Peru: Machu Picchu Express

Jan 12, 2018 View Comments by

Peru Tour, Blue Rim Tours

 

Today the curves start, and they won’t stop! At 1,640 feet (500 meters) above sea level, Nazca was comfortably warm, but 37 miles (60 km) of countless curves later, it’s more than just the altitude that’s changed.  At 15,091 feet (4,600 meters), we encounter rain and snow. If the weather’s not enough to slow us down, the carbureted motorcycles are – they perform at only about 50 percent of their original horsepower.

Our group convenes at the top. It’s the highest that I, and most of the other riders, have ever been. The thin air has an adverse effect on one participant, so we load his Falcon onto the pickup. Too late I realize that over-exerting myself at this altitude is a bad idea. In exchange for a few seconds of pushing the bike, my head begins to pound, my vision goes dark, and my stomach takes a hit as well. Several minutes later, I start to feel somewhat normal again, but I can’t stop shivering and the effects linger for the next few days.

The mountains are literally awe-inspiring. We’re surrounded by dark forest green on all sides as we descend into the Charluanca Valley. Debris from several mudslides and fallen rocks cover the road, but somehow they just add an element of excitement to our ride through The Andes. Steep slopes surround us.

 

Peru Tour, Blue Rim Tours

 

Once in the valley, our day concludes when we land at the only hotel within miles. We wake to sunshine the next morning and leave with a stomach full of Peruvian breakfast: bread with butter, marmalade, ham, and cheese. The long sweepers through the Charluanca Valley will surely satisfy any motorcyclist. Since there’s only one road, everyone travels at their own pace – it’s not a group ride, per se.

After finally cresting a mountain range that seems to have no top, we quickly descend into yet another valley. The trip down delivers temperatures that rise drastically. We scramble to remove rain gear and layers, and then strap the gear onto the back of the bikes. It’s not long before Christa realizes one of her straps has broken and her rain pants have been put to the ultimate test: they’ve become completely entangled in the chain and sprocket and the rear wheel. Two of our tour cohorts riding not far behind stop to help, and our joint effort, combined with a sharp knife do the trick – but the pants fail the test miserably. We hope for sunshine the remainder of the trip – a naïve request, perhaps, at the start of Peru’s rainy season.

 

Peru Tour, Blue Rim Tours

Machu Picchu

The City in the Clouds and The Lost City of the Incas, as Machu Picchu is known, can be reached only by train to Ollantaytambo and then either by bus or trekking. The well-hidden locale ensured that the Spanish conquistadors missed it completely. In fact, it wasn’t until 1911 that Hiram Bingham, with the help of a local farmer, discovered this lost Inca city.

We stay the night in Ollantaytambo and take the first train at 6 a.m., which snakes its way through a narrow, picturesque valley to Aguas Calientes. From there, a bus takes us up many switchbacks to Machu Picchu. For a well-spent , we hire a guide who not only leads us to the outskirts of the city, but she also tells us about the Incas and their advancements in science and technology. When we arrive at Machu Picchu, all is enshrouded by morning fog that lends itself to a mystical feeling. Only occasionally does the fog lift, revealing small areas of the city. As we walk, it eventually burns off and exposes one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Machu Picchu is set between two mountains, one from which it takes its name, and the other, known as Huayna Picchu (or Wayna Picchu). The climb to the top is limited to only 400 people a day. It’s a tough 45-minute ascent. But the payoff is worth it and the views extraordinary.

 

 For information on our tours or to register, call (336) 306-5282 or visit www.bluerimtours.com.

 

Photography: Florian Neuhauser and Christa Neuhauser

Tags: , , , , Categories: Destinations

About the author

As long as I can grab a handlebar, I'll ride it. Trail riding is becoming my favorite hobby as of late. Hope to meet you on the road.