After 14 days at Estrellita, we finally left Cusco. The shock absorber that was due to be delivered to us was just two days away before Serpost (the Peruvian nation postal service) went on strike indefinitely. Apparently they strike a lot. In fact I remember reading a BBC article about the cost of postage around the the world. They tried to interview a spokesperson for Serpost, but they were on strike.
Should anyone like to track the package, posted in Germany on 22nd October the tracking number is: CK035130978DE and links through to Serpost’s tracking page.
The first part our ride would take us off the beaten path a little to Q’eswachaka ‘the last Incan rope bridge.’ And while the q’oya grass ropes that suspend the bridge are not the same ones used 300 years ago when the Incan tribes would have crossed, the techniques and materials used in the bridge’s construction have been passed down for generations and still used today by locals who repair the bridge.
The great thing about the bridge is that you can just turn and walk it (if you’re lucky). No fees, no tourists, and no tourist tat on sale here. We arrived around midday, and while we were taking photos, we were originally told by the guardian that we couldn’t walk the bridge due to the mean slope that it had developed.
A little while later however, and he checked the bridge over by walking it himself, then invited us to cross it.
If Q’eswachaka was the highlight of the day, then arriving in Yauri (Espinar, as Google maps calls it) was at the other end of the spectrum. Here the asphalt stopped and badly maintained (in fact not maintained at all) dirt roads began, but it was El Conquestador hotel that was the real problem.
The hotel had been recommended on iOverlander, but we found it to be absolute rubbish. The receptionist sleeps on a bed behind the desk along with a dog, and her child walks around with a stinking soiled nappy. The place stinks. There’s free parking for bikes, but no wifi, and hot water, but no toilet seats. Then they tried to over charge us. Not a good state of affairs. There are plenty of other hotels in towns, if you’re passing that way, best try one of those instead.
From Yuri we had over 100 miles of dirt and gravel roads. The first 10 miles or so were badly corrugated but after that it smoothed out and we able to reach 70 mph at times. We rose and fell with the mountains reaching a peak of around 4,700 meters with snow on the ground just meters from us.
We eventually we arrived at a cross-roads, Chivay sign posted right and Arequipa left. The road going right was not on the maps we had, so took the left route. It was longer,and took us off road proper for 10-15 miles, then back onto the tarmac, and the long way round to Chivay via a national park.
Chivay has the only ATM in the region, so our stop there was primarily for cash, and a spot of lunch. From there on it was smooth road for most of the way to Cabanaconde, and 15 miles of bumpy dusty gravel. There’s a long tunnel part way through, and with it being so bright outside, it’s impossible to see inside. Even with my headlight on, all I could see was the dust reflected back at me. Walking pace was the only way to be sure not to run into the tunnel walls.
After a few stops for photos, we finally arrived in Cabanaconde, and Pachamama hostal. The rooms were clean, the showers were good, and they make a great pizza. I was able to store my bike inside, and even borrow tools for a few repairs. All the staff were friendly, and the whole place had a nice vibe to it. Unfortunately there wasn’t any wifi so I couldn’t get on with any trip updates, but then that’s not what people come to Colca Canyon for.
Our time at Pachamama was to be a short one. The next day we’d be walking to the bottom of the world’s second deepest canyon, but I’ll cover that in a separate post.