Recent Posts

A Struggle into Lima.

We arrived in Lima after 2 days of struggling with keeping Penny going. We have had terrible trouble with one cylinder fowling the sparkplug causing numerous stops to replace and clean after spending a day trying to get the mixture correct.

But the great news is we got here under our own steam like every other car in the rally bar the mechanical support vehicle that is coming from Cusco on a lorry.

Since my last post while we rested an extra day in Urubamba we have had a great time. We went straight to Puno when we got away as James was not well after not eating for 36 hour, We complexly missed the Colca Canyon and the Condors to give James an extra rest day in Puno while the rest of the rally caught us up.

I spent the morning in Puno visiting a floating reed island that people live and fish on. There main income now comes from the hundreds of tourists that visit each day. It a very basic lifestyle with the reed islands always needing servicing and new material added.

We departed Puno in separate cars as James took Jaime the photographer for the day while I travelled with John and Fiona in the organisation car. We crossed over the Andes through a high plateau to drop down into Arequipa on the edge of the Peruvian part of Atacama Desert. This was one of the most visually stunning drives of the trip with the morning surrounded be mountains caped with a fresh dusting of snow from the previous nights storms. Then along and very rough track passing between two conical shaped volcanoes over looking Arequipa.

The run up to Lima along the Pacific Coast is both beautiful and amazing with the left side of the road being the biggest ocean on earth and the right side being the driest place on earth. Amongst this desert in the fertile lowlands and river valleys is all the farming that helps feed Peru, with the water coming from the rivers feed from the high Andes were it rain and snows.

Our over night stop was at Nazca with some of us planning a morning flight to visit the Ancient Nazca lines best viewed from the air. This trip was a failed mission with ground control calling us back to base after the first sighting due to visibility. With the expected delay of 1 to 2 hours we gave it a miss so as not to get in to Lima to late.

James and I once again arrived at the hotel last with the support crew hire car following in case we need more help then moral support as we cleaned plugs after every time in slow town traffic causing us problems.

During this trip the decision has been made that when Penny returns to Australia she will get a body taken off the chassis and a total rebuild to try and lessen the annoying little problems we have been troubled by on this trip. She will need to be ready to go into a container next August for Julie and I to partake in the Classic Safari in South Africa during October 2018

Out of Brazil into Peru.

I know this post is a bit out of order but its been busy and today James and I are having a forced extra day due to a very bad tummy bug he picked up last night so we elected to stay in Urubamba for an extra day and catch up tomorrow while everyone is at Colca Canyon with the Condors. I’ll use the time to catch up on my blog and sorting photos

We left Rio Branco and its razor wire for the drive to the Brazilian border over fairly good tarmac with not too many potholes. About 3k’s from the border we thought we had a tyre going down the way the car was handling only to discover that we had broken a main rear spring leaf. So the potholes and the fact that the rear springs have been on the car ever since James and I did Africa in 2012.

The decision was made to limp to the border and get into Peru before it closed at 1300 for lunch then fix on the other side. Brazil exit was as smooth as you can hope with a border and we arrived at Peru at 1200 in the middle of a thunderstorm. Rain shuts down the power and border processing stops. While lunching James said let’s go and find a fuel station awning and we will be nearly fixed by the time lunch was over. Mainspring leaves is one of the few spare parts we carry.

We found a great awning back in no man’s land with dry concrete and room for people to get to his pumps. The owner spoke very good English as welcomed us while we fixed. While there we had a visit from a Peruvian dog which has no hair except its tail and a Mohawk.

With the help of Ian the service mechanic we had the job finished about 10 minutes after the rest of our group had cleared the border so good timing.

We arrive into Porto Maldonado for a rest day and jungle visit in the dark but still in time for dinner so another great day.

We started the day with an early cruise to visit parrots that eat clay out of the riverbank in special areas to get minerals they require. The parrot activity was not great but it always impressive being on the waterways of the Amazon with the size and the flow of the river and this was only a tributary.

After lunch we all headed out on a riverboat trip to a jungle walk and canoe trip around a lake. This started as good as it gets with a 2 Toed Sloth and baby in the trees as we head down the steps to the boat. Sloths appear to like an urban environment due to their main predator the eagle doesn’t come near towns.

The jungle walk was fun with a snake eating a frog and main butterflies before getting to the lake for sightings of Caiman, Squirrel Monkey, Bats and many different birds.

Walking home from dinner that night I saw a most interesting bike load with the 2 kids sitting on the fuel tank in front of Dad and Mum breast feeding the baby on the back while going down the street. The only person wearing a helmet was Dad. From what I saw in the town, law must be that only the rider needs a helmet as no passengers ever wear helmets

It was then of to the Andes and Machu Picchu the next day.

The Amazon into the Andes

Yesterday we left the Peruvian Amazon for the drive to Machu Picchu in the Andes.

This drive started with 200 k’s of flat highway interspersed with many speed bumps through mainly farming land with the exception of a alluvial gold rush area with the most messy and untidy shanty town that has sprung up either side of the highway to service and house the people mining. The red dirt coloured water in the rivers and swamps defined the boundaries of the gold rush.

Not long after that we started the climb over a range in the Andes that took us to 4800 metres with both the cars and people showing some altitude problems of varying degrees.

The reward for this drive is the stunning views and winding roads amongst great mountain ranges doted with villages with people living and farming in pretty harsh conditions. For some reason no one ever seems to tire with driving through mountains no mater how exhausting it is in old cars.

While stopped at the top we looked ahead and decided to put our roof on and a good call that turned out to be with a big storm and hail being encountered just prior to stopping in the village of Tinki for lunch at the local market.

That lunch stop will be remembered for a long time with so many of the locals dressed with vibrant colours in what we would call national dress but to these mountain people it is their day to day clothing with the women working in the field dressed the same. The thing noticed by most of our group was that the young people under mid 20’s don’t dress in the same clothes opting for modern western clothing.

As the only Europeans in town we were just as much an interest to them while we lunch at various stalls on chicken and rice or local trout and rice.

The rest of the day was the run in to Urubamba for a 2-night stop. The whole day including the lunch stop took James and I 12 hours so we were well and truly ready for food and bed last night.

On the rest day anyone that hadn’t been before visited Machu Picchu, while 7 of us decided to travel to Cusco for a peek-a-boo as we had driven through it but not stopped on a previous trip.

A Day of Special Moments.

Yesterday was billed as the toughest day of the rally with 400 k’s of the worst dirt followed with a 200k tarmac run into Porto Velho including 2 river ferry’s and possible 1.5 hours wait until the next ferry. A well deserved rest day and car service.

When James and I travel we divide the day into ¼’s so we have our little targets, like that’s the first ¼ finished then ½ and then the excitement builds as you are in the last 1/4, which we split up again until we make the end. Yesterday we had divided the day into two; the dirt to the Ferry and then the tarmac slog into Porto Vehlo.

Starting without dust.

We started early before breakfast after sneaking into the restaurant to grab some bread rolls and slices of a Quiche to keep us going for the planned 11hour day. Due to the rain the previous after noon the dust was settled and the road was very good to the first ferry. The driving as been filled with masses of brightly coloured butterflies the whole trip. With the overnight rain the butterfly numbered must have quadrupled with one some damp patch’s of ground attracting them in the droves.

The Macaw.

Since being in the Amazon James and I have heard a lot Macaws but not seen one clearly. About an hour in we heard the familiar screech of a Macaw, we both looked up and an absolutely brilliant coloured Blue and Yellow Hyacinth Macaw was flying with us about 6 metres above our right shoulder. It was so special we both forgot to grab the camera before he flew into the trees, sorry to say no photographic proof.

The Snake.

As we closed in on the end of the dirt we both saw a snake crossing the road ahead, we slowed and started to stop beside it but penny isn’t really a stealth machine so a silent approach was not going to happen. We did get a good look at this brilliant coloured 2-metre snake as it left our company as fast as its scales would carry it. Again no photographic proof just the memories of a special moment. We later worked out from the WWW that it was a juvenile Green Anaconda. Still a cracker 2 meters long!

The end of the dirt and the ferry just in time.

As we counted down the last k’s to the ferry we speculated on how long a wait we would have for the next ferry? We knew the ferry was on our side of the river due to the number of cars we had been meeting in the last 20 odd kilometres. At last we see the gap in the trees that was the river ahead and the normal collection of building that accompany a river cross so we knew the end was near. We topped the riverbank to see the local that had passed us about 5 k’s back just getting on the ferry. So we raced down the hill to the shouts of “HURRY” from our fellow rally friends, to race on the ferry just as it was embarking. We found out that it had already started to leave and had come back to get the local and stayed for us as well as we came over the hill in time. This saved us a 1.5 hour wait for the next trip. Some of our friends had not been as lucky as us and experienced the long wait later in the day.

The clean fresh hotel.

After 4 days of dusty red dirt and basic hotel accommodation it was nice to check-in to the Holiday Inn Porto Velho. The accommodation for the previous nights was a hoot but some times it nice to have a little bit extra like a hot and a cold tap in the shower.

The day finished with a fantastic dinner out at one of the nicest restaurants in town all thanks to the great generosity of Martin Egli. It was Martins’ birthday yesterday so we all helped him celebrate it.

Today has been fix-it or wash-it day.

As the tourist industry in Porto Velho is a bit non-existent today stop was just planned as a rest and fix day.

Penny need a bit of love and attention with me finding the drive shaft bolts coming loose once again so this recurring problem will need sorting properly back at home. Other then that all was good.

The 2CV got a complete service and some more welding to the suspension ready for the challenges ahead.

The Willy’s and the Chevy only need minor love and attention with quite a few cars getting complete inside and out detailing for about $25.00.

Jack Amies has arrive to be Martins offsider and keep the Lagonda running for the rest of the rally, and seems to be busy today getting things sorted under the car ready for tomorrow.