Written by Dave…
In many ways Peru is an adventure moto traveler’s wet dream. Once out of any city or town the scenery just opens up and makes your jaw drop. Even in the towns, ones small enough to only have dirt roads through them, it can be fun standing on the pegs and railing through the expansive mud puddles. Oh, did I mention it’s the rainy season? Very wet days riding but also extremely swollen rivers to view.
On our first full day in Peru the GPS chose to route us the slowest possible way to our destination. Now most of the time this would be extremely frustrating and I’m still adjusting to a traveling lifestyle, but my first reaction was “thank you Garmin”.
We were traveling from San Ignacio to Cajamarca and it still would have been a long day traveling the more direct 428 km route, however, Garmin felt we should take the more roundabout way entering into the Amazon watershed and travel 540 km on some of the most amazing paved roads of the trip. Up to this point the best paved road was from Morelia to Zihuatanejo (near Ixtopa) in Mexico. We eventually made it through Cajamarca two days later as it was not a destination but merely a point on the map to plot a course to.
The further we have traveled into Peru the better the riding has become with the exception of the PanAmerican coming into Lima. Now Heather may not agree with some of this. I seem to enjoy mud, landslides and creek beds a bit more. I think we would both agree though the paved mountain roads have been the best of the trip. Some of the switchbacks are so close together it feels like a slalom course. The amount of relief in this landscape is incomprehensible by North American standards Valleys on average seem to range from 2500 to 3500 meter or 8200 to 11,400 feet.
This makes for some pretty slow going however and when combined with the fact that Peru is a vast country, we are constantly surprised by how far we still have to go during the day. Also the roads are not built to the safety standards of home. For example, we saw several vehicles with what appeared to be roof racks but we later realized were cages attached to the vehicle’s frame to stop rockfall from crushing them. Also, there is rarely a guardrail and if you screw up the first turn you’re going to the bottom some 2500+ meters below to meet the raging swollen river. Most of these roads are also single lane with virtually no pull-outs to navigate around oncoming traffic that may be a tour bus or transport truck. And even when the road seems to be smooth and fast you’ll likely round a corner to find mud, potholes, livestock and a handful of brick-sized rocks in your lane. It’s perfect!