Tico and Gringo head for the Andes

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Martynho, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. Martynho

    Martynho No more Chilegringo.

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Hebden Bridge - UK
    OK so we have a long public holiday coming up here in Chile, its also a long country. My riding buddy Marcelo and I are both expats living in Santiago. Work is just a sham front for the real reason we came to live here: Mountains, lots of them. Deserts, lots of it. The altiplanos of Chile and Bolivia have high deserts up at 15,000 ft in the mountains. Mountains and deserts. Perfect :clap
    [​IMG]
    So me (the Gringo, well a Brit actually but we all get tarred with the same brush down here)
    [​IMG]

    and my buddy Marcelo (the Tico)
    [​IMG]

    have decided to head over the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza, Argentina then turn left (North) and ride up into Bolivia. To the largest salt lake in the world, the Salar de Uyuni
    [​IMG]
    Its at about 13,000ft with night time temps of around -5C, very high winds so it will feel a good deal colder. We also want to tour around the altiplano a bit and check out some of the weird volcanic lakes like Laguna Colorado which is even higher than the Salar and is famous for being pinkish and home to flocks of flamingoes.
    [​IMG]

    These are stock pics but we will be posting as we go along, and we are both packing our Go Pros so maybe some video once we get back and are able to edit them.

    From the high Andes we will swing back into Chile near San Pedro, then its a mad 2 day 1600km schlep down the Panamericana through the Atacama desert back home to Santiago.

    Total trip is about 5,000kms, a lot of it off road. 9 days to do it in. Not everyones cup of tea granted but we are both really mad for it.

    We start on Saturday 15th September. Stay tuned!
    #1
  2. Quikegeo

    Quikegeo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    172
    Location:
    I really dont know..
    I am subscribed!

    I am a Tico too! :D, I moved to Santiago a month ago. I have my 650GS in Costa Rica and I am planning to bring it next spring. It will be great to read your RR.:ear

    Pura vida y buena suerte!
    #2
  3. Martynho

    Martynho No more Chilegringo.

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Hebden Bridge - UK
    Pura vida indeed mate :D

    If you are resident here you cant bring your bike on a temporary import, dont ask me how I know this :cry

    Good to hear you are along for the ride, maybe we can get together for a chela once we get back :freaky

    #3
  4. Martynho

    Martynho No more Chilegringo.

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Hebden Bridge - UK
    Recent 53,000km service (done since March 2011! :evil )
    New tyres, check
    New battery, check
    New dashboard that failed last week, check (US$500 :cry)
    Left saddlebag: Expresso bar, kitchen and food
    Right saddlebag: bike tools and a few spare inner tubes, electronics crap, spare space for water and booze :1drink
    9 litres of extra gas for bike and cooking stove. About 430km range, it will still be a struggle on the altiplano, we will have to be buying Bolivian gas from drums in village stores. Not good. It is already low octane, often contaminated with shite and water. I have a fuel fllter to pour it through.
    Rear dry bag: Tent, sleeping bag just about adequate for night time altiplano temps, air mattress, minimal civilian clothing (we are going to stink). Laptop.

    3 different maps loaded into GPS, draft route drawn.

    [​IMG]

    Right I am off to bed. 5AM flight to mine at 12,000ft near Antofagasta in the morning, some call it altitude conditioning. I call it work.
    #4
  5. Quikegeo

    Quikegeo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    172
    Location:
    I really dont know..

    I am not resident yet. So, I guess the best is to bring my bike first as a tourist and then, make my paperwork to be a resident!

    I will wait for you guys to drink a few birras!

    Cheers.
    #5
  6. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    Oh yea! Bout time to give that bike of yours a real squirt around SA.

    Definitely subscribed - I hope someone hosts you as warmly as you hosted me when I came through.

    Your packing list sounds optimal - good luck with the crap gas is Bolivia. My 690 hated it - and wouldnt start without ample throttle input.

    Have a blast mate!
    #6
  7. Martynho

    Martynho No more Chilegringo.

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Hebden Bridge - UK
    OK so day 1

    Marcelo and I set to meet at the fist gas station exiting Santiago at 5AM, but he calls me the day before to let me know his throttle cable has bust, and the spare coming from KTM Chillan HQ 400 km south of Santiago has not arrived. Not to worry he tells me, it is on a bus and he is meeting the driver in Santiago downtown bus station later that evening at 8PM. This on the eve of Chile`s biggest bank holiday of the year. Not a good start.

    He calls me at about 9PM he is frantically searching the bus gridlocked streets around the bus station looking for the bus with his parts on it. He finally gets them much much later and gets the cable fitted and into his bed about 1:00AM, he asks for a delayed start to 6:00AM. Not a good start.

    He finally shows up at about 6:40AM, by then I am high on caffeine and jumping to get at it.

    We ride in the dark and freezing cold of a Santiago spring morning, and into a bank of thick drizzly fog. Urghh. As we turn towards the road rising up towards the Libertadores pass over to Mendoza, Argentina the fogs clears and we are treated to lovely but cold sunny dawn. :D

    There is quite a bit of traffic it being the start of a public holiday but we pass most of the traffic and settle into the queue for the customs and border procedures, both of us excited at finally being on our way.

    "THIS IS HOW LONG THE THROTTLE CABLE WAS....
    [​IMG]

    The wait for getting through border formalities was going to be a fairly long one so I broke out the Expresso bar located in pannier right
    [​IMG]

    As you can see we had met up with some other lads from Santiago who were also on their way over into Argentina.

    After about an hour we were over the border and stopped off for the obligatory cow lunch in Uspallata in Argentina. Not long after leaving Uspallata we were into what we came for. Beautiful well graded, fast gravel roads just skirting up the Eastern side of the Andes heading North.
    [​IMG]

    Leading onto long fast straights of perfect smooth asphalt, always with the high Andes stage left. It was just lovely to be making the miles, cruising along in the afternoon sun. We had a target for the day of over 650kms to make up and we didnt want to start off missing schedule. We also had to get there in good time to camp before nightfall.

    But uh oh....first distraction ahoy...see the dry lake bed in the distance?

    [​IMG]

    Well we just couldn`t resist

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was a beautiful spot and the surface of the dry lake was really smooth, we had been dreaming of riding on the Salar de Uyuni for weeks now and this seemed like a good opportunity to get with the program early so to speak. Rude not to.

    [​IMG]

    After a few high speed (too high speed at times) runs up and down the lake and generally behaving like a couple of laughing kids for a wee while, we got on our way and got our heads down to doing the miles for the day. We made it to our planned destination, fuelled up and started looking for a spot to camp. Marcelo spotted a lake on the GPS nearby so we headed for it. Nice an isolated bar a few locals fishing. Ideal! :clap
    [​IMG]

    It had been a long day so we were both ready for a good feed and we had the forethought to buy a good bottle of Malbec to wash down the camp dinner

    [​IMG]

    The chill out with a coffee and a rather nice rum that Marcelo had brought along. The details that make camping so agreeable eh?

    [​IMG]

    The stars were just superb that evening so we sat out a while by the fire until it died down

    [​IMG]

    A good nights sleep and we awoke to this.....

    [​IMG]

    Packed up ready to move on, destination Cafayate, about 740kms. Easy.:lol3

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    757
    Location:
    Darnestown, MD
    Great start, looking forward to following this one...
    #8
  9. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,217
    Location:
    Banana Republic of Black Gold
    VERY nice :clap

    Brings back great memories of that area!

    Definitely looking forward to more updates

    :lurk
    #9
  10. SLO_Jazbec

    SLO_Jazbec Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    25
    Location:
    Colorado
    SWEET!!!!!!:clap:happay
    #10
  11. Quikegeo

    Quikegeo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    172
    Location:
    I really dont know..
    Great pics!

    I love that Costa Rican flag in your bike! :norton
    #11
  12. atravlr

    atravlr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    216
    Location:
    Arizona Desert
    Drink more wine, and show the labels what your drinking.!
    #12
  13. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    614
    Location:
    Oregon
    Visited Peru in 2003 and your pictures are making me think of a return trip in the near future.
    Have fun and keep posting :thumb
    #13
  14. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    Wicked mate - glad you made it out there.

    You are covering so many more miles than I did when I was down there. I remember having a smoke every 50kms.

    Keep em coming!
    #14
  15. GHANTCR

    GHANTCR Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    175
    Location:
    Born in Costa Rica, Chile for a while
    its a great ad-on to my bike!

    Sent from my GT-P5110 using Tapatalk 2
    #15
  16. maximuski

    maximuski Don't Follow Me I'm Lost2

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    95
    Location:
    Calgary, AB.
    Cool pics, keel them comming !:lurk
    #16
  17. Martynho

    Martynho No more Chilegringo.

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Hebden Bridge - UK
    Marcelo and I only have a limited amount of time and we are determined to get to Bolivia and back in the 9 days we have off work. So day 2 we know is heads down arse up on asphalt heading north skirting along the eastern side of the Andes in Argentina. I had heard that Cafayate was a lovely town in the wine region just south of Salta and about 740 kms from San Jose de Jachal, so that was our target destination.

    Straight away the scenery really impressed me, a lot more vivid and varied than the northern routes up the Atacama on the Chilean side of the Andes. By and large the roads were really good and practically deserted.

    [​IMG]

    Smoooth and straight, we made good mileage on stuff like this. BTW in all the time we rode in Argentina we never saw a cop on the road :ricky

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I managed to squeeze in a visit back to the UK :lol3

    [​IMG]

    Cruising along in the late evening sun

    [​IMG]


    No more pics from day 2 as we were pretty much focused on getting the miles in. Even so we ended up riding into the night, which was a big mistake!

    In our attempt to stay on schedule and get to Cafayate we were batting on at about 150 kph on a long straight when a black horse appeared out of no where in front of Marcelo who was about 10 metres ahead of me at the time. Fortunately Marcelo swerved left and the horse swerved right and they missed each other by a couple of metres. After a quick stop to compose ourselves and a change of underwear we continued on at a more measured pace and decided to call it quits at the next town. This turned out to be a real BF of a place called Santa Maria about 75 kms shy of Cafayate. Anyway at least the hotel was comfy and cheap.

    After a quick freshen up we gently cruised the 10 blocks into the town centre to get some dinner, without helmets for the first time in our lives. No one seems to wear a helmet in Argentina!

    Day 3 - Break for the Border!

    Our rough schedule was to get to the Argentina/Bolivia border, so we were in the saddle bright and early. Plan was to cover about 700 kms of mainly asphalt again through Salta and Jujuy up to the border town of La Quiaca / Villazon.

    First town we came to was Cafayate, and we were really disappointed we didnt make it to stay there the night before. Both the town and the surrounding areas were lovely. Beautifully kept old vineyards and the town centre had lots of good hostels and restaurants, unlike Santa Maria where we had stayed.

    Cafayate town centre church

    [​IMG]

    Whilst fuel is now readily available again in Argentina after some supply issues earlier in the year, most stations had long lines. This was one was particularly troublesome

    [​IMG]

    Bless her she was practically the only person we ever saw wearing a helmet, I fully applaud her ATTGATT approach:rofl

    We headed up the road towards Salta taking in a quick trip to Germany on the way :D

    [​IMG]

    This road was just biking heaven. Lovely smooth asphalt curving through amazing scenery and steep sided canyons with spectacular geography.

    [​IMG]

    We just had to take two pics here.....:D

    [​IMG]

    We stopped of at a busy tourist spot called "La Garganta del Diablo" (the Devil's throat), a curious gully. Cool place but very busy with busloads of very friendly Argentinian tourists

    [​IMG]

    We had been cruising along up to now just enjoying the scenery. Then I thought to myself "This is one of the best biking roads I have ever seen, we have seen no police for the last 2 days here in Argentina...Enough of touristing, lets boogie!" There followed about 40 mins of absolute hooliganism until we came to Salta where we had decided to go into the city centre

    a) because my 19 year old daughter was there backpacking last year and said it was one of her favourite cities
    b) Marcelo only had a pair of thick winter gloves and wanted to score a set of endure type gloves
    c) we were starving and had been frustrated at not having been able to get any of the famous Salteñas (pasties) as yet.

    Turned out to be a bit of a mistake, it was very congested and we were cooking in the heat and traffic jams. Marcelo scored a fail in his attempt to get some enduro gloves (his hands were too big!) I was not too impressed with Salta although the city centre square was nice and we found a good place to beef out and get some tasty salteñas.

    [​IMG]

    As we got further north beyond Jujuy, we started to climb towards the mountains again. Even though we still in Argentina and quite a way from Bolivia the accents were very altiplanico and the faces, architecture and scenery made me feel we were already in Bolivia.

    [​IMG]

    Sure enough, the Bolivian custom of blocking the road as a form of protest was also alive and well in the folks here in the Argentinian highlands....

    [​IMG]

    The road block the ladies (they were protesting that there were no free lunches at the village school) had made appeared pretty lame and I did consider blasting by on the far right for a second until I came closer to the branches they had placed accross the road. The MEANEST thorns I have ever seen in my life. Very effective ladies! Village stylee stinger.....

    [​IMG]

    The locals were very patient.

    [​IMG]

    It took about an hour for the protest to clear and we continued our way up the valley until we leveled out on the altiplano at about 4000m. It was getting colder and colder and the bikes had really lost their edge up here. Better get used to that we would be days and days at high altitude from now on. Although doing anything was an effort, fortunately other than Marcelo having a light headache neither of us suffered badly from any ill effects at any time during the trip.

    Some pics from the altiplano just prior to arriving in La Quiaca, the light was great and some of the geology was really bizzarre

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The delay meant we arrived just after dark in Villazon. It was bloody freezing once the sun went down and we were glad to immediately find a warm hotel. There were quite a lot of other bikers there, including 4 Argentinians who were a real laugh, as well as a group of 5 immaculately turned out Paraguayan GS riders who had trucked their bikes over and had not one but 2 support pick up trucks :rofl
    #17
  18. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    544
    Location:
    Chicago physically, Colombia en mi mente.
    Subscribed! Great RR! I will be in that part of the world soon, and look forward to seeing all of those great places in person.

    :clap
    #18
  19. LukasM

    LukasM Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,429
    Location:
    On a RTW ride - currently SE Asia on the way to OZ
    Excellent to see a ride report from you Don Martyn!

    Where are the pics of big juicy cuts of meat and pitchers full of delicious Pisco Sours??? :lol3
    #19
  20. Martynho

    Martynho No more Chilegringo.

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Hebden Bridge - UK
    Thanks Mike, praise indeed coming from you.

    Be sure and PM me when you are on approach to Chile / Santiago. We always have a bed available for passing motogringos. WHen do you reckon you will be in this neck of the woods?

    cheers - Martyn

    #20