Tuesday was Deby’s birthday and the plan for the day was to ride Colca Canyon to check out the deepest canyon in the world and take a chance on seeing the soaring condors. We ended up in Chivay, Peru the night before after a long ride from Puno. We rode into Chivay well after dark with all three bikes almost out of gas even after we exhausted our extra gas we carry. The last 10 miles were on a twisty mountain road in the dark. I did manage a couple of pictures.
Here is my GPS, “driving on road”, notice the fuel light is on? That means less than one gallon left. It’s dark, it’s cold, we are almost out of gas, we are above 15,000 feet and soon it starts to hail.
From about 10 miles out we came around a bend and saw the city lights below us. We dropped in the dark down the twisty road into town to find a hotel for the night.
Before long we were on the gravel road riding towards the canyon, the weather was perfect, clear skies and cool temperatures at our 12,000 foot elevation.
It wasn’t long before we got a glimpse of one of the giant birds. Evidently the best time to view the condors is at sunrise when they drop from the cliffs in search of prey. We considered an early ride for the best viewing but Deby was having nothing to do with getting up at 4:00 AM on her birthday. I wasn’t about to argue.
There were some local women selling snacks to the tourists, since the prime viewing time was over we were about the only ones there so they were standing around looking pretty bored. They let me take a picture since we bought some over priced candy and nuts.
According to the map we could have continued through the canyon to the south but it was unclear if it was really a road or a cow path. We decided to turn around and re-ride the excellent gravel road back to Chivay and then back up the twisty road we took at night to see what it looked like during the day.
South of Chivay the road climbs and climbs until we hit the summit at 15,800 feet. A new altitude record for me on a motorcycle. Probably the highest I’ve ever been anytime other than an airplane. I was glad that we had been over 10,000 feet everyday for the past week and actually felt pretty good in the thin air, just slightly euphoric.
After a few hours of incredible riding we ended up in Arequipa. We had the name of a hotel we found in a tour book so per our usual procedure, we rode to el centro and asked directions. Michael has this new thing about always asking the cute traffic cops. In Peru they are all women with guns in white holsters.
We eventually found the hotel and guess what…. it was full. Really? Fortunately, they had a recommendation of a place not far away. The hotel called ahead and verified they had room and gave us directions. That is how we ended up here.
The La Casa de Margott hostel. For parking we drove up the curb, into the lobby and parked in a hallway.
We’ve stayed at enough hotels, hostels, hostelerias and other places to know that we never know what to expect when we open the door to our room. This place was totally unexpected. Who would have thought that on Deby’s birthday, the woman who loves everything that has to do with stones and rocks that our room would be completely made of brick and block.
Deby said it was one of her best birthdays ever. I couldn’t think of one that even came close to this one. In one day we saw the deepest canyon in the world, rode to the highest road we’ve ever been on and slept in a stone hotel room in Peru. Yes, unforgettable indeed.
Donn and Deby 🙂 🙂