Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mountains, Ruins, Lakes, Islands and Border Crossings

This is going to be a long post.  It covers our departure from Abancay to Cusco, Macchu Picchu, Puno and Lake Titicaca.  We are now resting comfortably in La Paz, Bolivia. 

Climbing up out of Abancay, part of the fifty mile detour can be seen on the mountain across the valley

                                       An overlook on the way to Cusco 

We saw this lady weaving and stopped and asked if we could take pictures, obviously she let us.  This is the real deal, made by hand not industrial machines.

                    The next several pictures are scenes from the road to Cusco.

                       Yes, that's snow falling.

                                  Plaza de Armas.  The main square in all towns.

                                          We don't need no stinking FDA!

                                          Several varieties of corn

This used to be a biker bar called Norton Rat's Tavern,  sold out to STARBUCKS.  I almost fell over seeing that.  I was certainly disappointed, cried for an hour.

After the tears dried,  I stumbled across this.  The bar just moved to the other end of the square,  I cried for an hour.  Happy tears this time.  

These are the books that motorcycle riders sign when they stop in.  The owner Jeff, is an American and also an adventure rider.  The red book is full of entries dating back to 2006.  We signed the leather bound book and of course let the world know that Peach Bottom,Pa is God's Country.

 Inca style door knocker

We left Cusco the next day headed for Ollytantambo to save money on a train ride to Macchu Picchu.
This was a scenic overlook on the way.

                                    The town of Urumbamba, part of the Sacred Valley

This is a common scene in Peru.  I think every single dog in Peru chased the bike.  The dog's in the other countries rarely chased us.

Entering the cobblestone streets of Ollytantambo, followed by the hotel we stayed at.  Look familiar, Jim?

                          The hotel lawn mower.  Orphaned pet.

                                                    Gated, secure parking

                               These are on a lot of houses for protection.

Part of the ruins in Ollytantambo, they wanted more money to visit these ruins than Macchu Picchu.  We passed on that

These were storage bins for potatoes and grain.  The face is watching over the city.

We were walking around when I saw a BMW Adventure bike so I headed over to talk before they pulled away.  When he did a u-turn I noticed Pennsylvania license plates.  Turns out that Ben and Mattie are from Pittsburgh.  They had plans to ride to Hidroelectrica to catch the train to Macchu Picchu.  The train from Ollytantambo was $100 each round trip so we decided to ride with them.  The train from Hidroelectrica was only $18 each and the ride included another fantastic 20 miles of dirt road that we had no right to take a Harley on. We rode the train into Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of the mountain that Macchu Picchu is hidden on top of.

On the road to the hydro plant we saw these KTM riders making time up the mountain.

        At 14,160 feet we stopped to take a picture. Turns out the KTM guys were there.

We were told this was the leader of the ride.  They were from Chile and out on a road trip.

                        This guy was on a GS 800 like Ben and Mattie
As we were leaving these two other KTM's showed up.  There was another but apparently he lost it on a curve when he hit an oil slick.  He was ok just needed to catch up.

Eventually the nice smooth curvy asphalt ended and it was twenty miles of dirt and potholes back to the hydro plant.

We arrived and found a place to park the bikes while we went to MP overnight.

                                    All aboard!

                    Pulling into Aguas Calientes, crossing the Urubamba river

   Next day we took a bus up this road up to the hidden city.  The next group of pictures are from our hike around the ruins.

The first scene and most famous view of Macchu Picchu.  Now you see it.....

                                                  Now you don't.

We tried to get tickets to climb this mountain but they only let 200 people climb each day.  They were sold out until next month already so we missed out on that.

            Start out with some views from the hidden city

   Back side of the  mountain,  the train came in along the river at the bottom.  There is also a rainbow in the picture.

Note the line of vegetation on the side of the mountain.  This was a trail used by the Incas.

This is the Inca bridge on that trail.  They would pull the planks so they could protect themselves from the enemy.  The Spanish never found this place so it was other enemies.

This picture was taken from the hydro plant,  showing the trail on the cliff side.

These two are pictures of the quarry on the grounds of MP where they got the rocks to build.

Next up are pictures of the inca stone work.  This was 500 years ago, keep that in mind.
                  Main gate to the city

   This is the watchmans hut.  You can see the obvious difference all over the city of what was original and what was reconstructed.

These round stones were used to tie the thatched roofs down.

                                       Macchu Picchu lawn mowers

Some of the terraces they used for farming.  Each terrace has it's own microclimate so they could grow a large variety of food products.

This is our friend Tony.  We first met him in Palenque, Mexico.  Then we all happened to be on the Stahlratte to Cartegena, Colombia.  We then ran into him in Aguas Calientes.  Turns out that his bike was hit at a gas station in Ica, Peru so he is rearranging his game plan.  The bike is rideable but not safe so he is doing the backpacker tour at the moment until he gets his bike situation worked out.

After the tour of MP we caught the train back to Hidroelectrica.  This w where we parked for the night.
                    Safely secured by this man, Escobar.
Well for the most part.  My low fuel light lit up when we got back to the bike and it wasn't lit the day before when I parked it.  My gas cap doesn't lock but at least thre was enough gas to get out of the canyon back to a gas station.  Besides how could I prove anything so why bother accusing?

Trying to get back to Ollytantambo before dark was going to be close.  Hre are some pics from the ride back.

We jut rode the length of this valley and started to climb the pass.

We only had to ride in the dark for about half an hour but we made it back and holed up for the night.

When we left the next day we saw these hanging off the side o a mountain.  Mountain climbers.

Pods at the top, if you look close you can see some white helmets between the two shadows to the right side of the mountain.  Long way up for a nap.

on our way to Puno,Peru on the shores of Lake Titicaca  we rode over another 13,000 foot pass and got cold and wet so we sopped in the next town over the pass.

                         These are some shots from the roof of the hostal.

We woke up to snow mixed with rain.  We waited it out and left about an hour later.

Riding down the road, we saw this bridge seemingly out in the middle of nowhere.  Naturally I had to go off road to cross it.  Just wide enough for the motorcycle we crossed, turned around and came back.

We took a moto taxi down to the docks to look into a tour of the Floating Islands of Uros.  It was about 40 degrees out,  Puno in the background.  Next day we caught a boat for about $7.00 each on a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

There are 85 islands with 60 families living on them.  2000 people total.  Each island houses a family.  This lookout is used for communication between islands. Chumi is the island we went to first for a demonstration o how the reed islands are built.

First we were showed the fish and duck they eat.  The reeds are also eaten as well.

         They were supposed to be like bananas but were bland and more like cotton swabs.

This I how the islands are built.  Three foot thick blocks of reed roots are cut,  stakes driven through them and tied together with nylon rope.

Next, reeds are crisscrossed three feet deep on top of the root systems.  That's it.  Each island will last for fifty years.  The homes are re reeded every year.

           Solar panels for TV, lights and radios

These are anchors.  The water is about forty or fifty feet deep so the drive Eucalyptus trees down through and cover with reeds for added strength.  This island has twelve anchors to keep it from floating away.

The reeds also dry out and are a fire hazard so they cook on rocks to keep from burning down the house.

                         This is how they hunt the ducks

          Any idea how old this shotgun is?

They took us across the lake in a reed boat as seen in the first couple of pictures.

      Not sure if these are new reeds or old reeds

                                      New boat being made

Heading back to shore this the last structure we saw.   

The hotel still didn't have hot water when we got back so we chose to move on toward the Bolivian border.  We stopped in a town called Juli.  Known as the Little Rome of South America.  It was late in the day so we didn't get any pictures of the roman style architecture around the city.  We got up and hit the border crossing near Copacabana.  This was the absolute best border crossing yet.  Quick, smooth, easy,  less than an hour to check out of Peru and into Bolivia.  We then hit the tourist town of Copacabana, drank some coffee, ate lunch and rolled.  I instantly fell in love with Bolivia.  Between the easy border crossing and the magnificent ride from Copacabana to La Paz we were floating on air.  Then the nightmare known as El Alto, a suburb of La Paz, then the drop down the valley into La Paz brought us back to the reality of smog, traffic and a maze of streets.  With no direction known,  we picked a hotel and stopped.  We are resting comfortably after a nice long hot shower.  This blog took four attempts to load so we hope you enjoy it.


  1. Great job on the post. Really enjoyed it. It looks really cold! Much colder than when I was there in August. Sad to hear about Tony's motorcycle. Keep the posts coming.