Initial Images from the Ghostrider 2010 South America Ride

(The full story will be posted within a few weeks)

Downtown Lima (capital city of Peru) - the Plaza Mayor. The gardens are green and there is no shortage of water but don't be fooled - the last time it rained in Lima was Jan 1970. Anyone under 40 years of age has never seen it rain here.
Our next stop was Cusco - the capital of the Ancient Inca Empire and 3600 metres above sea level. The picture shows a narrow alleyway in Cusco (note the incredible Inca stonework still used as foundations for most modern buildings)
Detail shot to illustrate amazing precision of Inca stonework - no mortar here, just precision cuts
Inside the Inca complex at Sacsayhuaman - above Cusco. Stones weighing hundreds of tonnes were moved from the quarries over 18 km away
Some of the well preserved Inca cliffside buildings overlooking Ollantaytambo
Quiet cycling alongside the Rio Urubamba (or it was quiet until a strike and a noisy mob blocked the road)
Ghostriders trying to look like Incas in the famous ruins at Ollantaytambo
Almost 4200 metres and the air is getting thinner - not easy to do any physical exertion at this height
Our cycling support crew - always cheerful and great fun to ride with
This little girl didn't know what to make of the strange lycra clad riders passing through her town
Another local girl and her much loved doll
A lovely quiet village that we cycled through, although no one appeared to be home
Quechuan woman demonstrating their unique way of hand spinning alpaca wool (No spinning wheels here)
Cycling heaven away from the madding crowd. High Central Plateau of Peru at approx 4200 m. Talk about the road less travelled.
The incredible circular terraces of Moray. The scale can be appreciated by the small figures near the top of the terraces. Each terrace apparently has its own micro climate enabling different crops to be grown on each level.
The ancient Salinas de Maras. These ancient pans date back to pre Incan times and have been in continuous salt production for many hundreds (maybe thousands) of years. It was like a window to another time.
Now that's what I call a road ! Note it winding away into the distance like a mad snake.
4300 metres and steadily gaining. There is no vegetation way up here and it is almost like cycling on Mars.
Ghostriders gathered at the pass that separates the Amazonian rainforests of Eastern Peru from the much dryer plateau of the west. Approx 4300 metres above sea level. The sign warns that this is a cloud zone.
Count the switchbacks ! This was the type of riding we had come so far to enjoy.
The railway station at Ollantaytambo. The hotel where we stayed is part of the station.
Highly preserved Inca Ruins near Ollantaytambo.
The impressive Mount Veronica as viewed from the Inca Trail.
Heading into the more remote reaches of the Rio Urubamba - approaching Machu Picchu.
More highly preserved Inca Ruins, off the beaten track where trekkers seldom reach.
Enjoying some moments of quiet reflection in one of the most exotic locations on earth.
Ghostriders on the Inca Trail.
Another well preserved Inca settlement near Machu Picchu.

The scale of the Inca engineering is mind boggling.

The ancient paths are getting steeper and steeper as we approach the so called "Lost City".
Our first views of Machu Picchu as seen from the ancient Sun Gate, high above the city itself. The road is the new tourist road to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
Closer view of Machu Picchu. Many buildings are almost completely intact apart from the original thatched roofs.
Note the precision cuts on the stones - this would last forever if it wasn't for the regular earthquakes
Some of the highest quality stonework at Machu Picchu
Very well preserved dwelling at Machu Picchu
Wandering llamas at Machu Picchu
The President of Peru, Dr Alan Garcia, came out to welcome the Ghostriders to Puno (what a surprise)

Captain Coxhill and his sidekick Gilligan take charge of this mysterious floating island (Uros, Lake Titicaca)
These islands actually floar several metres above the floor of the lake and each is home to local villagers who live in reed huts and fish the lake. This area can be bitterly cold in winter and it gives further evidence of just how tenacious humans can be.

Pink flamingos on a lake much higher than Titicaca (approx 4500m)
Standing above the lake in the previous photo (approx 4550 m)
Wild vicunas grazing beside the road (4500 m)
Thousands of rock cairns erected by pilgrims at top of pass (elevation 4950 metres) Of course the Ghostriders also erected our own cairn to go with the others, although I don't think I would ever be able to find it again.
Resting condor in Colca Canyon. This one is obviously quite young. People come from all over the world to Colca Canyon in the hope of catching a glimpse of a condor. Sometimes they do not see any, but we were lucky enough to see between 20 and 30 at quite close quarters. It was an amazing experience.
Linda risks life and limb to perch above a sheer 1000 metre drop in Colca Canyon to watch the condors
Giant condor riding the thermals high above Colca Canyon (wingspan over 2 metres)
Ghostriders at 5000 metres (16400 ft) - almost no vegetation and impossible to get a decent breath. It felt like we were exploring the surface of Mars.
Cycling towards the volcanoes of Arequipa at 4800 metres. It was an incredible experience, but so hard to breathe that every rise in the road left you gasping for air. I have never breathed so hard in all my life.
View of central plaza of Arequipa - the beautiful "White City" (so called because of the white volcanic rock used to build much of the city.
Pedestrian mall in Arequipa - one of our favourite cities in Peru
Central Plaza of Arequipa by night
Large volcanoes in the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile)
This area had some of the most amazing scenery I have seen in any of my travels
The view from our hotel in central Buenos Aires - the obelisk is the most famous landmark in the city. The street had over 20 lanes of traffic and is the main thoroughfare of Buenos Aires
Part of the thundering Iguassu Falls on the Brazil/Argentina Border. Much higher than Niagara and surely one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the planet. The volume of water was boosted by recent torrential rains in the area.
Another section of the falls - this one is called "Dos Hermanas" (two sisters)
Yet another view of the falls - the hovering birds are buzzards. Note the discoloration of the water due to the recent rains.
The famous Casa Rosada (Pink House) in Buenos Aires. The balcony is where Evita gave her famous rousing speeches to the adoring crowds below in the plaza.
Long legged tango dancer gets up close and personal with Allan (La Boca district of Buenos Aires).
View along one of the colourful streets of La Boca - the famous artists' precinct of Buenos Aires. A fun place during the daytime but apparently not the best place to wander after dark.
View along one of the "avenues" in the famous Recoleta Cemetery - this is literally a "City of the Dead" with hundreds of giant, ornate mauseleums erected to store the coffins of the rich and famous of Buenos Aires
The mauseleum of the Duarte Family - this is the final resting place of the body of Eva Peron. Following her death in 1952 physicians spent 3 years emlaming and preserving her body. The original plan was to have it housed for permanent public display in a memorial larger than the Statue of Liberty. Following the coup of 1955 the body was secretly moved to Milan in Italy where it laid for the next 18 years. It was eventually recovered by Marshall Peron and for a time it was kept in a coffin on his dining table where it was lovingly tended to by his third wife. Peron returned to Argentina for a short period in 1974 but died soon after. Evita's body is now stored well underground and protected by steel doors and trapdoors to avoid any possibility of future grave robbing. Some claim it could withstand a nuclear blast - a strange story but true.
One of the plaques on the Evita Mauseleum
Many of the coffins in the other mauseleums are victims of the inexorable passage of time. The extreme efforts that some of these dignitaries went to in an effort to gain some of immortaility is quite macabre and more than a little sad.
The coffins are not buried but are stored in full view on shelves. Many have not been attended since the day of the burial. It would an interesting place to spend a night. The casket in the above picture looked like it was about to collapse.
Inside the Casa Rosada - home of Evita and Marshall Peron
Dining Room at the Casa Rosada - if only the walls could talk !
The view from "the" famous balcony on the Casa Rosada looking out over the plaza. This is the view that Evita had when addressing the masses.
View along one of the main streets of Colonia Del Sacramento. This is the oldest town in Uruguay and a beautiful contrast to the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires. It is reached by a 1 hour high speed ferry across the River Plate. When you travel from Buenos Aires to Colonia you put your clock forward by 1 hour and your calendar back by about 100 years.
Another view of delightful Colonia del Sacrimento looking towards the lighthouse. There is not a single traffic light in the entire town. The top of the lighthouse is reached by a narrow spiral staircase, but the views from the top make the claustrophobic climb well worthwhile.
Colonia has many small idyllic hotels which would make it ideal for a relaxing holiday.
Another feature of Colonia are the numerous old cars in the town - some of them still in use and others just allowed to mellow on the side of the road.
 
The next day we were to begin the long journey back to Australia, but we all had an enormous storehouse of memories to last us for the rest of our lives.
The Ghostriders South America Trip (like most of our previous trips) was conducted by World Expeditions - the experts in all your adventure travel needs. Phone me on 03 5968 3307 for more information about their huge range of adventure options.