I see on my basic maps a route passing through the middle of the mountains and set out, aiming in the far distance for Cuzco. Along the way I pass through Huánuco, The extremely high & cold Cerro de Pasco, Huancayo, Ayacucho, Abancay and finally arrive in Cuzco many days later after some very long days on horrendous gravel roads.
Highlights along the way include:
- Driving through a heavy snowstorm near Cerro de Pasco. For the first time I see Peruvians drive with anything resembling restraint or diligence.
- Watching an enormous thunderstorm roll right in front my campsite, with a beautiful sunset as the backdrop.
- Wandering into a shopping centre in Huancayo that is bigger, brighter and all-round ‘more’ than anything I’ve seen before. These guys have copied the North American model to the letter, complete with suits walking around taking copious notes about everything and anything. My appearance is apparently significant, as they all go crazy writing and following me around to see where I go.
- Randomly meeting a friendly local in Ayacucho, hanging out with him all day and having a great night with all his friends. Staying at the ‘Discoteca’ until 3.30 necessitates an extra day in Ayacucho.
- Seeing Peruvian road construction in full-scale action – I know this doesn’t sound like much, but it really is a sight to see. Around 100km at a time is worked on, and each corner I round I see at least a hundred workers digging, drilling and jack-hammering, not to mention the hundreds of pieces of heavy machinery of all kinds. In a few hours I see tens of thousands of Peruvians working hard to surface these crazy mountain roads. And the best part of all? The entire area is lit, so work continues 24 hours a day.
- Discovering my camp stove gets hot enough to cook popcorn. I see a lot of popcorn in my future.
I arrive in Cuzco right on sunset and find my way to the amazing Quinta Lala campground, essentially dedicated to overland travelers. Checkout their Previous Visitors page to get an idea of the kind of vehicles people are driving around down here. With wifi, a laundry, kitchen, dry area for camping and plenty of green grass only 15 mins walk from the center of town it’s going to be hard to leave.