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