January 15th, Piura, Peru, Stop: February 9th, Arica, Chile,
Distance: 3979 km,
Total Distance: 38009 km [Map]
Peru was in the rainy season, and we knew that
the mountain roads would be impassable at times for a freight
train like ours. Reports from other travelers confirmed our theories,
so the decision to take the coastal road south was easy. Also,
Kitty and Erik, two friends from Norway, were coming to Cusco
in the end of January, and we aimed to be there in good time before
they arrived. The coastal region in this country is mainly desert,
a dry and windy landscape that changes character around every
bend in the road, although the distance between each bend was
sometimes vast. Then we hit the mountains and had a fantastic
It's the desert that does it to you. Many men have perished
out there, others have gone mad, while this stranger simply
went hysterically happy.......
From Piura the road went straight for 180 kilometers through
an unpopulated desert. Halfway through we drove into what cannot
be characterized as anything but a sand storm. Sand was drifting
across the road and clogged up our visors. When we came through
the desert lay wide and open around us, and for the next days
we marveled at the changes. Some stretches were barren and hard,
then suddenly it changed to drifting sand dunes, some of which
the size was enormous. We stayed one night in Chiclayo, where
we visited the Túcume ruins, an old Inka fortress where
the excavations once were led by fellow Norwegian Thor Heyerdal,
then one night in Trujillo, a wonderful colonial town and the
namesake of Francisco Pizzaro's birth town in Extremadura, Spain.
The espresso served here was excellent and the plaza just as grand
as any proud colonial town could offer.
We wanted to make a detour to the mountain town of Huaráz.
There were three ways across the 4000 meter high mountain passes;
inland from Casma, a road Jeff and Linda took, the Oregon couple
who did a similar trip last year on each their bike, but they
had a lot of problems traversing because of all the mud, then
there was a road further north that we had been told was in excellent
condition and fully paved most of the way, and last there was
the guaranteed fully paved road further south. The last option
was the easy route, but meant a long detour which we had to backtrack
to get to Lima. We opted for the northernmost route, and turned
inland from the coast at Chimbote, following the Santa Valley.
After no more than 25 kilometers the pavement ended. In a little
village we asked a police officer how the condition of the road
was towards the pass. He said it was in excellent condition and
would take us a total of two hours. We didn't buy it, since we
knew we would have to ride at least 200 kilometers on dirt and
gravel. By the time we arrived at the next village, the road had
degraded to a stony track. We stopped for lunch and asked the
locals. First they said the rest of the route would be easy, then,
when asked a little further, they admitted that the road from
Casma was in a lot better condition, which was the reason all
the knobby tyres equipped buses went there and not along this
track. We knew we had been had, and realized that this late in
the day we would not make it over the pass, if we would at all.
As much as it hurts to turn around, that was what we did. On the
way back, we couldn't stop marveling at how wrong the information
had been. From many different sources we had been told that this
particular road was; in excellent condition, paved throughout,
a highway, pura autopista. Road conditions and distances is a
matter of feeling in Peru.
Bribes and hard disks
Up to now we had seen police checkpoints and road patrols everywhere
along the perfectly paved Pan American in Peru, but hadn't been
stopped once. Just before Barranca, where the fully paved road
led up to Huaraz, this changed. Two officers on motorcycles, a
Harley Davidson and an old Honda, waved for us to stop. One came
over, said good afternoon and continued; "You have broken
the laws of traffic in Peru. You are driving with the head lights
on and that is an offense." His face was serious towards
the comical. Before we had time to say anything in our defense,
his companion came over and stated that the fine would be 490
Soles, about 140 US$. Bente got off and took off her helmet. Did
they mean seriously that we had to pay that amount of money for
an offense as small as this? The reply was the same, we had committed
an offense. But we didn't know about this law. This of course
only made them reply that we should have known. The fine had to
be paid in the police station in a town further up the coast,
creating a extra round trip for us. We knew what would come next.
It could of course be paid there and then, and then the amount
would only be the half. It was rather funny to see how they worked
together on the scam. The first officer looked stern and sort
of disagreed with the other's easy handling of us, trying to create
an impression that we better say yes before he changed his mind.
But we could play too. Why hadn't we been told about this law
when we crossed the border, where we had talked for half an hour
with the police about Peru? We hadn't really. Well, the answer
was, we should have seen the list of laws on the wall at the customs
house. But hey, we are the good guys, we will let you get away
with 50 Soles. I was about ready to pay, when Bente went in for
the kill. She was steaming and said quite loud that if this was
so, why hadn't any of the hundreds of police we had seen along
the road stopped us for the same reason? They gave up, asked us
to not use lights from now on and wished us a nice journey south.
It's just a matter of good will. Another excellent parking
for the bike. Huaraz, Peru.
After a night in Barranca, we turned around and headed for Huaraz.
Just outside town, about one kilometer from where we were stopped
the day before, we were waved over again. Now what? We had been
doing seventy in a Dangerous Curve. We looked around us and couldn't
believe how pathetic a lie we had been served. No sign said anything
about any dangerous curve, and the other cars on the road were
doing anywhere from 70 to 100 km/h. I think the officer was taken
a little aback at our stern attitude and the fact that we spoke
Spanish. He asked the lame question of what speed limit this curve
would have in our country. I said about 80, and then asked for
proof of the speed limit - which he claimed was 45, and proof
of our speeding in form of a laser or radar readout. We knew they
didn't have any. He gave up and sent us off. Pew, we had just
gotten away from the second fine in two days.
The road to Huaraz led us over a 4100 meter pass then slowly
descended down to 3100 meters. In Huaraz we stopped at a restaurant
where the Swiss owner was a bike enthusiast, as we had read in
Jeff and Linda's journals from last year. We stayed there that
evening, but withdrew early to do some writing. As I turned on
the laptop, a new and disturbing sound came from the hard disk.
It had problems starting and the sound told me something was seriously
wrong. We managed to make a backup before we closed the machine
down and decided to head to Lima first thing in the morning to
get it fixed. Our plan was that if we couldn't get it fixed there,
we would contact Kitty and Erik in Norway and ask them to bring
a new hard disk
We returned on the same beautiful mountain road and descended
to the coast and the heat once again, a day after we left it.
After Barranca we were waved over again. This time it was a single
motorcycle cop on a Harley, who claimed we had been riding too
fast through a village behind us. Now we were steaming. We demanded
to know why the police in Peru was molesting foreign travelers.
We had not been speeding and it was the fourth time - one more
than the truth for effect - in four days we had been stopped from
offenses not committed, and now we were forced to take action.
The first thing we would do when arriving in Lima, would be to
go the the Police headquarters and file a complaint saying the
traffic police was harassing us on our way through the country.
The officer almost backed away from the tirade, then went off
in a long speech about how the police's job was to assure safe
conduct in the traffic and not to harass people, but he hardly
finished before we shot back. Then why did they spend so much
time stopping slow going foreigners instead of taking down the
really crazy drivers? Bente's face was inches from his, and he
was the one backing off. He gave up, just like the others, said
good-bye and sped off as fast as his old Harley could take him.
That was number three in three days, and still we hadn't paid
anything. We drove slowly and looked deliberately in the eye of
every officer we met along the way, but wasn't stopped again.
But to make things square, these three days wasn't typical for
Peru or any other country we have been through. Most police officers
have been polite, helpful and thrilled to see a big bike like
Rocinante up close.
Crazy traffic in the capital
There's nothing unserious about the way the police and
military in Lima showed their presence.
Late in the day we entered Lima. It was Friday afternoon and
the traffic was a nightmare. Buses, minibuses, taxis and trucks
were racing each other. It was a wild drive which almost led to
an accident. A truck driver who must have taken a Kamikaze course
came up on our left in high speed. The clearing between us was
nothing, and he probably forgot about the ladder he had mounted
on the side of the truck. It hit the left aluminum pannier and
threw us slightly over to the right. Bente got scared and I got
mad. For the next minute I rode with my thumb on the horn, but
cooled down enough not to race him. The rest of the ride was absolutely
terrible, and it took us two hours to traverse this eight million
people metropolis and get into Miraflores, the calmer modern center.
Early next morning we went in search for a laptop repair shop.
On our second try we came to an office in a town house, and couldn't
believe the luck when we were told they had hard disks in all
sizes for our model. We left the machine with them and when we
picked it up three hours later, the new disk was installed and
everything back to normal. They only charged for the disk, nothing
for the work.
We enjoyed Lima for several days; tried the night life in Barranco,
the espresso in Miraflores, visited museums and simply relaxed.
One day I took off the front forks and replaced the fork oil,
a job I should have done 15000 km ago. To my surprise I discovered
that the progressive springs inside the forks were mounted upside
down. They had probably been like that since the dealer in Spain
put them in there almost three years ago. Why are there so many
untrustworthy dealers in the world? A slightly more stable front
was the result of the fix.
Leaving the Nasca lines behind
The road from Nasca into the mountains starts out with
After a long day's ride we crossed the Nasca lines, about 400
km south of Lima. The famous and mysterious lines have been the
subject of many theories to why a people would draw lines and
gigantic figures of animals and trees in the soil, when they only
could be seen in the whole from above. A gigantic calendar, a
map of an ancient kingdom, landing grounds for space travelers
and a map of subterranean water channels, are just some of the
theories. The dry and solid soil has kept the drawings in good
condition throughout the centuries, and today it's a major tourist
attraction. The Pan American Highway crosses right through the
lines and it was amazing to see how trucks and cars had driven
through the drawings during the construction of the highway and
destroyed a lot of them. We stopped at the lookouts but decided
to skip the flight offered in town. Time was not on our side.
The ride from Nasca to Cusco, which we had initially believed
would take one long day, would be at least two or maybe three
days. The route was marked on our map as paved most of the way,
but other travelers told us about a somewhat challenging dirt
ride as part of the route. The region used to be a stronghold
of the Shining Path, the now subdued terrorist organization that
paralyzed Peru for many years, and some of the guidebooks said
it was a favorite place for robbers. We didn't buy that, since
the police, the friendly version of the police that is which still
were outnumbering the corrupt few we had met lately, told us the
road was safe now.
The first day brought us up into the mountains above Nasca, overlooking
the worlds highest sand dune and a dry but amazing landscape,
over a 4500 meter pass and down to Chalhuanga. The town was the
saddest place we had ever seen. It was raining cats and dogs,
but according to a local girl it normally rained harder this time
of year. The town was dirty and flooded, and the only hostel smelled
of urine and seemed to crunch under it's own weight. Our tiny
little room was like an ice box, and after an evening with Gin
Rummy we slept to the sound of never ending rain, building up
apprehension for the next day's ride.
A hell of a ride
I know it is just an excuse and that you have heard it
a great many times, but this was one of the easier
pools. You should have seen the others....
From now on it was gravel and dirt. With all the rain, the road
looked slick and muddy, and we were both stiff and nervous when
we took off in the morning. From what we had been told, we had
anywhere between 120 to 150 kilometers of mud and gravel ahead
of us, with three river crossings thrown in as a bonus. It would
be a first time for us. To be prepared I moved much of the heavy
tools and laptop accessories from the tank bag to the aluminum
panniers to take some weight off the front wheel, and I reduced
the air pressure in the tyres. After a nervous start, it got easier.
The road wasn't too difficult, and when we came to the first river
crossing we laughed at the warnings we had been given. But we
never crossed a river before, and didn't know that when we had
been told there would be three crossings, this little creek wasn't
counted. After thirty kilometers we stopped in a little village.
The road was following a river and we were slowly descending into
warmer climate. We took off the warm clothes and relaxed in the
sun, agreed that so far the road was not only better than feared,
but actually a pleasure to ride, and also, smiled at how far behind
us we had left the accident in Ecuador. Bente was actually enjoying
the dirt ride, although not as much as me who had started growing
a smile which would only get wider as the day progressed.
During the next stretch we came upon numerous holes covering
the whole road. They were filled with muddy water and it was difficult
to predict the depth or any subsurface obstacles. We dived into
the first one, a six seven meter long pool of water, and to our
surprise it was more than a meter deep. Water splashed in every
direction and I smiled happily when I heard Bente laugh out of
joy. After many more dives we came to a pool far bigger than any
previous. Bente got off and I dove in. A stone on the bottom threw
the bike over to the right and only hard use of the throttle avoided
what would have been close to full submersion of both bike and
More and more soaked with mud, water entering the tank
pannier from below, a kid admired - or maybe got disgusted
by the dirty bike.
The road changed to more even surface after that, and even though
it was muddy at times we made good progress. After almost five
hours we left the river and climbed up towards Abancay through
a series of switch-backs. Around a bend several buses, truck and
cars were waiting for something. Hundreds of people were standing
looking up the hill. We were at the first real river crossing.
A tiny creek had turned into a full blown river because of the
rains. It crossed the road two hundred meter further up, but had
spread out and turned the whole stretch into a wet and stony river.
One car was stuck and a bus was trying to pass it. Another bus
came from above and for a little while chaos ruled. A bulldozer
did its best to make a passage, which wasn't easy considering
the Kamikaze bus drivers. About a hundred people took the by now
mud covered Tiger in view and waited for us to do the crossing,
like sharks waiting for easy prey. I didn't feel like staying
there for long, knowing that apprehension would build up. So I
got on the bike, wished Bente a nice but wet trip on her own,
then gassed the three hundred kilo monster. The bike jumped over
rocks, dived into high current waters and flew over rocks again,
sometimes lifting the front wheel of the ground. I kept the speed
up and made it across the stretch in no time, water flowing and
steaming off the warm engine. I parked the bike next to another
bus at the top of the stretch just before the real river and got
off. Every eye in the bus was on me and the bike, and I couldn't
help feeling a little proud and adventurous, although I tried
to appear as calm as possible, as if what I just did was nothing.
But, these moments never last. As I walked off to look for Bente
I bumped into the bike which was standing almost vertically, and
it fell over. The hero was gone, and all that was left was a slightly
panicking kid trying in vain to lift a too heavy toy. The people
sitting around just looked at me with empty eyes when I asked
for help, but luckily Bente was soon with me and together we got
the bike up. "Don't ask", I said to her questioning
eyes, and turned my back to the bus.
Another car was stuck in the river, getting help from the local
police patrol. The river was at this spot running straight over
the road. The bulldozer had cleared some of the stones, and again
I dived into it. After ten seconds of jumping, splashing and swirling
around I was over on the other side. Bente came over walking through
the shallower part further up, but needed a little help from a
nice police officer who handed her a long stick, preventing her
from being swept away in the current. Two times more we had to
cross the same river, but now I was confident and used the simple
but good rule; if in doubt, gas it. It got me over some deep pools
of water and then we were in Abancay. Rocinante and our pants
and boots was totally covered in mud of all colours. We were fairly
dry though, and Bente's hiking boots had just passed the roughest
test so far. And the road we just rode could only be described
with one word; a blast.
Friends and Inkas in Cusco
A dinner in front of a fire place, red wine and beer on
the table, a bottle of Aquavit waiting for desert, and last
but not least, good company with good friends from Norway.
Yes we have something to look forward to when we return
The next morning my old friend Montezuma came over to say hello.
Before breakfast I paid four visits to the toilet, so Bente went
to a pharmacy and bought medicine and not least, a salt additive
to be mixed with water, meant to replenish the loss of body salts
during a diarrhea. We didn't want to visit more hospitals. Then
we left for Cusco. The first 30 km we climbed into the mountains
along the worst muddy road I had ever tried. But the mud was thin
floating and we made good progress. I didn't believe it possible,
but Rocinante was even more covered in red mud than the day before.
The road was excellent the rest of the way, and after a short
day's cold ride in rain and fog we arrived in Cusco. My stomach
had held its contents through the day and we smiled happily at
each other for reaching one of our main destinations on our journey
This town has a fascinating mix of colonial and Inka architecture.
Many buildings stand on foundation walls built by the Inkas, and
nowhere else have I seen such marvel in construction. The walls
were built by different size and shape stones, perfectly fit together
and interlocked with a sort off tongue and groove system. The
result was walls looking like they just had been built, walls
that had survived centuries of earthquakes and erosion. The Inka
empire was one of the best organized cultures known today, and
therein lies the explanation why they could leave so many buildings
and terraces intact, many hundred years later. A rigid systems
of workers where everyone had to contribute to the process of
building, harvesting and maintaining structures, produced an enormous
amount over a relatively sort period. But again came the Europeans
and destroyed as much as possible in the name of God, and today
the only complete Inka city is so only because the Spaniards never
found it; the Macchu Picchu.
This very intricate and tight fitting stone wall was just
one of numerous examples of the superior building technology
the Inkas used.
Far into the mountains from Cusco along a river that in the rainy
season runs like a freewheeling freight train through the narrow
gorges, lies this mysterious city. The buildings folds over a
rim 6-700 meters above the river, which runs around the rim in
a half circle. The setting is incredible, and it doesn't matter
that today the place crawls with tourists, either coming in on
the train from Cusco, like us, or ending a four day hike along
the Inka trail, overlooking the ruins over a mountain pass from
the east. The place was one of the most magic places we had ever
seen, and it was a shame, quite simply, that we only had about
two hours before we had to descend to the village and catch the
returning train. A better option would have been to stay the night
in the village and go up to the city before sunrise. But that
has to be another time.
The rest of what today is known as the Sacred Valley, a name
taken from the Inkas name of Rio Urubamba, one of the longest
contributors to Amazonas, has lots of ruins and Inka terraces.
The terraces sometimes lie so high into the steep mountain side
that it is hard to imagine how anyone could build them up there.
We went on a tour through the valley with Kitty and Erik, and
Carola and Reto from Switzerland. They had sent us a e-mail a
while back and said they were on the way north on a Africa Twin.
So we agreed to meet in Cusco to exchange information and war
stories from the road. We spent a pleasant couple of nights in
their company, before we wished each other a nice trip and left
in each our direction.
Kitty and Erik also brought a huge bag for us from Norway. It
was like Christmas time. In it was a new BMW helmet, a replacement
for mine which cracked in the accident in Ecuador. I chose to
get a helmet carried over, simply because with a size 64 head
it was impossible to find big enough helmets in this part of the
world. There was Norwegian pâté and mackerel in tomato
to be used as sandwich spread, and a bottle of Gilde Non Plus
Ultra Aquavit, a bottle we tried our best to empty the first night.
Further down in the bag was a tent and light weight sleeping bags
from Turutstyr, sold to us at a reduced price, and self inflatable
mattresses, dug out from the pile of things we stored with Bente's
parents. A bearing for the shock linkage was in there as well,
and a new tube thrown in for free by Classic Motorcycles, my local
dealer. In Cusco we bought a gas stove and gas, cooking set and
salt, sugar, pepper and rice.
A kid plays with a plastic bottle on the end of a small
balsa canoe on a floating island in Lake Titicaca.
We would start camping but when I looked at the pile of new luggage,
I was a bit worried about where it would all fit in. But this
is my job, this is what I like to do, even, to Bente's amused
curiosity, love to do. Just fiddling with the luggage to make
new room is as rewarding to me as building ships in bottles are
for others. And sometimes just as challenging as well, like when
I spent three hours trying to fit the stove into the coffee pot.
When I had bent things slightly out of shape and managed to squeeze
it in there, I looked happily at Bente for approval, forgetting
about the cups and lids that now needed a new spot in the luggage
since the stove had taken up their old. But it keeps me going
when things are boring and now I had a new challenge. The sleeping
bags were small and when compressed they fit in the aluminum boxes
with the clothes. The tent was initially put inside the top box,
but later moved to on top of the box instead, to give some more
room inside. The mattresses and tent poles were placed on top
of the aluminum panniers. The cooking gear and food got hold of
the right tank pannier, while the old content was moved over to
the left, threatening to bust the seems. But all in all everything
fit in there, and we were ready to camp at the price of about
10-15 kilos extra luggage.
With barge over Lake Titicaca
Kitty was unlucky and got a combination of stomach infection
and altitude sickness, hospitalizing her for two days. She had
lost strength in the affair and struggled for the next week in
the high altitude. But she was well enough to join us to Macchu
Picchu, and later, after a fantastic days ride to Puno, to the
floating islands on Lake Titicaca, the worlds highest commercialized
(read trafficked) lake, 3810 meter above the sea level. Walking
these mattresses in the lake felt weird as it moved under us like
a giant water bed. People started building the islands to live
close to the fishing grounds, and because it was cheap and no
one stopped them or charged them. It's an old tradition and today
the tourist industry has bypassed fishing in importance for the
islanders. But they still live their lives out there, modernized
some places with sun panels to give power to a blasting stereo
player. We hired a boat for a day and visited the captain's home
on one of the smaller floaters. The weather was very kind to us
and for the three hour trip we had clear blue skies and a burning
See the uncertainty in Bente's smile? We're on "Titanic
2", about to cross Lake Titicaca.
Bolivia was waiting for us just down the road, and after another
day's fantastic ride along the shores of Lake Titicaca, we stood
at the border post in Copacabana, a small town on a peninsula
that divides the lake in two. Another biker was at the border,
Dai from Japan, travelling very light on a single cylinder 650cc
off-roader He had used three months from Vancouver, a distance
it took is more than half a year to cover, and was continuing
south with the same speed. His plans of flying over to Europe,
go to North Cape before he crossed Russia and got himself over
to Japan one way or another, all before the end of August the
same year, sounded nothing less than ludicrous to us. But whatever
makes people happy, and people are different.
Inside the Police station the two of us were asked for a ten
Soles bribe to leave the country. The word bribe never came up
of course, but when I insisted on a receipt - I lied and said
I was a journalist and all expenses were covered by the magazine
- I was told I could get a stamp in the vehicle permit for Peru.
I couldn't help letting go of a chuckle, since I had given up
the vehicle permit in the customs office next door, a normal procedure
when leaving a country. I told them I could wait while they went
over to their neighbors and tried to get the permit back to me,
but they twisted and said it was a propina - a tip. We just stood
there, and finally they gave up. We were getting better and better
at getting away without paying.
A few kilometers after the border we lunched with Kitty and Erik,
who were travelling by bus, and then continued to the ferry crossing.
The distance over the straight isn't far, but when we saw the
barge called "Titanic 2", ready to take a bus and a
car over using a 75 horsepower outboard engine, we couldn't help
grinning. The barge had a open deck, only covered along the wheel
tracks with planks over the cross beams. We got on behind a bus,
and I chose to sit on the bike most of the trip to avoid it falling
on the unstable deck. It was snowing lightly, but in the distance
clear skies bid us welcome to Bolivia.
Good-bye Peru. So far on the trip, Peru stands out as one of
our favorite places. Although most places are interesting in one
way or another, Peru's diversity in nature and culture makes it
special. Corrupted police officers close to Lima only colours
the picture further. Some day we will go back, and then it will
be in the dry season when it's easier to explore the mountains.
Luxury in Bolivia
A small café/grocery shop on the road from La Paz
to Chungará at the border to Chile. From left, Natalie,
Enok, Silvia and their mother Maria, who was curious about
everything regarding Norway and us, especially why we didn't
have kids at our age. She was twenty-seven and had three.
The beauty never ended. We were on the altiplano in Bolivia,
doing a hundred or so kilometers per hour through a pampa flanked
to the east by snow capped mountains. Shepherds were hurdling
their stock, children swimming in the clear blue, but ice cold
river waters, buses passing us displaying curious faces, and slowly
we got closer to, and missed, the worlds highest capital, La Paz.
We came through the La Paz Alto, a new part of the city lying
four hundred meters above the natural pot which makes up one of
the most spectacular capitals in the world. When we should have
taken a left turn which would have led us over the edge just twenty
meters from where we were, and then revealed the town center,
we turned right and left the city. After a few kilometers the
buildings got further between and the traffic lighter, which made
us realize our mistake and turn around.
Over the edge the whole town center displayed itself in a fantastic
view. We drove straight through the center and parked the bike
in front of the gigantic reception that belonged to Radisson Plaza
Hotel. Kitty and Erik, good friends that they are, had decided
we deserved a luxury stay after all those months of travelling,
so all we had to do was go to the reception and collect the room
key. Outside the piccolo didn't know what to do. He was joined
by the concierge, and together they stared at the bike and us.
Bente went inside while I arrogantly put the top box on the sidewalk.
After a little while, the piccolo went inside and got a trolley
for our stuff. When he realized we would actually stay there,
we were friends and I had to tell him everything about the trip
and the bike.
Inside the room's luxury was waiting for us, with the best massage
shower and the best towels we had had in nine months, Internet
connection for free, a zillion channels on a huge television,
room service twenty-four hours, a king size bed, mini bar and
hair dryer (This was Bente's favorite toy, and she made me call
the reception and complain when it overheated and shut down, a
phone call which became a bit comical when the dryer suddenly
worked again in the midst of my tirade). It suffices to say than
during the two days we stayed we didn't see much of La Paz. We're
not really backpackers or budget travelers, we just force ourselves
to pretend we are.
We had never been higher, 4700 meter above sea level, with
Mount Sajama in the distance, about to enter Chile.
We separated from Kitty and Erik in La Paz, them going back to
Norway in a few days, us heading for the coast of Chile. Bolivia
was just as wet as Peru, and the salt flats of Uyuni in the south
west of the country would just have to wait. But the day was just
as fantastic as the previous rides we'd done. An Altiplano bathed
in sunshine defeats description, and as we got closer to the border,
we climbed up to incredible 4700 meters. The snow capped peaks
covered the length of the horizon ahead of us. At the border post
it was less than five degrees, and because this is one of the
main drug smuggling routes from Bolivia, we had to unload the
luggage for the first time on the trip, and let it pass through
a scanner for control. But the people were nice and courteous,
and I passed the time talking to one of the police officers who
had relatives living in Oslo.
Bolivia was just a quick breath of thin air this time, but is
definitely on our list of possible destinations in the future.
Now we had thousands of kilometer of desert ahead of us, a capital
we always wanted to visit, and friends on the road we tried to
catch up with. Even further south Carretera Austral, a thousand
kilometer gravel adventure, waited our visit. I can almost see
Ushuaia and Cape Horn in the distance.
On a balsa boat on a floating
island in Lake Titicaca. These boats now mostly serve the
tourists, but some fifty years ago famous Norwegian adventurer
Thor Heyerdahl had his Kon-Tiki built here and freighted to
the coast to prove his theories about ancient cultures travelling
across the oceans.
A kid helps us leave one of the floating islands on Lake
Yes, they do stand along the
road, dressed up by their mothers in the best Inka costume,
waiting to get paid by tourists who wants their picture taken.
It's their income, and sometimes it's worth it.
A fantastic monument over
the Inkas and a place we could have spent days. But time catches
up with us, so we had to leave Macchu Picchu much sooner than
On 4000 meters above the
Sacred Valley, the mountains were fantastic.
Macchu Picchu, the old entrance on the top of the ruins,
a place every visitor in ancient times had to stop and register
on the way in.