El Burro - hibernating In Uruguay

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TeeTwo, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. Balanda

    Balanda No, I don't believe I will

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    Ah yep, that would be pretty intense fer sure. I worked on a tunnel borer for a couple of years and so might have skipped your underground adventure.

    On to Uyuni next ; great stuff !
  2. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    For eight years or more I have dreamed about putting my wheels on the Salar de Uyuni, today it became a reality. I'm buzzed! More to come after the tour tomorrow. T2

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  3. BarryB

    BarryB Been here awhile Supporter

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    Great stuff! How many tries did it take to get that last shot lined up correctly?
  4. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Hi there BarryB - well I experimented a bit to figure a pose, but once serious I was lucky and grabbed the shot after about 4 attempts.

    T2
  5. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    So to back track a bit the ride from Potosi to Uyuni was he usual buffet of elevation gains on curvilicious roads, high plains and then the drop down towards Uyuni when the Salar first came into view. My pulse started racing, I really had been wanting this experience.

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    After tooling around at the entrance to the Salar for a bit I headed into town. Stopped for gas but the computer system for logging in 'extranerjos' in order to sell gas and pay the higher gas price was down. The station owner made a few calls, asked for my patience and then 10 minutes later said the system would be down for a while. I politely said I was happy to pay the proper price but wondered if he could pump me the gas, take my details and then fill out the computer form when the system was back up. He scratched his chin, looked at the attendant, told her to fill the tank at local price, it came to 48Bs. He asked if 50bs would be OK, I grinned 'Si' shook his hand and thanked him. It would have cost over 110bs at the foreigners price.

    Staying at the Chostal B&B, really nice place, good onsite parking, decent breakfast and heating in the room. Close to center of town.

    Booked a one day tour of the Salar with Hodoka Mountain tours (who did a great job) and took the bike down to the train cemetery.

    …….
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  6. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Met Martin from the Czech Republic riding his Honda Dominator up from TDF, chatted for a bit then took a few shots.

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    I took a bunch of the cemetery, if you are a regular reader of SA trip reports you will know what it looks like. However, the Salar tour starts from the train cemetery and without the motorcycle clobber on I was able to have a bit more fun.

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    ……....
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  7. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    ……

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    Then it was off to the Salar… a couple of photos from the Salt Hotel, Isle Incahuasi - covered in coral and cactus (hard to believe it is now 3,500 meters above sea level), then a ride over the salt flats, to the lake area and sunset.

    I am in awe of the place, my pictures don't do it justice and neither would my words. So I will just post up a series of pics.

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    …….
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  8. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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  9. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Tomorrow - Chile!

    Cheers T2
  10. Balanda

    Balanda No, I don't believe I will

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    This seems a geologically remarkable part of the Andes, as much of it is. It’s known that Salar de Uyuni contains abundant lithium salts, and I’m told the salt lakes passed on the way into Chile, are of boron and maybe more. You could study it for years, lol.
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  11. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Balanda, there are a bunch of salt flats in this area, I had not realized how many. In fact the 140 miles (all unpaved) from Uyuni to the Ollague border crossing into Chile crosses one.

    The first 40 miles, no problem, hard pack, decent for the most part, fast...after turning off southwest to head to the border the road was a mix if gravel, some sand, wicked washboard with occasional flashes of the hard pack beneath, just couldn't find a rhythm on it. In places they had very recently bladed it...got to jump those pesky berms just like on the Dalton or Dempster.

    Turned off to cross the salar, tracks heading in all directions from the wet season detours people had taken, so a little tough to figure which track to take. Then the wind got up to 40-50mph, picked up the surface and had zero visibility at times - the change happened almost in an instant it seemed. A momentary lapse of concentration and I dropped the bike, slow speed because of the conditions, nothing major but just added to the sense of eeriness of the ride. I saw one pick-up way off in the distance in over 2 hours....it was for me the most mentally and physically tough, and so, memorable half day ride.

    At the border got stamped out of Bolivia, easy...like nanoseconds.....but Aduana had gone to lunch. Tap, tap, tap.....when they returned it wasn't to the office with the big sign and cones I was at...nope, they have a second little hut thingy goin' on. That cost another 30 minutes before I figured it out!

    Finally, got the TIP turned in to a surly, swarthy little toad (of course I'm f%4king leaving, that is why there is an entry stamp and no exit stamp on the TVIP, and an exit stamp in my passport and why I am on the Bolivian side of the border...LOL)… BUT no 'exit fee' charged as had been reported by others.

    Swapped comments at the border with a Brazilian couple two up on a GSA headed to Chile and a Washington family in a camper van headed in the other direction.

    Chile goes to lunch when Bolivia returns so more waiting. Another 45 minutes and get the Immigration stamp in nanoseconds ...TVIP? International incident in the making. Junior Guy with attitude, posted to remote border because everyone in Chile thinks that is where he should be, has a hissy fit because the motor # is not on the Virginia Title (see Bill of Sale) , only the VIN. No 'placa' either, that is on the registration. Rescued by Senior Chick with knowledge, who tells him to get his big boy pants on and fill out the computer form.....after which they decided that an inspection of my luggage was not necessary.

    I think I had been spoiled by the 3 sub-one hour border crossings hitherto fore.

    That left 2 hours to go the 120 miles to Calama before sundown (my promise to the gals back home - no night riding). Road is paved in Chile but the wind was picking up sand from the Atacama and dumping it on the road, 4-5 inches deep across 90% of the roadway in places, not to mention visibility restrictions so caution was necessary for the first 30 miles.

    It was dry and sunny though :-).

    Made it to Hotel Don Alfredo 30 minutes after sundown. Never been so happy to get to a place, 11 hours after leaving Uyuni.

    Some pics along the way - I didn't stop often....

    An informative signpost on the salar...

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  12. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    …… and in Chile...

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    Hotel Don Alfredo is a very good place to stay. It is on a straight shot into Calama from the border, easy to find. You pass a Petrobas gas station on the way in if you are low on fuel (my reserve light was blinking - but only just, fuel could wait). Good room, breakfast provided in room - simple, kettle & toaster in room, good secure parking. The best part - there is a full mall just a 4 minute walk away. Restaurants, all types of stores, Lider (aka Walmart) and a very large Home Depot type store - tools, adhesives, auto parts...basically if you need something general to do maintenance, replace a lost tool etc you can get it easily. Perfect for a weary traveler and transportation with some bumps that would benefit from attention.

    I gotta tell ya my Wendy's Baconator wasn't Dave's best ever rendition, but it tasted so damn good.

    When I did a quick look over the bike the following morning I noticed some fork oil had seeped out and gathered up a bunch of dust on top of the fork tubes. The Bolivian road the day before had been so rough that both lock nuts on the pre-load adjusters had backed off allowing some oozing to occur, the chain was an absolute mess of grit and crap, and the right front blinker was broken from the drop. I decided to stay an extra night...do a more thorough check over the moto and get things back in shape.....plus give my bag of bones a day to recover.

    Today I journeyed over to Antofagasta. I have swapped days of 10,000 ft plus of altitude for a mere 72ft above sea level, and that is only because I am on the 6th floor of the hotel. What I have seen of the place I like...and I treated myself to a swanky hotel (by my recent standards - balcony over looking the ocean) after the first place had no-one present to check me in...and I ain't waiting on a peckerhead owner to show up at their leisure.

    Got an oil and filter change which will see me through to parking the bike in Uruguay in June.

    A little run out to the Mano del Desierto tomorrow, another of those SA ADV'er icons, plus some catch up on emails, and I have a little consulting work come in to help pay for my increasingly expensive tastes in hotels. Tomorrow I will update the report on today's ride , during which I made an interesting (to me anyway) stop at a superb, if rapidly decaying, steam locomotive roundhouse, including some locomotives still at shed...silent witnesses to a vibrant past. I love old industrial sites.

    Ciao. T2
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  13. Balanda

    Balanda No, I don't believe I will

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    Whoaaa, totally wild !! Hey, I apologise that if by suggesting this may be a 'good ride', you've wound up riding through the jaws of death when you may well have gone northern Argentina. Glad you made it through safely. It sure was a memorable trip for me too.
  14. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    LOL ……. 'life is like a box of chocolates......' . I'm glad I went that route, it was awesome with the volcanoes etc. As the pics show, it was calm for stretches, but when that wind kicked up ……You could see the 'sand/salt storms' coming in the distance, like a squall line, 5-10 minutes and done....then another, and another.

    Funny, after 7,000 miles of traveling in countries where turn signals are useless pieces of equipment, the day I entered a country where they actually use them I'm missing one! JB Weld and tape has that fixed.

    T2
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  15. Balanda

    Balanda No, I don't believe I will

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    Yes, totally blew me away that avenue of volcanoes. I was one of only 3 people on the bus and the only tourist, so its the road less travelled I reckon. Glad you enjoyed it
  16. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Calama to Antofagasta follows the Panamerican Norte (in a southbound direction) for most of the way. A fast road, 4 lane for much of the way. You could fly past Baquedano without even noticing it, but the town holds a little gem, the Museo Ferriovario de Baquedano.

    Getting to the museum is a bit of a trick, it isn't signposted. It is necessary to get off the Panamerican north of the town and follow a dirt road south through the Norgas rail terminal and then loop back around north to reach the Museo...which is not curated at all. Turn up, walk around at will, absorb the atmosphere...smell the smoke and hear the clanking of men at work with heavy machinery....

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    It is still an active rail facility, though clearly not on a scale of past times.

    The entrance is all that remains of a chapel that was once on the grounds of this industrial development....
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  17. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    ….
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    Antofagasta is a cool seaside town...…

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    Before getting to the front I stopped at a restaurant for lunch when I saw a sign - 'Pulpo parilla' ...can't pass that by.

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    ….. and I wasn't disappointed. I don't do food porn pics for the most part, the last one was the cuy in Peru, but this is deserving. A few decent tentacles had been my expectation, not the whole darn thing!

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    Delicious.....Pulpo beats Cuy by a mile and some.
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  18. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    In the afternoon I swung by Moto Cordero, the Honda dealer in Antofagasta. Got the oil and filter changed (but I had to provide the crush washer and filter I was carrying - they don't have consumable parts on hand) no Honda 10W30 which is reco'd for the CB500X, only Motul semi-syn and syn 10W40 and up. Still new 10W40 is better than old 10W30; they did have an Africa Twin in the showroom.

    Well, I was happy they got me in when I just showed up.

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    So that brings things up to date. Sun has finally emerged so it is time to suit up and head to the Mano.

    Cheers.

    T2
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  19. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    Cool roundhouse! I rode right thru there without giving Baquedeno much thought. I guess 10 people could ride the same ride and experience it in completely different ways. Especially in the Atacama. I could spend a month riding moonscapes down there.
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  20. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Yeah, I enjoyed just wandering around the old loco depot, for me quite evocative as my Dad worked steam locomotives in the UK, back in the day.

    You are so right about the ride experience, you have to pick and choose, way too much to catch everything.

    I'm retracing my path back north tomorrow upto Calama to get to San Pedro. To add interest I am going to make a stop at Chacabuco…..another industrial site but with a political twist. Another place to easily fly by. If you haven't been stay tuned!

    Ciao. T2
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