We worked our way from Puerto Maldonado to Cuzco along the 600 kms of winding tar road through the mountains. The ride was at high altitude at times which accounts for low oxygen levels and freezing temperatures. At half the bike power and with a little extra layer here and there, we finally entered the historic center of Cuzco. We just loved the social atmosphere, the many travelers and definitely the amazing historic setting of Cuzco and decided to spend a few days there before heading to Machu Picchu.
The road from Cuzco to Machu Picchu took us through some amazing sceneries. Over sealed roads and dirt tracks, we passed Ollantaytambo and rode until Santa Theresa. There’s no roads leading to Machu Picchu, but you can go by train which unfortunately is overly expensive. So we decided to do it on the cheap and walked the 11 kms along the railroad. After an early wake up at 5 the next morning, we started the – rather spicy – climb to the historic site. The reward on the top of the mountain makes one forget all the physical efforts because despite the many clouds, Machu Picchu is still a top, must see Unesco World Heritage site!
The following riding days were almost exclusively dirt. We rode along the endless coca fields, first to Ayacucho where – so we heard – there would be a Belgian travelers restaurant that served traditional Belgian stew and real Belgian fries, one of our favourite dishes. And they served a broad selection of Belgian specialty beers, all in a true Peruvian setting now how cool is that! We put on our best clothes – that is a T-shirt with only one hole and those completely faded but almost clean trekking pants – and left for the well-deserved culinary treat. For a little moment we felt like being thrown back to our home country. Boy did we enjoy it!
Lima was a mandatory stop for spare parts and tyres. The road leading there was long, winding and full of trucks. Lima itself must have been the busiest city of the entire trip. It took us 3.5 hours to work our way through that immensely chaotic traffic congestion to our hostal. How someone would even consider buying a car here is beyond my understanding. It just doesn’t move at all! Luckily we got past some of the traffic jams using the sidewalk. But in a car, Lima is just insane.
Only one day it took us to get everything we needed for the bikes together. We quickly made a reservation for a surfclub with excellent reviews in Mancorà on Christmas Eve, somewhere in the very north of the country. We still remembered the extremely ‘dry’ Christmas last year in Mauritania as if it were yesterday and Caroline and I couldn’t have agreed more never wanting a Christmas like that again. But when we finally arrived at our destination after a 1500 km long boring ride – the ocean to the left, the desert to the right – the receptionist was unable to find our reservation… And all hotels, hostals, campsites in the town were fully booked. Fucking hell, this cannot be true! My fist landed hard on the table while heavily cursing and my persistence to sleep at the surf club must have impressed the receptionist. Half an hour later there suddenly appeared to be a hut available, albeit with three sad looking Germans without reservation standing outside…
Christmas itself was just great, with an international bunch of chill travelers, some gin and tonics, caipirinhas but most importantly, some amazingly tasteful sushi made by the Japanese cook of the house. Staggering to your cabin at sunrise with a bunch of new friends, suffering from a forced stomach caused by the huge amount of delicious food: that is how Christmas should be! Could someone explain this to the Mauritanians please?