A change of scenery was due. The cold to be replaced by warmth, mountains of stone by mountains of sand, Páramo and Puna by coastal plains – all of this topped by canyons. At least, that’s what I thought.
But Peru is bigger than the imagination of a small Swiss lady 😀 A distance of only 35 km (22 mi) as the crow flies can easily turn into 150 km (94 mi) or more. Turns without end, enough that the arms start smarting…
Our first canyon, the Cañon de Uchco, was already a bit lower in altitude – over a pass that’s only some lousy 4’700 m something 😉 The Uchco Canyon is so narrow and deep, that GPS reception was out for 7 km (4,3 mi).The expected gas station , one we were counting on, turned out to be a barrel.While filling up, we met two Peruvian riders touring their country for 10 days on their small bikes. Again the road climbed. A short rain storm laterand the sky didn’t invite to explore the Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve. But the lakes connected by small waterfalls were a treat for the eyes.
In the life of every rider there are days that are dream and nightmare at the same time. We had a couple of exactly these kind of days coming up. An intoxication of colors and curves, mountains and high plains,which ended in a blinding blizzard – only for 10 minutes – at over 4’800 m (15’748 ft) of altitude.Then a little less colorful and less dramatic, but still a constant up (4’600/15’092 ft – 4’800 m/15’748 ft) and down. Of course, the obligatory snow storm couldn’t be absent. The wooly bundles (alpacas) beside the road where much better equipped for this kind of weather.
Nazca – mysterious lines in the desert. Apparently the best view is from an airplane. We were quite satisfied with the watch towers. We didn’t explore the sand dunes of Ica. Biased and spoiled as we are by the Sahara, Namibia, the Oman and Jordan… After spending exactly 5 minutes in THE oasis of Huacachina, we happily turned around and rode back in the direction we came from. Reasons? 1. To set up your own tent costs more than a hotel room 2 km away. 2. A beach buggy, offering space for 12 to 15 people blasted very noisily and stinking past us – right into the dunes. Some intelligent person discovered that the highest dune in the world is in this area – the Cerro Blanco. By some definition that might even be true. But, this one isn’t even entirely out of sand!
Shortly behind Ica we were back in the world of mountains and high plains – again on altitudes that are a challenge and acclimatization is necessary(for hours between 4’000 and 4’860 m). Ha, I will never become a long distance runner around here!
Next record holder/champion: Cañon de Cotahuasi, the deepest canyon in the world. With more than double of the depth of the Grand Canyon, it’s like a nasty scar bisecting the mountains. Far away from everything, the access can be a little challenge. The vicuñas are happy about it.
Cañon de Colca was the champion of all the canyons until they rerun levels at Cotahuasi Canyon.