Many BikeTravellers know that Paijan, in the North of peru, is a dangerous spot. Not just for cyclists by the way, as many cars and buses have been shot at and robbed as well.
On the south edge of town, there was a police checkpoint. Not really a checkpoint as it turned out. The cop, a woman, was warning us and even the locals in their motor vehicles not to stop in Paiján under any circumstances. I didn’t follow everything that was said, but clearly Paiján is being treated as a zona roja (“red zone”). So it’s not just bad for cyclists anymore. The latest specific incident was a carload of tourists passing through at night and getting their tires shot out and then their stuff stolen. (Jeff Kruys)
But since the ‘ladrones’ of this dusty costal desert town have learned about the long line of BikeTravellers that do the Panam route, they have been focused on cyclists specifically. The chances or robbery are high and the danger is real, see below some comments and stories from the Panam-riders:
On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 8:11 PM, Pedaling South wrote:
1. Is the Sechero Desert a nice place to ride, like the desert in Baja California, Mexico? If not, is the 1B that goes around (east of) the Sechero a viable cycling route? Any tips welcome. We’re headed toward Trujillo (duh) from the North. Right now in Riobamba, Ecuador.
2. Anyone ridden through Paijan, Peru lately? Is this really the black hole of bike touring, i.e. robbers waiting for cyclists to pass through? Sure we don’t wanna get robbed but people have been saying “you’d be crazy to ride through XXX” since we started out from Anchorage. So, can you ride THROUGH Paijan?
Hope yr all good!
On 29 July 2010 21:07, nancy sathre-vogel wrote:
the Sechura is beautiful – extraordinarily sparse and barren, but gorgeous. You can see our photos starting here: http://familyonbikes.org/coppermine/displayimage.php?album=64&pos=38 Just keep clicking next to see all of them. You’ll notice that you start out from Piura and there is quite a bit of vegetation, but it just keeps getting less and less until there is not even a blade of grass. It is gorgeous, but different from anything I had ever seen. There are small restaurants every 40 or 50 km so you won’t have a problem with food or water. Expect very strong headwinds.
We went th rough Paijan (with two kids!) and had no trouble at all. On our way in, we were looking for the police to ask for an escort, but couldn’t find any, so just went in on our own – no trouble. We got a hotel and stayed the night (not a nice place!). The next morning I headed down tot he police station and said, “We are cyclists passing through and I wondered…”
“Which way are you headed?” he asked. “We’ll be ready to escort you in about 10 minutes.”
The police are so used to escorting cyclists it isn’t a problem at all. I don’t think you really need an escort, but we had been warned by so many people that we went ahead and asked.
On Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 7:00 AM, anna wittert wrote:
Lucho told us the robbers are still very much active, and still disadvised all cyclists to cycle through Paijan alone as off 4 months ago.
We cycled from near Riobamba south through Loja, Vilcabamba and into Peru, via Cajamarca, Cajabamba. Then down to Trujillo. Probably the most beautiful stretch in the past 2 years riding, but also hard. Mostly dirt and very hilly….The people in northern peru in the mountains are about as friendly as you’ll ever get.
From: Seth Berling
Sent: zondag 1 augustus 2010 18:27
Subject: Re: [panam-riders] Advice needed: Sechero Desert and Paijan, PERU
I wish I could write to everyone and tell them that our trip through Paijan was uneventful….unfortunately it was not. Upon exiting the town I was keeping a keen watch in my rear view mirror and just like so many other people have described a mototaxi materialized about 200 yard behind us. I called attention to it and we crossed the road so that we had the two lanes separating us and the approaching vehicle. As the mototaxi got closer I saw that there was a young man driving and 3 masked men packed into the back seat. The driver smiled to me and blew me a kiss. He turned around to the other three…unsure about what to do.
The mototaxi sped ahead and then pulled a u turn so that they were headed straight for us. They started flashing their lights and motioning for us to stop our bikes. Obviously there was no fing way we were going to stop. Just before we collided with the taxi they swung out into the roadway and then peeled back so they were headed straight the sides of us. I narrowly avoided having my back wheel clipped out and Parker veered way out onto the shoulder.
At this point the mototaxi sped up along Parker and put two wheels over the side of the road to try and push parker into the ditch below. I was riding along the other side of the taxi to jump to parkers aid, preparing for the inevitable crash. Just when I thought Parker was gone for sure he slammed on his brakes and the mototaxi flew ahead. I was still next to the taxi and both of us were headed into the oncoming traffic. I started to swerve in and out of both lanes in order to slow the traffic going both directions. No one would stop for us and semis narrowly missed us as they came barreling down blasting their air horns. I positioned my bike at a diagonal over both lanes and started enough of a commotion that the mototaxi called it quits and turned off the highway and disappeared into the corn fields.
I am providing this detailed info in hopes of helping anyone who is approached with a similar situation and to urge everyone not to ride through this town. We narrowly, narrowly avoided being robbed of everything and it left both of us with a sour taste.
Seth and Parker
Sent: zondag 1 augustus 2010 18:43
Subject: [panam-riders] Re: Advice needed: Sechero Desert and Paijan, PERU
I circled Paijan on a small gravel/sand road that went inland from the panamerican about 30km after Pacasmayo and eventually took me to Casa Grande and back to the panamerican about 11km past Paijan at Chocope.
It´s a really soft road but doable.. It´s visible on one zoom level of MultiMaps only, and you can see it in the google satelite views. Make a good map as there are confusing intersections on route and no- one around to ask directions. It seemed safe enough, and I only saw a handful of mototaxis all day. If anyone wants to find it, the intersection is where the large straight section ends and the panamerican veers away from the high tension lines. More info and some photos can be found on my blog.
(Harry) We took a busride: from Chiclayo you can get good buses. La Linea has a terminal a few blocks from the nice Plaza de Armas (I think it was on Bolognesi street). They are used to transport bikes, fridges and other big things, have clear price lists (though gave a generous discount as well) and are a safe company. They do not even stop in Paijan…