La reapertura no es tan fácil (Perú, 24.07. bis 21.08.2007)
The resumption isn't so easy
After 6 months we arrived at the 24th of August again in Lima. It took us two large flights, the first from Frankfurt to Miami with a 12-hour stop in Miami and then again a 10-hour flight to Lima. We landed in the early morning at 06 o'clock, totally exhausted and our first impression from the city wasn't be so nice because the first what we saw where the suburbs who aren't very pretty. It was wintertime here so the sky was totally cloudy for most of the day. Well the people here have to sustain this kind of weather for around 4 to 5 month, but for us after one week this was enough.
At our second day in Lima we released our bicycle from there prison. They were guarded in the storeroom at the KOTRA office (Korean chamber of commerce) in San Isidro/Lima, in the room of their air condition machines. So a lot of wind could enter in this room and with the wind a lot of dust from the city entered. The result was, that our bicycles where covered with a solid black slimy paste. It took around two hours to get them a little bit clean because we wanted them to carry in a taxi to the hotel, but lucky as we are, the director of KOTRA invited us for a free ride with their company car. In the hotel I continued with the cleaning action and to get all the stuff together, because for the storage and the transport they were disassembled, it took around two days. Also I changed some parts, like the brakes (from Magura HS33 to Shimano Deore LX) and our saddles (from Brooks to Selle SMP TRK).
Multifunctional place: vitamin tavern, international moneychanger and gambling house
We needed around a week to get back in the rhythm and to arrange our next tour trip. Then we were ready to start again. Our first sight that we spotted out was the mountain range of Ancash and the city of Huaraz on an altitude of around 3100 meter. But after six months without training and acclimatization we couldn't immediately start from 0 meter up to over 4000 m (to Huaraz a high pass had to be crossed). So our first decision was a ride for this first part with the bicycle stored in a bus.
Huaraz at night with a view to the Cordillera Blanca
As I told you our acclimatization from our last staying was like water under the bridge so we just started from zero again. The first meters weren't very easy and every step forward required a minute for breath taking. So for the first 3 days we've got a lot of headache and for the consumption of this pain, it was good to drink some cups of coca tea and also to find some nice restaurants.
... and another multifunctional shop: fresh chicken, video store and costume jewellery
In addition there was, not so far away from Huaraz, a place called Monterrey with hot thermal baths, a good choice for relaxing. In Huaraz we found a nice guesthouse (El Jacal) not far away from the central plaza. Then we decided to make a round trip to Chiquian with our bicycles, only with a little of equipment to get a better acclimatization and condition. This choice was good idea, because after this round trip our following track had to go to the north following the river downhill for a couple of days and then rise again a little bit. So we would have a good acclimatization and condition, because on the way to Chiquian we should have to climb around 1000 meter. The first meters on this short trip was easy with soft climbing, but then on the second day, we encountered a strong head wind and as well a heavy climbing part.
View to the Pastoruri Mountain
Mun Suk wasn't very happy with this situation and when we arrived, a little bit exhausted, in a small town called Conococha, she wasn't such as happy and for her part she decided to go back to Huaraz. But with a slightly persuade and a small bus that arrived just in this moment, we took this chance to reach Chiquian. Unfortunately this way to Chiquian was mostly downhill, so normally this decision was a shame for me because a downhill ride is the real profit for a cyclist, but after I saw the road condition this conclusion wasn't the worst. Around 1000-meter downhill on a rough descending slippery dirt gravel road, well this isn't really a great advantage.
We rested 2 days in Chiquian and under normally condition our round trip would take us up to the Pastoruri Mountain area. But no one could give us some reliably information about this route and the only dependably information what we clustered together wasn't such as enjoyable. The information was that on a very short distance we should have to climb again around over 1200 meter on a very dirt track and then, on a slightly not used trail, also in worst condition, we should have to go downhill, uphill and then again downhill for around 60 km. Well sometime it is hard to catch the right information forehand, but in Huaraz and on the way to Chiquian nobody could gave us some information about this part. So the only choice was, well the other was to fight very hard for two or more days, only for surviving, to catch a bus back to Conococha and then downhill boasting up to Huaraz. We decided the choice on a part with a bus and so, on the same day we arrived back in Huaraz. For the compensation of this short and little bit unsuccessful trip we made a day trip tour on the next day to Chavin to make a visit of the pre-Inca Chavin ruins there.
Ruins of Chavin
At least at the 12th of August we started, fully armed and heavy loaded to continue our bicycle-world-tour trip. We followed the river Santa downstream, between the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra and this route was very pleasant. Also the traffic wasn't such as heavy so we could enjoy this ride. We arrived at 4 o'clock in the afternoon in Caraz. The following day we let our bicycles in the hostel to made a visit of the Laguna Paron. Well it wasn't so far from the city, around 32 km, but this lagoon is up on the hills on an altitude of 4150 meter, so it was a good choice for this day trip to take a transport for the climb of around 1900 meters. When we arrived and after a short walk the view over the lagoon was really awesome. Such a beautiful lagoon with deeply turquoise water surrounded by massive snow-capped peaks. We and another German couple that came with us in the same taxi was the only visitors of this gorgeous place, so we could enjoy this natural environment without any hassle.
Laguna Paron on 4150m meters altitude
After Caraz was Huallanca our next stage of this journey. The first 20 km was easy to ride on a good paved road only with some short parts where some landslides have demolished the surface.
From Caraz to Huallanca
On this way another natural environment was waiting for us. The canyon "Cañon del Pato" where the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra nearly gets together only separated by the river "Rio Santo". Here we had to cross under tremendous walls of bare rocks and crossing through 36 tunnels on a very small and dirt road. This site was amazing only the crossing parts of the tunnels was a little bit frightening because some of them was so long, so we had have to cross them in totally darkness. This in fact was a very scary moment because, riding in the darkness with the possibility of a vehicle who came across and no place to hide, because the tunnels where so narrow and there was only enough space for one automobile.
Crossing the Cañon del Pato, where the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra shake hands
36 tunnels unsecured and also without illumination had to be crossed in the Cañon del Pato
As you could see we survived this part and after the tunnels we arrived in Huallanca, a small town. The only interesting part of this town is the hydroelectric power plant station. But regretfully there is nothing to see from the power plant as the hydroelectric part is covered inside the mountain. So first we looked for a place to stay for the night and after chat with some locals a man offered us a room in his house furnished with two mattresses on the floor. A little bit poor but better then nothing. We took a very cold shower and then we visited the town and walked a little bit around, to get some relaxation for our handicapped muscles and nerves. To cross the town was only an 8-minute part of slow walking so we made this trip around 4 times.
We thought that the following part couldn't be such as hard as the part before because the route was following the river downstream. But, perhaps we made a bad shot because downstream it isn't every time equal as downhill. So the first 10 km, again on a dirt gravel track, was a tuff climbing to do. Only the amazing surrounding could give us a little bit of compensation for the struggle that we had to fight. For Mun Suk the fight was to hard so she decided more to push here bike than riding it not only the uphill part so also some parts of very steep downhill sections. Well this road wasn't really for enjoying.
A ride through an amazing but also rough mountainous region
Downstream and downhill not every time is the same
After 7 hours we had made only 25 kilometers and the next place, where we could find a place for a rest was far away. Then after hours a bus came down on our direction, so we stopped them and we induce the driver to take us a part of the way. First he wants to get a high price for this ride but after a short conversation we've found an agreement. So appreciatively we arrived in the darkness in Santa, the first city down on the Panamericana highway. Our bags and the bikes were totally dust crusted from the road soil but this wasn't interesting for us, only we want to find a place to rest for the night. Santa isn't such a big city so the decision for a hotel was fast. We pushed our stuff inside, took a short shower and then we looked for a hot meal for this day. Once more the choice was between chicken and chicken. Sitting and eating, drinking a beer and launching the TV in the front of the restaurant we catch up the notice that the south of Peru was effected by a violent earthquake. The people in Santa said to us that they also could feel a little bit of this earthquake beside the epicenter was around 750 kilometers far away. We, in fact, felt nothing about this earthquake because at this time we where still riding in the bus to Santa. We heard that Ica and the surrounding cities where mostly affected by this earthquake, so we felt very sorry for the involved people and the nice places, them who we visited around a half year ago.
After Santa our next bigger destination was Trujillo. There we arrived at the 16th of August and on our schedule plan contained now a little bit of culture education and environment.
On the way to Trujillo passing the dessert on the Panamericana
Church in Trujillo
Colorful houses at the Plaza de Armas in Trujillo
Chan Chan the biggest adobe settlement in America or perhaps of the world
Ceremonial plaza in ruins of Chan Chan
Guardian statue in the ruins of Chan Chan
Small fragment from the rest of the ruins of Chan Chan
and Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol, some pyramid adobe constructions from the Moche period
Huaca de la Luna
View from Huaca de la Luna to the ruins of the Huaca del Sol on the other side
Excavation site Huaca de la Luna
where on our visiting list. Also we found a very nice hostel with cable TV, with a big king size bed, a bathtub and a private garage in front of the room. First we thought this must be an expensive hostel but the price was cheap enough for us and we had to pay for this luxury only 10 US$. However the only hoax was, that the first 3 nights a free music for the whole night from the disco beside was included, so to get to sleep was only very late at the break of the dawn possible. But after 3 nights with deafening Latin music the disco was closed and so we got a very tranquil and peacefully place for the rest of our 7 days lodging.
Fisherman in his reed boat, in Huanchaco
Por el Amazonas y por el horno del Norte
In the Amazonian region and into the oven of the north
(Perú, from 22.08.2007 to 20.09.2007)
We staid in Trujillo around 7 days and in that time we relaxed sufficiently and visited enough cultural places. Then we saddled our bicycles and went back to the Panamericana highway following this route to the north. The road was easy to ride and the traffic wasn't so much, also we got some tail wind starting in the afternoon so it was an easy going on the route. After Trujillo our first stop for the night was in Paiján. We arrived early in the afternoon and to figure out where the hotels are I asked a policeman who was staying beside the entrance to the town. First we chatted a little bit of our bicycle trip and the he told me, that in this town, 2 month ago, the robbed a tourist. So he advised me that it would be better that he and another officer would accompany us to the hotel. Really I didn't felt unsafe in this place but this was the first chance to get a free police escort and I didn't want to rebut directly his safety advice. It wasn't a big town so after 5 minutes or less we arrived at the hostel. He gave us the advice for the next day when we want to get outside the town, first get to the police station to get another escort out of the town. Well, this town wasn't really different to other towns that we had already crossed, so at the next day we didn't follow the advice and we rolled outside this town as we have done it many times before. I had to say that we normally asked people or police officer for some safety advices but I think, after the 09/11 the people had changed dramatically. When I traveled around 18 years before the first in South America, this place wasn't safer us now but, as I remember, the people wasn't so frighten about the safety us now. Well indeed, in my opinion, this is one of the bad 09/11 results.
On the way to Chiclayo with a sign for a bicycle house
The next stations on our route were Pacasmayo, finally a town directly on the seaside, Chepen and Chiclayo. The ride wasn't so strong but the heat now was the tamper part. On the entrance of the city of Chiclayo surprised us to other cyclist because there was the first Peruvian sporting cyclist what we saw on our trip. Both, Ower and Aaron, accompanied us into the city and directed us directly to an economic and good hotel. Again some culture was on our schedule plan as the Adobe pyramids and excavation site of Sipan. It is very interesting that after 2000 years with such a temporary material al well as adobe up to now the can find more and more historical artifacts. And when you are crossing this area you will belief that they will found rather more because so many places up to now are untouched. Right now when we visited this place the archeologists found a new cave from a important priest, so the said. But it was forbidden to take photos from this area.
The cave of the Señor del Sipan
The death mask of the Señor del Sipan
Since we came down from Huaraz we was thinking about a trip, without bicycles, to the Amazonian area. Chiclayo now was the perfect site for a start for this adventure, because in the hotel there we could store our bikes very safe and well and so, at the 28th of August we took the chance and where sitting in a bus to Tarapoto. When we arrived early in the morning we noticed very well that we are now in tropic region, because the temperature was high and the air very humid. But for our jungle trip what we decided to do, we had to get deeper inside. So at the second day we took a taxi very early in the morning hours to Yurimaguas and when we arrived there, directly we jumped on a boat that took us downstream.
Our boat on the Amazonas river
Hammock resting area on the boat
These boats are going for 3 or more days down to Iquitos but our destination was Lagunas only 12 hours away. We've got the information from our travel guidebook that very close to Lagunas is the protected Pacaya-Samiria Park. We thought about a 4-day trip to this park. The time on the boat was pleasant, sitting our lying in the hammock and looking around to the green river banks. On the boat we met Miguel, how is a Guide for the Pacaya-Samiria Park. He give us details about the possibility for a trip to the park but also, he explain us that there is another possibility for a trip of around 4-days on the Aypena river with untouched rainforest where we possibly will see more wildlife in this time range. Well, after 12 hours we arrived in the evening in Lagunas and Miguel assisted us to find a good hostel.
After a shower we made a visit in the office from Miguel and there we decided to make a trip on the Aypena river for the next 4-days.
Map from the Aypena river area
So at the next day after the breakfast we started our trip on the river into the Amazonian jungle. First we had to wait a little because there was no life jacket on the canoe and Mun Suk as a professional non-swimmer insist on a jacket for her. But then it was time to start in our dugout. The to guides, one in the front and the other at the backside, was paddling the canoe.
Our canoe for our jungle trip
Our guide paddling the canoe
The first 4 hours we drive downstream on the Huallanca River and then we turn into the Aypena River. On the Huallanca River the banks where inhabited and cultured but now on the Aypena River only pure tropic rainforest covert the banks of the river. The watercolor changed from brown to black and there was no significant current any more. Then after two hours on the Aypena River we saw our first sweet water dolphins, very close to our canoe. So we stopped for a while to watch theses beautiful animals. Also we could figure out many different birds. For the lunchtime we had already stopped on the Huallanca River banks and there we got the first nice contact with the pleasant small creatures from the tropical area. You know the small ones who are crazy about your blood; I mean the mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects.
Lunch time on the river banks
Then, in the evening this plague was getting worse and worse. Thousands or millions came to visit us and they took no notice of our mosquito repellent. With repellent the bite us just as much as without. So we took our meal very fast and then we slipped under the mosquito net, well with some bloodsucker also. So the night wasn't really for relaxing and with a lot of bites all over the body we stand up in the morning. This wasn't the way that Mun Suk like to travel and I, of course agree with here to go back to the civilization. So at the second day we drive back the way that we came before. We didn't regret our choice but for this reason we didn't saw so much wildlife. But in fact this is more like a gambling, to see or not to see. Wild animals in the jungle are not present as like in a zoo and so to see them is more a matter of fortune.
With bones and muscles without any feeling we arrived late in the afternoon back in Lagunas. One night more we spent in this town and at the following day we took a boat back to Yurimaguas. We driven trough the night and it was nice because there was one site a very nice sunset and on the other side a thunderstorm with flashing lightnings. Very early in the morning, at 05:00 a clock we arrived in Yurimaguas but this was to late for a ride to Tarapoto, because the road to Tarapoto was in construction and only in the nighttime public traffic was allowed. So first we went to the center for a breakfast and then we were waiting at the taxi station for a ride.
It was a long waiting time but then we could start. I don't know why but I think every driver is thinking he is like Michael Schumacher. Speed limit is unknown and everyone likes to overhaul the next car in the lead. Fortunately the car got safety belts and we made this trip without an accident, so we arrived late at night in Tarapoto. We weren't content to go back directly to Chachapoyas so we decided to make a stop in Chachapoyas. Chachapoyas was on the half way back to Chiclayo and a little bit inland. After the hot and humid area now we arrived in the highlands on around 2000 meter of altitude. Here it was fresh, a little bit cold and pluvially. Nevertheless this change was alleviation for us because the humid and hot climates aren't easy to sustain. Merely our equipment wasn't the right for this area, like our sleeping bags, as we let our good sleeping bags in Chiclayo and traveled only with lightweight fleece sleeping bags for the hot region. So the nights in Chachapoyas where good cold for us, in fact that the blankets from the hotel where only heavy and scratchy, without any warming for the body.
From Chachapoyas we made some trips around. The first was to ruins of Kuelap (900 to 1100 BC.) a preinka fortress and ritual place again on the top of a hill at 3000 meters. The fascinating of this place wasn't that they constructed it on high altitude, no, the most interesting was that all building as well as the walls where constructed in a round shape or in circles and that for this construction they have used more stones as for the big Pyramid in Gize in Egypt. At the next day we made trip to another curios place. It was Karajía with his sarcophagi's. They weren't situated in a Pyramid or in a burial mound no this sarcophagi's were placed directly in niches of a rock wall under Karajía. As our guide told us there was more of this sarcophagi's but after some earthquakes some of them felt down and where destroyed. Also interesting is, that they have discovered this sarcophagi's first in the end of the ninety eighties. Best of all is that they didn't transport them in a museum no, they placed them back in the rock with wall a little bit of protection as they stayed before.
Sarcophagi's of Karajía
We'd like to stay longer in this fantastic area but our equipment and dirty clothes induce us to go back to Chiclayo. We thought we cold came back from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas, but after a horrible bus trip from Chachapoyas to Chiclayo this possibility wasn't any more a question.
Back in Chiclayo first we dropped all of our clothes from the trip in a laundry service, the smell was too strong to use them any more in public space. Also we've got in contact again with our friends from Chiclayo. We visited the shop from Ower who is a tricot fabricant. For our surprise he had made a special tricot only for us signed with our names. This was a really surprise and of course now it our first sponsor from South America. And as we drive out Chiclayo with our bikes, Ower, Aaron and Edwin (another cyclist from Chiclayo) accompanied us up to Tucume. As they are traveled without luggage with racing bicycles they had have to slow down their speed but I think that they enjoyed also this ride with us.
Aaron, Ower, Mun Suk and Edwin
It wasn't a long ride to Tucume, the distance was only 39 km and so we arrived early in the afternoon there. After the lunch the three cyclists went back to Chiclayo and so we got time to visit the ruins from Tucume. These ruins, again an adobe pyramid construction were enormous and the first time we could get a overview over the whole terrain because we could climb a hill beside the ruins. It was really impressive. The following route got along the old road. The new Pan-American road now is crossing the dessert and there for around 200 kilometers is nothing but the old one drive around this desert. But this doesn't mean that there was a nice climate to ride. It was getting hotter and hotter and we thought that we are back in the north of Argentina. The thermometer climbed again up to 45°C. There were some threes and bushes but no sign of water.
On the road in the north of Peru
Very well we could figure out this situation in a small town, called Ñaupe. Here the inhabitants had to acquire their water from a deep fountain that is around 80 meters profound operated only with a crank handle. I'd also had to push this crank handle because we needed water for a short bath and as a little bit of helping I pushed 20 buckets more up for the town. After this I've got some stiff over-worked muscles in my arms for the next days.
As we remembered for the reason of the heat to the north of Argentina so for the route more we keep in mind that we are back in the south of Chile. There was again up and downs following the next up and downs and so on. Fortunately these up and downs wasn't such as high as in Chile but with the heat the emaciation was strong enough. In two other small towns, Tambo Grande and Las Lomas we rested and then Peru was accomplished. At the 20th of September we arrived and crossed the border to Ecuador.