Across southern Peru

After stopping for lunch in Nazca the town, we keep moving on the PanAm that has now turned east and climb up and out of the desert dunes to the high mountain plateaus of southern Peru.
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Not far out onto the high plateau we ride through the Reserva Nacional Pampa Galeras, a vicuna sanctuary and see some grazing alongside the road.
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We are somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 feet on this highland but it doesn’t last long as we descend after less than 50 miles into a river valley and then wind our way up the other side.
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We stop for a photo of the valley before we drop into it and are parked next to a small farm with corrals and pens made of stones, alongside a house made of the same.
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I see lots of circles made of stones scattered around the mountains and valleys and now I have figured out they are stock pens.
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We stop for the night in Puquio and go for a Lomo Saltado for dinner in a small restaurant on the Plaza de Armas. Not much going on here, but it’s a comfortable place along the road, so it’s perfect. Puquip is perched just below the rim of canyon we had climbed down into and mostly out of the day before. This next morning we finish the short climb up to the top and start riding on altiplano again. We pass a few highland lakes and ride long stretches of open road. It’s chilly up here.
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More circular corrals…
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And today as we cross this section of highlands we see hundreds of llamas.
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We plan to ride to Abancay and then further on to Curahuasi where we plan to camp tonight. a few miles before the tiny village of Quillacasa it starts to rain and sleet. I had seen a few flakes of snow earlier but the clouds look like this will last for a while. Brian stops to put on his raingear and says I should keep going and stop at the next village with a restaurant where we can stop for a coffee or tea to warm up. I ride on just a few miles to Quillacasa and stop at a small hole-in-the-wall that wouldn’t normally be my first choice. But they have boiling water and tea bags and coffee crystals, so it’s perfect on this chilly day.
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TMI Warning – I need to use the loo and know this little place won’t have one, but at least they have a pit toilet…sort of like a more airy version of an outhouse where you hover….I think you get the idea.
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Brian has retrieved some cookies from his bike to have with his coffee and the two bikes, two gringos and any moves we make seem to be attracting some attention from the locals. Men come to check out the bikes and are surprised a woman is riding one. A group of three little girls hangs around the door of the restaurant and watches with great interest. Brian offers them each a cookie and they each in turn work up the courage to walk into the dimly lit room and over to the gringo table and take a small chocolate covered cookie from the tall white man. They giggle as they run away with their prize in hand. Two more show up and are accompanied by a young boy. They ask a few questions and I practice my bad Spanish on them and teach them a few words in English. I ask if they have school today and they say they do, but it’s not even noon and they are hanging out here with us. I buy another packet of cookies to feed to the newcomers and then we are warmed up and need to get moving. So we get geared up again and I grab a quick pic and then we are off.
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And not far out of the village we drop into another river valley and follow it for miles until we climb up the other side at Abancay. We keep climbing above that city and over the other side and start to drop into the next valley where we stop in Curahuasi for the night to camp. I can see dark rain clouds in the distance and wonder about the rain but it never comes. We get set up as the clouds clear and the view from here is spectacular.
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We camp at about 8600 feet and will have to descend again to another river before climbing back up to 11,000 feet in Cusco tomorrow. There’s 10-20 miles of roads under construction to cover and the road is only open for 3 half-hour sessions…so off to sleep for an early shot at the first opening of the road.
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  1. Wow what an adventure. It would be cool to have a screen shot from google maps with the route you did that day. If you have access to pull that off.
    People seem to love the maps I do with my ride posts.

  2. Traveling vicariously through you is so fun!

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