My big ride - A Kiwified Dutchman heading South from LA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Normlas, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    So I have been lazy and I am waaaaay behind on my RR. After the night in the ghost town near the border we headed into the nearby city of Calama, about 200kms of very good roads through the Atacama desert, apparently one of the driest places on earth, just huge, dry and grey/brown, no cacti, no shrubbery of any kind, just an empty moonscape. We passed an enormous copper mine on the way into town, the main employer in this region and it stretched for many kilometres.

    Once into the town we found some lunch and a hostel for the night, our first reaction was surprise of how first world Chile is, very different to the other countries we have been in in South America. The prices also reflect this with everything being at least twice as expensive, even up to three of four fold - a bit of a shock! Petrol went up to about $1.50 USD per litre !! The prices here are about the same as in the US or NZ. A basic hostel went from $7 USD a night to over $20 a night each! Ouch !!

    We get the normal new-country stuff done straight away - new SIM cards for our phones (Entel this time), power adaptors for our electronics, change out our Bolivianos for Chilean Pesos and hit the money machine (which charge $7 USD per transaction!! ). But we get it all done the same day and have a couple of beers in the centre of town and Domino's for dinner.

    The next day we head to San Pedro de Atacama, the number one tourist spot in all of Chile apparently, after a couple more hours of desert riding we find the dusty little town and settle into a AirB&B just outside of the town, it's warm and dry and the weather is perfect. But again, things are very expensive ! and even moreso because of all the tourists.

    In the evening we go out for a nice meal and meet an English woman at the restaurant who is travelling with a large group and is completely enamoured with our journey - turns out she paid for our dinner without telling us !! Super nice - thanks Daphne!!

    The next day we go out to see some of the local sights but it turns out that every road we turn down has a toll booth charging tourists about $5USD just to drive down the road! We immediately have our backs up and are not impressed, they really know how to milk the $$$$ out of the tourists here......

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    Later that night we end up at a restaurant and Steve is happy to see that they have the world series baseball playing on TV and his team - the LA Dodgers are playing, this was his face after the transvestite singer turned the baseball off to put karaoke on the TV ....... a one man riot almost broke out :imaposer

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    Turns out they lost anyway so it was probably for the best......

    The next day we decide to head for the coastal town of Tocopilla, via the Atacama desert once again, just miles and miles of nothing but moonscape and straight roads.

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    It is great to be back at sea level and I feel better straight away, no more headaches, breathlessness and much better sleep, the KLR is also breathing much easier!

    Yeah - the Pacific.

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    View from our very nice hotel over the Ocean and the hills in the background, the Atacama desert is just on the other side of those hills.

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    We have a nice and chilled couple of days in Tocopilla, a sleepy and quiet little seaside town, we are also trying to get our heads around the language here, they speak VERY fast and use a fair few uniquely Chilean words replacing some of (few) Spanish words we had down pat.

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    Then we decide to head down the coast road to the even smaller town of Hornitos, on the way there we came across a very cool and haunted looking old mansion on the coast....

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    Turns out the only hotel in Hornito was closed but since I LOVE the beach I was very happy to find a wild campsite and also save some money, Steve wasn't keen so he headed down to the next town whilst I went in search of a campsite on the beach. And I found a beauty !!

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    I set up camp and went and said hello to some people camping just up the beach, turns out this was a good move as they immediately put a beer in my hand and invited me to stay for a huge BBQ dinner they had going, super nice people.

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    Meet William, Sophia, Olympia and Arthur - good people from Calama enjoying a chilled out weekend at the beach and they made me feel like family. And what a fantastic place to enjoy the beach!! with a stunning sunset.

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    This beach was also a bird sanctuary and absolutely full of seabirds.

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    Our chilled out evening turned into a HUGE night of partying with the locals, last time I looked at the time it was after 2:30 AM and we were still going !!

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    It was a slow start for me the next day and I packed up my campsite and headed back on the road meeting Steve just down the road for our short ride to the town of Antofagasta, we also passed the Tropic of Capricorn just before town.
  2. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi Love my Tranny Super Supporter

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    Really nice coastal shots and sunset.
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  3. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    As we ride into Antofagasta my bike starts making a horrible noise when I start to take off, at first I fear that it is coming out of my gearbox, Steve hears it too and tells me he thinks it's my chain and thankfully he is right (see it does happen), I've lost a couple of rollers off my chain and my sprockets are very worn out, I knew they were close to the end, but this noise made it definite. Via one of the local WhatsApp groups I had been invited to join a Chile riders group on a different app called Telegram, so I put the word out that I needed a new chain in Antofagasta and hey-presto .... bikers to the rescue !

    Within a few minutes I was contacted by a local bike mechanic, a specialist in adventure bikes with a workshop just 300m from our hotel who was going to source a chain for me and get back to me the next day, and sure enough, he rings me back the next morning and has a brand new DID 520VX chain for me and tells me to come over. I had spare sprockets with me and he fitted everything for me for free!! Just charged me for the chain - meet my hero Ceferino from Big Trial Service, 4028 Bellavista, Antofagasto.

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    As you can see my sprockets were pretty much f$cked......

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    Shiny new ....... uuuuuhhhhhh shiny :)

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    I leave my mark on their door and set off as a very happy biker.

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    Ceferino and Pedro did an awesome job and they clearly know exactly what they are doing, I can't recommend these guys enough;

    https://www.facebook.com/btschileantofagasta/

    We spend the rest of the day doing a bit of shopping, I broke my sandals and went looking for a new pair, turns out that size 15 sandals are not easy to find here (EU size 48), we must have gone to 20 different shoe shops and not one pair that even came close....... :(

    Think I might have to go bare-foot..... but onwards and upwards, tomorrow we are aiming our steeds South once again looking for a big hand in the desert??

    More to follow, thanks for coming along !
  4. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile

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    Geez I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t carry Yeti sized sandals in ANF. Lol
    I recall being quite a bit bigger than the locals and I’m only 6’ tall.
    Good luck in your footwear quest. Maybe in Santiago?
    XR Valdeez, Normlas and Dustydog59 like this.
  5. sizzlingbadger

    sizzlingbadger Been here awhile

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    Ive just spent the last few days reading this thread from the start, what an epic journey ! Man I just want to sell my house and ride for a year like you now. Wife and kids won't let me though :lol3
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  6. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    You're making me think of fishing those waters....

    drool

    nice RR

    keep enjoying every moment and savor everything

    cheers
  7. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Unfortunately, that is the story of my shoe-buying life pretty much anywhere in the world, there's just not enough fully grown people out there I guess... Luckily I have a mate ( @gman71 ) who is flying in from NZ to meet us in Santiago in a week or two, where he'll rent a bike and ride with us for a couple of weeks, he lives just up the road from my place and is bringing some much required supplies, including some new sandals - good on ya mate!
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  8. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Welcome on board, just do it mate, maybe get a sidecar and bring them along?
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  9. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    From Antofagasta we headed South and visited the famous hand in the Atacama desert, apparently the entire alien is buried underneath the hand :D

    It is a very cool sight to see and the vultures on top make great fingernails....

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    From there we headed back towards the coast and took what others had called "the adventure road" - we were expecting some challenging gravel but turns out it was the best gravel you could hope for, hard packed clay, 6m wide with a good camber and it made for a fast ride along the stunning coastline.

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    I had seen Steve stop for a what I assumed was a photo and/or piss stop and I went just ahead to this great lookout point for a few pics of the coastline.

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    But Steve was taking ages to catch up so I decide to head back and find him in full-on tyre fixing mode - not a happy camper.....here's a grimacing smile for the camera

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    He pulls a large rusty nail out of his tyre but it's also ripped the valve out of the tube so a new inner-tube is called for and installed. We're back on the road in about half an hour and all is good again.

    The coastline continues to impress with deep blue seas against the contrast of the brown and dead Atacama Desert.

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    There are just loads of great wild camping sites all along this coast and I am super keen to camp, Steve is not so he continues to the town of Taltal whilst I go in search of a nice spot, and I find another winner, off the road, out of sight of the road on a tiny private little beach, sheltered from the wind and with just enough driftwood to have a little fire - I'm set for the night, about 15km North of Taltal.

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    We are slowly seeing more and more plant life in the Atacama desert as we get further South.

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    And another stunning sunset ensues over the Pacific Ocean .

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    The hills are on fire !

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    And my little fire is also going great with a few drinkies, once I run out of firewood I end up doing a beach cleanup and have a big rubbish fire, turns out old shoes burn really well!

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    The next day I am off to an early start but I get shuckered as my bike buries itself up to the bash-plate on the path up from the beach..... ends up taking a total removal of my bags, pushing the bike over, filling up the hole I dug and trying to turn the bike back towards the beach, then taking a bigger run up the hill without my bags and I (only just) make it out.....

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    I catch up with Steve in Taltal and we are back on the road heading South. More hard packed clay roads through the Atacama Desert, seems they use some sort of surfactant to keep the roads hard packed, gravel free and also free of dust.

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    That night we stay at a hostel in Caldera and head off in good time the next day along more coast roads to the town of Huasco.

    Random lunch stop (empenadas de marisco) and pic next to a cool old house.

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    I am again keen to camp so Steve heads to a hotel and I head for a little peninsula I saw as we drive by and go in search of another primo seaside desert camp site - with success again!

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    This place was even more remote and private and I took a little video of it ;



    So imagine my surprise when out of nowhere a guy comes walking towards me out of desert - meet Pascal, a local seaweed collector who lives down the beach. We have a chat and I apologise for not offering him a drink as I only have one cup..... a nice guy and he later heads off back down the coast.

    About 2 hours later he returns with a huge bag of olives to give me (that he grows) and a cup :) So we end up finishing my bottle of rum together and talk deep into the night...... here's Pascal, another super nice local.

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    Another nice sunset is had but with no trees and no driftwood I don't get my campfire tonight....

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    The next day I catch up with Steve in Huasco and we head South once again for the bigger town of La Serena.

    BTW Goodcat - this whole coast is a marine reserve which is why we haven't seen any fishermen!
  10. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    La Serena is a nice seaside town but there's a religious festival going on and the first 5 hotels we try are all full or way too expensive, at the last one the owner suggests we try his friend across the road who ends up having a nice room for us, good parking, good wifi and breakfast included for just 20,000 a night (about $US 30 which is very cheap for here). We have a few days to kill before getting to Santiago and meeting up with Greg so we take our time here. First couple of days we get some shopping done and explore the town, hitting a couple of museums along the way.

    This was the house of an ex-president in the 50's who declared communism illegal and established a huge number of infrastructure programs in Chile as well as commercialising a number of big mining projects, there are statues about him all over the place. His place on the Plaza de Armas is now a museum where we spent a good couple of hours.

    And we went for a stroll down the beach, with a deep blue (and very cold) sea.

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    It looks like the black sand is covered in flakes of gold but given no one is paying any attention to it I guess it's pyrite / fools gold?

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    There's a even a few pelicans and sea lions lazing around the beach.

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    The next day we head of to the renowned Valle Elqui de Pisco, named for the famous Chilean drink Pisco and a highly recommended spot to visit. It's a beautiful ride inland and up into the hills, we pass a large hydroelectric lake before seeing the small town of Vacuna where we visit the Capel Pisco distillery and get a tour in.

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    They have many San Pedro cacti in pots around the grounds but don't seem to know the significance of these........hmmmm

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    We get lucky and receive a private tour for the two of us in English and visit the entire factory, most of the distillation equipment looks like pretty old technology but it seems to be working well for them.

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    Pisco is basically like a young whiskey, super sweet grape juice is fermented into wine for 10-15 days and then doubly distilled into spirit which is then either sold as a clear vodka like alcohol or barrelled for anywhere between 1 month and one year into a a light brown Pisco. The name Pisco is limited to the region kinda like Champagne or Parma ham is. We did of course get a wee taste of some of their products and they taste like a young, slightly fruity whiskey. Pretty good and it sells very cheap here, around $3 or $4 for a 750ml bottle of 35% alcohol.

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    We return to La Serena for the night and the next day I am keen to camp on the beach again and so agree to meet Steve in a few days further down the coast.

    The next day I leave late as I don't want to setup camp in the desert heat and harsh sunshine, and I head down the coast and start to scope out camp spots. Unfortunately the wind speed is outrageous, even though the forecast is for only 6 or 7 knots, it is blowing at least 40 knots! I end up battling the headwinds as I head South and once on the coast I find some great spots but it is waaaaay to windy to pitch camp, my bike almost gets blown of its side-stand the wind is so strong.

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    At this spot I also end up seeing a large snake cross my path, with long-wise black and white stripes and well over a meter long. I look this snake up later and apparently it was a "Chilean Green Racer snake" and venomous, but also very rare and little is known about it. It was too quick for me to get a pic.

    After a few hours I give up on trying to camp in the hurricane winds, end up in the town of Los Vilos and find a groovy little hotel which is empty and I get the pick of the rooms, I end up with great sea-views from my bed and its another cheapie at 12,000 a night (abut $17USD)!

    Here's the view from my bed.

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    This is a very chilled out little seaside town and I end up staying there for 3 days, mostly spent chilling out and enjoying the view, listening to the waves crashing down from my room. It also has a great TV which takes my USB stick and so I get through a few movies and unfortunately finish the TV series I have been enjoying (The good wife).

    I'm in touch with Steve and he is already in Vinas del Mar, a little town right by our next planned meeting point of Valparaiso, another seaside city and the seat of the Chilean parliament. We arrange to meet at an "alternative lodging" there in the biker meet-up place of "The Kunterbundt Villa" run bu a Chilean/German couple who help a lot of bikers ships their bikes in and out of Chile and offer bedrooms in their home.

    We both get there in the early afternoon and are very warmly received bu Enzo and Martina and their 5 cats and 2 dogs in a beautiful 100 old villa.
    Mainecoons, NSFW, caliform and 6 others like this.
  11. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    The sea is chilly in Chile eh?

    "Echinopsis pachanoi has a long history of being used in Andean traditional medicine. Archeological studies have found evidence of use going back two thousand years, to Moche culture. Although Roman Catholic church authorities after the Spanish conquest attempted to suppress its use, this failed, as shown by the Christian element in the common name "San Pedro cactus" – Saint Peter cactus. The name is attributed to the belief that just as St Peter holds the keys to heaven, the effects of the cactus allow users "to reach heaven while still on earth."
  12. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi Love my Tranny Super Supporter

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    ahhhh, the cacti.

    I have a good specimen of it in my back yard :lol3. Not that I know anything about its medicinal uses :augie

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  13. MotoRojo

    MotoRojo Adventurer

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    I happen to stumbled upon your thread and soon became hooked. Great writing, photos, video and humour! Way to go living it up with the locals and enjoying the moment. Thanks for sharing your adventure
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  14. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    That IS a lovely example! I must pop around for a cuppa when I'm back...... :-)
  15. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the feedback and welcome onboard!
  16. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Valparaiso is a really nice and historical seaside city but like the rest of Chile so far, very developed, first world and expensive!

    As soon as we settle in Steve and I head into the town for a look-see, at the main square we get accosted by a group of school girls who want to know our story, they were very excited and very loud, but fun was had, here's Steve fending off the first assault.

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    We end up having a few beersies at the famous Hamburg maritime pub and almost get lost on the way home trying to work out the local bus service, but all ends well. Martina and Enzo from the Villa Kunterbundt are great hosts and we end up having a pretty big night the first night there, they know how to party!

    But with 5 cats, 2 large dogs and an old villa, it's not the cleanest place we have stayed in..... Here are four of the felines stalking the same poor bird.

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    After a relaxed start the next day we all head out to the town of Vinas del Mar for a bite to eat and to check out the international 6 day enduro event. We also end up meeting with fellow ADVers Irene and Erwin from Holland (@erwindob).

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    Unfortunately there was no kiwi team but the Ozzies seem to be well represented.

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    There were a huge number of bikes checked in and ready to go!

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    I also manage to get a good deal on some oil for my beastie so I can do an oil change when we get to Santiago (Motul T4 W30-50, mineral MA2 for about $11 USD a litre which is cheap for here).

    Steve and me drop into the National Maritime Museum in the afternoon and head back for a quiet evening. The next day we are away in good time heading for the capital Santiago and to an AirB&B place we have scouted near to the centre and also near to the bike shops and the place where Greg is renting his bike when he comes over from NZ.

    Here's Martina and Enzo saying their farewells.

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    It's an easy 1.5hr ride to the capital although we do get told off by the local cops at one stage for lane splitting up to the site of an rolled over truck on the highway, apparently lane splitting is frowned upon here......whoopsy, my bad :)

    As we arrive into town we head straight for the Honda dealer and Steve drops his beastie off for a big service, which ended up being a bit bigger than he planned (oil and filter change, air filter, new tyres, front brakes, wheel bearing and seals). Then I follow his taxi to our AirB&B which turns out to be very nice and comfortable and clean!

    Then Gonzalo gets in touch, he was the Chilean guy Steve met in Cusco and whom we also met in Calama and who gave us great advice on a route to take down South.

    He pops over with a bottle of the local vino and picks us up in a very nice Audi A7.....

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    He works at the Calama copper mine but we guess he is not holding a shovel in his hand :) Gonzalo then offers to show us the city and of course we are keen. First stop is the 70 story glass tower of the Costanera Centre and some spectacular views of Santiago, and as always, it's great fun to tease Steve about his fear of heights....

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    Here's Steve and Gonzalo with Steve surprisingly close to the window.

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    Then Gonzalo offers to take us out for a flash-up meal at one of his favourite restaurant and we end up having a great night and a carnivorous feast !! Thank you Gonzalo!!

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    Not to mention a huge dessert - Dulce Leche !! yum....And it looks like Steve is about to have a steak baby :rofl

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    The next day I do some wrenching on my bike including an oil and filter change and do a MUCH needed clean of my air filter (at 35,000 miles for my ref) before we head into the city for a look around.

    Where we visit the Plaza de Armas and do the National Historic Museum and cathedral there.

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    It turns out that fellow ADVers ThomasB (@Thomas B. ) and co are also in Santiago so we arrange to meet up and share a drink or two and some of our stories, fun was had, great people! Their thread is here linky

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  17. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    A seaweed... collector? Now I've heard it all. Excellent RR!
  18. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thanks Caliform, yeah they collect a particular type of brown seaweed off the beaches and it is sold to Asia where they use it to make biodegradable plastics and skin care products apparently.....news to me too :)

    We've seen them collecting it at a fair few beaches as we travel down the coast, pretty big business down here.
  19. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Having a few down days in Santiago has proved very useful and we both end up getting lots of stuff done. Including me getting my last eye check after the whole "bungee incident" which is now over a year ago. Gonzalo comes to the rescue once again and books me in to see his own ophthalmologist not too far from our AirB&B. I catch a bus and a metro to the Santa Maria Hospital and get a clean bill of health from the Doc - woohoo! I also take advantage of him and get a few scripts written, turns out that medicines are almost all by prescription only here just like they are back home. Unlike the rest of South America where almost anything is available over the counter, including some opiates and even sleeping pills! He obliges and writes me some more back pain pills.

    On the way home the sky opens and a torrential rainstorm blankets the city, the buses here are pretty run down and I get more soaked in the bus then I did outside, they not only leak but rather act as funnels to direct multiple water spouts into the bus, through the skylight, the bendy bit in the middle of the bus and through the holes in the roof...... half the seats are filled with water not usable.

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    I get back home OK and the next day, after Steve picks up his bike, we do some more sightseeing and find the teleferico system over a downtown hill with some great views of the city including the huge glass tower that Gonzalo took us up on the first night.

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    We luck out and as we are getting the ticket system explained to us some tourists talk to us and offer us their return tickets that the decided not to use !! nice people :)

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    Very threatening skies in the hills surrounding the city.....we're definitely not in the desert anymore.

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    Once at the top of the hill we catch a funicular trolley back to the city.

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    Then we grab a couple of museums on the way back into the centre and end up catching up with Thomas, Sandra and Takeshi for a few more bevvies and another story swapping session.

    The next day I need to get a bolt drilled out of my bash-plate as it took a big hit from a rock and I can't move it, and I need to get the bash-plate off to get to the infamous KLR doohickey, which I need to release about once every 5000 kms and I am very late doing this....

    So I head over to where Greg is hiring his bike a bit early as they have a workshop and the guys there help get my bolt out and replace it with a new one so all is good, just as we're doing this Greg turns up in good spirits fresh from NZ!

    He gets his BMW F800 GS sorted and packed and we head back to the AirB&B for a few welcome drinkies...... and then there were three !

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    We end up having a pretty big night / three man party and all wake a little broken in the morning. Our plan is to head South straight away and we manage to get out of the city by about 10-ish and ride 3 or 4 hours to the town of Talca. A pretty quiet little town with not much going on and we have a quiet (recovery) night.

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    We also catch up with Thomas and Sandra again as we recommend them the hostel we've found and they join us there. We all go for dinner together and have another nice evening swapping stories. Their KTM's both have broken electric starters and so Thomas has to kick start them both in the morning....

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    Greg getting his steed in order with a wee ADV salute in the morning at the hostel in Talca.

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    That day we do another 4 or so hour ride down the Panamerican routa 5 and end up in the town of Los Angeles, another town described as "rather dull" in the lonely planet :) But we find a good hotel right on the Plaza de Armas and I manage to negotiate them down to half their original price, one of my best efforts yet! And they have a great breakfast included.

    The next day (today) we get a good start and head back down the road but at a coffee stop I notice I have purple cooling fluid leaking around my water pump - sh1t!! muy malo! It's not a lot but it'll need to be sorted before we get into the wild-lands in the next few days.

    We roll down to Temuco and get lunch and as we leave a shower soaks us just before I get my power rangers suit on, and of course it works well and the rain stops as soon as I get back on the road with the rain suit on......

    We finally get to leave the Panamerican Ruta 5 and head East towards the lake-side town of Villarrica where we find a great hostel right on the lake and settle in to watch the Maori All blacks kick the Chile team 68-0 . I also give the bike a good once over and discover that one of my hose clamps is a bit loose, I tighten it, clean the bike, let it run hot and no more coolant leaks - phew, easy fix.

    From here we will head into the hills and cross over into Argentina for a few days.

    All is good in Chile and as always - looking forward to a new country, number 13!
  20. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    423
    Location:
    New Zealand - JAFA
    The hostel in Villarrica is right on the lake with the beautiful backdrop of a snow-capped volcano (Vulcan Villarrica)

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    The first night there we head to the supermercado and get some supplies and Greg fixes us up a big feed of shrimp and chicken Asian-ish noodles and we again enjoy some local vino rojo.

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    We end up having another pretty big night....... but what goes on tour.....

    The next day we decide to stay another night in the "stay and smell the flowers" mindset and I get my new rear brake rotor disk fitted without incident. The pads are still in good condition so I decide not to replace them or fit the caliper refurbishing kit just in case I create more problems and end up with a leaky brake system.

    Ooooooh, nice and shiny and I can finally start using my rear brake again.

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    Later in the day the clouds finally lift and reveal the volcano in our backyard.

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    I need a test ride for the new rotor and there's the picturesque town of Pucon just 20 minutes up the road so we all head off there for lunch. On our return the the hostel owner offers to take me trout fishing in his little boat and I am dead keen. It's a beautiful sunset on the lake.

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    And then it gets much better as I land my first South American trout - a beauty!!

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    He offers to smoke the fish right away and we end up having a very late after dinner snack at around 11pm which tastes absolutely awesome.

    The next morning the lake and the volcano are looking lovely once again, just before we head off further into the hills to hopefully find some gravel roads on our way to Puerto Fuy on the recommended 7 lakes route.

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    The countryside remind both Greg and I VERY much of NZ, green hills, forests, lakes and rivers with lots of holiday homes and quiet roads.

    Photos stop along the 7 lakes route.

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    The gravel road we were hoping to take is under construction and so we end up mostly on the tarmac and make it to Puerto Fuy in good time. We had planned to stay there but given there's a ferry ready to go we have a quick bite and get on the boat.

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    It's a lovely and relaxed 1.5hr cruse down the long and skinny Lago Pirihueico to the very quiet settlement of the same name. After some Spanish confusion we end up finding lodgings in the restaurant/hostel, where at first said they have no food or rooms available, then it finally turns out they have both ???? So we're good and have a quiet night there, exploring the ruins of a massive old luxury hotel which burned down there in the 90's.

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    They also have 5 very cool cats there which get some kitty-loving from me but not so much from Steve as one of them picks his bike as it's chill spot :)

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    The next morning we take a very short 11km gravel road to the Argentinian border and deflower Greg who has never crossed a land border before. All goes very smoothly as we sign out of Chile and into our country number 13!!

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    Then we ride another 50 or so kms of great gravel through the forests and along the lakes, again very reminiscent of NZ, and come across a good size wild fire.

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    We ride a short way on the very famous Argentinian Ruta 40 and settle in the skiing town of San Martin De Los Andes to get our new country stuff done.

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    We find the nice and friendly Hostel Puma in town and get our money changed, phones sorted (Movistar this time, about $5 for 2Gig for a week and it works great) and have a nice lunch. Prices are thankfully a little cheaper here about 30% less than Chile, because of the very weak Argentinian Peso at the moment.

    The next day (today) is expected to be very rainy with crazy strong winds so we decide to take a chill day and hang around the hostel shooting the sh1t and getting updates done.

    My rear brake is working great and I am slowly deprogramming myself to use it again, the water leak is gone, my doohickey is done and all is good in Argentina!
    Mainecoons, MrKiwi, C.J. and 4 others like this.