From dust to snow

Yungay, Peru to Lima, Peru
Aug 29, 2014 – Sep 3, 2014

Marcos on the rocks

After a wonderful but dusty and challenging first week in the Peruvian mountains, we were ready for a change of decor. The Cordillera Blanca, home of the majestic Huascaran National Park, promised to deliver. But first we needed to clean up and rest. A hi-pressure wash freed our DRs and our Rev’It gear from a few pounds of caked dirt and made us look almost decent for a lovely lunch at the coffee Entre Panes in Caraz. The hotel Sol de Oro in Yungay gave us the quietness we needed to recharge our batteries. Refreshed and ready, we happily followed a strip of asphalt towards the park. Less than 5 kilometers later we were back in the dust, I guess one never stays clean long in those parts of the world. With our eyes glued on the majestic snow capped mountains in the distance, we got caught off guard when another dust covered rider popped from around a corner. We immediately recognised the KLR of our friend Marcos el Narco and jumped off our bikes to hug each other. On a tight schedule, Markos had left us a few weeks earlier and we were not expecting to see him again. After difficult farewells we launched our steeds towards the Park’s entrance.

The majestic mountain faces

The majestic mountain faces

On both sides of the dirt road stood, gigantic, the towering faces of the adjacent mountains guarding the access to the turquoise waters of the Chinacocha Laguna. Photos don’t do justice to the amazing color of this lake but the Zebra worked hard our Sony camera to capture it. The dirt road turned into a rocky trail, the curves became hairpins as we gained altitude and reached the pass that would take us to the other side of the Yanarahu mountain.

More rocks and steep slopes made our progress slow and it took us several hours to reach our stop for the night: the town of Chacas. Naturally we could have gotten there earlier had I not, once again, tried to cut through the hills to shorten our path. The Acochaca-Yanama road was just too tempting. We reached the very comfortable Hospedaje El Mirador at dusk. A hot chocolate and a sumptuously illustrated guide book narrating Chacas history gave us all the comfort needed to recover from this long day.

Punta Olimpica, the highest tunnel in the world.

Huaraz, back on the West side of the Cordillera Blanca, was our next stop. To get there, we had decided to cross the Punta Olimpica and its recently completed tunnel that holds the world record of highest tunnel at 4735m. Fresh pavement made the ascent easy and fun allowing us for the first time in weeks to lean our DRs without fear of severe drifting. The sun shining on a landscape painted white by snow made us squint as we emerged from the kilometer long tunnel. Our eyes slowly adjusted and revealed the most amazing panoramic view we had seen so far, peaks reaching for the sky, lakes glimmering in the distance, clouds playing hide and seek with the mountains. We sat there for what might have been an hour, taking in the landscape, before coasting down the road to Huaraz.

The Albergue de la Luna

The friends we made a Alberge La Luna in Huaraz

The friends we made a Alberge La Luna in Huaraz

After a coffee and postre on the terrace of the lovely Cafe Andino we sought shelter at the Hatun Wasi hotel. There we met Steven, who after 7 years on his BMW 650 was having a bit of an emotional breakdown following electrical problems. We also met Nick, on a beat up KLR, who proceeded to take us to the Albergue de la Luna. This ended up being a wonderful find and we stayed there for several days, taking turns with the other guests to cook delicious family meals, pampering our bikes in the large garden and just having a jolly good time. It also gave our British friend Peter, whom you might remember from previous episodes, a chance to recover from a near death experience. Riding into Yungay he got surprised by a massive stone lying in the middle of the road. We would have suspected Peter of middle exaggeration if it wasn’t for the 5cm deep dent in his front rim. Sad to leave the Albergue de la Luna family behind, Peter and us reluctantly left for Lima. We covered the 400kms separating us from the Capital in a day, enjoying our last views of the Cordillera Blanca before descending toward the barren Peruvian coast.

Lunging into Lima

Reaching Miraflores, the touristy historical center of Lima, was nothing short of difficult. Access seems guarded by a legion of smog spitting buses aggressively jousting for first place at the next traffic light. Extra points for cutting the greatest number of lanes. Suddenly we started to miss our peaceful switchbacks and dust roads. With a Zebra only a hair short from complete meltdown, we found refugee at the Flying Dog Hotel on the Parque Central de Miraflores. A sandwich and a smoothie at the legendary La Lucha restaurant made it all worth it, and we crashed in our beds shortly after.

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