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The debutPERU


The debut

Article published in Superwheels magazine in 2005.

Can you write about a beautiful motorcycle tour in one of the most evocative places in South America, Peru, simply by following a group of motorcyclists aboard a jeep? Maybe yes, but only for once: next time I want two less wheels too.

Read the story published in the magazine.

Life is made up of new experiences, indeed it is said that the more opportunities one encounters, the greater the ability to enrich and improve. Maybe, but I must tell you that following a motorcycle trip with a support vehicle was a real pain. No advantage: I managed to get sick, not to bring back a higher number of photographs than in a similar situation but on board a motorcycle and finally to get bored, when, for organizational reasons, I could not relate to the local people. On the other hand, the group was often up to the situation, apart from occasions for discussions or problems that, as we know, occur anyway, even without reaching the altimetric extremes and the lack of oxygen that this fantastic experience allows to reach.
But what are you going to do, you say?
First of all, because when I hear about Latin America, I immediately enter a competitive trance but also because last year I was contacted by some agencies that organize motorcycle trips in the event of accompanying groups around the world. The first answer, of course, had been no. Accustomed to complete organizational and logistical independence, the possibility of completely overturning this way of walking around had left me totally indifferent. But then, realizing that in any case at least 2 or 3 times a year, especially in the downtimes, this offer became a real opportunity to keep moving also following a different perspective, began to breach my reticence.
“This is how this Peru project was born.
The victims? A motorcycle club in Padua, BMWRI, very active in its travel initiatives which, unaware, had bought the package from an agency in Perugia. I am part of a mechanism that has now started and it starts with customs clearance which, like every time I have been to South America, is not the easiest, also because the organization had foreseen a maximum of one day for the collection of the vehicles.
After the first phone calls, it is clear that everyone, from the on-site contact person, to the Italian freight forwarder to the on-site customs broker, knows that normal practice requires at least 3 days.
All! Except myself.
It will be 2 hectic days, where everything will happen: wrong booklets, documents corrected by hand, computers that freeze causing the practice to stand still, a decidedly stupid customs officer, ran from one office to another.
Thus the first signs of nervousness begin to surface: the participants have paid, are on vacation and rightly want to get hold of their bikes.
Among other things, staying forcibly parked in Lima which, located in the center of the desert coast of Peru, certainly cannot be defined as a city with a pleasant climate.
From April to December, the garùa, the coastal fog, obscures the sun and the situation does not improve much in the few summer months: there is a little more sun, but the smog still makes the climate muggy and unpleasant.
The legend says that when Pizarro and a hundred of his conquistadors, but robbers sound better, they started looking for a suitable place to found the capital of their viceroyalty, they had an Inca as a guide, who decided to take revenge by taking them to this location on the bank of the Rimac. where it never rains and where it never, or very rarely, is beautiful!

The group is not exactly enthusiastic but reluctantly absorbs the extra day of stop in the Peruvian capital. In the end, with a mega transfer partly at night (I know, I know, I've always said not to travel at night and especially in these places!), We will be able to limit the loss of stages in a single day.
And here the path begins to make a difference!
I was lucky enough to travel the coast road that leads to Arequipa 4 times, and, despite everything, this time too it seems wonderful to me, a winding path on a green sea, cutting through giant dunes that plummet steeply into the ocean. Even the garua, the summer fog that covers a part of the landscape does not particularly limit the spectacular nature of the place.
The participants try to recover from the stress of the first days, enjoying the road, typical dishes and views that are certainly different from those they are used to.
The second day sees as the point of arrival, after another mega transfer, Arequipa, 2325m, the white city, the second in Peru, but which has nothing to do with the first: beautiful, modern, historical and animated, with plus a truly enviable climate.
It has no real cold season. In winter, it cools a little in the evening, but its 300 days of sunshine per year remain.
Much of the town is built with a very light colored volcanic rock, hence its nickname.
In the evening, usual aperitif, usually excellent pisco sauer, in the usual bar that overlooks the fantastic, beautifully lit plaza de armas.
Definitely worth visiting is the Santa Catalina Monastery, a convent that covers an area of ​​20,000 square meters, and occupies an entire block. A city within the city. The most beautiful religious building in Peru and probably in all of South America.
But Arequipa also offers fantastic excursions in its surroundings: the most spectacular, also chosen by the organization, is undoubtedly the one to reach the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world. And also the road to get there is not bad at all crossing the Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca, with an average altitude of 3850m, crossing a pass at over 4900m and plunging with a spectacular descent into welcoming Chivay, 180km from Arequipa.
Unfortunately, the excursion is ruined by bad weather, which sees the participants trudging along for several kilometers at more than 4000m immersed in an evil cloud that dangerously limits visibility to a few meters.
We go back, too bad!
And the weather does not improve even the next day, continuing to drive at really above average altitudes to arrive in the sacred lake of the Incas, Lake Titicaca, where we will set the record of the trip: overnight at 3830m !!
The only positive note is the fact that one of the participants, for physical reasons, is forced to let me borrow his vehicle for a day. My physical condition will worsen, forcing a part of the group to make the usual endless series of photo stops and not, which will see us arrive last on Lake Titicaca, the point of arrival of the day.
Puno is certainly not an exciting city, albeit with a certain atmosphere, but the charm that the lake emanates is even extraordinary: at 3810m, 8000km square, with incredible lights and endless horizons.
Too bad for the time that continues to rage on the participants.
However, the excursion to the floating islands of the Uros remains very interesting. Population now extinct, some guides report, it seems that the last one is now dead for years, undermined by poverty and alcohol !!
Those now seen on the islands are Aymara Indians, who once realizing the tourist potential, settled on the island and passed themselves off as descendants of the Uros.

It matters little, whether they are original Uros or fake Aymara, the visit to the floating islands in dove gray, this reed that is collected in the shallow waters of the lake, certainly represents the main tourist attraction of the area.
But the tour begins to come to life, given that the goal of the following day sees us on the street, always and in any case at more than 3000m above sea level, along the 3S towards Cuzco, the focal point of tourism in South America, but even earlier, the capital of the Inca kingdom.
Legend has it that it was founded in the 12th century. by Manco Capac, the first Inca, son of the sun. During one of his travels, the emperor stuck a golden rod in the ground and it disappeared: this point marked the "qosqo" or "navel of the world" in Quechua and it was precisely at that point that he founded the city that would become the center of the largest empire in the Western Hemisphere. The Incas, however, and their reign lasted very little, less than a century, from 1438 to 1532, the year in which Pizarro and his band of thieves arrived in South America, giving immense wealth to themselves and to the crown of Spain, and frustrating misery to the South American populations.
Known as the Kathmandu of the Andes, Cuzco with its surroundings is one of the most beautiful sites in South America. Much of the center, which develops around a fantastic plaza de armas, is made up of beautiful colonial houses, with carved wooden balconies and doors painted in ultramarine blue.
Not to mention what's around her.
Machu Pichu, certainly the most famous and spectacular location in South America. The lost city of the Incas, which Pizarro searched in vain and which Hiram Bingham, an American archaeologist, was only able to discover by accident in 1911.
This is explained because the city is perched on top of a mountain cut so as to make it perfectly invisible from the valley.
But this fantastic archaeological site is not the only attraction in the area.
"Il valle parvis" is a real valley that starts from Pisac with its market and following the course of the Urubamba and passing through various sites and cities, it reaches Ollantaytambo with its incredible fortress and fortified granaries. On this occasion, unfortunately, the group separates and only a part will take advantage of the Pisac stop and the lucky coincidence of the "fiesta de los reyes" which, it seems, in Ollantaytambo, the "fiesta de los reyes", one of the most interesting and followed of the village. Even remaining almost all the time seated at a table in the central square observing and smiling at children, mothers and people who greet us in turn, it is practically impossible not to recognize the extraordinary nature of the event, literally lost in a colorful human river, a human rainbow. .
Colors, colors, dominated by red, a series of columns of dancers that start from the fortified granaries that overlook the small village to join everyone in the village church and start the actual parade. Choreographic, scenographic, suggestive, unforgettable, simply beautiful.
It should be added that the road is probably among the most spectacular and scenic of the entire itinerary. And even the one that arrives in Abancay, the penultimate stage, is not bad at all, especially in the last stretch that falls on this sleepy town at 2377m above sea level.
There remains a stage before returning to more human altitudes, another road-transfer of over 450km, almost all at over 3500-4000m, absolutely a motorcycle orgasm.
But now, unfortunately, the best is behind us, despite returning to Nazca, to admire the lines that escaped us in the first leg to make up for the accumulated delay.
Who doesn't know Nazca? Its incredible figures drawn in the desert are visible only from above, apart from a mirador, located about 30 km from the village, along the Pan-American Highway, from which it is possible to see 3 drawings: a hand, a lizard and a tree. .... but the air excursion is highly recommended, even for those who suffer from flying on these little pipers.

Only Paracas is missing from the appeal, so the first stage with a sleight of hand turns into the last, limiting the damage and leaving everyone happy, I hope.
The excursion to the Ballestas Islands is accompanied by a beautiful sun.
We are really at the end.
Just over 200km, the usual, sad, gray atmosphere of Limegna and the “CHOICE” warehouse welcomes us for a quick repacking of the motorcycles. He goes home.
At this point, I believe that thanks should be given to the 12 participants who have endured my first experience as a group leader.
I have often forgotten that I am, trying to change their way of seeing and traveling, trusting in the curiosity and desire that we all have inside, to relate to people who are so different from us. I probably exaggerated, as usual.
I hope they don't want that much and that they understand my good intentions.
Thank you all and sorry for my mistakes.
Goodbye Peru, but definitely on a motorcycle.

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