Back to the coast and to the oldest ruins

Once we got out of the traffic of Huarez the ride became another highlight.

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Finally the weather has cleared up and we see the full beauty of the southern part of the Cordillera Blanca. We are still travelling along the Rio Santa which is a small stream up here. The valley slowly turns into a hilly countryside with the high mountains on the left. Brown grass bundles are the main vegetation. They move in the strong wind and make the hills look like they were covered in fur. In the background the white peaks show their majestic shapes. We still go uphill even though the city is already way over 3000m. We find a little dirt road that leads towards the mountains and ride into it. It leads back into the national park, we think about taking that road in order to make a little loop. But the road contains deep gravel areas, which make it difficult to ride with the loaded bikes. That would make the trip pretty long hours. We decide to get back to the main road and continue the route we had originally planned.

After we reached a little pass, the road started to decline. In less than 60km it goes down from 3500m to 500m and then to sea level. The road is in very good shape, there is not much traffic and so riding is real fun.

The road leads down into a valley and offers great point of views where we stop to take pictures. The vegetation becomes less and less until the valley is a pure desert. Just on the last 40km the valley seems to contain some water so that the lower part of the valley is green while the mountains and hills around us seem to be completely dry.

We reach Barranca. Again we are irritated by how unpleasant some of the Peruan cities are. We look for a hotel along the beachside, but the area doesn’t look very safe. So we end up in a hotel in the center of town, opposite to a couple of casinos. The hotel is quite nice and so we have a good rest after this day full of new impressions.


The following day we ride west to find the ruins of Caral. A very good dustless dirt road leads through huge fields of papas, sugar cane, corn and a lot of other vegetables. Farmers cut the fields, collect the fruits and carry them to the trucks. The sugar cane trucks are loaded far beyond anything we would call full. They look like Silent Bob from the Simpsons when they come around the corner.

A little dirt track leads away from the main road we had been on. There are no signs, only gps is showing us the way. The dirt track is very bumby, partly sandy and is great fun to ride. I use the little bumps to make little jumps with the bike, drift in the sand and playfully enjoy the ride into the desert.

Finally we arrive at a circular arranged entrance to the site. Eerything is very new. The UN heritage is supporting this site. It is the oldest site on the American continent. The site is over 5000 years old, as old as the Egyptian culture. The pyramids which can be visited there are partly destroyed and are other than the Mayan pyramids not with a real peak, but have a terraced structure.

The site has only been investigated since 1996 and is open for the public only a few years. They still search and think they have discovered maybe 40% of the site. They found more than 20 sites in this valley.

It was very interesting to see it, imagining that this site completely changed the facts of history as the closest sites in terms of age they have found so far in America is 1000 years younger. How many other sites are still buried under these many sand dunes in this country? Where did this old culture move to? Where are all the other cities that must have existed?


We took our time and rode down the coast to find a great new hotel with view to the seaside in a small town, just 150km north of Lima in the town of Huacho.

So we would have a relaxed day riding into Lima the following day.

Into the Cordillera Blanca

National park of Huascaran – Laguna Orconcocha – Huaraz

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Even though the weather was not very stable and clouds covered the mountains most of the time, we wanted to get into the national park of the Cordillera Blanca. A small dirt road brought us the few kilometers from the valley to a deep cut in the mountains. We enter the mountains through these pillars of rocks left and right. It felt like entering a cathedral. The road constantly lead up and finally a crystal blue lake on the right side appeared. The water is intensively colored and looks almost artificial. We stopped and had a look around.

We passed the small lake and continue the valley to a second lagoon. The landscape is unreal. The colorful lakes, steep walls of rock, and above, visible from time to time through the clouds the white glaciers of the high peaks.

At the end of the second lagoon there is an open area, which is marked as campsite. We pitched up our tent and met the only neighbors, a young couple from France who travels for more than one year in their camper with their 2 little children. Since they come from south, we exchanged some information and have a little chatted before the cold forces us to return to the tent.


The next day we made a little hike. We actually wanted to go to Lake 69, a little lagoon which lays in between high mountains. It is a few hour hike, but I didn’t feel very well and so we decided not to finish the way to the lagoon as it is located at 4700m altitudes. It was still really beautiful and we enjoyed every step we took. The hike led through a valley with cows enjoying the warmth of the sun. The flat ground of the valley had rich green gras, a little stream peacefully led through the meadows. As we continued to hike further down the valley, the flat area suddenly ends with steep walls. From all sides long waterfalls feed the little stream that flows in the valley. The highest peak in Peru was just uncovering from the clouds and so we have fantastic views into the high mountains surrounding us.

We left the beautiful valley and headed for Huarez, which we reached just after sunset.

As many cities of Peru Huarez is pretty chaotic when you enter. Traffic and the chaos don’t make it very pleasant to ride through the city.

The city itself doesn’t really have much to offer either. The main topic here is the mountains. On every corner guides offer their trips, rent equipment and advertise adventure tours.

Through the canyons and into thin air

Chimbote – Cañon de Pato – Caraz

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We left Chimobote, a loud and chaotic city to head into the valley of the Rio Santa. The valley starts as a very green and broad oasis in between rocky, sandy and dry mountains. Fields of all kind of vegetables show that this ground is very rich. Corn, potatoes and endless fields of sugar canes on both sides of the roads. The road is in good conditions and leads us deeper and deeper into the Andes. The mountains get higher and higher as the valley becomes more and more narrow. After approximately on hour the pavement ends and a good gravel road continues following the river. The green of the valley almost disappears, only a small stripe of green directly at the river remains. The riding is great and the roads allows high speed travelling, you can easily go 80 or partly even 100km/h. Christy is taking it more easy of course, but is constantly riding at reasonable speed. So when I want to take a nice picture of her I have to speed up for a while and get the camera out in a hurry to be able to get into a good position of a picture. I am surprised how well she is managing the bike on the gravel. The off-road training with her little Beta bike back in Germany really seemed to help her. We stop very often to take pictures and to enjoy the view of the valley, but I also try to keep us going, as I expect the Cañon de Pato, a steep canyon at the very end of todays itinerary to be a little bit more difficult and I don’t want us to end up in the dark there.

The valley is spectacular with steep walls on both sides and the dirt road winding on its ground along the river. The colors of the mountains surrounding us vary in different brown colors and areas of yellow and red earth. It is incredibly beautiful. As the valley slowly turns into a steep canyon, the road leads up the hill, offering breathtaking views into the canyon.

In a small village we stop to get something to drink. It is a very strange atmosphere. Many of the inhabitants sit around and look at us as we were from a different planet. As usual I try to chat them up, but other than the people in all other areas on our travel so far they are not very talkative.

So we drink our cokes in quite. The road keeps being spectacular and the walls of the canyon even get higher and the canyon narrower. This is where the Cañon de Pato begins. The walls of the canyon are just a few meters apart and fall vertically down to the bottom where the Rio Santa roars wildly. Other than I had expected, the road turns out to be very good and paved. But it is a one-way road with many small tunnels. Signs encourage you to honk before every tunnel, but I still end up facing traffic in the tunnel. So we squeeze us through the wall and the upcoming car. The road is covered with sand and only two lanes of where the car tires roll are free. There is nothing like a guardrail. If you happened to slip over the edge the next stop would be the bottom of the river, so we keep our concentration up and make a couple of breaks.

After a few kilometers the canyon opens up and the valley becomes wide again. On the left hand side the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca reach up to 6000m. They are covered in clouds though, so we can only guess about their beauty.

Because the road through the Cañon de Pato is way better than anticipated we make it to Caraz at around 3:30pm. We search a Hotel and find a nice place in the “Los Pinos Lodge”. We unload the bikes and as the clouds open up a little bit we get a short view of one of the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca. A steep snowy mountain, seen from the yard of our hotel where humming birds fly around the colorful flowers. It was mind blowing.


We decide to make a little day trip into the Cordillera Negra. It is a mountain range in the west of the valley. As the Cordillera Negra “only”reaches up to just below 5000m, the tips of the mountains are not covered in snow, other than the white summits of the Cordillera Blanca, which gives both ranges the names.

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We expect to have a nice view into the Cordillera Blanca and get up early to use the usual better weather in the morning.

The road is very good, but very narrow. The good asphalt brings us through a small village. All houses are build in a 15th century clay brick style except the tin roofs.

In dozens of serpentines the road leads up the hill and with every curve the view into the valley is changing. The slopes of the Cordillera Blanca end in clouds that cover the tip of the mountains. They strangely only cover the Cordillera Blanca. We ride in the sun and the whole valley is sunny as well.

The mountain we ride up doesn’t seem to end, one curve after the other. Some of the serpentines are really steep, and since the road is very narrow, we are very happy that there is only little traffic. On some places the road leads all the way to the edge, where the walls go down 1500m. Again we have to keep the concentration up. Safely we arrive at a mountain pass. Instead of going on, we find a little dirt road that leads along the ridge of the mountain. We follow the track for a few kilometers until we find a spot with a great view. The clouds have moved a little bit, and it seemed as if it would clear up a little.

We sat there, watched nature slowly opening the scenery of the Cordillera Blanca. Small openings in the clouds allowed to get a little peek of the one summit, than a few minutes later of another one, as the first one gets covered again. It was fantastic. I remember the first summit I saw peeking out of the clouds. It was so high up, that I could hardly believe it was connected to the lower part of the mountain that you could see.

The sun was shining on us the whole time, but the wind was sort of cool since we were at an Altitute of over 4200m so we decided to ride down. The weather cleared up even more as we descended down the road.

The beauty of the landscape, the colors of the mountain, the white summits of the Cordillera Blanca, the incredible road and the drops next to it, it all gave us the feeling of having been a witness of a one-of-kind magic moment, even though we know the mountains have been there for millions of years and will most likely last some more.