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Old 02-02-2013, 12:18 PM   #991
Ulyses OP
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Bolivia to Chile via the Lagunas Route: Day 3

Day 110 (February 1, 2013)
Laguna Colorada, Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Day's Ride: 114 Miles

Turns out that staying at the Hotel was a bad idea. For some reason, some of the tour operators who were staying there with their truck loads of tourists started mean mugging us. Then, as Mike and I were trying to sleep, these two Chilean chicks kept coming into the big communal bedroom, turning on the lights, and talking to each other. At one point they even came in, took out a guitar, and tuned it right there in the room as four people were trying to sleep! I don't know if they were drunk, or high, or just simply assholes, but I was getting really steamed. Eventually, at around midnight, I asked them politely if they could turn off the light and close the door. They gave me a fairly dismissive response, told me that they would be done in five minutes, then continued to chat it up. I started drumming my fingers on my chest and was about to get up and have some words with them when they finally shut up and went to bed.

The next morning when we got up at 6:00 AM, I made a point of turning the lights on and off a few times and talking to Mike in my best obnoxious American voice. Payback's a b*tch. We packed up our stuff and convinced one of the tour operators to give us some of their food. We were on the road by 7:30 AM.

Riding down the western shore of Laguna Colorada, I was mesmerized by the view.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but Laguna Colorada is actually a dark red color and has massive islands of salt sticking up out of it.

About six miles down the road we came to the Hotel where our gas was supposed to be cached. I pulled into the courtyard and immediately saw our jug setting in small closet. I told the workers that it was mine, then we pulled it out and got to work. When I had bought the jug, there had been some water in it and I hadn't had time to dry it out. Mike assured me that the water would settle to the bottom and that we could just siphon off the top to avoid the H2O.

Mike was up first on siphoning duty; he drew a little too hard and got a face full and mouthful of gasoline. It was burning his face so bad that eventually he went over to the hotel and asked for a some soap to clean himself up.

Since we couldn't get the 30 liter jug high enough, we ended up siphoning everything into a cut up two liter water bottle and then pouring it directly into the tank.

At some point we lost the suction in the siphon and I had to restart it. Despite Mike's warning, I too ended up with a mouthful of gas. Not the most pleasant tasting substance in the world, I can assure you.

With the bikes refueled, we got back on the road. Thankfully the road was relatively well graded and initially we didn't have any problems with the little ridges of sand that we had been dealing with the day before. The scenery continued to be amazing.

Lots of small groups of vicuña lined the road, barely even bothering to look at us as we rode by.

The road continued climbing and soon we were well above 15,000 feet. We soon reached a turnoff where Mike told me that we needed to leave the main road and go up into the hills to find the Bolivian Aduana (Customs Office) so that we could do the check out paper work for our bikes. I didn't quite believe that they would stick the aduana miles from anywhere out in the Altiplano, but I went along with him to the top of the road. At the end of the road I found a chemical plant making acid (of all things) behind a locked gate. And no Aduana. Unfortunately, the Aduana WAS up there somewhere, I just missed it and didn't know. That would come back to bite us in the ass later..... I happened to glance down at my GPS as I was looking around near the chemical plant and found that we had passed 16,500 feet in elevation. Surprisingly, my bike was still breathing. But barely.

Meanwhile, just a few meters away from the gate Mike was riding around on what appeared to be a soccer field. Who in their right mind puts a soccer field at 16,500 feet? Surely this is one of the highest playing fields in the world. We snapped a few pictures with our bikes on the field.

After playing soccer for a few minutes, we got back on the road and started heading south again. Mike had a waypoint saved on his GPS that indicated some nearby thermal geysers, so we decided to go take a look. Sure enough, there were several large pits of boiling mud, a few fumeroles, and one fairly potent steam geyser.

Unlike Yellowstone, these geysers aren't fenced off and there's nothing preventing you from riding right into them if you want. According to some of the tire tracks nearby, it appeared that a few people had tried just that. After we had finished side trip number two, we got back on the road.

We eventually reached a hot springs in vicinity of a rather large laguna. Unfortunately, all my pictures of the hot springs were corrupted by my crappy Guatemalan laptop, so I can't post them. Suffice to say, jumping in the hot springs after riding around above 15,000 feet all morning was sublime. About 10 minutes after we had gotten in, hundreds of Land Cruisers began pulling up and disgorging hoards of water seeking tourists.

Our relaxed reverie interrupted, Mike and I decided to scram. On our way out, we ran into a Dutch rider on an old Honda Transalp.

Since he didn't feel like riding the route alone and hadn't been able to find someone to ride with him, he had signed up for one of the Land Cruiser tours and simply had them haul most of his gear while he rode along behind. Smart guy.

Soon after the hot springs, the road turned to crap again and I began to go off in the sand in search of untracked routes.

Eventually we came upon the Dali Rocks. Apparently Salvador Dali drew some of his inspiration from these rocks out in the middle of the nowhere Bolivia. I think I can see why. We didn't get close enough to get really good pictures, but even from a distance, the view was incredible.

Just to the north of the Dali Rocks was a broad expanse of untracked sand. I had a great time blasting around and carving some nice turns through the tierra.

As I was horsing around, I saw a Land Cruiser streaking up the road from the east. I turned my bike around and raced back towards the road, then turned in and ran parallel with the truck as it hauled ass down the road. I stayed even with him, 100 yards off the road in the sand, doing 60 MPH. It was awesome! The tourists in the back of the truck rolled down their windows and took some pictures of me. I felt like a celebrity.

After racing the Land Cruiser, we continued south and soon reached Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verde.

Laguna Verde was filled with silt from runoff, so we decided to skip it and just look at Laguna Blanca.

At the end of Laguna Blanca we exited the Bolivian National Park and continued up the road a few miles to the Bolivian-Chilean Border and the Bolivian Immigration office.

This is where missing the Aduana would come back to bite us. Mike walked in first and got stamped out of Bolivia. Then the customs official asked him for his Aduana paperwork; after seeing that it wasn't stamped out, he looked surprised and told us that we would have to backtrack 80 kilometers to the Aduana and have it filled out properly before we could leave Bolivia. We were both really tired at this point and had no intention of riding back that far. Furthermore, we didn't have enough gas to make it all the way back. We pointed this out to the immigration official and he simply shrugged his shoulders and told us that it wasn't his problem. We were both frustrated and I was kicking myself for not looking around that chemical plant a little more to find the damn Aduana.

I knew there was a way to get around this little problem, but I really didn't want to go down that road. Still, after a little more talking with the official, I realized that we were at an impasse. Remembering that famous line from the Snickers commercial (not going anywhere for a while?), I searched my pockets for a candy bar and came up empty. Damn! That was my last option before resorting to bribery. So I pulled out the trump question:

"Isn't there a way that we can take care of this here?", I asked.

"Well, now that you mention it, my friend the policeman here is heading down to the Aduana in the morning; he could take your papers down with him. Of course, I'm sure he would appreciate a little tip for his trouble.", he said. He actually used the word "propina", which means tip.

"Claro (Of course). Cuantos (How much)?"

"Whatever you think is fair."

I didn't really want to deal with the hassle of further argument and a possible 100 mile round-trip back through the sandy roads that we had ridden earlier, so I slapped down 100 Bolivianos, Mike slapped down 60, and the immigration official stamped our passports, allowing us to cross the border. That was the first time I've actually had to bribe someone on this trip.

We crossed the border line and were immediately in Chile.

A few hundred yards down the road, we linked up with the asphalt. After hundreds of miles of trying to steer his pig through sand and loose gravel, Mike was ecstatic enough to kiss the tarmac.

The final 20 miles or so were all downhill on nice pavement into the town of San Pedro de Atacama. I suppose that if you were out of gas at this point you could coast all the way into town.

We pulled into San Pedro, took care of our immigration and customs paperwork and hunted down a Hotel. San Pedro reminds me of something out of a Western movie. Dirt roads, desert heat, and adobe buildings. Unfortunately, it's also slammed with tourists.

And that's it. What a ride. I think that the past three days have been the highlight of my trip so far. If anyone is interested in getting GPS waypoints for this route, hit me up via PM and I'll send them your way.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:22 PM   #992
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Originally Posted by Gale B.T. View Post
I have been reading this day by day since you started and nothing in your trip to date has impressed me more than your pics/trip across this last open country. Great pics and descriptions of what you see and what is happening to you two.


Semper Fi
Thanks Gale!
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:27 PM   #993
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Originally Posted by WhicheverAnyWayCan View Post
Epic ride! Decent riding report.. just got caught up!
Thanks! Nice to see another Harley rider on here.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:32 PM   #994
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San Pedro de Atacama

Day 111 (February 2, 2013)
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Day's Ride: Down the block....

Well, I have literally spent all day uploading pictures and typing. Actually, most of that was uploading pictures, always a difficult proposition in South America.

I did take one small break to move from the Hotel to a campsite.

I've still got to run some errands, find dinner, and change my rear tire back to the Scorpion, so I'm going to piece out now. Tomorrow I'm going to start heading south through the Atacama towards Santiago. It's good to be back in the desert again.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:21 PM   #995
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Awesome pics!

Thanks Bryce for taking us all along on the journey. Safe travels.

What kind of sandwich is that in the pic - looks like a large torta?
In Mexico I don't think they make them that big.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:46 PM   #996
Oh libertad
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muy buenas fotos!!!

Especialmente las del Salar. Espectaculares!!!

Keep having fun and stay somewhat safe. The Honda XR club in medellin is missing a gringo loco with a gnarly beard
13 KTM350 EXC "Katy"

Antioquia, tierra de mis amores
Some trail riding stories
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:23 PM   #997
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Donate Link?

Wanna donate the price of a good travel book. Link svp!
Big snow, it's the weekend, goin skiin.
Georgian Bay Area, Ontario Canada
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:36 PM   #998
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That is a pretty good beard.
How to ride your XR650L to South America:
If you're in my area on a ride and need a place to crash, a hot meal, or some beer let me know. 913 260 7873
On a one man mission to stop people from buying boring bikes (cough cough klr)
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:48 PM   #999
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The Atacama

Day 112 (February 3, 2013)
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile to Taltal, Chile
Day's Ride: 355 Miles

Leaving San Pedro this morning, I had a choice: return to the mountains and cross over into Argentina, or drop down into the Atacama desert and bomb the Panamerican Highway to Santiago. Since I haven't really been below 10,000 feet since leaving Cusco (except for a few hours on the Death Road) and I'm tired of getting rained on, I decided to head for the Atacama.

Mike had left San Pedro the day before, so I was on my own. Leaving town, I took a quick detour to check out the Valle de la Luna.

There is some interesting scenery here, including a salt cave. I decided to skip the cave and just see the roadside sights.

This rock formation is called "Tres Marias".

After getting back on the road, I started heading west. As one would imagine of the world's dryest desert, there wasn't much to see.

I did stop at an old abandoned adobe ghost town for a quick break. Mud brick construction will always remind me of Afghanistan.

After a long day of riding, I finally got to the ocean.

After arriving in Taltal, I stopped at a little internet cafe to update the RR. Now I'm going to head out of town and find a place to camp on the beach.

Now that I'm in Chile where things are expensive, I plan on doing a lot more camping, so posts may be a little less frequent.

Ulyses screwed with this post 02-03-2013 at 02:02 PM
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:00 PM   #1000
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"The night before leaving Arequipa, I picked up a late Christmas present to myself, transported to Peru courtesy of bubbletron's boyfriend, Scott."

Hey Bryce,

It was great to meet up in Arequipa and fun on this end to contribute in a small way to your adventure that so many are following! I had a blast riding and exploring the Canon del Colca, the Altiplano and Cuzco region/Valle Sagrado with bubbletron and my rented steed, el burro, a Blue Gen II KLR from Peru Motors. BTW bubbletron informed me that you also would have appreciated a delivery of a fine US product similiar to local custom of chewing Coca leaves and I wish I had known before because an entire log of said product would have found its way south to you to support your adventure! Look forward to meeting up in Oregon for some riding when and if you return.

Cheers, Scott (aka mendovet, and when south of the border, menudovet)
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:04 PM   #1001
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Originally Posted by alvincullumyork View Post
That is a pretty good beard.
Why thank you!
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:17 PM   #1002
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GPS Tracks

I've actually recieved a lot more requests for the gps route through the Lagunas Route than I thought I would. I have the GPX files downloaded off of my GPS, but I can't do anything with them until I get to a hotel with good wifi and I have a little bit of free time. Sorry .

Until then, here is a link to my Spotwalla page; feel free to pull any coordinates off of it if you like:
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:38 PM   #1003
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Rock on, Bryce!

Hey, I thought it was weird that you didn't mention anything about saying Adios to Mike earlier, and now mentioned nonchalantly he took off a couple days ago. You rode and hung with him a good while, I would have expected a bit more attention to you two parting ways...
Let's ride!!! - No offense, but there've been a lot of people over time who were just as sure, yet got it wrong. - Una necedad, aunque la repitan millones de bocas, no deja de ser una necedad. - "you know that I could have me a million more friends and all I'd have to lose is my point of view" (Prine)
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:55 PM   #1004
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Originally Posted by Ulyses View Post
I've actually recieved a lot more requests for the gps route through the Lagunas Route than I thought I would. I have the GPX files downloaded off of my GPS, but I can't do anything with them until I get to a hotel with good wifi and I have a little bit of free time. Sorry .

Until then, here is a link to my Spotwalla page; feel free to pull any coordinates off of it if you like:
Well, I can wait until you get back to Oregon so no rush! :-D Just put these who is traveling toward Ushuaia to the top.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:23 AM   #1005
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Nice shots of the Lagunas Route, captures the essence of riding on Mars as much as photos will allow. I hope the info I pointed you to helped you out along that route.

There are some really nice high passes between Argentina and Chile that I would highly recommend. Paso Sico, Paso San Francisco, Paso Agua Negra, among others. The spine of the Andes is quite spectacular as you head further south and criss cross your way back and forth from Chile to Argentina. And of course, the Carretera Austral from outside of Futaleufu all the way to Villa O'Higgins is worth the effort, then back track up to north of Cochrane and cross into Argentina at Paso Roballo, very nice stuff. When you get further south, Chalten is worth a look and a couple spectacular day hikes near Cerro Torre and Fitzroy, as well as Perito Moreno glacier.

Things will get a bit cheaper when you cross into Argentina. As you head deeper into Patagonia prices will increase as well, but there are great spots to camp all through Patagonia as long as its not pissing down rain the whole time.

Great report amigo, salud!

Riding the Americas: No Fumar Español

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