Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Cusco Peru is one of those cities everyone should visit sometime in their lifetime. Sure it’s full of tourists but it’s an amazing place with an indescribable vibe. I could spend days just walking around the city and exploring, as a matter of fact that’s exactly what we did. Of course, for me…. first stop was the Norton Rats Pub. 

A Pub famous in the Norton motorcycle circles. I took this picture of a poster behind the bar. 

 

Here is the sticker wall of fame on the wall. Guess which chapter of the International Norton Owners Association has a sticker here???? Yes! Northwest Norton Owners! It’s the same sticker I put there three years ago. 

Look for it on the left straight up from the Master Card logo thing on the bar. Of course I had to add an ADVdonnh sticker to the window. 

I won’t go into a big long travelogue about Cusco, indeed whole books have been written on the city and it’s significance to the Inca empire. I will share a few pictures. Here is the city from the road to Saksaywaman a nearby Inca site. Click on the link if you want to read more about it. 

You can see the main square and the density of the city. Narrow cobblestone streets wind throughout the city making it exciting for navigating and riding a motorcycle. The surrounding area is beautiful beyond description. 

They had motorcycle traffic cops on all the corners directing traffic. They all had this same uniform except some had white holsters for their guns. 

In our wanderings we came across the main market, really fun. 

Here is the flower aisle. 

The bread aisle. 

This is cuy, a popular dish in Peru. 

What is cuy you may ask? ???

Uh, yea, that’s it.

Typical street scene. 

But here is my favorite picture… the Honda ready to go with a new rear bearing and new fork seals! Time to get back on the road. 

We needed to wait one more day for Deby’s bike but on Friday March 10 we were on our way for a three day tour of the famed Sacred Valley. I have to give credit to the guys at Peru Moto Tours for suggesting the route. Deby and I stopped in to chat and even thought we didn’t rent a bike or even buy anything they were super helpful recommending a route and giving us a map with recommended cities to stay in. I would highly recommend checking them out if you are interested in riding motorcycles through the Sacred Valley. Thanks guys!

Here is the route we took, Cusco is on the bottom and we rode in a clockwise direction. 

Our first leg was 141 miles from Cusco to Quillabamba over the route that most people take to the launching point to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was more nice riding…. in the rain. 

We climbed over a 15,000 pass in complete rain and fog. The number of switchbacks told me we were missing some spectacular scenery. I did manage a few pictures during some breaks in the clouds. 

It’s an amazing place to ride a motorcycle, the road climbed right up into the clouds. You can see he road on the left. 

Along the way we ran into this couple, they were the same people from Germany that we met at Colca Canyon a few days earlier. Small world?

Further down the road we stopped to chat, they were putting on rain gear so we decided to stop, munch on some food and wait for the rain to let up a bit. 

We ended up riding for about 6 hours in mostly rain and by the time we got to Quillabamba we were ready for a rest. Deby had done some research the night before and found this place online. After some maneuvering trying to find it we arrived to a welcome sight. 

EcoLodge Don Felix. It was a tricky, bouncy, rutted back dirt road to get there but worth the effort. Our room was on the upper right of this picture. This is not a picture off their web site, Deby took it. Looks like a postcard. The city is in a valley at about 3,000 elevation so it was warm and easy to breath. Just what we needed. 

Nice view off the deck. 

Ahhhh, we settled in for a relaxing evening looking at the view and reading our books. Then, just as it was getting dark I went to look for my cell phone…. it’s gone.

Dang, I know exactly what happened. We stopped in the town to ask directions to the hotel and I put my cell phone in my handlebar case. Somehow on the bouncy road to the hotel is must have fallen out. Deby and I walked the road three or four times looking for it with no luck. I even used the Apple “locate” feature but it is not showing as online. I’m assuming it fell out maybe in the city and was run over by a truck and smashed. So… for now, don’t bother calling, texting our trying to reach me on WhatsApp. It won’t work. I’ll figure something out…..

Saturday March 11, 2017. – Wow, what a day of riding. One for the books.

So who needs a cell phone anyhow?

It took us 9 hours to go 155 miles, that should explain a lot. We stayed at a pretty consistent 3,000 feet elevation for the first half of the ride in the valley. This isn’t technically the Peruvian Jungle but it was close. Finally it was warm and not raining with on and off sun. Perfect riding weather. The road was constantly twisting which actually kept our speed down to about 30mph because there was just no way to know what was around any of the corners. Here is a typical example, the vegetation was closing in around us. 

It was seeming more and more like a jungle. 

We crossed more and more rivers flowing down from the mountains. We learned to be glad for bridges. 

As we got further and further into the mountains the bridges went away and we had to just cross the rivers on the bikes. Seriously, this became a big issue. At first it wasn’t too bad. We must have crossed 20 or 30 crossings like this, no big deal. 

Then the further into the mountains we go it was worse and worse. Here was one particularly bad one. The road makes a right turn IN the river. 

I walked it and tried to find the best route before just going for it. 

Umm, this was crazy. Why am I ruining wheel bearings? 

A little bit of a zoom here. 

Obviously (maybe) I made it across while Deby took pictures. After some thought I decided it would be best if I walked back and rode Deby’s bike across. Now it was my turn to take a few pictures of her walking across the river. This is actually pretty dangerous with fast, deep rushing water heading towards a cliff. 

Whew, made it safe….

That was not the end…. we came to at least a half dozen more crossings just as difficult. On one particularly hard one I went across first to check it out. On the other side I was talking to Deby in our helmet communicators describing the best route when I looked to my right and saw a pedestrian bridge. Hey! How did I miss that? It was hidden from the other side, I told Deby to look for it and she took the dry route.

This is what it was like all morning, wet twisty roads.

We really loved it when there was a bridge….

How about waterfalls onto the road? 

Hey Deby… you go first!

After more and more water crossings we were getting much better at adjusting our speed. Too fast and the spray can flood the engines and the water starts grabbing the steering. Too slow and you could stall or get stuck. The trick is “just right.”

This one looked tame but Deby hit a hole in the middle and tipped over. Good thing her panniers held the air intake above water level and we managed to ride the bike out. The only damage (that we know of) was boots full of water. 

She did a fantastic job crossing more water crossings than I’ve probably done in the past 10 years.

Then something amazing happened. We started climbing towards 15,000 feet out of the clouds and wet and into perfectly clear and dry weather. The scenery was the most amazing of the whole trip so far. Wow and wow is all we could say over and over. I tried to take pictures but there is not a chance they do any justice.

Here is the road climbing out of the valley. 

Climbing higher and higher.

It’s hard to get much better than this as we climbed past 10,000 feet almost to 15,000 feet. 

Just about to the top of the world.

We came over the peak and looked at the road ahead that would eventually drop down into Pisac, our destination for the night. 

The views were stunning, I’ve never been anywhere like this. 

But not without some danger, this was a narrow road. Pretty much just one lane. At one point I saw a truck coming towards us and realized it would be a tight fit. I didn’t want to stop on the cliff side of the mountain to let him pass so I happened to see a convenient rock slide (there were many of these) so I ducked behind it on the left and let the truck go by. 

We finally made it to Pisac just as it was getting dark. The attendant at the gas station recommend the Royal Inka Hotel where we settled in for the night. What a day. Deby calls it skills training days when we have a full day of challenging riding. This was tough. It had all the elements of a true adventure ride. Thankfully the hotel had a welcoming lounge with a roaring fireplace where we warmed our bones soaking in the warmth and sipping on pisco drinks.

Next…. we drop out of the mountains for the ocean.

Thanks for following. Donn and Deby

7 thoughts on “Cusco and the Sacred Valley

  1. Beautiful …. thanks …. so surprised to see any paved roads and bridges! If you’re into the history of the Inca Empire there is a classic book developed from the diaries of the son of an Inca princess and a conquistador … I bought mine in a bookstore in Cuzco in 1973 >>> ‘El Inca – Garcilaso de la Vega’ . Those €¥^° clouds … wish you could make them go away … Likely to be more frequent now going into the rainy season.

  2. Hello Donn & Deb,
    I’ve been vicariously enjoying the whole trip.
    Those river crossings are something else.
    Can I say that you two put more effort into retirement than most people put into their careers.
    Really a great blog.
    Continued safe travels & thank you!

  3. You guys are incredible. Your courage and sense of adventure to just go for it is inspiring. Bravo. Such an awesome trip. Thanks for sharing. I’m loving it.

  4. Since your last post with those incredible river crossings we’ve been seeing a lot of stories in the press about major flooding in Peru.
    I hope that you’re both well and that we see another posting soon.
    Also, Happy Birthday Deb! March 19.

  5. Just WOW WOW!

    Definitely a skills training day! The views are stunning, I can only imagine the magic of seeing it in person.

    Crazy water crossings…The jungle was beautiful

  6. It is entirely possible that I would never have met you at breakfast this AM. Just one slippery rock would have done it! You and Deby are truly intrepid and without fear. Enjoy Ecuador. You deserve it after the floods in Peru. Love the photo work you’ve done. Two thumbs up!

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