Toronto to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by djeady, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  2. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    And after 4 days he emerged from the jungle exhausted, wet, muddy and mosquito bitten, but with a smile on his face and a story to tell. [​IMG]


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  3. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Ciudade Perdida 1

    Woke up early and started to get organized for my trek. Many decisions about what to bring and what not to bring as I would have to carry it all on my back for the next 4 days.

    Went over to the bike to check it and get extra batteries for the flashlight in my hat. All was good and I went back to the hotel and brought my bag and riding gear down for storage.

    I then had a quick breakfast, not included in the price of the room,but worth the small additional cost, even when I added on a juice at even more cost.

    Just after 8:30 the Baquianos driver arrived to pick me up and take me to the office. Among other things I still had to pay because one of the staff had taken both of their credit card machines out of the office the previous day.

    I met some of my fellow travellers and we sat and had a coffee while we waited for everything to be ready. I was definitely the oldest in the group. Most were 20-30 somethings with a few in their 40s and 50s sprinkled in for good measure.

    Around 9:30 we were loaded into two Toyota Land Cruisers and headed off to Machete where the tour would start.

    It too about 2.5 hours to get to Machete with the Santa Marta traffic, all of the small towns along the way, and some road work.

    Machete is not on the highway, it's a 40 minute drive up a twisting, rutted road. The trip up also include multiple river crossings without the benefit of a bridge.

    When we got to Machete we had a nice lunch of chicken and rice and salad. Our guides gave us a briefing and handed out garbage bags and told us to use them to cover our packs as it was going to rain.

    We stopped by a sigh that showed an overview of the park, and again we had a quick briefing about the the indigenous tribes in the area, particularly the Koguis and Wiwas.

    We were also given a small pinch of coca leaves to chew on to help our stamina. Coca and cocaine are very different. It takes almost a pound of dried coca leaves to make 1 gram of cocaine. I can't say I felt anything chewing the leaves - a bit like chewing a teabag, but it may have helped my stamina for the first day.

    Then we set up off the hill. Today's objective was to go 600 metres up a mountain. It started off as a long and winding trail and it got progressively steeper and we were clambering up rocky paths, some of which were clearly stream beds. Then it started to rain. It was fairly light at first and it was not unpleasant. We stopped for a snack of watermelon and the carried on.

    The rain continued to get heavier and soon we were slogging through ankle deep clay and picking our way up and down 35 degree slopes with loose slippery clay and having to carefully choose each footstep.

    For most of today's walk there were motorbikes zooming up and down impossible slopes and even zoning through the thick mud/clay. These were 100-150 cc street bikes with street tires riding in conditions I wouldn't even think of attempting on the KLR - guess they've had a lot of practice.

    This went on for hours and every time we thought we couldn't go any higher, we'd turn the corner and there was another uphill slope ahead of us.

    We were climbing 600 metres up the side of a mountain through all this muck

    Finally a long downhill through mud/clay/nuke crap and rushing torrents of water, the across a cable bridge and we reached our accommodations for the night.

    We walked across a cable bridge and then through a long line of buildings holding stacked bunk beds before reaching our space in the very last building.

    We selected our bunks and began to sort out our muddy and wet clothing. The rain had increased, so many of us were using the runoff from the shed roof over the bunks to try and rinse things out. We hung up our wet clothes in lines strung along the edge of the building without any hope that anything would dry. It rained off and on through the evening, though it was hard to tell when it was actually raining because the rushing stream just below was quite loud.

    We were offered coffee, but I opted for a cold beer from the Tienda and it really went down well.

    We sat down for a nice dinner of chicken, rice and salad. Some played cards, but I opted for another beer and reading before calling it a night.

    I settled into my upper bunk with the mosquito net over me and had a fitful sleep. Apparently I snored as well. img_3784.jpg

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  4. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  5. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  6. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  7. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    That mud looks like the kind that sucks your shoe right off of your foot. Not fun going up the side of a mountain.
  8. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Ciudad Perdida Day 2
    We had to get up at 5 am. Didn't really matter since the rooster started crowing at 4.
    A quick use of the facilities and a cup of coffee, then time to check out whether anything had dried overnight - no! In fact I think some things were wetter than the night before.
    Changed back into wet shorts, shirt and boots and had breakfast before doing a final pack up.
    We headed out just as the sun came up on what was to be our longest walk of the trip.
    As we left the camp we continued to head up and up and up. You'd finish climbing a particularly difficult section only to look up and see there was yet another one in front of you.
    We stopped a couple of times for a fruit break, and finally by late morning we were heading down a steep slope towards the river. This seemed equally endless, but eventually we came to the camp where we were going to have lunch and also a place for a swim in the river.
    The river was quite refreshing and some of the bolder members of the group were jumping off a 10 metre cliff into one of the pools. Unfortunately Matthias lost his GoPro when he jumped and his hand opened up by reflex when he surfaced. Unfortunately he was not able to recover it, although he was able to establish a wireless connection to it for a while.
    We had a nice lunch and then headed out for what was to be a long afternoon's walk.
    While the trails seemed rough to us, they are actually roads used by the Koguis and Wiwas. We saw several houses along the trail as well as many off on the hillsides and we were regularly passed by men and boys leading mules as well as women and children walking the trail. The women and children go barefoot because it keeps them closer to the earth. Makes you really appreciate your hiking boots, even if they are wet and muddy.
    We were told the trail would be flatter in the afternoon and it was - a limitless bit.
    Basically we were following the river at this point and moving up and down along its banks. We had to wade across it a couple of times when the path crossed to the other side.
    We took several rest stops and even had a second chance for a swim in the afternoon.
    It rained for a while later in the afternoon, but nothing like the previous day, so it wasn't another mudbath.
    Eventually we came to a suspension bridge across the river that led us towards our accommodations for the night.
    We referred to this camp as the refugee camp because it was very large and in addition to several groups of hikers there was a large group of school kids there as well. Probably almost 200 people with 3 showers and three toilets between us.
    We hung our wet clothes up again in a vin attempt to get them dry, in spite of it raining off and on through the evening.
    I forgot to mention I ran into the @Wildhorsemen early in the trip and their group was at this camp as well.
    We had to wait for a table to be available so we could eat, but we eventually did eat a nice dinner, then called it a night.
    I was in a top bunk on the second floor of one of the camp buildings and my bunk shook every time someone walked by.
    These bunks were similar to the previous camp. A single mattress with a fitted sheet and a blanket. No pillows this time, although we did have them at the first camp.
    I read until shortly after lights out and when I rolled over to go to sleep both my legs cramped badly and I had to climb down and walk around until the cramps subsided.

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  9. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  10. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  11. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Ciudad Perdida Day Three

    Had a good sleep until about 4 AM when the rooster img_3902.jpg img_3903.jpg img_3951.jpg started crowing. I sat and read until just before 5.

    We were told last night to put all our wet laundry on the lines behind the camp as it would be a sunny morning and also not to bring our backpacks, or bring them with the bare minimum, in my cae my hydration bag. I put everything else into a large green garbage and placed it on the top shelf in the storage room.

    We had an early breakfast and then headed out to Ciudad Perdida. The first bit was a walk along the river and the path had been improved in sections with steps and guardrails. After about an hour of walking we reached the place where we had to cross the river so off with the hiking boots and I waded across the knee deep water.

    One across, the next challenge was to climb up a set of 1200 wet, narrow slippery stone steps to reach the lost city. We climbed up very carefully with the knowledge that one misstep could send mutiple people hundreds of feet down the hillside.

    When we finally reached the top we were given a briefing on the history of the lost city - I won't repeat it here - you can look it up. Then we were free to explore the city which consists of a number of rings of stones built on teraces going up the side of the mountain. Each stone ring would have been the site of a wooden house with a palm leaf roof. When the owners died they were buried on the site with all the goods they needed to travel to the next planet.

    We walked around and up the many terraces until we reached the top which had a spectacular view down over the city. We took a roup picture (of those that went all the way up) and then headed back down to see some traditional houses and to have another talk in one of the terraces that was used as a ceremonial reception area. At the end of the talk we each placed a small handfull of coca leaves at the center of a stone circle as an offering.

    Then we had to go back down the steps. Going up was phyically demanding, but going down required a lot of coordination as it was very eay to slip and start sliding. I know because it happened to me once - I didn't go far and recovered quickly, but it was still scary.

    Then back across the reiver, through the place where we stayed last night. When we got there we had lunch and packed up our knapsacks again - things were pretty much dry so it was more pleasant and also the packs were a bit lighter. Then back to the place where we had lunch on the second day. I really don't remember going downhill so much< but obviously we did and so we had to climb back up and up and up. We had a couple of stops for fruit and eventually we got to the camp that was going to be our home for the night. We hung some things out on the line and decided to go down to the river for a swim and just at that time the skies opened up and it began to pour rain. We went for our swim anyways and it was refreshing.

    We had a nice dinner and then were given another talk and demonstration of some of the local tribal skills including scraping Agave leaves for the fibres to make bags, some of the dyeing techniques andmore information about tribal practices and, in particular, the use of coca. We were offered a cup of coca tea which actually turned out to be very nice - sort of like a green tea. I was tired and I think it perked me up a bit, but no more than a regular cup of tea would have.

    After this, we called it a night as we had another early start the next day. I was in a bottom bunk for the first time and read for a while before going to sleep.

    There was a dog that came into the sleeping area and for about and hour every time somebody stirred, the dog barked - very annoying. At about 3 AM a rooster decided it was time to start the day and began crowing loudly. I didn't get much sleep. At one point I got up to go to the washroom and when I crawled back into my bunk my glasses fell apart. not a good night.

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  12. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  13. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  14. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Ciudad Perdida Day 4

    Didn't sleep well with the noisy rooster and fretting about my glasses.

    Got up early (before 5) and grabbed a cup of coffee, then asked one of the guides if anyone had a small screwdriver. He took my glasses away and brought them back a while later. They hadn't been able to rein[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]sert the screw but they had tied the frame together with a tiny piece of orange plastic twine and they seemed quite secure. Pretty amazing - you could barely see the piece of twine.

    Had a nice breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee. Eric the Irish guy who had been living in Toronto had two platefuls as he did at most meal.

    Nothing had dried the previous night (of course) so I changed back into my wet clothes and packed everything up - at this point wet or dry didnt really matter as my next stop was going to be the hotel.

    We loaded up and headed out starting the long climb back up to the top of the mountain. Christian was very sick with some intestinal upset and it was decided he would go down by mule and then motorcycle. Given the steep pitch I might have chosen to go down on my hands and knees. I did see several people from other groups being ferried down by mule and/or motorcycle.

    Again we were going up and up and up until it seemed we couldn't go up any more, the around the corner and up again. At least this time things were reasonable dry - only the occasional patch of mud to get around or through.

    We stopped for our first break and I bought an amazing glass of fresh tangerine juice for which I enjoyed immensely along with our usual fruit snack.

    We stopped for a break at the place we spent the frst night and had another opportunity to go for a swim. I didn't go in this time but did go down to have a look at the swimming hole and take some pictures.

    We then continued on up until we finally reached the top and walked on fairly level ground for a while before beginning our descent. They had done a lot of work on the path since we came through on Tuesday and had repaired a lot of washouts and put in rough steps and paths around some of the worst spots, but it was still tough going. The walk downhill seemed as endless as the walk uphill had been, Eventually we started reaching lower slopes. Everyone was going at their own pace and I was often waling alone and I wa certain I would be the last one in.

    When I reached the restaurant where we were going to have lunch everybody cheered and while that was nice, I still felt a bit silly being the last one. I bought a Coke which I enjoyed immensely and sat at the table with the others. To my surprise 3 others from our group straggled in, so I wasnt the last one after all.

    A bunch of us got into the first Land Cruiser for the trip back down and we had a crazy driver who managed to pass all of the other Land Cruisers and got us to the bottom in record time. We waited there for the others to show up and eventually we were all put into vehicles according to our destination.

    The road back to Santa Marta was pretty congested at one point and we wound up taking a wild detour through some pretty rough roads to bypass it. Eventually we reached the tour office and said our goodbyes and I walked back to my hotel. I walked past where my bike was stored and checked it and all was fine, then went to the hotel and checked in and retrieved my luggage.

    i had a shower and cleaned my boots and backpack, then got out my small screwdrivers and was able to fix my glasses properly. They seemed solid and it was almost a shame to cut off the little piece of plastic twine that had worked so well.

    I went out to get some dinner heading to a place called Lulo's where I had a really interesting Mojito and the best ceviche i"ve ever had, finishing off with a tamarind granito for dessert.

    At one point during dinner the breakdancers came by and i stepped out onto the sidewalk for a minute to watch there performance - pretty spectacular.

    Then I went back to the hotel and called it a night. img_4031.jpg img_4030.jpg img_4031.jpg img_4030.jpg img_4031.jpg img_4030.jpg

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  15. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  16. OtterChaos

    OtterChaos Guzzi Sud!

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    Adding in extra helpings of Adventure to your trip, very nice.
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  17. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Saturday in Santa Marta

    Got up in the morning with two priorities - finding a place to get my laundry done, and having a nice breakfast.

    There were a couple of laundries neat the hotel, but one was closed and the other wouldn't get the clothes back to me until Monday so that was no good.

    Finally found a place about 7 blocks north of the hotel that would do the clothes and get the back to me by noon the same day.

    Then I went hunting for breakfast. I had thought that some of the fancy rstaurants around Parque de los Novios would be open, but they weren't. Finally found a place a couple of blockls south and had some good scrambled eggs and some very salty arepas with a mug of weak cafe con leche and a glass of orange juine. Not the fancy breakfast I was hoping for, but at least some food in my stomach.

    I walked a bit further east and went and looked at the Cathedral. Among other things, it was [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]the original burial place of Simon Bolivar, the great liberator. I wandered around the square and took some pictures, then walked over to the beach and strolled along the boardwalk heading west.

    It was time to pick up my laundry so I strolled back up and everything was nicely folded and waiting for me. When I went to pay them I didn't have the right change and they couldn't make change so I wound up about 500 COP short which was fine with them. I went to the the Tienda down the street and cam back and gave them some more money to cover the difference and as thanks for doing a good job.

    I took the laundry back to the hotel, then I got changed and walked over to the beach where I spent the afternoon soaking up some sun and watching the world go by. Nice to be able to buy beer at the beach and I also enjoyed a bag of churros later in the afternoon. I stayed until the sun started to set around 5:30.

    On the first day I arrived I had chatted briefly with one of the police officers and also a securtiy guard working at a building under construction on the corner. Since then, each time I went by he waved and said hello. Tonight he invited me in and I sat with him, and his friend and his friends girlfrien and had a beer.

    He asked what time I was going for dinner and offered to come down to the Parque with me so I went and got changed and we headed down.

    Language was definitely a barrier, but Gabriel was very interested in how he could immigrate to Canada and work as a chef and we talked about some of the scenarios including enrolling as a student and then applying for status afterwards. I Told him about the Hospitality and Food Service program at George Brown College and he was very interested.

    After dinner we walked back to the hotel and I called it a night.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  18. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  19. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Santa Marta to Mompos

    Got up early and started to pack. Took a first load over to the bike - I noticed one of my cheap auxiliary lights was hanging on by a thread so decided it was time to remove them nice BMW gs1200 parked next to me - funny how the KLR looks bigger. I then had breakfast at the hotel. Paid my bill, finished loading, said goodbye to my new friend Gabriel and got on my way.

    It's always pretty easy to get out of a city early Sunday morning and I was soon following a winding road up the side of a hill with spectacular fees of Santa Marta behind me. The road curved back around the coast and there were some equally amazing views of some other urban areas.

    I followed the roads west towards Bogota and then south towards Mompos. Lots of nice scenery and a beautiful day for a ride. Stopped a couple of times for a cold drink, but was in Mompos by early afternoon. Headed towards the hotel I booked, but wasn't impressed with either the hotel or the location, so I headed into the town and found the Hostaje Majestic for $17 a night, right in the middle of everything and they said I could bring the bike into the lobby at night.

    Checked in, unpacked and had a cold beer, then walked down towards the Magdalena river. After walking through the main square I turned left on Avenida 1 and continued walking, enjoying the architecture and watching the wide muddy river flow quickly past with big clumps of vegetation floating by and showing the pace of the current. Across the river you could see people in dugout canoes paddling furiously against the current.

    As I walked along, I saw a very strange boat moored along the bank. I looked like a miniature gunboat and was heavily armoured and had guns protruding everywhere and some obvious bullet holes in the superstructure. There were two men on board, but they didn't look particularly military, nor did the washing machine strapped on the rear deck.

    Along the riverbank many of the trees had boards nailed to them with literary quotations.

    Further down there was a large group of boys jumping into the river from a set of floating docks as well as the river embankment and also some of the overhanging trees. Several groups of them also drifted down from further upriver.

    I sat and watched for a while, then headed back the other way. I wasn't too far past the road my hotel was on when who should appear but @thewildhorsemen (see Smoothhorsegoessouth).

    They were heading towards me looking for a place to have dinner so we all went and had a nice dinner on the bank of the river (many of us had a bit of stomach upset the next day or so, though).

    After dinner we decided to stroll up and check out the cemetery which was a recommended must see. It was very interesting, but they were deciding to close it just after we got there, so we called it a night and went back to our hotels. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

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  20. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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