Arriving at 3400 meters above sea level of Cusco, means to be in the centre of the Inca sacred heart, where all the Rio Urubamba valley submerge you with special feeling.
The main attraction of the area is of course Machu Picchu.
We spend the full day visiting this special place departing at 4.00 AM from Cusco. At first we take a bus to Urubamba and then a train to Aguascaliente where we are picked up with a minibus that will finally take us to Machu Picchu. The arrival is very emotional even after 5 hour trip.
We both read a lot of information about Machu Picchu but the excitement is still very high.
The Inca architectural design and the setting in which Machu Picchu is located is incredible. Here when you are able to isolate yourself from the mass of tourist visiting this place you can really breathe something mystical. Truly a different energy. Here the natural elements seems to melt in a mysticism in which the secret belongs and always will to the Incas.
After visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu, we take a beautiful road that will take us to Puno. The road finally allows us to keep a steady pace. It reaches altitudes of 4300 meters above sea level. The pass we cross is called Abra La Raya, where we meet some locals that sell products made with Alpaca wool. Feeling the altitude it’s here that we are trying for the first time to chew coca leafs. A common practice to alleviate the altitude distress.
Puno is a town that is located at the beginning of Lake Titicaca. A few days before our arrival, Puno suffered with tremendous winter weather conditions. Many Alpacas died. We were lucky to escape such conditions. The weather we encounter was decent and allowed us to ride along the lake in a pleasant environment. Lake Titicaca is the highest lake in the world. It is at 3800 meters above sea level and its surrounded by the majestic “Cordillera Real”.
Early next morning, we depart with a chilling temperature, following the western shore of the lake admiring an incredible scenery. Direction is the Bolivian Border of Kasani.
The main attraction of Peru’ such as Machu Picchu and lake Titicaca will be visited later in our journey. The first part of our Peru’ will be an authentic surprise for us.
Following an itinerary that is far from being the main one, such as the Pan-American, we discover trails and secondary roads surrounded by typical tropical environment with faunas and high humidity. Our path often follows big Amazonian rivers with red waters such as the RIO HUALLAGA.
The itinerary we choose, later will take us to riding through the highlands, where the environment drastically changes due to the high altitude. We ride through Andean villages along dusty roads full of holes but we both feel very exited and enthusiastic. We start to breathe the air from the Andes. We meet women dressed in their colorful typical costumes, the alpacas are all over eating grass freely and we feel we are traveling through a place where time has stopped.
The days riding are getting longer due to the conditions of the roads. We ride from 2800mt to 4200mt above sea level all the time through breathtaking canyons such as the one of the Rio Mantaro. Because of the sunset we are riding in what looks a perfect set for a western movie full of red rocks and dry plants.
We would be lying if we would say that it all went without some troubles along the way. For example, when Matteo was trying to fix a screw onto my bike he cut himself with a knife forcing him to go to the emergency and have five stitches applied to his left hand.
Or when my KTM, after a terrible trail started to loose power. We were at about 100 KM from the next populated town and the noises that came from the engine were not reassuring at all. It turned out to be a problem with the valves. I thought my trip was going to end there, but thanks to a mechanic called Rocky It was sort of fixed in the next town and thanks to that we were allowed to continue our journey to the Sacred Valley with final destination Cusco. The gateway to the magnificent Cordillera Vilcanota.
As usual the bureaucracy to enter Peru’ was somewhat complicated. Maybe due to the border we chose, but it literally took us two hours to get our permit to enter the country. The first little village after the border of “La Balsa” is called San Ignacio, but because we have a late start we are forced to drive the 50 KM in the dark in an extremely muddy road. A real challenge. The muddy roads will be with us for the majority of our ride through the Amazonian part of Peru’. We did not expect to ride in the amazon. The path we took had 100% humidity, rice fields, tropical fruits, and major red rivers. It really felt riding in the jungle once again.
This region is also important for the production of the Coca plant. The territory is therefore governed by the “Narco trafficantes”. The production of the plant is legal in Peru’ but the government does not pay this crop as much as the dealers. It is easy to understand that the coca grower are more likely to deal with the “Narcos” because they pay way more for their product. It was told to us, that nowadays the region, is much more calm that it was a few years back. We also encountered a few blocks from the campesinos, but we were allowed to continue our trip after answering a few questions of why we were traveling through this part of Peru’. This would have not happened a few years ago. They simply would have not allowed us to pass through.
Following the course of “Rio Huallaga” until Tingo Maria we end our journey through what is called the Amazonian Peru’ and start climbing toward the central highlands. The Andean scenery is drastically different: The vegetation is looking much drier, the air starts to be cool and the sky seems to be closer. When we meet the fist Alpaca, we realize that we are finally in the Andean Peru”.
We reach Cerro de Pasco, the highest city in the world ( 14,550 feet ), at around 4.00 PM. We both feel the altitude by feeling a little dizzy and sort of “drunk”. Cerro de Pasco is a little city with the majority of the inhabitants being miners. It is not that interesting, therefore we decide to eat and go to rest because Peru’ is a big country and we still have many kilometers to ride.
Cerro de Pasco. The highest city in the world. 14,550 Feet.
Cold and dizzy.