Lima via the remote Eastern highlands to the Bolivia border.

After 13 weeks at home we have hit the road again. Flying from Cairns to Lima took just over 27 hours including a 7 hours stopover in Santiago. Lima (Peru) is a bustling city with a vibrant nightlife and cultural scene. More important, it is the main gateway to Peru as only very few enter by road like we did earlier in the year. After we picked up our truck again at Carlos 4X4 in Chaclacayo, we were off to explore inland Peru and the highlands. After we did our shopping, we followed the Carretera Central East and made our first ascent over the Ticlio mountain pass (4818 meters) around 130Km East of Lima. Here you also find the world’s second highest railway line in the world at 4719 meters. The weather turned from sunshine into rain, rain into sleet and sleet into snow. Visibility zero and slippery roads made the drive down the mountain a challenge. Once we entered the Mantaro valley the weather cleared. The Mantaro River is the most distant source of the Amazon. South of Huancayo we veered off and followed the track to La Esmeralda. The road is narrow and dangerous with overhanging rocks, parts of the road are missing and in many places the road is bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters, unprotected by guardrails. This is a mountain track with many hairpins and very dangerous drop offs. To make matters worse the rain started to set in making the road slippery. Next, we were confronted with a minor landslide, but just passable, unaware that the road was blocked by a major landslide just a few kilometres further. 7 hours later we could pass at our own risk. This meant we had to drive 5 hours in the dark. Following the mountain track with deep ravines, slippery roads and being just one lane, it involved reversing to let others pass. It’s certainly breathtaking and now I understand why this road has a fearsome reputation.

It remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. I have attached one of our own clips before the landslide and as we did 50% of this road in semi dark and darkness, I have copied a Utube movie from another traveller to show you some of the terrain we tackled. You may question why we drove in the dark? The answer is they may close the road indefinitely, until it would be stable again.

But we made it with our 12000KG 2.5meter wide 4×4 truck despite the many detours. The road through the canyon is extreme. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. We crossed yet another of the world’s challenging roads of our list. From here we followed the track via Kiten and, Santa Rosa to Ollantaytambo This road is very exciting and sometimes very exposed, an unsecured driveway with innumerable twists and turns. From Santa Maria the road is in perfect condition and we enjoyed Ollantaytambo, the markets in Chinchero and Pisac and the Sacred Valley drive before arriving in Cusco for some R&R at Quinta Lala. You can skip the intro and start around 50 seconds in, which covers the part we did in the day time

The great part of travelling through this remote part of Peru is that a lot of the agricultural practices are still being implemented since the time of the Inca’s and haven’t changed in over 2000 years. Medicine men still use mother earth as their guide, and we loved the colourful costumes of the ladies. We never knew that over 3000 different varieties of potatoes are grown in Peru! After a few days rest in Cusco it was off to our next destination Lake Titicaca and the Floating islands. Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at just over 4000 meters high.

We bush camped on the Capachica Peninsula North East of Puno at Playa Chifron. Lake Titicaca has over 50 floating islands made from grass; this area is called Uros (very touristy) however the further away islands are where people still live like centuries ago. The people wear colourful clothes and make things out of grass, weave, while the man go out fishing for a living.


Till next time from Bolivia