Travel story
Stage 22


From Tumbes to Pun

Great Venture
Great Venture

Heyyy, welcome to Peru lah !It’s quite a straight forward border crossing from Ecuador to Peru, except it took me about 2.30hrs for both borders as there were many people today. To cancel Ecuador permisso, I had to go to the CEBAF building which was 2kms from the border. There was no immigration office on the Ecuador side though, even after the bridge which had the Welcome to Peru sign. I was worried as I had not stamped out my passport yet. Apparently both Ecuador and Peru immigration counters were located side by side in a building about 3kms from the Peru welcome sign, and the customs were in the next building. Mandatory insurance was US435, then GD rolled its wheels onTO Peru PanAm Norte route 25 highway.

After 2 nights in Mancora, I rode 430kms on Pan Am Highway from Mancora to Pimentel in 6 hours. The road was 80% good but the wind? Perghhh!!! The straight looonggg road crossed the desert for miles. And the desert? It’s flat and empty as far as the eye can reach. No trees, buildings or whatsoever except for the electric poles. I had to fight the side wind for approx 200kms. From Pimentel, again I had to fight strong head & side winds all the way for 400kms. I noticed GD consumed more fuel than normal due to the strong wind.

Since Ecuador, I had stopped using my GPS. Previously, I didn’t have an Ecuador map in the GPS, but now, the GPS’s touch screen had frozen, so it’s unusable anymore. Since I didn’t have a paper map with me, it was back to old school navigation. I had to be alert for the signboards, or look at the sun to determine my direction, or asked locals. However, tomorrow, It’s going to be a challenge to ride without the help from a GPS, as I’m entering Lima, the capital city, which the driving attitude of the locals is said to be worse than in Delhi.

After withdrawing some Peruvian Soles at Tumbes, the border town (no money changer at the border), I started to feel as if I was on another planet. Gone were the Ecuadorian green mountain views but were replaced with barren desert hills. The wind was strong but not so bad and the road was okay. What was not so okay were the locals driving attitude. I reached Mancora after riding for 200kms and since it was peak season as New Year was approaching, rooms were expensive. I found a very nice place to pitch my tent which faced the Pacific Ocean. My friend, Tim Charman from Canada, whom I met last time in Baja Cactus, also arrived in this town today and I shared my location with him. He arrived not long after me and pitched his tent next to mine. We went around the town and even to the wet market to shop for fresh seafood which is very cheap here.

The road to Lima took me 9 hours for 475kms. The view was very spectacular along the way, but again, I had to beat the crazy wind (I had sore arms and neck by now). Not just that, I also had to stop by the road side countless times to check for direction as my GPS was not functioning. I had to face crazy drivers in Lima too, and was almost run down twice by a white Fiat ALL 275 who drove like a maniac. I was also stopped by traffic police because taking the road is not allowed for bikes (luckily he didn’t gave me a ticket). Finally, I made it into Lima, the 3rd largest city in Americas with 10 million population. I stayed 5 nights in Lima and managed to visit the Malaysian Embassy there. I was almost in tears when I saw the Malaysian flag and Malaysian emblem at the embassy. I met the Ambassador, Dato Ayauf Bachi, and the staff, En Adham, Pn Hanis and Pn Sharmini

Dato chatted with me for 1.30hrs despite his busy schedule. En Adham and Pn Hanis invited me to stay at their houses. Pn Hanis’s husband, En Wan helped me a lot during my stay in Lima by driving me in and out every day to settle my matters – sending my GPS for repair and to sort out my Bolivian visa. A friend, Carlos, introduced me to Alejandro who managed to fix my GPS. I was soooo relieved. However, getting a Bolivian visa was a pain in the ass. The last 2 nights, I stayed with En Adham and his wife, Pn Maryam. They were very kind to me. Another staff member of the Malaysian Embassy, Miss Sharmini took me out for dinner on my last night, while En Wan took the trouble to lead my way to exit the city of Lima to head south. I really am so grateful to all of them for their kindness. After exiting Lima, I rode 335kms on PanAm Sur (South) to Huacachina. The speciality of this place was the amazing sand dunes. However, due to my lack of funds, I didn’t take any 4WD tour to visit the dunes. I only viewed them from the road side.

The next day, I rode to Nazca. Again it was desert all the way but with some views of green fields at Palpa. I dropped by at Geoglifos de Palpa to view some lines by the Incas. I had to climb a tower for better viewing. Only 3 geoglyphs & pics can be seen at this place. Upon arrival to Nazca, I headed straight to Nazca Airport, to check on tour prices for flight over the Nazca Lines. Even though, I’m on a budget, this tour is not to be missed. I have been wanting to see the Nazca Lines ever since I was 15 years old!!! The price to see these lines from the air is approx US$85 + US$10 (airport tax). The Nazca Lines are a huge representation of geometric patterns, animals, human figures and thousands of perfectly straight lines that go on for kilometres. They were created by removing surface stones, revealing the lighter-coloured soil below. They’re unquestionably ancient (dating back 1400-2200 years), and remarkably precise (with straight lines and clean curves). The images are huge so that they were best appreciated from the air, a fact which has led to speculation that the ancient Inca people either had access to hot air balloons or alien helpers.

The flight over the Nazca Lines was a quick 30mins flight, too quick to truly appreciate the lines actually. I got maybe 10 seconds for each figure before the next one. It’s a bumpy fast ride in the small 6 persons (including 2 pilots) aircraft. It’s hard to get a good picture due to the bumpy ride. I almost threw up and was somehow relieved when the flight was done. Anyway, the lines themselves were amazing. I would like to thank Bob Robert Shannon for sponsoring me on this tour and for making my dream came true. I stayed 2 nights in Nazca, and after that made my way to Cusco via route 3S. I purposely did it slowly so as to acclimatize to the altitude as the road to Cusco climbs high mountain passes. It took me 3 days to arrive at Cusco with stopovers at Puquio and Abancay.

It was a very enjoyable and scenic ride, even though it’s quite windy in certain places. The first mountain pass I climbed was at 4300m, and I felt some dizziness, but not too bad. The view was soooo spectacular and changed with the altitude, so that I felt as if I was looking at an artist’s masterpiece. The road to Abancay runs parallel with the greenish blue Rio Pachachaca which winds its way along the many gorges of the Andes Mountains. It was sooo beautiful. The stretch from Abancay to Cusco, even though paved, must not be taken lightly as the climb is from 2500m (at Abancay) to 4000m (the highest point). Also, there was lots of debris on the road due to landslides. Views of the Andes are gorgeous. Beautiful and colourful rock formations can be seen along the way. For the first time since I started GDR, today I saw snow peaked mountains. They seemed so near and I felt joy and brrrrrr…Finally, after riding 716kms in 3 days, I arrived in Cusco.

Cusco is a nice historical town, but somehow I found it a bit too touristy. It’s not a surprise though, as Cusco is the most popular place to book a tour to Machu Pichhu, a world heritage site, which lies in the mountain in the jungle. I took the cheaper tour which provided return transportation from Cusco to Station Hidroelectrica for only 75S. It was a long 7hrs journey along an amazing route which almost reached the snow peaked Andes, plus a stretch of very ugly and scary off-road. If you have seen ‘Bolivian Death Road’ video on Youtube, that’s what the road looked like. Most of the time, the narrow off-road can only allow one vehicle to pass. Arriving at Stn Hidroelectrica, one can choose either to take a train which will cost US$30 (one way) or walk for 10kms to reach Agua Calientes, the nearest little town to Machu Pichhu. My option was the latter. I had to walk on the rail gravel along the rail line.

It took me 2.15hrs to walk non-stop for 10kms to reach AC. It was already sun down when I arrived there. I went straight to the information counter to purchase a Machu Pichhu entrance ticket (S128 &US$40) and a one way bus ticket (US$12) to reach the ancient site. Machu Pichhu needs no description. It’s everyone’s dream place. To be here was somehow unbelievable. It’s hard to describe my feelings. The first sight of MP definitely was a sight to remember all my life. It’s all ooohhss and ahhhsss. It was sooo impressive. How did the ancient Incas build this city on the mountains without modern tools and technology? How did they carry the stones up the mountains? I spent 4 hours to explore the historical site, until the Inca Bridge and as I’m running late, I had to take the bus again (US$12) to AC.

Then, I took the expensive 50 minutes slow train (US$30) as I didn’t have the energy to walk the 10kms anymore. All in all, total cost for me to see my childhood dream place was US$137 (including a cheap bed at AC for US$15). Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s one of the wonders of the world, and Machu Pichhu is worth every single $ I spent. My special thanks to sis Puteri Juliana for her generous contribution and big support to help me to full-fill my childhood dream to visit this special place and to continue with my ride. My last destination in Peru was Puno. It was a chilly wet ride almost all the way. When I reached Juliaca, the off-road was sooo bad with lots of pot holes filled with rain water and there was a weekend market going on. It was a very tense moment as I had to squeeze in between the many people, the stalls, and the road was muddy and slippery. When I was climbing up a mountain to reach Puno, there was snow on the road!! I reached the town after riding for 420kms via route 3S with the highest elevation at 4355m. 

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