For the last 7 days we have been continuing our drive with Wera & Frisco heading south through the massive mountains in the Peruvian Andes. Previously we have only crossed the Andes east to west or west to east, so we are continually amazed by the sheer number of mountains we are travelling on day after day, winding up and down huge peaks. We never go below 1800m in altitude and most days we go up over 4000m 2 or 3 times a day. Phew! GR2 is coping really well. No altitude problems this trip.
We are trying to keep moving as it is wet season and it really wouldn’t take much to close many of these roads. At least by travelling with another vehicle we can assist each other, and it sure helps being warned about oncoming buses/trucks on these incredibly tight, narrow roads, especially with these crazy drivers who don’t want to back into a passing bay.
Our days take on a similar pattern of getting up bright and early to head off by 7.30am. Driving, driving & more driving, although sometimes only doing 150km in a day, never in 4th or 5th gear, with fantastic and continually changing scenery from high plateau to river gorges with massive drops to the river (very scary) to grotty villages. Weather ranges from rain, fog and snow to glorious sunshine. We stop and visit small towns and major cities. Most nights we find a secluded spot to camp (often beside a river) and have a great bonfire. Frisco is an even bigger pyromaniac than John.
Our route (for those of you who like to follow us on Google earth) takes us from Yungay, Huaraz, Pachacolo, Huanllana, La Union to Hunauco. From here we drive up yet another huge mountain into freshly fall snow past another huge mine. The high plateau covered with snow and herds of llamas looks amazing. Then on to the city of Huancayo where we overnight in a secure carpark at Plaza Real – a very upmarket supermarket. Great spot to stock up on food & get Wifi. Only drawback is the knock on the door at 3am by security guards to see if we are OK. On our way out of town we stop at local festivities. It is a wedding and we are urged to join in the dancing & drinking. There is a band playing & crates of beer are been consumed. To top it off there is a parade of strangely masked characters passing. We drag ourselves away – lots of driving still to do. We are now following the Mantana River along more bad road on to Huanta. There is a narrow bridge that GR2 only just squeezes through with cms to spare. It would have been a very long drive back!!!
We stop to visit an ancient Wari site (not a lot left to look at, but another good spot to camp) and visit the cute town of Quinoa, famous for its ceramic churches that sit on the top of its houses. Then on to the city of Ayacucho. It has a lovely old plaza to explore, and there is a parade happening. Always a bonus.
But on we go, into more rain. Of course it is during the hardest rain and on the narrowest road that Wera & Frisco get a puncture. But it is soon fixed under the shelter of their awning on a precarious ledge. Finally we reach Abancay and we are back on tarseal for our final haul to Cusco and the Sacred Valley to Puno, stopping only for food at Cusco and a long soak at some hot pools. We visited this area on our last trip and Wera & Frisco are meeting friends and will return this way.
We finally reach Puno on Lake Titicaca on Sunday right in time for the most spectacular festival in the area – La Virgen de la Candelaria. What a huge bonus for me. I just love these!! We left GR2 in a secure carpark at Hotel Sonesta and spend a magic few hours watching. Finally John & the others had had enough. I could have stayed for hours more. There were 72 groups parading in local costume, dancing, singing and playing instruments. They had been going all day. First they had to do a performance in the amphitheatre, then parade around town. Few what a feat at this altitude!
I can’t wait to sort through my hundreds of photos to put some on the blog, but no time now. We move on to Bolivia today
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