Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Caňon del Pato

Daryll writes:

We left the coast and headed towards the mountains – the Cordillera Blanca.  Several riders had told us that the ride through the Caňon del Pato (Duck Canyon) is not to be missed.  The road through the canyon passes under walls of bare rock and through almost 40 tunnels.  The downside was that it was going to be about a 320km day with 80km of that on a gravel road.

Even though we were up early, it was a slow start as we had to pack up our campsite and we haven’t camped for some time, so we were kind of slow in getting going.  We need to camp more often.  The coastal road started of with some spectacular scenery and then turned into absolute nothingness, just barren land with a whole lot of sand.  Since entering Peru, we headed straight for the coast and now were going back into the mountains and it was a welcome change. 

As we left the highway and turned towards the mountains, the windy paved road was in good condition with a few potholes and lots of livestock being herded down the road.  The landscape was breathtaking as the road ran alongside the Rio Serena River as the myriad of colors of rock shone in the sunlight.  Once we hit the gravel section, I thought that it wasn’t that bad, just slow going as it was loose gravel with large rocks.  As I bounced around, the vibration ran through my bones and I thought that my bike was going to vibrate apart.  I flirted with 2nd gear, but was in 1st gear for most of the time.  I could feel the heat come up from my engine and warm my legs so stopped every hour for a break and tried to find a shady spot to hide from the beating sun.  The road twisted and turned and hugged the cliff side and as we went through our first tunnel, I thought to myself – this is so cool. 

80km of pavement goes by quickly.  80km of gravel is slow and after about half dozen canyon twisties, tunnels and over-hanging wall rock, I wanted it to end.  At the start, we were stopping a lot for photos, but towards the end, we just wanted to get to Caraz, our planned destination to spend the night.  The road just went on and on and wouldn’t end.  The road will improve for a few kilometers, and then as quick as it improved, it would deteriorate again.  I wouldn’t consider the road technically difficult and would have loved to have done it again with an unloaded bike.  My body though was getting a good workout in handling the bike through the sharp blind corners and not forgetting the blind tunnels.  Yup, I came through a blind corner to enter a tunnel, only to find someone in a pick-up exiting the tunnel and didn’t even slow down or make room for me to pass.

Once we got through the canyon, and reached the Cordillera Blanca’s, the snow covered peaks made it all worth while.  I don’t think I can do justice to the scenery, landscape and type of riding we did, so I will leave you with this video.  I warn you though, this video is longer than the previous ones.  Enjoy!

Caňon del Pato from One World 2 Explore on Vimeo.

New photos added to the Peru photo album.
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  1. Greg writes... that was an excellent video, I love the narrow roads going throught the small tunnels. You guys have motivated me to get a BMW R1200GS adventure bike to travel with Jill! Going to the motorcycle show in a few weeks so I will keep you posted on any new motorcycle news ! Ride safe.. Greg and Jill

  2. Don't rule out the new Yamaha Super Tenere. There is a pic of it in our Colombia photo album.

  3. If you made the videos 6 hours long....I'd still watch them.

    Ride Safe!

  4. Those tunnels look incredible to ride through. Awesome. Love the videos, and the song in this one was great - what was it?

  5. Wide Open Space - Paul Oakenfold remix.