North to South America on a Honda 250 (back home)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Hey Joris
    Nice Machu Picchu photos! I did the 5 day hike into MP when I was 55, one of my top 5 hikes of all time.
    Lots more ruins to see on the hike plus we walked over 14,000ft on the one day.
    Hope all is well at home!
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  2. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    Great photos of Machu Picchu. I believe it was in 1959 when I visited M.P as a teenager. Took a Jeep ride from Cali, Colombia (I grew up in Bogotá). It was mostly overgrown back then and we were glad we had a Willys Jeep to make it through on those roads
  3. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    A friend from New Mexico just got married in Peru. (As if I needed another reason to visit!)

    They plan to move from Lima to Cusco ... but right now he's stuck in Maine while she's stuck in Lima. I wonder when he'll be able to return. Or more to the point, when will I be able to go there!
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  4. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    Joris. Congrats on making it to Machu Pichu, thanks for the awesome pics. Glad you made it to Cusco safely.
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  5. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    In the morning rain I did my best to find the problem with the front brake. There was zero fluid left but no apparent leak. Best to take it to a mechanic, at least it will be dry and he might have a better knowledge of what’s wrong. And the luggage racks still needed welding so I was in need of a mechanic anyway. iOverlander came to the rescue again and showed me the way to the motorcycle street. I only needed to get down this little slippery street, in the rain, with only a rear brake. I slid right down the hill straight onto the intersection :D
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    A little shop named Akron Motos seemed to be the best option so I explained them my problem and they started right away. He suggested new brake pads and although the old ones were still usable I agreed, didn’t cost much anyway. Together with a top up of fluid and I had a front brake again. I knew this wasn’t a durable solution to the problem but at least for now it would do. The friendly guy running the place was from Venezuela and a friend of him that was also around had worked in New York city for a while. So we could at least have some sort of conversation while he was welding the racks.
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    With that out of the way it was time to go see Cusco, so I met up with Harry in the afternoon for a walking tour. We were a small group of only five but our English speaking guide was enthusiastic non the less. He told us a lot about the history of Cusco, as the capital of the Inca empire and the influence of the Spanish conquerors. Although a lot of Inca temples were destroyed there are still many remnants left. Walking through all the little streets and alleys I found Cusco to be a great city. [​IMG]
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    Our guide finished the tour on a little plaza above the city, which provided a nice view.
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    At an altitude of around 3500 meter Harry and I both didn’t feel like walking much further to get dinner. We sat down in one of the restaurants on the hillside and enjoyed the city lighting up at night.
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    Another rest day was in order after many days of continues riding. That meant waking up late, walking around a bit, having beers and playing pool.
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    Back on the road to Puno, the last stop before the Bolivian border. Cold and rainy as always, Peru must be absolutely awesome in dry season!
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    Harry and I were getting along pretty well and with our destinations lining up too we again went for a drink in Puno. My last night in Peru and finally I tried a Pisco Sour (and then another one)!
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  6. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    After a few days I figured out that my master cylinder was leaking. I guess during the 50k kilometers it must have all seeped out.

    Thanks Cal! When I was there I thought to myself, I need to come back one day and do one of those hikes. So many old Inca trails around, maybe I can come back in a few years time. All is well here! Looking for a job (which isn't easy nowadays) but I'm not to worried, something will come up I'm sure. In the meantime I keep myself entertained with small jobs on the bikes or around the house.

    Did you ride your Vstrom back from Mexico?

    Wow, that sounds like a true adventure! Cannot imagine how it was back then. If you have any photos you should write a little travel report, or maybe even without photos. How developed was Machu Picchu or Cusco back then, any tourism? Did you have maps to go on or locals? And was it camping all the way or were you staying in little villages along the way? Would love to hear more about that.

    Ah that's unfortunate.. Especially for the newlyweds! Let's just hope that all will go better soon, I think a few more months of patience is needed but things are looking better already. Although from the numbers it looks like South America is a few weeks behind most countries.
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  7. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Every time I see Inca rock work it blows me away, such great workmanship! V Strom is in storage in Arizona it was to cold to ride back in March, now the border is closed and I hope to go get it in a month.
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  8. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Great Joris!
    in your travels thru the Americas which is your favourite beer, other than Canadian? :photog
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  9. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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  10. HO53

    HO53 n00b

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    Hi Joris,

    Have read through from start to finish over the last few days and all I can say is awesome,awesome, awesome!!
    Pity the pandemic put paid to your return trip but you got home safe and sound. Here in South Africa we are under strict lockdown. One of the most severe in the world. Have not had a beer in 6 weeks. Gee I'm thirsty.
    Absolutely itching to have a ride as well. I recently sold my beloved KLR 650 and found a KTM 950 Adventure for an absolute steal. Also just bought an older shape KLR 650 for a bargain which I want to clean up and give to my son to join us on our longer trips. Still waiting to bring that down to Durban from Johannesburg as no travel between provinces is permitted at the moment. We have a post lockdown trip planned to the Wild Coast and then back up through the Drakensberg Mountains. Nothing to compare to your trip but will have to suffice.
    Look forward to the rest of your RR.

    Many thanks for sharing,
    Andy
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  11. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    In the morning we were greeted by rain, but that wouldn’t deter us from going to Bolivia. Harry was getting a bus to the border in the afternoon and we would meet later in the day in Copacabana. After an hour of riding the rain lessened and eventually the sun came out. Riding along the shores of Lake Titicaca, with the little villages here and there between the green grassy hills, was really enjoyable. Reaching the border I got in line for the passport stamp. It’s funny, you have all the time in the world, nowhere you have to be and still it’s annoying to wait an hour and a half.
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    With the passport stamped, TIP cancelled and leftover Soles exchanged I rode through the gate signaling the actual border and proceeded on the Bolivian side. There was this old beige Landrover with foreign plates waiting for the customs to open (after their lunchbreak). I couldn’t figure out where it was from but soon found its three owners. The plate was a Italian classic plate, the three brothers had inherited the car from their grandpa who had traveled through Africa with this car over 50 years ago. To pay homage they had shipped it to Argentina and were doing a loop around the continent.
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    I was directed past a long line of tourists and got my passport stamped almost immediately, then a short wait for customs to open and that was all the formalities done. Or at least I thought, upon leaving an old guy in police uniform insisted that I would register at the police station. Claro, sure.. I didn’t really know if this was mandatory or not but walked with him anyway. He demanded copies of the customs form, so I said he could make them if needed. NO, I should make them myself. Well, as I was already in the country I didn’t see the need to make them. I didn’t have any money anyway (I had, but still). After some back and forth it sounded like I got the Spanish version of “Fuck off” so I friendly said my goodbyes and got on the road.
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    It was a short ride to Copacabana so the whole afternoon was spend eating, walking, washing and a little bike maintenance. Oil change time again, this time the shop that sold me the oil also provided a drain pan. At the hotel was also a German guy with a CRF250 Rally, actually surprised by how high that bike was.
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    Harry and I gave the floating islands in Peru a miss, but we needed to visit at least something in this region so decided to take a boat to Isla del Sol. This rocky outcrop in Lake Titicaca is where the sun-god Inti was born. Well, that’s what the Inca’s thought. Was he actually born there and did he spark the beginning of the Inca empire, I don’t know. [​IMG]
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    What I do know is that it’s a beautiful island! And with farming going on hundreds of years there’s terraces constructed everywhere, to maximize usable surface. Although small, walking around the island is hard because of the altitude (close to 4000m).
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    Although the island has a very traditional feel it receives a lot of tourists each year, and with that come hotels and restaurants. We found a restaurant with a good view and sat down for a decent lunch. It was so tranquil that we sat there for a few hours just absorbing our surroundings.
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    Late in the afternoon it was time to head back again, we still had a two hour boat ride back to Copacabana.
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  12. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Ha, mm difficult one.. I'm a big fan of craftbeer but most countries often only have the local lagers. I wil go through my pictures and see if I can make a little list. Now I think of it, I had a Belikin Chocolate Stout in Belize and that could very well be a winner. :beer

    Wow, thank you!

    Hey Andy, thanks for following along!

    No beer in six weeks, that is hardship. I read somewhere the illegal booze trade was flourishing because of that ban. Let's just keep our heads up, sit this one out and hope that it will get better in the near future so we can all come back stronger after this crisis.

    You're gonna have a blast on that 950, (South) Africa is advrider heaven! It's been more than three years now that I was there but still want to come back to see the rest (only went west to the Cape).
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  13. Chico

    Chico Thief and Saboteur

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    On the topic of beers, I noticed you enjoying Sierra Nevada way back in California and couldn't help feeling a little home-town pride since I grew up in Chico, Ca where the original brewery is. Like everyone else has said, thank you for sharing your adventure and taking the time to do such an excellent job of it!
  14. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    Yeah, I lived in Chico in the early 80's, when Sierra Nevada started in somebody's garage (a friend of a brewing friend). We used to worry about the degreasers from the airfield contaminating the water supply. But back then, we considered Eye of the Falcon to be The Kind.

    I sure miss Canal Street and the original (to Chico) Malvina's. Gourmet Velveeta!
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  15. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    It’s been an exceptionally good spring here in the Netherlands, blue skies and good weather for almost two months straight. After a few weeks faffing around with the new to me 450 and 650, I realized I liked the CB much better and sold the NTV. So with more space in the shed and some money back in the bank I bought this new ride, apparently mtb’s with 29” wheels are a thing now. So after scouring the internet for a week this thing popped up for almost half similar bikes were going for, with all the bells and whistles. I’m still looking for a more off-road capable motorcycle (I’m thinking of doing some sort of rally) but this will give me something to play with in the meantime.
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    This week it’s raining though, so I’m back on the RR!

    Last post was about Bolivia. After two nights in Copacabana it was time to move on, there was a special road waiting for me. But first, a rickety old ferry across the Estrecho de Tiquina. I’d seen some pictures of the ferries and read some stories about them, but they really are quite sketchy. I rode onto the ferry and the decided I should turn the bike around to make unloading easier. I should’ve used the side stand trick but opted for the ‘ride over the small wooden board’ trick, to the other side of the barge. Went remarkably well until the front wheel got stuck between the boards. Oh well, at least the bike was wedged in there enough that I could walk around for some pictures :D
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    In La Paz I visited some shops to see if they had a front tire, but no decent options were available. So I kept going through the city and back into the mountains on the other end. Traffic in the city was comparable with Lima, madness.
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    A bit further you’ll find probably the most famous road in Bolivia (or South America), the Death Road. I was advised to come up from the bottom so you don’t have to ride along the edge. So I kept going on the paved road (which by itself is awesome) until I reached Coroico down in the valley. [​IMG]
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    Down in the valley at the start of the road it was hot but dry, there is a small commission you have to pay to use the road. Mandatory pictures at ‘The Sign’.
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    About twenty kilometers into the ride I was stopped by a man, he said the road was closed for all traffic due to a landslide. Mm.. can I take a look? Most of the time it’s possible to wiggle your way around with a motorcycle. Well, not this time. It looked doable but the mud was slick as snot and steeper than the picture makes it look. A guy was clearing the landslide and even moved his digger for me to be able to pass, but no matter how hard I tried I didn’t even get close, I was only burning my tire and my clutch. I could have unloaded all the luggage and I might have been able to push it through but it was late in the day, with possibly more landslides up ahead I thought it was better not to try my luck and carry on alone. It’s named Death Road for a reason. So I thanked the guy in the digger and turned around. I had to laugh, had I started from the top I probably would’ve had no issues.
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    Back up into the mountains and onto La Paz for the night.
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    Before riding down into the valley that holds La Paz I stopped at the highest point of ruta 3, the pass is around 4600 meter. See, one of my goals on this trip was to reach 5000 meter and from this pass I could see small dirtroads leading into the mountains.
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    So I was on the hunt for the illusive ‘5000’ number on the navigation. Needless to say that at these altitudes the underpowered 234cc twin which is fed by one single carb was more out of breath then I was. Still it plodded up the mountain in first gear, only up a steep hill I had to give it a little push.
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    The road led me to a radio/radar station, where a man frantically waved his arms signaling me to get lost. I waved back and checked the altitude, 4970 meter.
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    The road didn’t go any higher, so this had to do. I was out of breath and impressed non the less.
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    Back in La Paz before sunset, in the rain of course. Coming into the city I was almost taken out by a minivan, he luckily only skirted one side bag when he hastily pulled over to pick up a passenger. After that long day I really couldn’t be bothered to visit the city, after one night in an average hostel I got the hell out of there.
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    Looking at the map, the most interesting route to Uyuni would be a loop along Cochabamba, Sucre and Potosi. The last one seemed especially interesting because you can enter a functioning mine there. But if I was to reach Ushuaia before winter I had to skip some things. Because there were no real interesting things to see along the way it was a long, cold slog directly from La Paz to Uyuni. These distances were getting all too common now, I was doing Amsterdam – Paris many days in a row without even thinking about it.
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    But after every long day most of the time there is a warm shower and a hot meal waiting somewhere.
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    iOverlander led me to a motorcycle hotel in Uyuni where I noticed a familiar bike. I was talking with some Australian bikers that were riding their DR650 and KTM 690 around South America and briefly met Noraly as she went out for groceries.
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    Beer time! The following morning I would leave the bike and take a 4x4 tour onto the salt flats. I would’ve loved to take the bike out, and although I’ve abused it a lot I decided against taking it out on the salt as there was a couple of inches of water from the recent rainstorms.
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  16. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    As always, thanks for the update.

    > briefly met Noraly

    Okay, the Dutch Mafia ADVing in Bolivia. (Is it true that her boots must be quarantined?)
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  17. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Hahah :D Not sure about the boots but if they're as rotten as mine then definitely.
  18. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Spending a day in a car together with some other people was nice for a change. We had a group of six plus our guide, who would take us to the train cemetery and the Salar. It was alright, but I’m not sure if I would recommend it if you have your own wheels. Use your own judgement! First stop, Disney Land.. also known as the train cemetery.
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    Ffs.. why do all the tour companies all visit the same place at 10 in the morning. It is quite a cool place to stroll around for an hour though, wander a bit further and the crowds thin out.
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    We then headed for the salt, but not before stopping for lunch and a chance for people to stock up on Bolivian memorabilia. The lunch was served in a room constructed with blocks of salt. Looking at the amount of 4x4’s I genuinely think that all the Toyota Landcruisers in the world come to Uyuni to spend their final years trucking tourists around.
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    Onwards!
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    The edge of the Salar the Uyuni. At first I thought it was a bit of a shame that it was flooded and I couldn’t ride the bike across or camp on the salt. But looking at what is presumably world’s biggest mirror it wasn’t bad at all, actually I would say it’s one of the most incredible places I’ve seen. Apart from flooding during the rainy season there are also some springs.
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    Can you tell I’m happy? :D
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    Hexagons as far as the eye can see!
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    Someone got their drone out before the wind picked up and the mirror effect was lost.
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    And with the wind came the rainstorms, time to head to the salt hotel and wait for them to pass. Looks like I’m taking a piss, but I’m actually holding a Paraguayan flag so you can’t see the emblem.
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    Maybe the Dakar will return to Bolivia one day..
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    This brave couple rode from Salta (Argentina) to Uyuni with their 150cc motorcycle and weren’t fazed of taking it out on the salt. They invited me to visit them if I ever got to Salta, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance.
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    We failed miserably with the mandatory perspective shots, but with the sun getting lower and lower and together with the dark clouds it was a beautiful sight.
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    Just like when I was standing on the volcano in Guatemala, I didn’t want to leave. This place had such a magical feeling and with influences from nature it showed a different face every minute.
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    The sun went down and that signaled our return to Uyuni. In the group was also a Swiss couple who were driving around South America with their own 4x4 (and also didn’t take it onto the salt). We got along well and went for dinner together afterwards. When I told them that it was actually my birthday that day they arranged a free shot :)
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  19. Chip Seal

    Chip Seal Long timer Supporter

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    "Quote" We then headed for the salt, but not before stopping for lunch and a chance for people to stock up on Bolivian memorabilia. The lunch was served in a room constructed with blocks of salt. Looking at the amount of 4x4’s I genuinely think that all the Toyota Landcruisers in the world come to Uyuni to spend their final years trucking tourists around.

    All that wet salt, bet the Land Cruisers rust out in under three years!
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  20. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    One of the reasons that I was happy to meet the Swiss couple was that they also wanted to take the Lagunas Route to reach Chile. This route consists of approx. five hundred kilometers (300 miles) of rugged, sandy tracks through the Atacama Desert (altitude above 4.000 meter/13.000 feet). I was a bit apprehensive to tackle this route solo, but the idea of having them as a back-up if things would go pear-shaped made me decide to go for it. We had agreed to meet early in the morning to grab a few days’ worth of supplies before setting off, but in the morning Salina -the Swiss girl- texted me she wasn’t feeling well and they were staying another day in Uyuni. I pondered my options, but my mind was set on this route now.. I wished her well and accepted that it would be a solo affair after all. One of the reasons I was worried about the route had to do with the state of my front tire, should’ve changed it in Lima but didn’t and then couldn’t find any suitable replacement in Cuzco and La Paz. Oh well.. You’ll be fine :D
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    The first two hundred kilometers are on the Ruta 5 and Ruta 701, which are in decent condition. These main roads see a lot of use being the main route to the Chilean border and are therefore maintained pretty well.
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    The little Honda has a range of around four hundred kilometers, that wasn’t going to cut it. Back in Uyuni I got myself a 5 liter water container, topped up the various small bottles I carried and then filled the container with gas. I was sure glad to have done this because when I reached San Cristobal, an hour south of Uyuni and the last place to fill up, the system was down and they couldn’t sell me anything. I tipped the gas from the water container into the tank and continued, hopefully it would be enough.
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    iOverlander told me there was one more place to get gas, someone selling gas from their shed, but I wasn’t able to locate the place in Alota. If anything I could bum some gas of the many tours, so no worries yet.
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    Further along the ‘701’ you ride through this rock field, a weird sighting in the otherwise flat and mundane surroundings. Must be from the many volcanos in the area.
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    Just before the turnoff from the main road I stopped for lunch, just a simple soup but it did wonders. If you keep following the ‘701’ you’ll soon find yourself at the Chilean border at Ollague. But 35km before the border there’s a lot of tracks running south, follow those (the most western Lagunas Route along the Chilean border) and you’ll find yourself on one of the most beautiful routes in South America.
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    To Los Flamencos Eco Hotel the route was good, why is everyone saying this route is hard I thought to myself (Oh.. you just wait.. only three hundred kilometers to go.)
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    The lakes made their appearance, Luguna Cañapa, it’s pink hue amazed me. So did the Flamingoes.
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    Dark clouds were looming in the distance so I informed at the Eco Hotel if I could stay the night. Their prices made me continue, it was still early afternoon anyway. The route got rougher and I noticed the left luggage rack was loose again, quick fix with a strap and onwards. Past the hotel the easy tracks made way for a myriad of tracks across the plains. Thank god for Maps.me, just follow the little line on the phone.
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    A big thunderstorm rolled right where I was heading, with lightning on the ground all around. Being the highest and only metal thing around for miles I thought it was best to get off the bike and lay on the ground a little further away ‘till the storm passed.
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    Keep following that line on the phone.
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    Nah, good as new..
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    Sometimes the tracks ran through a little valley, with the soft sand accumulating at the bottom made for some interesting moments.
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    Keep going..
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    What is worse than soft sand.. Endless amount of rocks. The stock suspension just wasn’t designed for this.
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    The corrugation was even more miserable then the rocks. And as almost all of the route is corrugated I better get used to it. This stuff is hard on vehicles.
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    Finally something to break the monotony, the Rock Tree or Arbol de Piedra! I was pretty chuffed to have made it that far in one day.
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    In the distance I could see the pink glow from Laguna Colorada reflected on the clouds.
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    Getting closer.. greeted by rainbows. [​IMG] [​IMG]
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    There are some amenities at Laguna Colorada, a few ‘hotels’ and a ranger station for the national park. By the time I arrived I was spend and sure was happy to find a warm dry place to sleep. So far the Lagunas Route was living up to its name, it is rough but not as remote as I thought.
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    Before the sun set I stretched my legs with a short walk. The place was just unbelievable!
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    Prepared some pasta in my cozy room and called it a day.
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