After spending 14 days in Peru, 10 of them on a motorcycle covering 2,000 km, and taking a couple of weeks to “unwind” after my trip, here are my observations on this magical country.
My Favorite Roads:
- The road to Q’eswachaka. 8.5 km of cornering bliss.
- The road to Lares. 30 km of perfect pavement that climbs and twists from the Sacred Valley into the mountains, followed by 30 km of dirt road that gets you further into some spectacular scenery. The beauty is that you’ve got to do the road in the opposite direction to get out.
- The road to Chivay. While the pavement is potted and rough, the road into the town of Chivay descends from 16,000 ft to 12, 000 ft in 30 km. The bonus is taking a fun dirt road another 20 km into Colca Canyon.
- The people of Peru are amazingly warm and friendly. They are willing to stop and help strangers with directions or store our motorcycles in their garage overnight.
- In the rural Andes it’s quite common to see a lone person sitting miles / kilometers from any town or structure. They may be watching over a few llamas or sheep, however there were some who were simply sitting there waiting for something.
- If you’re flying from North America to South America or within Peru, fly LAN Airlines. This is a South American based airline and by far one of the best airlines I’ve flown with.
- Taking a Peruvian taxi is an adrenaline rush! Hang on and enjoy the madness.
- Bus drivers in the rural areas of the country, especially those found on the gravel roads, drive like they’re in training for the Dakar Rally. On the plus side, if they have a flat tire, they know how to fix it.
Food & Drink:
- Pisco Sour is an acquired taste and I’ve acquired it.
- Pizza is one of the Peruvian staples.
- If you’re spending any time in Cusco, Jacks is the place for dinner and The Meeting Place is where the coffee is real and the waffles are awesome.
- The typical Peruvian hotel is comfortable, however more “rustic” then what you’d typically find in North America.
- Heat is a luxury and usually is in the form of a portable space heater, if you’re lucky. It’s cold at night in the Andes so dressing warm for sleep is a good idea.
- If you’re in Cusco, the place to stay is Casa Elena. It’s in the heart of the city and the proprietors, Yves and Elena Chemin are wonderful hosts and will also book tours for you with operators that they trust to give their guests great service.
The lobby at Casa Elena
Important things to know:
- Toilet paper is rare commodity and often non-existent in locations like gas stations. Bring Your Own Everywhere!!!
- Bottled water comes in two forms, plain (Sin Gas) and carbonated (Con Gas). It’s my opinion that the carbonated version is bottled at sea level and then transported to the higher elevations, which makes for a spectacular eruption when opened quickly. Open slowly if you want to stay dry.
- Toilet paper must go in the ‘waist basket only. Putting it in the toilet will likely start an international incident and an environmental disaster.
My Favorite Tourist Popular Tourist Attractions:
- Machu Picchu. Some say Machu Picchu is a magical place, while others believe aliens built it. Regardless of you’re belief, this place is amazing.
- The city of Cusco. Old World meets modern.
- The city of Arequipa. The architecture and the magnificent and majestic volcanic mountains that surround this city are truly unique.
Cusco from above
My Favorite “Out Of The Way” Attractions:
- Q’eswachaka. This is the traditional Inca rope bridge that’s built from the plants that grow on the surrounding hillsides. It was a rush to walk across this structure.
- Colca Canyon and the Condors. Spectacular!
- Lares. This small community hosts hikers and mountain bikers who are looking for a relaxed setting without crowds. The people are very friendly, the scenery is beautiful and time literally stands still in this place.
Q'eswachaka from above
I would like to thank Paul Opp for being my guide and companion for this adventure. He put all this together.