The Road With No Name
Our friend Jorgee came to visit us all the way from California for two weeks of fun and adventure. She had never camped, been off-road, or pooped outside, but she came willing and ready.
We set out with the goal of seeing as many places as possible. Our itinerary looked something like this:
- Catahausi Canyon: 496km
- Colca Canyon: 517km
- Lake Titicaca/ Puno: 255km
The canyon was beautiful and with adventure in mind, we drove on roads beyond the tourist destination of Catahausi to a village at the end of the canyon called Alca. In the process, we passed through villages where people were dumfounded to see a van with Chilean plates, much less the Asian and two gringos that got out of it.
The detour took the better part of three days and we were behind schedule. In an attempt to make up for lost time, we did what we always tend to do – find a short-cut. With Google Maps as our inspiration, we decided to take a road with no name, a faint white line connecting the two canyons and cutting off over 100km.
We were an hour into the trip and were yet to come across a sign. We passed a construction crew and stopped to see if we were going the right way. They smiled, shook their heads and said “no es para el turista,” meaning it’s not for tourist. We should have listened, but these are words we love to hear. We topped off their thermos and continued on our way.
We are no stranger of taking our beloved VW off road so this should be doable in a day, two days max, right? Wrong.
Day three. We had already made it through 12 water crossings on the worse roads of our trip, seeing virtually no other cars in the process. Our van was tired, beaten and had enough. We ended up breaking down at 4500 meters and still a full days drive from our destination. The only person for many miles was our neighbor who lived in a rock house where he roamed the fields with his sheep and alpacas.
At this altitude, the temperature dropped to well below freezing at night. We were forced to abandon the pop-up tent above and join Jorgee in the main cabin. To fit, we had to all sleep on our sides (cozy doesn’t always mean comfortable). In was here we stayed for 3 more days while we dismantled the engine and attempted a field repair.
On day 7 we managed to fix the problem and made it to our destination. Exhausted and cold, we treated ourselves to a room with electricity and heat to thaw out.
In the end, we didn’t get past itinerary item number 3. But, like most plans that go array, we now have a story to tell.
Here are a few pics from our journey off the beaten path, a path that gave us a good beaten in the end: