Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 51 - Huánuco to Lima, Peru

RobT:  We left Huánuco with the plan to go to Tarma, as the road over Ticlio, the highest pass on the central highway down to Lima is usually socked in by clouds, snow and hail in the afternoon at this time of the year. Then we would head for Ticlio early the next morning when the skies are usually clear.  But we decided not to make it a two-day trip and instead head from Huánuco to Cerro de Pasco through Huallay and and down to Canta to Lima as an option but we did get going a bit late.  We decided to make the decision after looking at the skies at the junction of the road to Huallay on the altiplano outside Cerro de Pasco.  RobC knew that the road to Canta was still unpaved,  but a "shorter" and scenic possibility.

We reached Cerro de Pasco (highest city of its size in the world) before lunch.  Cerro de Pasco is usually a cold and gray mining town that surrounds an open pit white metals mine.  it was so cold and high up that I had to rest between peeing and zipping up my pants. 

View of Cerro de Pasco (highest city in the world 4428 meters, 14,527 feet).

Side street in Cerro de Pasco.

We found the plaza, parked our bikes and tried to figure out where to eat.  Decided we would do that on the way out so I told RobC I'd go for a stroll to see if I could find any photo ops and he would guard the bikes.

I was gone no more than 15 minutes when I returned to RobC entertaining a large crowd of people interested in our bikes and our stories.  A local TV reporter was even there with video camera asking questions about our trip, where we were from and why we were making then trip.  The fellow even interviewed me for a bit while RobC interpreted what little I had to say (I'm not a big talker).

The ever popular RobC handing out stickers of our blog.  EVERYONE wanted one.  We soon ran out.

Videographer and reporter interviewing RobC.

We fueled up and left Cerro de Pasco for the junction.  Didn't actually stop for lunch, but did stop to ask a local about weather conditions at Ticlio versus the road through Canta.  We decided to take the road through Huallay and Canta, as the black clouds in the direction of Ticlio looked very ominous.  We looked behind us and the same thing was happening there.  The weather in the direction toward Canta looked promising, so that's the route we chose.

RobC:  The first place we came to was Huallay, an infrequently visited national park of vertical eroded rock formations, also called the "Bosque de Piedras" (Rock Forest). As a most pleasant surprise we found out that the road to Huallay was newly paved, which previously was a pot-holed mining road that took a couple of hours.

I "discovered" the Bosque de Piedras in the early 70's when making a solo trip over the Andes on a splendid Honda 250XL. I had never heard of this place and stumbled into the rock forest by total surprise and was blown away by it. The solitude, the quaint vegetation (you think you are walking on soft grass, but when looking closely you are actually walking on tiny cacti, with even tinier flowers, barely visible to the naked eye).

RobC inspecting some local flora.

RobT and the llama checking each other out. (RobC:  He/she was puckering his/her lips).

RobC tried to get a close up.  These Llamas are famous for having deadly accurate aim when they spit.  As I filmed RobC taking his pictures, I was hoping for a Llama "spit attack".  No such luck.

RobT:  After spending some time at the rock formations and looking at the sky we figured we needed to press on.  10 minutes later we ran into hail which covered most of the road.  The good part is that it only lasted a few minutes so we didn't have to resort to "paddling" through snow and hail.

Soon after, the pavement disappeared and we were left with a wet, single-lane dirt "road" down to Canta with the occasional side road to a mine.  The scenery that followed was unlike anything either of us has ever seen on this trip!!  Breathtaking!!! You could see untouched, raw beauty for miles!  Snow capped mountains, pristine lakes emptying into other lakes down the mountains and huge valleys, all enjoyed at 4,715 meters (15,500 feet) and 2 Celcius (35 F).

RobC admiring the scenery.

The weather was starting to close in on us and we had about 100 km to go, i.e., several hours of riding on these roads.We averaged about 25 km/hour.

Wet, slippery, muddy road.

Soon after this photo was taken it started raining and I had to catch up to RobC who was waiting at the end of these twisties.

One lane muddy road to Canta.  Beautiful crystal clear lake on the right.  Looked very enticing but I bet it was cold!!

 Canta, finally, viewed from 3 hairpin curves up the mountain.

Sunset at Cantaupslope of these big dips appear as a vertical wall, so we literally stopped at the edge to figure out if the road had ended.  After the 3rd or 4th big dip we got used to it.

Sunset over Canta.

Side note:  All these videos were hand held as the mounting system on the bike had broken ... for the second time.  Hopefully that will get fixed this week.

Video of road to Canta:

Another road to Canta video:

Cerro de Pasco - highest city in the world:

Cerro de Pasco video 2:


  1. Those Photos of the "road" down to Canta, are simply amazing, and the best I've seen of your trip yet. I'd love to explore those mountains on a bike, and on Foot (backpacking).

    Stay safe I am truly envious.

  2. RobC,

    I never thot of this route to Lima (IF you want to go to Lima! I try to avoid it on a moto!) It looks beautiful. But on an XR650 and knobbies I think we could average more like 90 kph! I hate the flatness of the Pampa de Junin anyway and have done it so many times. ANYTHING to avoid La Oroya YUCK!


  3. That's amazing scenery and I thought we had seen a lot on me another reason to visit Peru again, didn't see it all!
    Yeah for making it to Lima!!

  4. I've been following your blog and I'm enjoying your postings a lot. The pictures are great!
    It's amazing to see these remote places through your eyes. It even makes me a bit jealous although I would never want to go through all the inconveniences and much less on a motorcycle! Me muero! : )
    Have a good time with Lisa. Keep it up!
    Un abrazo,

  5. Mark, if you ever make it to Peru and you love the mountains, you will never leave.

    Toby, The road down to Canta will blow you away, or down the mountain if you look around too much. At one point there are three lakes at different elevations that dump water into the lower lakes. In the US this would be a National Monument.

    Tammy, Yes, I would like to see you and Gaby do this trip on (small) motorcycles. :-) You could do it!

    Phyllis, Thanks for your support. We will be in Ayacucho tomorrow - seeing Nazca lines and doing dunebuggy in Huacachina today.

  6. Wow Dad! The picture of you in the right hand corner "RobC admiring the scenery" Blew me away!That needs to be on the cover of a Adventure Rider Magazine. Its my new background on my computer! Love it!