Peru: the mad dash through one of the countries we had most looked forward to.
For those of you that don't know...
Peru had a new Prime Minister in December 2022. A lot of people in Peru did not agree with this new PM and started to block roads and burn stuff. Then the old PM (who they protesters backed) was arrested for corruption and "SH one T" really hit the fan. Blockards became violent, tourists were targeted, border crossing between Peru and Bolivia were burnt down, 50 protestors were shot and a lot of tourists and overlanders became trapped as all routes exiting Peru in the south became impassable.
The only other way south is though Venezuela ...a much worse option! A non starter!
There was a lot of scaremongering and misinformation floating around and to be honest we didn't know who or what to believe, but in the back of our minds was a little bit of dread in having to face this, as well as uncertainty whether we would even be able to make it through.
Then a few days before we crossed the Pan American highway in the south was cleared and people were making it across the border again.
Unfortunately we were not going to see a lot of the places we had heard about as kids; Machu Picchu, Cusco, or Ruta 109 where you are so high you can view the Condors flying below you. Bolivia was probably a "no go" too as we were unable to cross the border where we wanted to and the only option was going into Chile and the backtracking ...we are already behind schedule so going backwards was not an option.
People don’t ride motorcycles through the 2500kms length of Peru so they can hug the coastal Pan American Highway. It’s long, it’s straight, it’s hot, it’s sandy and it’s monotonous.
There is also an incredible amount of rubbish and waste thrown at the sides of the roads along this route, especially around towns and so bad that the stench of the rotting garbage makes you gag when you pass it. Everyday we saw people through rubbish from their car and truck windows as they travelled the road.
After a couple of days this was really getting us down so we took a few days detour into the mountains to the Huascaran National Park. This park had been surrounded by blockades a few weeks previously but was now apparently clear.
We took a gravel road (Ruta 123) and Bec went over the handlebars again when we hit a patch of deep sand unexpectedly. Off came her front screen again and a nice edge of screen bruise!
Next we took the Canon del Pato, a road that twists alongside the Rio Santa with rock overhangs and single lane tunnels carved into the rock face.
It was very beautiful and we had a few close shaves with trucks and buses coming the other way.
We spent the night at a town called Caraz at an amazing hotel surrounded by vegetable gardens with mountain views ...plus they had a festival on!
We loved it so much that we ended up staying for 4 nights ...it was meant to be three but after our forks seals became clogged with dust and started leaking they soaked into Becs from brake pads which meant zero braking! So Nick spent the Sunday searching for a moto shop that was open and then brake pads that would fit ...luckily he found one!
While in the mountains we spent a 10 hour day riding ruta 106 and 107 through the Huacaran park.
It was THE MOST AMAZING ride of our lives. The first half is all off road on dirt and gravel and rock roads! We climbed up to 4750 metres ...thats 15,500 feet!!!! on hairpin gravel roads through beautiful scenery.
At 4600 metres it started to heavily rain and we reached a really gnarly bit where they were laying raw gravel and rocks on the hair pin bends and roughly levelling it out with a tractor.
The drops were sheer "guaranteed death" ones.
At one point we followed a truck with gravel in that had to stop to remove larger rocks that had fallen onto the track so that his truck wouldn't pitch and fall over the side!!!
Bec went over trying to undertake one of the trucks delivering the rock on a corner and it was a struggle in the thin air to upright the bike.
On the descent we passed through wilderness and then past farming settlements on the side of the mountain. people in native dress just going about their doily business but waving and smiling as we passed by.
We were expecting these angry and mean Peruvians that we had heard about and instead were met by these kind and polite people who came up and shook us by the hand and thanked us for visiting their country and wished us a good journey.
After our 4 days of bliss in the highland we made our way back to the coast and did the long hard slog of 1700kms to the Chilean border in 3 days.
It wasn't all desert, heat and dust, we also passed by picturesque fishing towns and villages and even chillies being dried in the sun.
We met an English couple, Garry and Ada, who were overlanding at the border with Chile and decided to follow them to the town of Arica by the border and chillax for a day or so before continuing on.