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01 New York
02 New England
03 Maine to Midland
04 Midland to Sturgis
05 Indians'n Cowboys
06 British Columbia
07 San Francisco
08 SF to San Diego
09 Baja to Canyons
10 Baja California
11 Northern Mexico
12 Mex. to Guatemala
13 Gua. to Costa Rica
14 CR to S. America
15 Ecuador
16 Peru and Bolivia
17 Chile
18 Patagonia
19 Argentina/Brasil
20 The road home
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Norwegian version

E-mail: mail at dagjen.no
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Chapter 16 Deserts and mountains in Peru

Start: January 15th, Piura, Peru, Stop: February 9th, Arica, Chile,
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 time.

Desert loco

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.

Huaraz Hotel reception

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

Lima police

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

Nasca ascent

The road from Nasca into the mountains starts out with incredible views.

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

Water fun

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 rider.

Dirty bike

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 as well.

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 south.

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.

Inka wall

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.

Floating island

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 sun.

Titanic 2

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.

Mt Sajama

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.

Balsa boat
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.

Floating islands

A kid helps us leave one of the floating islands on Lake Titicaca.

Inka child
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.

Macchu Picchu
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 we wanted.

Pass to Sacred Valley
On 4000 meters above the Sacred Valley, the mountains were fantastic.

Macchu Picchu

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.

Next Chapter


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