Observations on 31,000k through Bolivia, Chile and Argentina on a Tornado XR250

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RageAgainstTheFence, May 18, 2015.

  1. facundonu

    facundonu Been here awhile

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    very interesting!
    i love watching pics and reading stories from foreign people riding around my country.
    #21
  2. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    Returning two months later after waiting around in Santiago de Chile for my arm to heal I returned to the north and fetched my bike from the people who kindly took care of it. Having lost half my setup in the accident I bought a Giant Loop and got rid of the topbox. The new setup was far better.

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    In San Pedro I met a Frenchman traveling on a BMW twin. I admired him for his suaveness and decisiveness but him being in a rush to reach Canada sometimes put us at odds, given I had nowhere to go and all the time in the world to get there.

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    Early next morning we went to visit the geysers near SPDA. It was fifteen below zero on the way up there, and driving those dark, windy mountain roads I was glad he led the way. As I followed the gothic-looking motorcycle up to over 4,000m something about the high-tech BMW seemed impervious to its surrounding.

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    The road turned into a fairly rough track towards the end but the hot springs were interesting, if not a little cold. We tried to boil some milk in the geysers until we were told off, so we just drank it tepid. It tasted rank.

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    Traveling with someone was welcome and despite my bike struggling to keep up we made a pretty good team. Leaving San Pedro it took us two days to reach Uyuni. After crossing the border in Bolivia we camped in a great spot just a few miles after customs on the altiplano.

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    At million stars dotted the night sky and every so often a truck passed along the road before disappearing quietly into the night, as quickly as it had appeared. My first Altiplano camp was a good one, yet the real highlight was of course yet to come - the Salar de Uyuni.

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    We headed out there after a day of preparation in Uyuni itself, a pretty unremarkable and ugly town used as a portal for the salt flat. The outskirts of Uyuni look like something from a Madmax film. When we arrived we met a German guy on a Vespa who said he'd started in Alaska!

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    Driving across the Salar de Uyuni is unreal. At points all you can see is colourless void where the world should be, stretching off into nowhere. It makes the distant volcanic peaks appear to float in the sky.

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    As night fell, out towards the east we could see a violent electrical storm dancing across the horizon. It was a dazzling spectacle and we watched it with fascination while munching down our tuna noodles, slightly nervous that it could come our way.

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    Fortunately it did not yet it did flood parts of the salt flat itself as we would later discover. When we made a detour the next day to visit a small village to the north 'shore' of the salt flat we suddenly found ourselves riding as though were we atop a giant mirror.

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    I was worried about the salt sludge caking my battery and electronic systems and a potential brake-down in the middle of the Salar could have been a problem. If you do the Salar alone it makes sense to at least stick to the commonly used tracks, take a gps and loads of water too.

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    I was relieved to make it back to Uyuni and we found a place to wash off the salt from the bikes. Always in a rush, the same day the Frenchman shot off towards Potosi and left me to size up doing the fabled South-West Circuit alone

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    #22
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  3. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    Hi,

    The XRE would be a great choice I'm sure and the Falcon 400 too, though that is carbed and not EFI. The thing you must decide is whether or not you think that 1200 quid would be better spent on the trip itself or on better, more comfortable riding gear, or lighter, stronger camping gear, etc.
    #23
  4. donuk

    donuk n00b

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    Hi, the latest pics look great, especially the salt flats (looking forward to camping under the stars).

    Since that last message I had discovered the Honda CRF250L, fairly new, four stroke, EFI. Downside being while it seems economical the fuel tank is small so stock range is poor.

    My Riding/Camping gear is already owned so that part of my budget is covered, I had not planned to spend more than 3k on a bike all in but the CRF250L sits somewhere between the Tornado and the XRE on price, If i can get one for say 800-1000 more than a Tornado then i might just push the boat out. I'll see what the options are when I get there but quite excited about the CRF250L after sitting on one at a Honda Dealership over here.
    #24
  5. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    Yes the CRF looks great and FI too but like you say very small tank and that seat would need some modding. Getting racks made up and basic mods is kinda tricky in Chile too. A comfortable range really needs to be around 320k to 350 with 400-500k sometimes necessary if you're intent on doing the really remote stuff. With my handy 3lt flask I can get around 330k all in. For my money I'd probably go with a Falcon 400 and learn to change the jets. The Falcon is tried and tested and way more comfortable than the 250's. But yeah go and have a look around and see how you feel. I should indeed be in the city around then and I speak Spanish so can help you out if you need it.
    #25
  6. donuk

    donuk n00b

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    I have your email, if we are in the city at the same time would be good to meet up for a chat / beer.

    Cheers
    #26
  7. facundonu

    facundonu Been here awhile

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    i don't know about chile, but here in argentine XRE has not been a best seller. on the other hand, NX4 falcon is a very popular model here and in brasil. that makes spare parts and after market mods much easier to find. XRE fuel injected, and NX4 is carburated.
    i own a falcon, and though it looses several hp's at high altitude, it's really no big deal since it has a lot of low end torque and short gearing.
    on both models you will need to carry extra fuel because tanks are rather small (around 15L). some bigger plastic tanks are available for falcon and tornado from brazilian makers (OLM for tornado, gilimoto for falcon), don't know if there's any fo XRE.
    #27
  8. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    The Southwest circuit is as stunning and awesome as everyone makes out. I found the roads challenging, especially loaded up with extra fuel and food. The remoteness and altitude posed their own risks too but I'm not sure it's as bad as it's made out to be in dramatised blogs.

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    Nonetheless, definitely not a good place to run into medical or mechanical problems, though the same could be said for most of Bolivia I suppose. Yet compared to the lonely tracks of the northern sections of the Bolivian altiplano the southern part sees a lot of traffic at least.

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    If you take this route make sure your vehicle is in excellent condition and be certain you have enough fuel, water and provisions. I would not take this route unless I had proper camping equipment including a 3-season sleeping bag and thermals. In winter it can apparently hit -30c.

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    In Uyuni I met a Polish family and an American couple both driving rackety RV’s. We teamed up and I was glad to have some company and some support in case I encountered any problems. After becoming accustomed to living on noodles and drinking black tea, how amazing it was when I was offered in for a cold beer and stir fry one evening!

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    We travelled together up until the boarder in the south of the park, seeing the sights along the way. Saying our goodbyes before I watched them drive off into the distance. I rode back and found an early camp to figure out a way back north the day next day, now feeling very much alone amongst that desolate wilderness.

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    That night was freezing cold and I slept uneasily. Doubling back to the hot springs I was nearly flattened after reading a situation poorly involving a maniac truck driver. Later I bought some fuel from a 4x4 driver and made my way out to Quetana Grande, which was lonely and spectacular.

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    I tried to cross the mountains to the east, heading towards San Pablo de Lipez but took the wrong road and as the altimeter hit five-thousand meters I knew it was the wrong way and turned back. They say never judge a book by its cover, likewise, never judge a road by how it looks on a map!

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    Not knowing this I took what looked like an okay road on the map but it turned out to be rough as hell. I had several chances to make good camps and even passed another small village where I could have resupplied, but for some reason I frantically rode onwards, hellbent on reaching San Cristobal that same day for no good reason whatsoever.

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    I blundered my way through a deep river crossing and then hit miles and miles of ugly washboard, the road often disappearing altogether or splitting off into eight different tracks and deep ruts. I spun out on a patch of wet clay and was very fortunate to be unharmed. In retrospect it was ridiculous.

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    Finally the track disappeared into another river. I forded it and followed it for a few kilometres until I saw the trail pick up again. Seeing signs of inhabitance I was overjoyed. The trail joined the main road that runs along the south the Salar and took me to San Cristobal.

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    I found a small room, unpacked and went to drink a coke in the square to watch the local women come hither and dither in their colourful dresses and bowler hats. Thinking back now how silly it was not have stayed in a village or camped along the way. For large parts of the track I was driving like it was the Dakar.

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    The next day I set off and road to Uyuni and found some lunch. Then took the road to Potosi, which was a newish toll road, it was paved and relatively free of traffic. This was quite a spectacular road.

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    Potosi is a fascinating city but some of the hills were to steep for my bike, and if I didn't have a good run-up I would have to turn around and drive back down for another go. It was then I realised that it was time to change the jets. Driving in Potosi was stressful and I must have raged around the city half a dozen times before I found my hostel.

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    From Potosi to Sucre was again mostly paved and a nice drive accept for the some strong headwinds. After a month or so on the altiplano, dropping down to Sucre was pleasant and it was lovely to see trees and flowers again. My plan was to go north to La Paz, but then that would have been too easy...

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    #28
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  9. donuk

    donuk n00b

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    Awesome man, I remember on my last trip getting into that silly "Must get to X" mind-set from time to time.
    #29
  10. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor Supporter

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    Awesome trip and pictures. Thanks for sharing.
    #30
  11. Mogley

    Mogley Two flats tires

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    Making that 250 proud! Great story and pictures, wish I could write like that. What do you use for gps?
    #31
  12. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    Thanks all!

    Just a Garmin eTrex 20. It's really not the best because the screen is very small and it's hard to operate while driving but it was the cheapest option with a map function and they're tough and reliable.
    #32
  13. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    Riding the Ruta de Chiquitos - Bolivia.

    We decided to do the amazing Ruta de Chiqutos. My companion also rode a Tornado. Starting from Sucre, the ride took us across the valleys towards Siampata, before the road twisted and turned down to the bustling, modern and wealthy city of Santa Cruz. Dropping back to sea level the bike came alive again and I probably drove far faster than was sensible, but it was great fun!

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    The route itself is a loop arching around towards the boarder of Brazil. It is mostly dirt but hard-packed and good to ride on, in the dry season at least. Along the way are several small towns which were built in the seventeenth century by a German pastor. You can read about the interesting history elsewhere. The towns were both charming and pleasant and the people extraordinarily warm and friendly.

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    One thing I will say is camping down there is a pretty sweaty prospect full of angry face-attacking insects. In places like the Atacama and on the Altiplano it is hard to remember just how annoying they can be and as soon as you get into the tropics they are impossible to forget.

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    The first night in the lowlands I was forced into my tent as soon as dusk arrived due to the swarm of mosquitos and flies. That night I got out of my tent to fetch some biscuits from the bike and nearly stood barefoot on a great hairy Tarantula sat just outside my tent.

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    This excited my travel companion and he rushed out of his tent to take pictures. I have to say I was far less impressed and considered myself lucky to have not been bitten. That night I fell asleep to an awesome jungle choir of buzzing insects and squawking birds.

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    The rest of the circuit was much alike, but beautiful and well worth it. The small towns were very idyllic, with leafy plazas where school children in pristine white uniforms came to mingle and chat, and palms swaying lazily above old colonial sloping tiled roofs.

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    The churches are all very beautiful and unusual, being carved only from wood. The Bolivian lowlands felt a million miles away from the cold, windswept expanses of the Altiplano.

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    We headed back to Santa Cruz and went our separate ways. I really liked Santa Cruz and the women out there are something else. There is a huge ring road I had intended to return to Sucre but doing the long way round via Trinidad and the Yungas seemed more exciting so that is exactly what I did.
    #33
  14. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    I left Santa Cruz on a warm and balmy Sunday morning. The streets were quiet and deserted. I cruised north along a highway, thankful for my garmin showing me a way out of the urban sprawl.

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    The road eventually shrank into a little more than track and soon I arrived at an unbridged river where I boarded a rudimentary raft. I spoke to several taxi drivers on the raft who told me that soon there would be a bridge built. I asked what would happen to the immensely fat raft owner and they all smirked, exchanging guilty looks. If he overcharged them as he did me, I can see why they'll relish seeing the end of his monopoly.

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    Once we landed we were off, bouncing down the bumpy trail before hitting a small road. I was stunned by the amount of cattle ranches. Just one after another for hundreds of miles. I wondered if before it would have been rainforest like the Amazon or Savannah instead? Every so often pickup trucks would pass me full of blonde and blue eyed cattle ranchers. The road was paved and in good condition and I made fairly good time. For some reason I was determined to reach Trinidad that day and pushed on, even though I should have called it a day and found somewhere to camp.

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    Once I did arrive at Trinidad all the good budget options were booked out so I stayed at a dingy place with dirty toilets and weird retro tiled floors. Everything had that nicotine yellow colour to it but the staff were okay.

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    The road out of Trinidad was not paved. It was fairly rough in parts but great fun to bounce along and there was little traffic. I made good time, arriving to refuel and stock up in the picturesque Moxos. I continued and found camp in some long grass which was hidden from the road. It was very hot and again I was extremely glad I could escape the clouds of mosquitoes inside my tent. Listening to the chorus of weird birds and insects throughout the night was wonderful.

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    The next day I continued. As I drew upon the mountains which climbed out of humid plains all hazy and green, I was filled with joy. But as I started up the rocky road which snaked its way through the lush, green valleys I became acutely aware of the very poor condition of my chain. It rattled and whirled noisily. I shouldn't do this sort of thing, I worry immensely about nothing. I worried my chain would break and plough through my gearbox making me veer off a cliff and die.

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    That day would become one of the most testing of the entire trip. Along with the disconcerting noises from the transmission, my starter failed. At first I thought it was just a flat battery but later found out it was something else, probably a result of salt corrosion from the Salar. This meant lots of hill starts and running-jump antics.

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    I continued that day climbing higher in altitude until the sticky humidity of the plains faded. I eventually found a camp after riding for too long, off a rough, shale road. It was on the banks of a great river, though being at the end of the dry season the water had receded into a fairly narrow but still gushing torrent.

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    Everything that day went wrong. I overestimated my ability to bump start the bike and so it took me ages to get the bike back onto the road. Later I got a puncture, lost my tool kit, fell off in a gas station while trying to bump start the bike, ran out of cash and ultimately patience. Weighing up my options I decided to abandon my trip into the northern Yungas and instead head towards Cororico.

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    I spent some time in Cororico and then left for La Paz, taking the 'death road', which compared to the road between Caranavi is a cakewalk. Arriving in La Paz for the first time is unforgettable. It is an unbelievable sight to see such an enormous city sprawling across impossibly steep mountains. If you like getting lost in narrow streets and markets, you'll probably love La Paz.

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    I stayed there for nearly a week in a budget hostel and loved the energetic and buzzing city in the clouds. At a Honda workshop I had a lot of much needed work done on the bike including a re-jet and a whole new transmission fitted. The bike ran a hell of a lot better for it. I was in good spirits but something was troubling me - the northern section of the altiplano. An adventure for sure - how could I resist?
    #34
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  15. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv. Supporter

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    Awesome! Thanks for posting.

    Cheers,

    .
    #35
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  16. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    Dispatches from the Bolivian Alitplano - Sajama to the Salar solo.

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    The draw of the mysterious northern altiplano that runs along the boarder with Chile and stretches out across nowhere proved too seductive for me. I saddled up and left La Paz early, winding up into El Alto which sprawls across the flat altiplano above the La Paz.

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    Arriving at Sajama I found a camp out of the wind. Sajama is an immense rock which sits alone just before the boarder with Chile. In the evening I climbed a nearby hill and studied the weather, hoping the rushing wind would bring no rain or storms.

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    The next day I set off along the rough dirt track that circles Sajama, passing by a few quaint villages before rejoining the main highway for Chile. I went there to get gasoline. Arriving, I filtered past lines of dirty looking truckers and into the forecourt but the fat fuel attendant lazily waved me away, 'no hay amigo, no hay'.

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    I must have waited all of two minutes before a car pulled in and started to refuel, the pump clearly labeled gasoline! The filthy liar couldn't be bothered with the receipt needed for all foreign plated vehicles. In came a flashy truck and six burly Bolivians got out. They looked a bit like narco-traffickers to me, with thick gold chains and designer shirts, but told me they were traveling musicians.

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    Some, having toured the United States spoke English, and so I told them of my problem. They threatened and cursed the attendant, reprimanding him severely, and he quickly relented, despondently filling my tank. This was bad karma indeed but I was happy to get that much needed fuel. I'm sure the musicians were all drunk. When we departed we exchanged hugs in the forecourt and then they cheered me off, as rowdy as a flock of seagulls.

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    I backtracked and cut off the main road down a sandy track which headed south towards Cotasi, adventuring out into the unknown. After about an hour the path became so sandy I dumped the bike and rolled off, starting to wonder whether I should return to the safety of the paved road. After a several hours of struggling along deep, sandy tracks I arrived at a river and stopped the bike.

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    Wide but not deep I went for it, charging out with full throttle. But I got stuck in the middle and had to push it the rest of the way. Very pleased with myself for having got across I jumped on the bike and nailed it only to see the horizon suddenly falling away, a big blue sky where there had previously been the world. I stumbled off the bike and then fell over into the thickest, most awful sludge you could imagine. Now I was in trouble!

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    I'd unwittingly driven straight into a big sort of depression of deep clay which came up to my knees. Judging by the dead llama next to me, he'd made a similar mistake. It was like cement and no matter how hard I tried the bike was going no where. Stripping the luggage and trying again brought no success, the transmission was jammed up proper.

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    To my exceedingly good fortune there was a pueblo only a couple of miles away. The dusty little town was almost dead though I managed to find a little tienda. I must have made quite a site turning up, a red-faced gringo covered in mud. Soon a man showed up on a little China motorcycle and said if I bought some fuel for his bike he'd help me out. That sounded fine to me so off we went.

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    Luis was smart and started to dig up tough reed-like things which grow all over the altiplano. We used them to stand on and so not sink into the mud. It took us the best part of two hours to get that bike out. Both of us were sweating and panting heavily when we finally dragged it onto dry land and you could sense the achievement was mutual. Gracias Luis mi amigo!

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    I paid Luis cash for helping me as it seemed the least I could do and he even gave some back saying that along with the fuel it was too much. Without him being at town, or indeed, the town being within walking distance, I've no idea what I'd have done. The most stupid thing of all was that there was actually new bridge just a few miles down the road! Now exhausted and done with adventuring for the day I found a place to camp and was treated to an amazing Altiplano sunset.

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    I awoke to another beautiful and bright altiplano morning. Since turning off the main road I had only really covered around 30k so the way ahead seemed all of a sudden a much more serious undertaking than before, as is often the case when you judge things from a map.

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    As I was making much better progress and began to relax a little, comfortable that I had enough gasoline and time to get where I wanted to go. I passed a few towns before arriving at a paved road. Like most of the altiplano towns it sat dusty and forlorn.

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    The next track would take me around the back of Salar de Coipasa and then south, coming out by Salinas de Garci-Mendoza, a quaint Oasis town on the Dakar circuit (?) just north of the Salar de Uyuni. I saw a great place to camp amongst some dry stone walls and camped early, well hidden and protected from the driving winds.

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    Early camps sometimes make me wonder what I’m going to do for the next eight hours or so - just sat alone in the middle of nowhere. But once you’ve got through all your chores, like checking over nuts and bolts, taking care of the chain, working out fuel range, cooking and cleaning, writing in journal, etc, it’s almost time to watch the sunset and go to bed.

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    The next day I got lost! The road was pretty good at first but I’m sure my garmin sent me off on another adventure because I soon found myself on another lonely, sandy track, even going through a section of sand dunes for a while that I just about managed to slug the bike across.

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    Along the way were tiny settlements consisting of funny shaped huts with thatched roofs. I saw a few people here and there and they eyed me a little suspiciously I went past waving at them. Soon I was heading east instead of south and started to worry if I was going the wrong way. Out in the middle of the altiplano you get a real, almost panic inducing sense of being in the middle of something truly vast and unforgiving.

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    After much zigzagging and uncertainly, I arrived at a few houses huddled together and saw a guy doing some roofing. I waved at him, asking him if I could get to Salinas de Garci-Mendoza from here and he said I had to continue and then I would hit the ‘main’ road, which I did after another twenty minutes or so of driving through a narrow track which cut across an expanse of thorny bushes. Coming out on to that smooth, hard-packed road was immense! An air-punching moment for sure and so I followed it all the way to Salinas.

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    I arrived midday and got lunch in the town before setting off again to find a camp overlooking the Salar. Arriving at the Salar again was every bit as awe inspiring as time before. It truly is a magnificent sight. I camped at the foot of the Volcano Tunapa which dominates the northern shore of the salar.

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    I sat back and watched the sun began to set low over the Salar, with llamas grazing lazily around me and 4x4’s zooming across the salt flat in the distance almost like jets. Rustling up some tuna noodles and sugary tea for dinner I couldn’t have been more content. The next day I set off to La Paz the long way around, cutting across the altiplano, sad to leave it behind. By the time I had reached La Paz I was exhausted and slightly injured due to falling twice into a ditch, the second time only minutes after the first! It taught me a painful lesson about day dreaming. I needed a brake from the ADVriding lifestyle so I got a job on a campsite and enrolled in a Spanish school. Two months later I would head north to Peru, which I'll talk about in my next installment.
    #36
  17. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

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    Great work on the report! Some gorgeous pictures & nicely written!

    I need to go back to the Andes.... :D We explored from Santiago Chile down to Puerto Natales earlier this year & had a ball, would love to check out points North some day.

    Cheers
    Clint
    #37
  18. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    To be honest, I think a lot of riders who've done both would agree, that the north is where it's at. Riding across the altiplano is a totally wonderful, surreal experience. An amazing place.
    #38
  19. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

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    Empty, cold and expansive are the grasslands which roll across the Peruvian section of the altiplano, but starkly beautiful too. I found myself looking for a camp and finding one quickly, having set off from La Paz early that day and crossing into Peru around noon.

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    The next day I set off, taking roads which swept across an unending and mysterious landscape. After a wrong turn my fuel calculations became optimistic and I quite anxious to reach Arequipa. The paved road between Puno and Arequipa was stunning but I was unable to fully enjoy it, being hardly on the throttle at all and coasting down the passes to conserve fuel. Despite that the road was still unreal. It tears across the altiplano before suddenly plunging down towards the dry, arid coastlands.

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    The outskirts of Arequipa were dusty and forlorn, as many urban centers seem to be in Latin America. Just concrete blocks and barbed wire fences, littered with plastic bags and rubbish. Of course the centre is quite nice, if not chaotic. I was going to study Spanish there but changed my mind and left the next day.

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    My destination was the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world. I backtracked up the twisty road towards Puno passing dozens of trucks grinding up the switchbacks. I was pleased to be back up high again and away from the traffic and congestion of Arequipa. At a small crossroads I took the road towards the canyon, which after a few twists and turns shot away into the distance as straight as an arrow.

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    Arriving in a town that sits on the edge of the canyon I had a look around town and decided to head off into the canyon itself, as it was still quite early. But as always I over-estimated the time it would take and although the road was utterly fantastic, soon it became quite rough and slowed me down. Now it was getting late and the setting sun blinded me, so I began to look for a camp.

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    The next day I strayed deeper into the canyon. The next few days I spent exploring the canon, at one point having to store the bike with some villages to continue further on foot.

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    On my way back I tried the pass again to get towards Arequipa but awful weather came in and I was forced back. It took forever to find a decent camp and I did so just in time as it began to rain heavily. My camp was fine enough, among the terraces and with an excellent view of the canyon, but for all the rain I had to stay in it the rest of the day.

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    The next day I set off early and for some reason my battery was flat. After a real struggle to get the bike up a muddy track to rejoin the main road, I bump-started it and was on my way. The storm had thrown blanket of snow on all the high peaks but the sky was clear blue.

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    I shot up the pass and the bike purring its way up. In fact, I had never had the bike running so well at altitude and not since either. As I reached the top of the pass before me lay a white, misty wilderness and it looked amazing!

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    I motored happily along for an hour or so before stopping to make a coffee and admire the view. In the distance I saw something moving and eventually made it out to be a little person followed by a dog. As she came closer I saw that it was a little llama herder. She was only eleven years old. What a place a place to live I thought! I gave her some almonds and waved goodbye while her sheepdog snapped at my heels.

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    The rest of the way back to Arequipa was quite uneventful, but what an incredible landscape! Arriving at the crossroads on the main road between Puno and Arequipa, I decided to take the back way around and through the two enormous volcanoes which dominate the vistas from the city.

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    The road was quite sandy, and would often fan out into smaller tracks, but I followed the markers and kept an eye on my garmin and carried on well enough. Arriving back in Arequipa, I spent much longer there than expected, before setting off to make the long journey south to Patagonia...

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    Which I did! I made it as far as Puerto Natales and caught the Navimag back. The daily highs in Natales were 2/3c and the first snows had already fallen. I loved the Carreterra Austral but after that found the winds too strong, the days too cold and the vast distances just too boring. Of course, Perito Moreno, Fitzroy and Torres Del Paine were amazing sights but compared to the Altiplano, the Atacama, Peru and the sublime Carreterra Austral I was a bit disappointed with the far south. Did I say it was cold? I took the Navimag back in low-season. It cost around 550 USD all in.

    Arriving at Puerto Montt I spent the remainder of my trip working for an American guy with a small ranch who'd lived in Chile for thirty years. During in that time I met a most amazing lady from Maine. Near the end of our time the most incredible thing happened. Calbuco - a 2,015m volcano in the south of Chile, erupted spectacularly 10k into the atmosphere. The eruption was completely unexpected. I felt very lucky to have seen it in such good company and to have been on the right side of the eruption (many thousands were evacuated to the east and north of the eruption. We watched it in awe, it was the single most amazing thing I've ever seen.

    In only a few days I fly back to South America and will pick up my trusty Honda and take it back to Peru, having only seen a fraction of what that amazing country has to offer. After that my plan is to head up to Colombia, taking small backroads and wildcamping along the way. If I reach Colombia, what then? Who knows - sell the bike, drive it the USA, or loop around and head back down south via the Brazilian Atlantic coast. Maybe I'll come back and write a 'live' RR. I'll leave you with a few shots of my trip south. Thanks for reading everyone!

    Ross


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    I loved the south/central Andes of Chile and Argentina. There is some GREAT riding there and amazing camping too.

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    The famous Ruta 40. Almost all paved now and not the adventure it probably was, but there are still some great stretches.

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    Two wheels better than four (accept in torrential rain). It rained like hell that day but over all I had fine weather along the C.A.

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    But as I got south it got COLD.

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    Probably one of my best camping spots of the entire trip.

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    The last day on the Carreterra Austral before I entered the long, cold and boring pampas of Argentina.

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    Still, with all that space around wild camping was never a problem.

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    Cold, long straight roads on a naked 250cc with 60-120kph crosswinds - not the most enjoyable experience in my opinion - people who cycle down here are hardcore!

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    Not my leaks but by then my transmission was shot through and my bike was using a lot of oil.

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    Fifteen minutes after Calbuco erupted as seen from 20k south-west of Puerto Monnt.

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    A few hours later, blessed with clear skies the sun set over the Pacific and created a lightshow like no other.

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    Yours truly on the last day, just before I road back to Curico and left my bike with friends.
    #39
    Bunnyscoots likes this.
  20. L0nerider

    L0nerider 2003 XT600E

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
    553
    Location:
    E Yorkshireman...divided between Chum Phae & Iraq
    Amazing photos and a good read, thanks for sharing

    Wayne
    #40