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Old 10-02-2012, 04:04 AM   #31
Martynho OP
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Salar de Uyuni update coming later today

The highlight of the trip! Watch this space, we got some great pics there!
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Old 10-02-2012, 06:34 AM   #32
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:07 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Martynho View Post
The highlight of the trip! Watch this space, we got some great pics there!

Great RR!!
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:46 AM   #34
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There are still very few bikes trips I am really looking up to...this is one of them!

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Old 10-02-2012, 09:12 AM   #35
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Wow, bringing back memories with these photos.

Did you guys make it out to Isla Pescado on the salar? Did you find the nice fire pit stock with wood I left you?


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Old 10-02-2012, 09:53 AM   #36
Martynho OP
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Isla Pescado

Hi Mark, funnily enough we camped at Isla Pescado, what a great place eh? Didn't find your stock of wood or any wood so no fire I am afraid. We did blow off a stick of dynamite though

I was thinking of you often during the Salar and Altiplano sections. I was thinking "that guy must have been fucking nuts coming up here during the wet season" Man it was tough enough in the dry, accompanied. Doing it solo in the wet...well respect Man!

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Originally Posted by Misery Goat View Post
Wow, bringing back memories with these photos.

Did you guys make it out to Isla Pescado on the salar? Did you find the nice fire pit stock with wood I left you?


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Old 10-02-2012, 09:54 AM   #37
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Dynamite! Gotta love Bolivia.

Yeah I can see how you guys got screwed up at Chinguana. I rode around in circles there for a while after leaving San Juan.

Yeah man, that road from the Salar to San Juan will beat the hell out of you. I still have loose teeth from that section.

Great pics amigo, keep it coming!

un abrazo, Vin
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:08 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Martynho View Post
Hi Mark, funnily enough we camped at Isla Pescado, what a great place eh? Didn't find your stock of wood or any wood so no fire I am afraid. We did blow off a stick of dynamite though

I was thinking of you often during the Salar and Altiplano sections. I was thinking "that guy must have been fucking nuts coming up here during the wet season" Man it was tough enough in the dry, accompanied. Doing it solo in the wet...well respect Man!
Funny thing about that wood is, it was there when I got there and I thought, wow, what a great place to camp. So I set up my tent thinking I'm going to have a kick ass fire that night when the winds shifted direction 180 and was blowing directly into the alcove I had thought would protect me from said winds. Rather than risking burning my tent down from the blowing flames and too lazy to move my tent I just hunkered down for a cold night.

Man, that route you took north to Salta is pretty close to the route I took coming south and there were at least a half dozen river crossings where the road used to be. Two of them were quite nasty and deep and turned around a 800GS rider who thought he wanted to accompany me.

Looking forward to the pics of the salar!
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:20 AM   #39
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Dynamite! Gotta love Bolivia.

Yeah I can see how you guys got screwed up at Chinguana. I rode around in circles there for a while after leaving San Juan.

Yeah man, that road from the Salar to San Juan will beat the hell out of you. I still have loose teeth from that section.

Great pics amigo, keep it coming!

un abrazo, Vin
I rode from Pescado to San Juan and once I was off the salar the road was sunk in and filled a foot deep with beach sand. One of the few days in Bolivia I was sweating.

Let's see some dynamite video!
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:34 AM   #40
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Yep! We were sweating and gasping as well Mark. Both of our bikes were also clearly tired in the thin air, so much so they had to "lay down" in said deep sand once in a while. Pics to follow and I am working on the boom boom video

Quote:
Originally Posted by Misery Goat View Post
I rode from Pescado to San Juan and once I was off the salar the road was sunk in and filled a foot deep with beach sand. One of the few days in Bolivia I was sweating.

Let's see some dynamite video!
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:56 AM   #41
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Wow Martyn looks like you are living the dream over there mate - but I bet you are missing Todmorden.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:31 PM   #42
Martynho OP
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Identify yourself!

Not always like this I have to work my ass off some of the time. But yeh the riding is great. About the only thing I miss about Tod is a decent pint of bitter, my family and a few mates.

SPeaking of which, who the hell are you?

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Wow Martyn looks like you are living the dream over there mate - but I bet you are missing Todmorden.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:02 PM   #43
Martynho OP
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The Main Event....Tico and Gringo do the Salar de Uyuni!

Day whatever I was losing count.

After the explosive shennanigans at Kevin`s memorial, we headed down the brand new road from Potosi to Uyuni. 200 kms of lovely smooth asphalt carving through spectacular altiplano scenery. I say it is one of the biking road classics although many will say the tarmac will have ruined the experience. Worry not there is plenty of rough stuff left (and then some! ) in this remote South Western corner of Bolivia.



Herds of Alpacas on the high plain (or were they Llamas?)




First sight of the Salar in the distance, like a huge inland sea complete with islands, only of salt. I was pissing myself with excitement at this point. I first heard about the Salar over 30 years ago and was intrigued by it. Last year I had a couple of bike travellers pass by my place in Santiago with tall tales and excellent ride reports that also inspired me. This has been a long time coming.....



The town of Uyuni comes into view against the background of the Salar. It looks pretty cool from a distance but I could not get my mate Crashmaster`s description of it out of my head. " "Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious." - -- Obi Wan Kenobi.




This pretty much sums up the town itself it is a right shithole. We filled up on worse Bolivian fuel and water, filled our bellies with an even worse Bolivian meal and headed out for the Salar.

While I am on the subject of Capt. Crashmaster (what a great handle for a 747 pilot!) I would like to thank him for his inspiration, sound advice and for giving me his map of the Salar area of Bolivia. Despite having a GPS apiece loaded with 3 different maps It really was the main guide we used for plotting our course, and it saved our asses later in the trip. Thanks Vinnie!
Here it is in use in a former life



Ah yes..... THIS is what we came for!



I will give you the full Wikipedia extract on the Salar so you can geek out on the facts and figures as we did of course...

Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa) is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi and 25 times the size of Bonneville salt flats in the USA). It is located in the Potosí and Orurodepartments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, and is at an elevation of 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above mean sea level.The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average altitude variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. It contains 50 to 70% of the world's lithium reserves, which is in the process of being extracted. The large area, clear skies and the exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites.The Salar serves as the major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano and is a major breeding ground for several species of pink flamingos.

It is covered with a solid salt crust with a thickness varying between tens of centimeters to a few meters. The center of the Salar contains a few "islands", which are the remains of the tops of ancient volcanoes which were submerged during the era of lake Minchin. They include unusual and fragile coral-like structures and deposits that often consist of fossils and algae. The area has a relatively stable average temperature with a peak at 21 °C (70 °F) in November–January and a low of 13 °C (55 °F) in June. The nights are however cold all through the year with temperatures between -9 and 5 °C

Salar de Uyuni attracts tourists from around the world. As it is located far from the cities, a number of hotels have been built in the area. Due to lack of conventional construction materials, many of them are almost entirely (walls, roof, furniture) built with salt blocks cut from the Salar. The first such hotel was erected in 1993-1995 in the middle of the salt flat, and soon became a popular tourist destination. However, its location in the center of a desert produced sanitary problems, as most waste had to be collected manually. Mismanagement caused serious environmental pollution and the hotel had to be dismantled in 2002. New salt hotels were built near the periphery of the Salar, closer to roads, in full compliance with environmental rules.

We came across one of the famed Hotels made of Salt only a few kilometres in.



The flags, the total whiteout and the icy cold temperatures made me think I was at a polar station, I started to have a Scott of the Antarctic moment...."I may be some time...."



I thought the hotel itself was pretty shonky, this one looked like it hadnt been used for a while, maybe the greens had closed this one down also



Interesting to see the salt block contruction though



We took a few obligatory pics, but refrained from the dumb ass "perspective" pics that seem to be so popular.











After fooling around taking pics for a while and generally getting over the overwhelming feeling of just being in this otherworldy place, we set off riding across the flats to Incahuasi island, the largest on the Salar and about in the middle of it, about 40 kms. We got up to around 170 kph at times and it really was the most bizzare riding experience.

With the cold and white crystalline landscape, every instinct I had was saying "this is ice, this is slippy", in fact the salt had pretty good grip and we were pulling all kinds of silly stunts for each others Go Pros. We have that footage in the can in the process of being edited and I hope to post that later on.

Incahuasi island was quite busy with the Land Cruiser tours bringing mostly younger Gringo backpackers into the area (they are ALL Toyota Land Cruisers, I guess that says something about their durability). We decided it was time for some coffee and cake so we picked out a quieter salt block table and chair and broke out the expresso pot. I love that expresso pot it has been with me for some years now and has been on most of my travels.



We were determined to camp on the Salar depite the temperatures, but weren`t keen on being around the Gringo tourists or the locals who attend to them on Incahuasi as there is a restaurant and a small hotel there. We had "plans"

We needed to be near an island for the shelter from the alleged winds, although I have to say we were very lucky as there was not a breath all the time we were on the Salar . So we headed across the salt about 25 kms to Isla Pescado that we had already determined was deserted and as the sun was going down the Land Cruiser tours that were not staying the night were disappearing. Brilliant.

After inadvertently finding a wet area near the island (that will have done my bike no good at all!) I managed to find a way onto a great camping spot in a sheltered cove on Isla Pescado

Marcelo was ecstatic with it, with good reason it was simply a superb place to be



A magical campsite, I was pretty ecstatic myself




As the daylight faded we settled into camp and prepared a great steak and rice dinner, we had a bottle of good Argentinian malbec, 1/2 a bottle of Appletons rum, good coffee. Life was very good indeed, rarely better in fact



Oh and of course we had some explosives left over for a bit of after dinner entertainment , . Video to come, honest!




True to form once night fell so did the temps, I would have estimated it at about -5C but at least there was no wind. I found it cold and I am used to it being a Brit. Poor Marcelo being a tropical Tico lad found it a bit more "cool" shall we say



It was going to be a long night.....

Martynho screwed with this post 10-02-2012 at 07:15 PM
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:18 PM   #44
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Damn mate, it's taking you forever editing these vids !! No pressure, just 5,000 inmates online waiting for the the k-boom
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:05 PM   #45
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Marcelo here coming back to life after having some issues with my bikes temperature, fixed, so I'm here to add some stuff. I would to thank Martyn for such a great RR of our trip, which without his preparation would have been rather messy.

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