Monday we shall take the hour and a half flight to Cajamarca early. You may need to take it easy for the rest of the day whilst your body adjusts to the 9,500 ft elevation of the town. A lot of people hardly notice the difference in air density however, and that being so it'd be a good idea to accompany us up the steep steps behind the central plaza to the shrine and big cross which overlook all of the town. From there several places of interest which we will be riding or walking out to can be seen. `El Zarco´ is a good place to get some lunch. Try the`cebiche´ - a dish of uncooked fish marinated in lime juice , or a roasted guinea pig maybe. Still feeling fit? Then take over your waiting bike and do an afternoon circuit with us via the hot thermal springs at Los Banos Del Inca, the picturesque local Indian village of Llacanora and back through the eucalyptus lined sandy roads of the Cajamarca valley.
The first full day's ride to the Andean town of Cajabamba is only 75 miles or so and is a good introduction to the variety of roads that we shall be riding on during the tour. After a stop at the small market town of San Marcos the asphalt runs out and you will be introduced to - or re-introduced to - the fine flavour of Andean dust. However before riding along the warm ,lush Condebamba valley floor, an hour before our destination , you'll get the opportunity to wash it off at the natural hot springs of Aguas Calientes (pointless - but fun - because you are going to get dusty again before pulling into Cajabamba !) Cajabamba itself is a busy agricultural town with some good friendly places to eat. Los Cristales, for example, where you can get fresh trout and a cold beer. Your hotel (Hotel Jhoel) has the traditional courtyard where we can park up the bikes prior to going round the town checking out anything that you may find of interest. Apart from evidence of a large native campesino presence there are modern places that cheaply hire Internet services. Visit the church on the central plaza too.
Next day we shall get a good breakfast early and head out towards Huamachuco passing many scenic views and picturesque mountain villages. When you first see a lake of the colour deep metallic blue slow up and be aware that you will run up to some dry sandy parts which could make your bike's steering `uncooperative´! Just a little further on is a good place to stop and get an open air meal with fish from the lake. Huamachuco is bigger than Cajabamba and it claims to have the largest Plaza De Armas (central Plaza) in all of Peru. Arriving here in the early afternoon gives us time to ride the extra 6 kilometers up to `Marca Huamachuco´- a pre Inca fort. On top of a local peak and protected by 25 ft walls this fort was in an excellent position against all enemies and was probably used continually from 300 A.D. up until Inca times 1,700 years later. Our Hotel `Hostal Huamachuco´ overlooks the main plaza. The best restaurants and music penas are either on or near to the plaza also. It can get a bit chilly at night because the altitude here is over 3,000 mts.
Leaving Huamachuco the route we take soon climbs to altitudes over 4,000 metres. Passing herds of alpacas llamas, with luck one could even spot a Viscacha - an animal that looks like a cross between a squirrel and a rabbit. They live amongst the rocks at high altitude and eat - well, maybe pieces of rock - there's not much else up here. From the road descending into Quiruvilca you can witness the activity of a mining settlement going on almost directly below. The rows of miner's terraced housing, scarred earth and waste spills make for a colourful and interesting picture. Still it IS a grim scene and it is most unlikely you will want to hang around long if the sun goes in or down prematurely. Continuing on after Shorey, another mining town, we lose altitude and come into areas of eucalyptus forest and of cultivated mountainsides. The route continues to descend and just when you may be beginning to wonder if you are in fact below sea level (inland of course) we will suddenly find ourselves at the junction of a smooth tarmaced road indicating 4km to Otuzco right or Trujillo (coast) 27 km to the left. We'll take the Trujillo road and follow the course of the river Moche all the way to Trujillo. Rather than stay in Trujillo city we shall actually by-pass it and check into the Hostal Bracamonte at Huanchaco. Huanchaco is Trujillo´s nearest and most popular beach community. We are going to rest up here for for a full day (2 nights). The Bracamonte has excellent facilities (swimming pool, laundry service, restaurant, games room etc) and is one minute from the beach (running) down the drive and across the beach-side promenade.
There is some nightlife in Huanchaco but an alternative is to go into Trujillo only 7 miles away. Trujillo is the third largest city in Peru and has a population of 800,000, so there's plenty of choice for restaurants, discos etc. If you are culture hungry next day we can visit Chan Chan a town constructed by the Chimu civilization (1100 AD - 1470 AD). It is the largest historical adobe constructed town in the World. Visits such as this are better using one of the very frequent local buses, a taxi, or perhaps our back up vehicle (if everyone agrees on a visit) rather than leaving a motorcycle around the city or near it. The next part of your trip will take us down the `Panamericana´ highway - the highway that starts in Alaska and ends in Chile (or vice versa) - turning off inland towards the Cordillera Blanca a few kilometers before Chimbote. This route leading up to the Cordillera Blanca (the highest mountain range in Peru) mainly uses the foundation of a disused railway track leading to Caraz. Consequently the climb is gradual and long. After a few hours of riding through rocky gorges and crossing and re - crossing the river that the route follows one enters the part known as the Canon del Pato. A few feet over to your left side and down at the bottom of this spectacular canyon flows the Santa river. One can park up safely at several places and cross the canyon by hanging cable bridge. The rough road passes through 40 or so tunnels, both long and very short, before changing to a new and smooth surface some kilometers before the night's destination of Caraz. It is a pretty little colonial style town backed by snow covered mountains. Peaks are visible from the beautiful Central Plaza.
After a night's rest we'd recommend riding up to a local glacial lake `Llanganuco´, leaving plenty of time to stop at Yungay at the foot of Huascaran , 22,000 ft high and of course covered in snow. It was here in 1970 that an earthquake shook off tons of snow pushing out the water of a high altitude lake. This in turn descended the mountainside gathering rocks and earth. The result was a 200 mph landslide covering the old town of Yungay four minutes after the earthquake had ended. 20,000 people died. Only 92 survived , most of them children on a mount near the cemetery. Huaraz our night´s stop is a fair size town, very attractive because of its location backed by snow covered mountains. Here warrants a stop for several days. We make several excursions from Huaraz to places of local interest including to the snowline at Pastorouri. Huaraz nightlife is lively. A great place for holidaying with all the facilities that you are likely to want. Whitewater rafting can be arranged through a local agency but there's plenty to do and see in any case. When the time comes to leave Huaraz we take the way down to the coast that appears most direct on the map. It is a spectacular trip and chosen as such rather than for a directional efficiency motive. You will be enlightened further on this particular part of our All terrain Tour prior to riding it. Whereas you experienced off roaders will likely find this road a delight it is not everyone's idea of fun. The road is narrow, the surface rough or sandy and includes a short section that will have no structure or raised mound between you and hundreds of feet of sheer drop. (see route alternatives in another section of our web-site)
An hour on and the vegetation has started to look more tropical and there are plenty of little villages to sell you a Coke or an Inca Cola etc. The last bit of this route is actually arid and paved and is one of the most pleasant places to ride through the desert (little traffic). The archaeological site of Sechin , just a kilometer before Casma is worth stopping off at during the late afternoon. The last few kilometres of this day's ride will take us North to La Bahia de Las Tortugas (The Bay of Turtles) tucked away a mile off from the main coastal highway. It's a peaceful bayside community with adequate facilities for the tourist albeit probably quieter than the locals would like it. Relax here - sit out on the hotel veranda and watch the pelicans diving for fish amongst the fishing boats bobbing about all over the bay. Swat a bat after nightfall (no chance) or dine out at one of the beachside restaurants. No nightlife here just enjoy the peace. Riding up through the coastal desert in a north-westerly direction the following day, we will have to deal soon with the traffic in Chimbote - a small city known for its steel works and fish meal processing plant. Ride defensively and don't trust other drivers´ signals (or their lack of them). Later arriving at Trujillo again, take the convenient Via de Evitiamiento (by-pass) enabling us to continue unhindered out into the desert again. You either like the desert or you don't but either way within a couple of hours you will be approaching Pacasmayo. This little town doesn't look particularly attractive at first but ride through one of the narrow streets out in the direction of the sea and the atmosphere changes amongst the old wooden buildings to one of quaint charm. You'll find our hotel (Pakatnamu) right on the seafront overlooking the Pacific Ocean and if you are there before the rest ask to park up your bike in the hotel `cochera´ and from there unload your gear. See you for a drink on the balcony overlooking the beach.
Next day the ride will be shorter and we'll visit Sipan archaeological site, the Bruning Museum , places of artesanal interest (authentic souvenirs) and a deserted town that was partially destroyed by floods back in 1720. We stay at the same hotel back at Pacasmayo this night. The final full day's ride will take us up into the mountains to Cajamarca , where we started our tour. This time the road up is nicely surfaced. There's plenty of time to stop at the Gallito Ciego dam and eat a `piquante de camarones´ (prawns in a spicy sauce) fresh from the lake and to take photos as the scenery and climate change gradually from arid coast through green and semi tropical to a high Andean environment. On arrival at Cajamarca we check into the excellent Hotel El Portal Del Marques. Now is your chance to explore some of the interesting culture in and around Cajamarca. One ticket from the Casa de la Cultura will allow entrance to the museums, the 17th century Hospital of Belen (preserved as operative in those times) and the prison of the Inca King `Atahualpa´- El Cuarto Del Rescate´. It´s well worth visiting because Cajamarca has an important place in the history of Peru. Atahualpa was held to ransom here until his people filled his cell with gold up to shoulder height was the deal. You guessed it (if you didn´t already know) the Conquistadors killed him anyway! Visible from the town but 23 kilometers away by winding dirt road `Cumbe Mayo´ is a mysterious place where an ancient pre -Inca civilization built irrigation channels brilliant in their technology. Here there is evidence of a sacrificial platform and nearby the beauty of a weather sculptured stone `forest´- `Los Frailones´. There is a place up here where by the repositioning of a rock the flow of water can be changed to either eventually enter the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean. After dark back in town you'll have a choice of places to visit. Definitely a pleasant way to start the evening would be to wander round the Plaza - like cruising but without the car! Other people are doing the same thing, mostly the younger set but any Cajamarcan may be there. If we end up at a Pena or pub or disco you'll likely be surprised if you check your watch before going to bed - time can fly in this town.
Whether you take the flight back to Lima on Saturday - prior to returning home, will depend on the arrangements previously requested by you. If for example you have a week or so more you can spend in Peru you might want to take a flight to Iquitos from Chiclayo. Otherwise we come to Lima with you and make sure you get to your departure point in the International Airport with minimal inconvenience. Chau, take care with those R1s , Fireblades, DRZs whatever.
Day 1: Arrival at Lima
Day 2: Lima. Plus late arrivals
Day 3/4: Flight to Cajamarca
Day 5: Cajabamba, via San Marcos
Day 6: Huamachuco
Day 7/8: Huanchaco, near Trujillo. (2 nights/one full day)
Day 9/10: Caraz via Santa and The Cañon Del Pato
Day 11/12/13/14: Trip to Lago Llanganuco, Yungay continuing to HUARAZ. (includes various excursions)
Day 15: La Bahia De Las Tortugas , via Casma
Day 16/17: Pacasmayo via Chimbote and Trujillo. (Two nights at Pacasmayo - includes a circuit of various places in The Department of Lambayeque)
Day 18/19/20: Cajamarca. 3 nights. Various excursions including to Cumbemayo
Day 21: Flight to Lima (or in accordance with own continuing travel plans. eg. Flight from Chiclayo to Iquitos)
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