Leaving the Arrowhead Country for Peru

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MikeS, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. STRich

    STRich Been here awhile

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    Mike, I will be following along again! Congrats on getting out of the country for a bit. What an amazing part of the world!
  2. knight

    knight Long timer

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    Sorry Mike , I was mistaken , it was the Colca Canyon I tried to exit the wrong way

    Good Luck

    https://www.peruforless.com/blog/cotahuasi-canyon/#how-to-get-there
  3. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 21

    Huanuco to Tarma

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    Blacktop day – and once on the high elevation Pampa, a stiff headwind.

    Part of my route was the bus route from Lima that got me sick. It was also the route I rode with my wife, pre covid, during heavy flooding and landslides. This time, on the moto, no issues.

    It's cold on the pampas, along with the head wind, plus a little rain, it dictated a stop to zip up my gear vents, add a thick layer of clothes, and change from summer gloves. Eventually it got very curvy, heading down a steep mountain to Tarma.

    Coming off the windy highlands:

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    Tarma is a town of about 50,000. Enjoyable mid sized town.

    Town central plaza:

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    Trees get sculptured:

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    Pigeons exercising the kids. All it takes is a bunch of crumbled crackers:

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    A staple of my diet, and a great thirst quencher, warm or cold; chicha marada, Peruvian purple corn drink. This had a little pineapple in it, another major food group. Unmatched pineapple taste, consumed close to the trees where it grows.

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  4. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 22

    Tarma to Pampas

    Tarma to Huancayo; I followed the main road through the mountains. Huancayo traffic, like most larger Peru towns, is chaotic and high energy. I got off Peru #3 south of Huancayo to follow a "shortcut" across the mountain. As I was having the gas tank filled, I asked the fellow about the time to get to Pampas; "70 minutes" he said. As I was ready to leave, he gave me a fist bump to the route I was to ride.

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    Harvest time on the steep terrain:

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    My buddy for dinner. He quietly snuck in and sat between the wall and table. He did get a treat for his efforts. I think the waitress was aware of the situation and did not like it. She gave me my food payment slip before I was done eating. Doing that in Latin America is like saying, "You're done, time to go."

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  5. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 23

    Pompas to Ayacucho

    I'm not making many miles in a day. I'm anxious about the west route to Cotahuasi. It's about 175 miles. There are road condition unknowns. Most of my information is gleaned from iOverlander.com. That probably is pre-covid information. I do plan to ask near the departure point, but who knows what information will be available. I want to know if there is anywhere along the way to stay for the night. I doubt so, but that's the only way I think I can have a decent safety margin. I don't have any camping gear and it gets cold at elevation, and has been raining a little just before sunrise.

    Blacktop day. Plenty of time to think about Cotahuasi from the west. There is adventure, and there is foolishness. I'm on the brink of both.

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    This is a road to the farm at the top of the image. Foot paths look like this. There is a river crossing at the base.

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    My day ended at Ayacucho. The main road goes through the whole town. Traffic was horrible, Peru style. I had to get through town and maybe find a place farther on. By the time I got through town, it was close to 5PM. I have to find a place here. I didn't have anything loaded on my gps. Everything was on my computer. I hadn't seen any places at the end of town. I got out my computer and found two on the departure side of town. One well recommended, one on the 4th floor. Both located back in traffic. I ended up at the 4th floor hostal. The other one was closed. I'm at elevation, huff-puff. Parking is in a lot about 5 blocks away. I get the young buck to assist me hauling all my gear up the stairs, for a generous tip. No wifi. I'm not having fun.
  6. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 24

    Ayacucho to Uripa

    Got the moto from the parking lot, got help hauling the gear down 4 levels, got it strapped back on to the moto while parked at the edge of Peru traffic, and left town. I routed myself on a local road. It was blacktop. Many sections were full of rim bending potholes. Indigenous families, mountain farming, and later large fields tended with modern farm equipment.

    About 30 minutes after getting out of Ayacucho, I looked at my gps. It was a blank, light gray screen. I have an older Montana 600 that has spent most of its life on a moto handlebar navigating gravel roads and trails. Is it going to die today? When I stopped, the map and track came to view. Moving, it was gone. This isn't good. I connected my phone to my Inreach, wondering if this will help with navigation. I also got out the paper map. Did some off/on to the gps, reset the map, still nothing. I went to the screen that does not have the moving map. It was there and it worked while moving, without the track. I used that for the morning, afraid to change screens. This required regularly movinge the screen as the "my location" arrow left the screen. Navigating potholes was also critical.

    For me, gps is critical to navigating in Peru, especially on secondary roads and in cities. Cotahuasi Canyon from the west is a no-go with an unreliable gps. My In-reach map on my phone is a backup, but I need the gps for primary navigation on the Cotahuasi route.

    GPS screen shot later in the day. I'm using trip setting for gas because the Honda trip odometer does not work. Wish I could have saved those moving and average speed settings.

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    Breakfast at 10AM after I got a screen working. Indigenous gal. She talks much slower than the Spanish and European heritage Peruvians. Pork chunks, potatoes, giant kernel corn, sliced onions, and some chicha morada.

    That moto taxi is being towed by a "truck" version. You can see the canopy over his truck, ahead of the moto taxi. The fellow in white is the driver. I sat at the same table and had a chat with him.

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    Rich soil. Large fields.

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    After having no wifi, I went for a $20 US room. This is a NICE place, very up scale. Mostly Peruvians traveling now.

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    Second floor lobby

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    The night desk clerk, a young fellow, has about the same level of English as I do Spanish. Interesting to hear the other side of me in him. Very professional and accommodating person, as expected in a hotel such as this.
  7. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 26

    Abancay to Cusco

    The whole way, twisty blacktop mountain roads for 4 or 5 hours. I was having too much fun to take many pictures. I rode with a group of local riders for a while; KTM, BMW, and other motos. They were a little faster than me, and I lost them over time. The mighty Honda Tornado did show its performance and did as best as expected.

    One of my destinations in Cusco is to find someone who knows about Cotahuasi Canyon road conditions and access. It appears that Cusco Moto Tours does adventure tours and motorcycle rental, so they are on my destination list. They have a good and informative web site. I have a couple other places I want to see including an Inca grass suspension bridge.

    Saywite ruins along the way; not overly large. A small town nearby is named the same.

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    I saw this small farm down the cliff, then wondering how they get down there.

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    This appears to be it:

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    Along the way:

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    Cusco church built with Inca shaped stones following the Spanish conquest:

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    Local market with the church in the background.

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    Activities in the neighborhood plazas are an integral part of life in Peru. In order to make that happen, everyone wears masks. Mask wearing is enforced by the police. I glean that vaccinations are well accepted, and that folks in their 30's are now being vaccinated. As a result, Peru has moved from the country with the world highest per capita death rate to now where covid spread is under control and low. They have the Fizer vaccine which is given to older folks, and the Covax vaccine for the younger and less vulnerable. Obviously this strategy is critical in order to revive their tourism industry.

    Rural areas sometimes have lots of folks masking, sometimes less. I came across a market on the plaza of a small village where no one was masked. It was quite crowded. I tend to follow what the practice is, being more careful towards masking, because of respect and that I am representing my country.

    Several street actors were in practice, one doing break dancing. These two were doing a skit. Unfortunately this is the best photo I have...

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    The wood fired oven where my chicken was cooked, yum!

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  8. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 27

    Cusco

    I'm in a hostal in Cusco, after looking around a bit. Although there is parking in a locked alley, it was easier to park the moto in the lobby. There is a big step to the sidewalk that you can see behind the front wheel. No way would this have worked with a big moto.

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    I met several folks here; one fellow from Brooklyn, NY, traveling with some friends who wanted to stay in a more up scale abode. He's in his 30's and makes his income playing poker. He plays both on line and in person.

    This morning I met another English speaking couple; he's from the States and she is Peruvian. Their passion is birding, and they have a touring business they promote in some fashion. My impression is their business is a work in progress. Interesting is he does not have a college education, but has some university contacts who bring students to Peru for his expertise and local knowledge.

    The proprietors here are interesting and friendly, a couple with a 10 month old girl, plus grandma who comes in during the day. It's been nice to have some time to talk to folks and learn about what they do. We as humans are social animals.

    After a short ride, I did meet with Alejandro at Cusco Moto Tours. He has a huge fleet of motorcycles; I saw 300 cc Hondas, Yamaha XR250 I believe, and some larger cc motos that I didn't look at closely. I was here for information, and good information I did get. I now have a plan, plus an extra gallon container for gas, which he generously gave to me. Like all tourism businesses, his is very slow right now. As a rental business for moto adventure travel in Peru, Cusco Moto Tours is well worth further exploration. He has a web site at www.cuscomototourperu.com
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  9. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 28

    Cusco to Cusipata

    Tuesday was a good day. Something like 100 miles of gravel.

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    A determining component of my routing was to ride a road along the Acamayo River, located south of Cusco. The road was typical Peru gravel, which can usually be ridden around 20 to 30 mph, and sometimes quite faster. The road through the Acamayo River was less maintained, with a couple short climbs with ruts and loose rocks that required standing in order to successfully stay vertical.

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    The old walking bridge, in disrepair because of the vehicle bridge replacement.

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    Village square where I bought some mandarines, sport drink, and more water. Interesting short comment I got from the proprietor as I left her tienda, "Gracias padre." A comment of respect to old folks...

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    I have no idea how this bridge was destroyed. This may be the replacement, under construction.

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    There was a way across

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  10. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 29

    Cusipata to Oropesa

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    I have a couple destinations on my agenda. One was the Inca rope bridge that crosses the Apurimac Canyon. This video inspired my visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8jw3EtNP-s

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    Apurimac canyon:

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    I continued on to the village of Raqchi, where an Inca ruins was preserved. Along the way I pulled off for lunch to what was signed as a campsite. Quite exposed, but a very nice panoramic view. Another fellow stopped in, and we chatted. He works in Cusco as a guide for a tourist agency.

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    The coveralls this fellow is wearing is common attire for Peruvian riders when on the road.

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    There is Quechua influence in the Raqchi structures too. I'm not fully cognizant of the details.

    Farming terraces, being used today:

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    The main religious structure. Central wall with remnants of a series of columns:

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    Of course, the Inca aligned buildings according to the equinox. Sunrise on September 21 was apparent along this row:

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    Within the village itself, there was a fiesta happening. Inca music, two groups dancing. It was the festival of a patron saint, St. Michael.

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    The band:

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    There were several tour groups from Cusco present. They eventually left, the dancing stopped, the costume masks came off, and the real partying began.
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  11. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Stir crazy

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    That's the equinox, Mike.

    I like Inca stonework, lovely pictures.
  12. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Thanks for the clarification. Previous post edited.
  13. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Sept 30

    Oropesa back to Abancay

    I returned back to Abancay, to the Imperial Motel that I was at last time I was here. I'm heading to Cotahuasi.

    My bed companion, lots of creativity in some of these hotels:

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  14. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Oct 1

    Abancay to Chalhuanca

    This is it; last gas, last tienda for food to take. I arrived in town early, since I had only 75 miles today, all blacktop. After settling in, I rode the 30 miles to the departure point from the blacktop. Iscahuaca is my departure point, a puebleto at 12,000 feet elevation. Chalhuanca is much lower, so a good night sleep.

    A place on the way to Chalhuanca that caters to whitewater rafting and kayaking:

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    This is where I'm going in the morning:

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    Lots of potholes here:

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    Local fauna:

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  15. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Oct 2

    Chalhuanca to Cotahuasi

    Up early, made the cold ride to elevation at Iscahuaca and was on the dirt at 7:45. Based on my mapping software, its 175 miles from Iscahuanca to Cotahuasi. I'm figuring an 8 to 10 hour day. Many unknowns in front of me; What will the road conditions be like? What snags will I discover with my chosen route and route options? Will there be time consuming snags? Although I'm well prepared, I don't want to get a flat. I'm well overdue for one to happen.

    The village of Iscahuaca:

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    That is ice in the puddles:

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    Lots of cairns at the first high pass:

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    All day long, high elevation (16,657 feet):

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    Interesting material, probably volcanic. I did see steam coming out of one cone:

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    My route choice was less than perfect. At one turn off, it was a quad trail. Actually I missed the turn and had to backtrack to find it. Not good. I turned back north to take an alternative located near Huarcaya. It wasn't on my gps mapping software, but was on Maps.me.

    Earlier I had stopped for water and discovered my chain was extremely tight. Adjustment was in order, and performed. A fellow in a water truck, stopping at a near by stream asked if all was fine, to which I confirmed yes. He was still filling his truck, so I stopped for routing advice. He knew the area well, and gave me a hand drawn map. Hopefully I can follow the routing points, and hopefully he actually knows the area, and isn't simply being polite and helpful, without good knowledge.

    The road is solid, and sometimes rather fast; 45 mph defined as fast. There was lots of variation and conditions, washboard, polvo/fech-fech (talcum like dust), wind, high elevation, All in all, a decent road for the location.

    The switchbacks down the canyon were awesome. For those who know the road to Batopilas in Mexico, prior to being blacktoped, this is what is here. Multiply the distance by at least 3. Totally awesome ride down. Thus, lots of pictures now:

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    This looked like a bunch of houses for giants:

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    I made it to the bottom of the canyon by a little after 5PM. I found a hostal with a stinky bathroom, a toilet seat, hot water in the shower, no wifi, but included a cochera for parking. Dinner, chicken at a resaurant on the square. I was tired, and slept well.
  16. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    This is a copy of a post I made as a separate thread:

    I had difficulty locating information on access from the west to Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru, south of Abancay off Peru 30A. This travel information is based on a trip there in October, 2021. I did not want to ride "quad trails", namely off road in the true sense of the definition. As they are, these are the primary access roads between the tiny villages (pueblitos).

    The route I used is definitely not for a liter adventure bike. I was on a 250cc Honda Tornado. One may be able to ride this on a 650cc adventure bike, but you will have more challenges than I did. If on a carb moto, you need to be jetted for high altitude, and you also need to be acclimated to altitude. This route is at 12,000 to 16,000 feet. The road base was solid when I was there. There are areas of extensive potholes, and other areas with major washboard. There were no major water crossings. That may be different during rainy season. Some areas have water trucks on the road to reduce dust, which makes for some slimy areas at times. There is mining in one area. A number of the small villages have locked gates on the road, requiring one to go around. It's fine to do that. Most are relatively easy to circumnavigate, although several were more challenging. I used gps navigation, using maps from "Per-Rute" and "OSM". I also had phone access to Maps.me and to my Garmin InReach map. I did not find any paper map information with useful detail. I obtained planning information from iOverlander.com.

    There is a hostal and restaurant at Iscahuaca, but you're at 12,000 feet. I stayed at lower elevation at Chalhuanca, also the location of last gas. Do not depend on gas being available until Cotahuasi.

    I do not recommend this route for someone who does not have gravel travel experience in remote areas.

    I have basic Spanish language skill, which was very helpful.

    The altiplano (high plains) was an adventure challenge with its own desolate beauty. The canyon is absolutely stunning and very deep, accessed via an hour of switchbacks. The trip for me was rewarding in many ways.

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    If someone can help me load gps tracks, I'm appreciative
  17. Klinc207

    Klinc207 To PERU!

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    Thank for taking the time for this report. Very useful info for someone who is planning an extended exploration of Peru.

    I also had very good luck with Per-Rute GPS maps on my last trip.

    Keep it coming!

    *Are the magenta lines previous tracks?
  18. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Magenta lines are potential routes, mostly unexplored by me. I think the straight gray line and south is another possible access route. I rode to Puyca from Cotahuasi but not beyond.

    The magenta line west of the lower end of the gray line is a quad track, not for me at that remote area.
  19. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Oct 3

    Cotahuasi Canyon

    One item on my agenda was to upgrade my room, especially in terms of wifi. The cost of nicer rooms here in Peru, with the dollar to sole being one to four, makes it a desirable choice for me. I packed up all my gear with plans to ride towards Puyca and the Maukallacta ruins, a Wari settlement located a half hour walk from there.

    I stopped at a municipal building, where a fellow gave a lot of information. There are a lot of Quechua speaking people here. The population of the canyon is around 150,000, a significant number of individuals. From my own gps readings noted at the top of the canyon and randomly at the base, the depth is 5500 feet. From my own elevation readings at the canyon rim, that makes this canyon 11,000 plus feet deep!

    The ride did not disappoint. There were great views. The road was generally good, but it had a number of climbs with gullies and loose rocks; fun!

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    This is the end of the road at Puyca, and the start of the "30 minute walk" to Maukallacta. If you look at the buildings on the right, you can see the steepness. I started up that incline on the moto, not noticing the stairs at the top. I never got the clutch fully engauged. Approaching the steps, it was obvious there was no way up via the moto. My gps showed it was several miles to Maukallacta, obviously steep up hill. Not for me at my age and at this elevation of 8000 feet.

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    Puyca town square

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    I returned via a road on the other side of the river. Bull ring:

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    I filled up with gas at the only gas station in the canyon. The gal asked me where I went. She said she never has been to Puyca. I'm sure there is a combi bus to there. Supply trucks do navigate that road too. It is a road with rough spots along the way.

    I found a much nicer motel with slow internet. I've been posting this report for the last few days, uploading pictures and narration while sitting on the stairs directly below the server. The upgrade was from $40 sole to $50 sole, a $2.50 US upgrade.

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  20. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Oct 4

    Cotahuasi to Chalhuanca

    I decided to leave Cotahuasi a day earlier than planned. I wanted to go to Sipe falls, and maybe try a new exit from here via Puyca. However, I've been developing a small cough and very minor chest congestion. It may be a cold, or it may be the result of the very dry air here. It may also be a precursor of covid. I very much suspect the dry air. People here are extremely cautions about covid., so my exposure risk is low. Covid rates are also low here. Even with that, mask wearing is everywhere. There are wash stands at many tiendas, hotels, and restaurants. The main exposure is in restaurants when eating. Having gone through sars, and also being the country with the worlds highest per-capita covid death rate, Peruvians are willing to take precautions. I am vaccinated, further reducing my risk, but I got it early this year.

    Considering that exiting here involves very high altitude, I made the decision this morning to be cautions and leave, an unfortunate decision. This area was the focus of my trip. Bummer.

    Farewell photo at the top of the canyon:

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    My first real crash – Not paying close attention, a left hand curve, loose gravel, and I got caught and ended up tipped over in the ditch. I righted the moto first, as my spare gas container was leaking from the cover.

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    Cairn left at a high point in appreciation to pachamama for a great trip.

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    At the small villages there often are gates, open this time. As I approached one, I made sure to recognize the gate was up, but at the last minute I spotted an additional cable stretched across the road. Although I was going only about 25 mph, there was no way to stop in time. The cable was at headlight height. Applying brakes, I ducked down hoping the cable would go over me. I crashed, scratching my helmet visor, but not injured. The water truck had been through recently, so I got somewhat muddy. Some indigenous gals came out. The object of this cable was to extract a toll. Needless to say I was not appreciative. The cable was split, obviously from earlier than me. The gal tried to accuse me of breaking her cable. I gave her a few soles for her dishonesty and left unappreciative, but understanding her gig.

    I was met by a fellow at another closed gate, who had a much better approach; open the gate, chat a little, and ask for some money. I was fine giving him a tip.
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