Thursday, October 13, 2011

The road to Machu Picchu

This post is sponsored by $2.50 Liters of Stella Artois. Enjoy!
Ok, this is Ty, and the last time we left off we were in know what I mean. Anyway, after my flight we headed straight out of Nasca (possibly dizzily weaving around a bit) and headed for Cusco. Nasca is around 1500ft elevation, and Cusco is around 11,000, so we had a bit of climbing to do in the 600 miles in between. Just outside of town we started ascending, and though the road was narrow and winding, the pavement was good. We drove past the world's tallest sand dune (according to someone) and it looked like this:
According to someone, this is quite high, and I'm inclined to agree.

We were on this road, so I didn't have time to be too impressed.
We knew we were headed up to 11,000 feet, so we were pretty confused when we hit 15,000 feet!
Hmmm.... 14,500 feet and counting...
Things leveled off around 15,000 feet, and we both breathed a very short, shallow, weazy sigh of relief.
The "Alta Plana" or "high plain"
We rode all day, and rarely dipped below 12,000 feet, not to mention the traffic...
The traffic was chaotic, but luckily it was also patchy.

And usually sparse.
After a full day on the bike we looked at the map and saw that we were around 1/3 of the way to Cusco, and our only possible stop before dark was a tiny village called Puquio, which sounded and looked a lot like "poquito" - or "little" in Spanish. We rolled into to town to find that the tourism industry had yet to discover this jewel. It was probably all the dust. We did find the only hotel in town, and it had parking, so we settled in and took in the sights.
It wasn't scenic, but it was a perfectly nice town.
Early the next morning around 10am we were off again. The road headed up again, and went back and forth so many times that we could still see the town when we had driven 18 miles up the mountain! We drove all day again, alternating between huge expanses of grass and mountain passes. The two days of riding between Nasca and Cusco would be worth the trip by themselves, and are the longest stretch of consistently pleasant and scenic riding we've ever done - and one of the few stretches I would go back and do again. A few more photos before we get to Cusco...

I promised you Machu Picchu, and we didn't even get to Cusco! Oh well, there's enough Stella and wine to get us through a couple more...hold on!


  1. Great shots. You don't think of Peru being so flat and arid in places, but clearly it is more than mountains and jungle.

  2. I had no appreciation for just how big it is, too, the desert went on for two days straight and then it was another two days in the mountains and highlands from the coast to Cusco. Great ride though.