the trip. The beach itself was very mediocre, with lots of rubbish and poor sand, we literally visited for a minute to grab a photo and moved on.
Tomorrow I head for Caraz, a stopping point on the way to Huaraz where I’ll be for a few days trekking and riding the bike. I get a nervous feeling that when I arrive in Chile after the Salar that I’ll be rushing south to Ushuaia!
Great Ride Report! It is good to hear that they paved that stretch of road between the Ecuadorean Border and St Ignacio. It was all dirt (mud!!!) after continuous rain. It took us 7 hours to go 25 miles, after getting stopped by a landslide about 10 miles into Peru. Half of it in the dark. Many just chose to stop and sleep on the side of the road. We actually helped push a 3 ton panel truck up a small incline, or else no one could have made it. You will enjoy Salar de Uyuni. We had no issues with salt, spending about three days riding around on it.
Good luck with you journey.
Oh boy that sounds miserable! Mud on big bikes when you're tired is incredibly frustrating. Okay thanks, I may just be over thinking it! Can't wait to freeze my balls off in the desert
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You might have noticed that I rarely post pictures of locals or even of towns I go through. I’m not sure quite why this is, I think it’s because it feels a little voyeuristic to be the gringo taking pictures, especially if its people’s houses or kids. It does mean that this blog doesn’t really show some of the really bleak, ugly or depressing sides of Latin America. The reality is that outside the few streets around the central squares, much of the cities I visit, particularly away from the medium-sized tourist spots, are dirty, impoverished and lacking in basic amenities. While it is encouraging to see lots of school kids in bright uniforms attending schools in these communities, right now there are thousands of people living in conditions similar to what is shown below.
I always feel a bit guilty rolling in on a big motorbike laden with lots of expensive gear, worth more than multiple years wages for a local. I’ve never felt too unsafe, more just like a zoo curiosity – if I stop I get surrounded by curious locals wondering why I would be riding through their town, and they are always wide-eyed when they hear how far I’ve come. The experience is often hollow each time because my Spanish is not good enough to connect with these people beyond basic life stories. Spanish is a second language for them as well if they are indigenous, which makes things even harder! Most of the time I end up slowly rolling through town without stopping, it’s too much to recycle the same conversation again and again. I’m still glad to have been exposed to this as a lot of travellers miss seeing this side of the countries in their overnight buses, I just feel very out of place!
Today I rode to Caraz, a stopping point between Trujillo and Huaraz, where I’ll be staying for a few nights to do some trekking. I took the scenic route, staying off the main roads which meant almost the entire trip was done on either dirt or single lane paved roads. Lots of close calls with speeding collectivo vans coming around blind corners or in dark tunnels, they don’t realise I’m twice the width of the motos common here.
The road twisted through a deserted rocky valley before emerging out onto a fertile area surrounded by huge red mountains, climbing up over 2500m up into town. Peru’s scenery and roads are shaping up to be some of the most dramatic of the entire trip so far.
Asking permission and some change for the kids afterwards goes along way in eliminating the creep factor when taking pictures.
....and inviting them for pix on your bike.
January ‘17. Volcán de Colima
Good idea, I'll think about it!
Yup that happens a lot even without the invitation! Just mostly in the cities and with the parents phone rather than mine.
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This is very very true! Instead of feeling strange riding your big expensive moto through these impoverished areas, use the moto to make a lasting impression on them and yourself as well. Many of those children will be exited for days for the opportunity to sit on your moto! Of course some may be afraid, but usually after the first one gets on, many will want to follow. Some adults as well will enjoy that opportunity, especially young women and no, I do not mean that as a come on to them. Simple gestures by you will make a huge contribution to their lives and very quickly, you will realize that you enjoy it as much or more than them.
Yup agree completely, I just need to learn to be a bit more outgoing! I'm fairly introverted by nature so I find it hard to engage people out of the blue, especially in a different language. Whenever it does happen its always super rewarding for everyone involved so there's really no good reason not to at least try.
Leaving Caraz the plan was to visit two lakes (Laguna Paron and Laguna Llanganuco) on the way to Huaraz. 180 km or so, should be easy right? Riding in countries such as these it’s never quite that easy of course.
First stop was Laguna Paron. Unfortunately, the weather Gods had finally had enough of being nice to me and turned on the waterworks, turning the average dirt road into more of a slip and slide. Instantly the decision to ditch the bike cover I’ve been carrying (and barely using) was affirmed, every little extra bit of weight counts when your standing up, throwing the bike around. My hands got cold, even with glover liners and I was cursing my decision not to put heated grips on the KLR. When I got to the top I was shivering cold, dizzy and a bit unimpressed at the view that was obscured by clouds!
Luckily there were two locals, one a colectivo driver and the other a worker for the tourist hut at the top. As they were used to gringo Spanish we had a good chat for 30 minutes about the trip while I sat down and recuperated, I was really feeling the altitude after coming up from Trujillo only two days prior.
The view had improved and the rain stopped, so I slid back down (note to self – replace the front tyre in Cusco) and went on to Laguna Llanganuco. Whereas Paron I didn’t see any other tourists, here in Llanganuco there were buses full of them! The road up was nicely graded gravel and the rain had stopped, so I was actually cruising along nicely. When I stopped to take in the view at the tourist stop a horde of school girls wanted photos with me. No problem I thought – except they each wanted individual photos! They were happy to learn that I spoke a bit of Spanish as we cycled through all twenty. I should have asked for a photo with all of them next to the bike as proof. I then rode a bit further up to some rocks for some more pictures.
I had started at 8am and it was somehow now already 2pm, so I booked it back to Huaraz where I’ll be staying for three nights, today just washing the bike and chilling out, then tomorrow hiking up to the glacier.