North to South America on a Honda 250 (back home)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    i just finished watching Itchy Boots latest vid. i thought of Joris how lucky he was (the lucky one who got out). also have 2 german friends still stuck in Lima for over 14 days. tough times.

  2. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    I think the situation in Chile was (and still is) very chilled. They are definitely handling this differently then the rest of South America. I've been following the Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups and Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina are bad places to be right now as a foreigner. Well the rest of South America too.

    But to answer the question, no we didn't have any problems with the locals. They understand the circumstances and mostly try to help where possible. We did get more and more suspicious looks though as the situation deteriorated. Going out for groceries people would definitely eye you and try to keep their distance. Not in a bad way, but you'd get even more attention then normally as a foreigner.

    I think I read somewhere that Punta Arenas is in a total lockdown right now. Good thing we got out of there when we still could.
  3. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    Don't know if a bandana over your mouth would put the locals at ease or frighten them off?
    the tourism trade supported local industries are at an interesting,pressure point. those countries that have a high GDP in that industry are getting hit heavily.
    thanks for the great report, say Hi to your folks for us, added a measure which we don't get to often, especially if you have your own children in away places.
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  4. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Being a bit slack in following your report , last time I checked it was the start of page 23 and now you made a quick return to Nederland already .
    Felicitaties Joris ! A fascinating report and I hope that your isolation period remains uneventful !
    Now imagine the bargains to be had at the customs auction once all this covid 19/corona nighmare is well passed . Somebody should get a good deal on your little Honda .Looks like a large number of northern bikes were abandoned there ( or confiscated for other reasons?)
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  5. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    I wanted to do atleast some sort of hike in Ecuador, it’s one of the attractions of the country. Extended my stay in Cuenca one more night and took the bike to Parque Nacional Cajas. The road into the mountains was great and the weather was good. Once at the entrance I registered myself at the visitor center and started on one of the marked trails. The park is situated high in the mountains at just below 4000 meter (13.000ft), so even a normal walk can get you out of breath. I first wanted to do the most difficult day hike, which involved a lot of climbing. But soon changed my mind and went for a leisure walk around the park. The weather wasn’t superb but it was warm enough to break out a sweat.
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    The park is mostly made up of soggy grassland with a variety of small lakes, or better known as Páramo. But there’s some small shrub and a little bit of forest. I’ve never been to Scotland, but I imagined it to be like this.
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    Some timer selfies, a plant and more lakes.
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    For lunch I finished the last of the cookies my mom brought over from home.
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    Back at the parking there were some other overlanders, a French couple with a van from the US and German plated Toyota. It started to rain so time to head back.
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    I was around lunchtime when I got back to Cuenca and after a good walk in the morning I wanted to treat myself on a decent lunch. So I went to this restaurant which had a high rating on Google. It turned out the owner had worked as a chef in the Netherlands and after I finished my delicious food we chatted for a while. He wanted me to take a picture in his restaurant which he had dressed up with all kinds of Dutch things. Well, I’m not sure if it was the food or maybe a combination of exhaustion, dehydration and altitude but for everyone’s sake I won’t go into detail how the next two days went. Let’s just say that the little bouts of food poisoning I had before were nothing compared to this one. I only got out of bed to go to the toilet and to drink some water.
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    After two days I decided to revise my plan of heading to Vilcabamba and then into Peru. The dirtroad leading to the border is fairly remote and I wasn’t sure about the conditions. I felt slightly better but still weak and in need of a bathroom every now and then. So instead followed the paved road to Zapotillo. As soon as I’m on the bike I feel less miserable, it always works. Makes me focus my thoughts on different things.
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    After a night in a hotel in Zapotillo I ride the last part to the Peruvian border. No more riding at altitude, the sun is out, it is actually getting hot now! Leaving Ecuador is really fast again, no line whatsoever.
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    Getting into Peru is also an easy affair. After getting myself stamped in I go find a little shack that according to iOverlander sells insurance and then proceed to the aduana to get the TIP. All super friendly guys and soon I’m on my way in a new country.
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  6. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    I saw a lot of locals were also wearing bandanas, and although it doesn't help a thing healthwise I think it helps with blending in more.

    One day I was watching the news in Chile, and the president announced he wanted to reduce the number of people that were working in the informal sector. I think it was currently around 29%. These are the people that rely on being able to go out on the street to sell their products, or have a little shed where they do business. I often wondered if these people would think about savings for later or their pension, but I would say that the reality is that they barely make enough to get by. They don't pay taxes or anything, but they also get nothing in return. No social security, no health insurance. Now imagine countries like Peru where that number is more than 70%. Besides the collapse of the tourism industry I think that's an even bigger problem.

    I'll see them again tomorrow! :)


    Bedankt Sjoerd! I've been isolation for a while now and so far all good. I wouldn't bid on that old worn down little Honda though, but one of those BMW's I wouldn't mind.
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  7. velobuff

    velobuff Adventurer

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    I can't tell if it's your photographic or your storytelling ability that makes me imagine I'm there but I'm still absolutely loving this thread!

  8. mercurydog47

    mercurydog47 Adventurer

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    Greetings, Are you able to travel to Peru? I thought that border was closed? Do I have it right that you are posting on April 6th, 2020?
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  9. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Oh no, I wouldn't want to travel through Peru now. The border is closed indeed! I'm writing this from home. Edited the title ;)
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  10. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    The contrast between Ecuador and Peru is quite stark. Once in Peru the first obvious thing I noticed was the amount of trash along the road. And the smell.. oh the smell was horrible at times. Although Peru is working hard to reduce poverty, it is still very much a reality for the majority for of the people. That first day I had a lot of moments that reminded me of Africa.
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    While cruising through the desert I spotted a European plated bike along the road. Turned around and pulled over for a chat, he introduced himself as Nick Sander. Wait a minute, I think I’ve heard that name before. Cool, nice to meet you! For those that don’t know, Nick has ridden around the world like eight times now and also has a few long distance motorcycle records on his name. He is now riding his Yamaha T700 around the world, planning to cover an incredible 100.000km in six months (that’s the deal with Yamaha). He stopped to film a guy trucking around firewood in his old beat up car.
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    I was also doing some good distance that day, with roads straight as an arrow. The temperature was high enough to only stop in the shade. From the border I made it to Huanchaco and found a nice hostel to chill for two nights.
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    Breakfast was included, served on the rooftop terrace.
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    There were also two other Colombian plated bikes parked at the hostel. In the morning I overheard a girl dressed up in motorcycle gear ask the reception who that Dutch bike belonged to. Well, that would be me. Turned out that they, Maarten and Liza, were also Dutch but living in Kelowna Canada and had bought both bikes in Colombia. They were heading for Huarez, so we made plans to meet up there later.
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    El Rojo was in need of an oil change so I went into the city to find the mechanic recommended on iOverlander. Ended up in the most dodgy part of Trujillo, I only took pictures of the nicer areas. The navigation led me into a fruit market. It was actually quite hilarious to ride through these narrow paths with fresh produce on both sides, all in vain though because there was no mechanic. I asked around for a ‘taller de motos’ but no one knew… only on the main street they said. Following their directions I did find a few motorcycle shops. Walked into the first one -only one bike in the shop- and asked the mechanic if he could change my oil. No, he was busy he said, try the next one. You serious? So went to the next one, a Honda dealer even. Asked if they could change the oil. “Yes, what kind of oil do you want?” Well, I would like 20w50 or 15w50. “No that’s not possible only 10w40”. That’s not what I want. “Then you should go somewhere else”. You know what, I’m done with all this shit.. I just spend three hours riding through this shithole being boiled alive trying to find someone to change the oil.. I’ll do it myself, that’s what I should have done in the first place. So went to the Peruvian Home depot, grabbed some oil and had it changed in 5 minutes.
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    With that out of the way I went to see the main tourist attraction in Trujillo, the ancient city of Chan Chan. The story is that every ruler (nine of them) had their own palace. When the ruler died all his wives and all of his staff also had to die to accompany and serve him in the afterlife. They were all buried in the same palace. Most of the city has been destroyed or vanished over time, but there are still some impressive structures left. I first went to the small museum on site, there’s a big map of the whole area and some other artefacts. Then for a walk along what remains of the city. Being constructed mostly from sand, it’s not surprising it is deteriorating rapidly.
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    Back in Huanchaco I found a nice restaurant to grab lunch, the owner turned out to be Dutch. Great food and also tried an Inka Kola.
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    Walk along the beachfront. Huanchaco is a nice touristic town to hang around for few days.
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    Everywhere in Latin America you see vehicles that have been in an accident being stored at the police station. Here this happened to be right along the main drag. The whole street was filled with wrecks, some of them were pretty mangled.
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    In the garage of the hostel was also this Colombian plated Tuktuk. Can you imagine driving that thing all the way to Peru? And who knows how far they plan to go.
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  11. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    I can't tell you how glad I am that you've only gotten us to Peru.
    And what about Canada?
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  12. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Joris A little story of when we met in Fort Nelson and you were changing your oil in the camp ground. I watched you and then thought to my self maybe Id better check the oil in my Super Sherpa.....it was down 3/4 of a liter! and it only holds 1.5 liters I guess that day I was at full throttle into the wind alot. Thanks for saving the Sherpa!
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  13. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    A few days on the coast did me well, it was nice to be at sea level and have some nice warm weather. It was time however, to head back into the mountains. And with the rainy season in full swing that probably meant getting wet. Oh well, I first had to cover some good distance along the coast so no worries about rain yet, it was way too hot for those thoughts. Followed the 1N or Panamericana to just north of Chimbote and turned inland along the 12.
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    After not even five minutes I see a white motorcycle with flashing lights in my mirror. Ah.. first time on this trip that I get pulled over. I’d been halted by a member of Peru’s finest national police. He pulls up alongside and asks for documents. I couldn’t have greeted him more friendly, shaking his hand, smiling, asking how he is doing. All in English of course, because I suddenly forgot how to speak Spanish. Oh, documents, what document do you want to see? Oh registration, alright. Oh more, license then? Insurance, sure.. right here. Import papers, there you go! Well, at this moment he had all my documents and I had nothing.. better ask some of them back then. He didn’t want to give them back and was getting annoyed. Sir, let me take a picture of you, I guess you won’t mind that? I snapped this one before he could cover his face. I showed him and that seemed to help, as he handed me back my documents and I was free to go. Ciao Amigo! Maybe he was just doing his job, maybe he was looking for a way to make some extra money but I wasn’t planning on finding out.
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    Further into the valley, back into the Andes. Funny thing I just remembered, there were a lot of culverts on this road. Concrete slabs for the water to run off. I was enjoying the road, doing about 80km/h, when I came over this blind hill. Just out of sight was another culvert, oh oh.. its a deep one. I barely had time to stand up on the pegs. Jumped the first ledge, bottomed out the suspension and was then launched back out the other side of this concrete bowl. Landing the second jump I heard a loud ‘clack’ and immediately realized my topcase had come loose. With one arm I managed to hold it in place and stopped at the side of the road to see what I destroyed this time. But all it needed was a little push to lock back into place.
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    Stunning views
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    The views were getting better and better because I was heading for the Cañón del Pato.
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    While riding through the canyon I spotted this mine on the side of the road. I stopped to find out what they were mining and maybe even show me how it’s done. But I only saw one guy sleeping on the ground, didn’t want to disturb him so continued.
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    The further I rode, the better it got. Peru is incredible to ride thru. I didn’t take that much pictures because one, I was having a blast. And second, I didn’t dare stop on these narrow roads with big trucks barreling down the hill.
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    Close to Huaraz it was bucketing down so I was glad to get to a hostel. I had been in contact with Maarten and Liza (the Dutch couple from Canada) and we met up for dinner that evening.
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  14. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Wow, better and better, thanks.
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  15. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    Amazing landscapes and well captured. I know you are back home but I appreciate that you are completing your RR. Thank you and stay healthy.
  16. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    There's still a good month or two of pictures to come! I did share some pictures of my time in Northern Canada but I still have so many than I never got round to sharing.

    Like these pictures! Glad I reminded you to check the oil. After I ruined my engine I learned my lesson and did it every morning since then. It only takes 10 seconds after all..
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    Thanks jowul! It's great to look at all the pictures and relive those moment. Brings back so many memories.
  17. RedRover_CO

    RedRover_CO Been here awhile Supporter

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    Like these pictures! Glad I reminded you to check the oil. After I ruined my engine I learned my lesson and did it every morning since then. It only takes 10 seconds after all..
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    In June 2018, my tent was where the red tent is in this pic. And thanks for reminding us all to check our oil :) With any luck, I'll be down south finding some of the spots where you are Joris. :beer
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  18. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    I’ve thrown some clips together from this ride.


    Maarten, Liza and I decided to team up and ride up to Laguna Llaca, close to Huaraz. We knew there are awesome rides in that area but with large amounts of rain every day it wasn’t appealing to go for a long ride. Maarten’s Yamaha needed some repairs and was still at the shop, we went for a look but the work wasn’t finished yet. 2-up it was!
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    From Huaraz we took the 14A East and soon traded pavement for dirt.
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    That Royal Enfield sure looks good! And it performed flawless, even 2-up. Both bikes are carbureted and while I definitely noticed riding at 4400 meter, the Himalayan kept chugging on.
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    Let’s go find that glacier.
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    Liza wasn’t too comfortable on the back when riding over the rough stuff so she decided to walk those parts.
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    Higher into the mountains the road turned into a river, I had long ago given up on staying dry and it was really good fun bashing through the puddles.
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    We finally reached the refugio near the lake, which was closed in this season. It made for a good place to park the bikes and keep our gear from getting wet(ter).
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    To get to the glacier we had to hike along the lake. Eventually the trail disappeared and Maarten and I continued together to try and get as close as we could.
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    After we scrambled across rocks for a while we made it to the glacier, or at least as far as we wanted to go. Pretty cool!
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    Back to our bikes!
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    And we made it back down without any incidents. Because it was still early we decided to ride some more.
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    Closeby was the ancient Templo de Wilcahuain, the locals said it was worth a visit. I’d never heard of it before but apparently this structure that was built around a 1000 years ago was of great importance for the Wari Empire. A culture that was one of the predecessors of the Inka culture. And although the three-story building looks big from the outside, it was rather small inside.
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    Back to base!
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  19. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Although I really liked mountainous central Peru I was longing for the sun and warmth that come with the lower altitudes on the coast. After I said goodbye to my new Dutch-Canadian friends I got on the road and slowly came down to sea level. It still amazes me that while in Europe there’s hardly a place above 4000 meters, and if there is one it is barren, cold and inaccessible. Here in Peru riding above 4000 meter there are green pastures, proper roads, towns and even mountains all around you that reach up even higher.
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    From the 3N I took the 16 to the coast and it was downhill from there to the warmth and clear blue skies. One hour and it’s a completely different world.
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    South of Chacra y Mar the highway makes this huge loop on a dune to gain elevation. I pulled over and found the view to be quite impressive. Downhill was equally impressive, following this black tar line into the far distance.
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    That far distance led me to rush hour in Lima, or maybe it wasn’t rush hour and the traffic is always that bad, but it was absolute hell. I’ve had my fair share of riding in big cities, on this trip and others, but I think Lima ranks number one on the shitty-scale. Probably an hour of butt-clenching hair-raising riding later I made it to the center, unscathed. Found a hostel and was allowed to park the bike in the small hallway. Why did I even bother coming here? Oh well, at least you’ve been to Lima now. No.. the city center was actually quite nice. A lot of people, well-kept parks (with many stray cats) and big shopping malls. But I figured one night was enough.
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    Once I escaped the grips of the city it was back to normal. Long long roads along the coast lined with incredible dunes. I often wondered what would happen if I just ran off the road. Would I crash? Would I just ride on through the sand? Would my bike make it up those dunes? Many times I thought of doing it, but never did. I realized I watched to much Races to Places and I’d better stick to the paved road for now.
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    Isn’t this the birthplace of that little drink they have here? :D
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    It was still too early for alcoholic beverages so from Pisco I continued to the Peninsula de Paracas. First I wasn’t sure where to go because I read online that the national park wasn’t that interesting. After I watched some kite-surfers for a while I thought what the hell, let’s go to this national park. Oh boy, did I have a good day there..
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    I have posted this little video before, but here it is again to accompany the pictures.


    There is a ‘tourist drive’ through the park, which will take you to some nice spots. At first I thought that this was all the peninsula had to offer. It was nice but man was it crowded at Playa Roja and Playa la Mina.
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    Having seen the sights, what’s next? I wasn’t sure if it was allowed to stray far from the main road but gave it a try anyway. There was a little line on maps.me leading to Mirador de Lobos Finos. So I left the paved road and headed into nowhere, just endless amounts of sand. Ohh.. lets see how this goes.
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    It went surprisingly well, mainly because the sand wasn’t that soft. After I had reached the seal viewpoint and didn’t see any seals I got a bit cheeky and decided to have some fun. There was this hill that started really gentle but gradually got steeper, see how far we get! It doesn’t look steep but it was a lot of fun. Higher up it got a lot softer and the rear wheel lost traction and started bogging down so it was time to swing around and head back down.
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    Feeling more confident in this terrain I followed the tracks further, being on a peninsula they should take me back to the main road eventually.
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    After a while I spotted another hill with some tracks already going up which seemed like an excellent place to try and reach the top again. I lined up at the bottom, left it in first gear and screamed up that hill. What a great feeling, such freedom to do whatever you want.
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    Followed another track which turned out to be a dead end. Did meet another overlander at the very end of that road though. The guy said he was travelling for a few years already and was parked on that spot for the last few days. Talk about social distancing (note: this was long before that word even existed).
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    To get back on the right track I tried to get over the hills separating the two. Which went fine until it didn’t. No it never went bad but I was actually drifting(?) to get up that hill. Because it was steep I went up diagonally, but it was too soft so the rear tire was continuously sliding away. Stopping was no option as that meant starting from the bottom so I fought hard to keep balance and made it across to the other side.
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    Around 4 o’clock I made it back to the main road, that was the Paracas Peninsula done and dusted. All went surprisingly smooth and so far one of the best riding days on the trip. Now what?
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  20. drbuzzard

    drbuzzard Long timer Supporter

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    thanks for the excellent report Joris, a few weeks before I found your thread I started work on my 1985 CB 450 nighthawk and was thinking about where to go on it but you've shown me that I can take it almost anywhere!! today I got it running, its been off the road since 2012 and good luck with your CB 450 20200406_143545.jpg 20200420_174238.jpg 20200420_174832.jpg