September 04, 2008 GMT
Lines in the desert

Lines in the desert.

My route has left The Pan-American Highway and now takes me inland. The landscape is dry and dusty, and there are 700metre sand dunes in the distance, an adventure playground; imagine sand-boarding down a 2000ft sand dune! My road takes me up and through these sand dunes into the dry mountains I saw in the distance. This is desert country again with only the odd splash of green where an underground river nears the surface. Then as the road passes over a small hill the flat desert plane of Nasca is spread out before me. Incredibly the highway passes straight through the middle of this World Heritage Site, but I expect the highway was there before any one realised that there was anything here but rocks and sand. The road heads as straight as an arrow across the plane and I can see trucks passing over another little hill well over 3 miles away. Halfway across the plane I pass a viewing station but do not stop as I want to see it from the air tomorrow.

Straight as an arrow to Nasca
O1.JPG


Riding through the busy streets of Nasca searching for a hotel, I am surprised how un-commercialised it is. The same run down streets and shops, the dogs and old men dozing in the sun in the plaza, and a busy street market, it could be any small Peruvian town. The hotel I choose, in truth it is the only one that looked open to me, has small bungalow accommodations at the rear with small terraces outside to sit and laze on, as well as being in line of sight of the parked up bike. After a walk around the streets to get my bearings and having chosen a place to eat I sit with an after dinner beer and watch a gaggle of elderly American tourists waddle up the street. Behind me a couple take a table and I hear the unmistakable sound of a Yorkshire accent. We talk for a while and then I head back to the hotel.
The next morning after breakfast I head out to look for an ATM and am accosted by a ticket tout who offers me a flight to see the lines. Not only that but there is another couple booked on the flight, so I get the co-pilots seat; how could I refuse?
A bumpy taxi ride to the airport, a swift introduction to my Korean co-passengers and we climb aboard the small high winged monoplane. The interior looks a bit like a badly maintained Morris Minor with extras, but it all seems to work ok and we get the ok from the tower as we taxi across the apron.

Looks great in the photo, just don’t look too close in real life!
O2.JPG


The pilot banks right almost as soon as the wheels leave the ground, or so it seems, and the landscape of the town outskirts, peppered with green bushes and little houses appears through my window. Our pilot takes us to each location and circles both clockwise and anti-clockwise so the view can be seen from either side of the plane. There are one or two little mewing sounds from behind me, so it seems the Korean girl is not to keen on flying in a small plane, but on the other side of her I hear the continuous click and whir of an expensive SLR camera so guess her partner will console her when our feet touch the ground again. This is really exhilarating! I’m enjoying the banking and turning along with the sudden updrafts and downdrafts from the desert below almost as much as seeing these fantastic motifs set out in the desert by a long gone civilisation, maybe more so dare I say, but that would make me sound like a Philistine, heaven forbid! A photo is worth a thousand words, so they say, but I have had to enhance these quite a lot so you can see anything at all. I'm sure there are good photos elsewhere if you want to search for them.

The Whale (at the top) and The Scorpion.
O3.JPG

The Astronaut. (on the hillside)
O4.JPG
The Frog. (note the viewing tower and main road in top left corner)
O8.JPG


Back on the ground my guide has left to tout a few more tickets but left me a ride back to town. It is with some amusement that I mount pillion on a small 100cc motorbike and with me holding on for dear life, we weave our way around potholes and through the traffic back to the hotel. What an enjoyable morning this has turned out to be.

Now once more on my own sturdier mount the next morning I head for the next ‘must do’ in Peru, Cusco and Machupicchu unaware that I will be knocked out by the stunning scenery on the way. The road climbs steadily out of the plane, through barren small mountains with verdant valleys. The little town of Puquio is a mess with a torn up detour through its back streets, but the horizon promises high mountains ahead.

Yes, the road does go out of the picture and come back again, many many times.
O9.JPG

Not only is it fun, you get this fantastic view as well.
O10.JPG


Further up the road I come to a sharp bend at the top of a mountain pass and there are skid marks all over the road.
‘Wow!’ I think, somebody certainly overcooked it here.’ But the way they drive here made it no surprise. Around the bend a few hundred meters there were a couple of cars and a lorry stopped, nothing unusual about that, until I got level and saw the safety barrier burst open and the debris on the road. A little further on the road turned across the slope and I could see the ruined shell of a bus in the rocks with paper and cloth still blowing around along its route to its resting place. ‘This has only just happened I thought, maybe an hour ago.’ About a mile down the road I passed a group of people, heavily ladened with bags, boxes and reels of plastic water pipe. It was only after passing them that I realised that these were the surviving passengers from the bus!! They had been left to make their own way to the next town or maybe the hospital to see loved ones who had not been so lucky. Unfortunately there was not much help I could offer, having no room for a passenger. I briefly thought of unloading the bike and offering to ferry them, but with insufficient Spanish for the task, and all the stuff they had, it would be an almost impossible task, much to my regret at my inability to help I carried on.

Wreck of the bus, clothes still blowing in the breeze where they caught on the shattered windows.
O11.JPG


The road follows a river gorge through the mountains and I am knocked out by the view, but dusk is coming on and it starts to rain, I begin to worry both about the petrol situation and driving at night in the rain, when I get to the small bus stop town of Chalhuance. The hotel is basic to say the least, but it has a lock-up yard out back and a small cantina downstairs, so who wants to worry about the cold and the wet, especially after seeing such fantastic scenery.

Gorgeous Gorges
O12.JPG

O13.JPG

The road follows the river gorge, crossing and re-crossing the raging torrent below. All too soon I have to branch off and head back up into mountain passes where the road zig-zags up and down the mountain sides, then through lush valleys that you can see are following the general direction towards the higher ranges ahead. After crossing through green pastured farmland set in wide valleys, I eventually see the city of Cusco spread out before me.

Mountains and terraces, the Inca heartland.
O14.JPG

Not too far ahead lies Cusco.
O15.JPG

The normal thing happens; I get totally lost for a while before getting my bearings and try to find a reasonable hotel. As you would expect from a place as world famous as Cusco, there are many. The first one I try does not have a garage but offers to let me park my bike in reception, unfortunately there is no way that I can get my bike, huge by local standards, through the dog leg created by the glass doors. The next one I have more luck with and ride around the back streets and alleys to reach the garage at the rear. The hotel is a proper 3 star hotel, very plush by recent standards, and a good hot shower, a pleasant meal and a good night’s sleep prepares me for the days ahead.

Next: Machu Picchu

Posted by Derek Fairless at September 04, 2008 12:26 AM GMT
 
 

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!


HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!