Friday, January 1, 2016

The Andes in Peru

After all this time spent on the coast, we were eager to head to the mountains; specifically to the town of Caraz, where there is a comfortable, quiet, and safe campground.
Tortugas, Peru
From the small fishing village of Tortugas, we headed due east across the Cordillera Negra to Caraz. The road was as narrow and winding as it was spectacular. We climbed from sea level to the 4300-meter high pass for about 100 km, then down to 2260 meters in about 30 km. This single-lane road, while paved, had countless switchbacks and a gazillion potholes. No wonder the trip from Tortugas to Caraz took us six hours.
cordillera negra
rocky mountain
narrow and winding road
At the south end of Caraz, a friendly fellow named Jaime has set up his Campground Guadalupe specifically for overlanders like we. The site is part of an hacienda, and Jaime has ambitious plans for expansion. It'll be interesting to check on his progress during our northward return.
Jaime's campground is a meeting point of a great variety of travelers. Of the ones we met there, almost all of them were Europeans, although one couple from southern Germany and neighboring Austria now is based in Alaska; they tool around in a very nice camper made in California.
A young couple from Seattle were the only "real" US Americans, and they chose a unique vehicle: a compact Honda Element converted to a camper with pop-up roof and big off-road tires.
We met a Swedish couple on motorcycles, which have traveled the world, and a German couple in a European-made motor home, which has endured their years-long vagabonding throughout South America.
And then there was the Scottish couple about our age, who have been bicycling (!!!) throughout South America for five years. At last count, they had crossed the Andes eleven times! Our count in comparison: two or three. We have a ways to go, don't we?
High-elevation paramo/Paramo in Hochlagen/Paramo
temperature and elevation
12 C at/auf/a 4115 m
on the pass
steep mountain
It's all downhill from here/von nun an gings bergab/para abajo ahora
road on cordillera to Caraz
At Campground Guadalupe, we dropped the camper, and drove to Laguna Paron. This glacial lake is over 4,000 meters above sea level and surrounded by mountains higher than 6,000 meters. The road's fine for four-wheel drive, although our Toyota barely made it around some of the steep and narrow switchbacks in one turn.

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