It was no hardship going back through the beautiful lake and volcano district. The aero club at Villarrica welcomed us again and we camped out at their amazing little airport.
Parts of Chile had just been devastated by forest fires in the central part of the country. As we continued north, we flew over the worst part of the burnt area. It was sad to see so much land scorched and barren, luckily most of the wine region was untouched.
Since we had been in Chile for 2 months and the flying paperwork was really easy, we had to think about permits for the next few countries ahead. Peru needed another permit and we were dreading that process. Ecuador didn’t need one if we were in the country for less than 72 hours. Colombia required a permit if we wanted to fly around in the country and stay for more than 5 days. It takes hours of organizing and a good internet connect to get the permit process started.
Vicuña was the perfect place to spend time on paperwork and revisit an area we enjoyed on the way south. We put in some long days in the air, stopping only to refuel and made it back up to the desert region in good time.
The same guesthouse that we stayed in on the way down was waiting for us on the way back. Also, the same friendly smiles of the folks that worked there. We laughed, told stories, ate home made ice cream.
The permit for Peru came through in record time, you see, it is possible! So we put in another long day and flew up to Arica, the northern desert outpost on the border with Peru. One problem with Arica is the lack of decent, affordable accommodation. Once again we were left with an overpriced and underperforming hostel that was rather strange too.
Since Peru is 2 hours earlier than Chile we figured that we would score with the time change and get a head start on the customs and immigration process. We said goodbye to Chile, exited the country for the short 18 minute flight to Tacna, pretty pleased with ourselves for being early. Well, that backfired. The customs people only show up at 8am and only after being called by the the airport. We sat and waited for what seemed like a long time. Finally they came and cleared us into the country.
Up until this point the engine had been running pretty well. We thought that the new carburetor had solved the problem. Things were running fine as we flew up to Pisco for the night. This time we found a better place to stay for the night. The town is still a bit of a dump but the food was decent and the hostel was fine.
Our next stop was to be Trujillo, we were making good time and on track to spend some more time in Colombia if everything was to go as planned. Well, the plan decided to take a pretty drastic turn.
We were just about 50 miles north of Lima when the engine started to run very rough and partially lost power. This was worse than anything we had experienced before. I changed various power settings and the roughness went away a bit but the engine definitely wasn’t running well. We had to consider our options and do so quickly. There weren’t any suitable airports straight ahead, only a small paved strip with no services. It was too far to try to make it to Trujillo and there wasn’t anything at that airport that would be of any help. We turned around and went to Lima. The big airport at Lima. The one with almost no general aviation services available to light aircraft. The air traffic controller was very accommodating when we explained our situation and we received expedited handling back to the airport. We knew that we were about to be plunged into a chaotic hornets nest of Peru’s finest aviation bureaucracy. This was going to suck but we had to do it, safety first, deal with the mess once on the ground later. We managed to hold altitude all the way into Lima, we stayed over the coastline and stayed high until the last minute before descending to the runway.
We were on the ground, we were safe. Breath. Let the games begin!
Miles to date: 9900 NM