Trails of South America (PtI)... a photo journal

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JediMaster, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. VooDooDaddy

    VooDooDaddy Been here awhile

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    Hey Adam,

    Do you ever wish you had someone to share the experience with. A Marine buddy and I will heading to SA in few years (we both are raising kids), and I cannot imagine doing this trip by myself. Not out of fear of my safety, but because I would like to have a conversation with a good friend and be able to recall the experience in later years with someone who was there with me. Maybe every Ewan needs a Charlie?
  2. MotoLara

    MotoLara ADV rider wannabe

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    Just finished reading Chapter 28 and it was PHENOMENAL! The Altiplano is pure magic! great read and great photos! :clap:clap:clap

    Paso Sico was one of the highlights of our journey earlier this year. Too bad you had to turn around due to the 'seguro' (which we didn't have and were never asked for @ either border... only in Latin America :lol3:deal).

    Are you riding Ruta 7 in Sourthern Chile? if so, I can't wait to read about it and 'admire' your photos! :D

    Salud!
    Alberto
  3. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Cheers Alberto! Glad you enjoyed the read :thumb Yeah, being turned away at Paso Sico was a bummer but I'd ridden it east - west in '09 so it wasn't the end of the world...just a pain in the arse :asshat

    I rode Ruta 7 (Carratera Austral) back in '09 (you can see my photos HERE) but Chaiten had only just re-opened after an eruption and the road north of there remained closed. I had some bad weather around Cohaique and so this year I hoped to ride it again. Unfortunately the two weeks I spent in Santiago put pay to my plans to ride further south as I was already pushing my luck to get through the Amazon before the rains came and so I hot-footed(tyred) in north.



    In a word...No.

    Let me expand a little...Like any relationship, traveling with a partner means making compromises. Spending 24/7 with someone is tough, really tough. You don't spend that kind of time with your wife, let alone your friends. Traveling with someone is even harder. Until you've traveled with someone else you won't believe how many ways there are to do the same thing...

    "I want to turn left..I want turn right - I want to stop every 2 hrs...I want to stop at lunchtime - I want to ride shorter days everyday...I want to ride longer days then stay put for a few days - I want to take the dirt road...I want to take the main road - I want to camp...I want a hotel" The list is endless and its easy to fall out. Long weekend rides don't throw up the same issues that long term travel does as there simple isn't time for all the different possibilities.

    If you're going to ride with a friend I'd suggest talking over a LOT of things before you set off. Don't just expect everything to fall into place. Discuss paragraph 2. How will you settle bills when you stop for lunch/dinner go to the supermarket, buy shared supplies etc. Who decides the route/places of interest etc? How far in advance?

    Don't share ANY gear. Go prepared to go your own way permanently Be prepared to go your separate ways for a few hours/days/weeks. Don't let disagreements fester. When your buddy pisses you off, tell him. Deal with it, get over it.

    Discuss all that before you leave and you'll have a better chance of returning home still friends.

    Traveling solo means I don't need to deal with any of the above. I left home with a friend and we spent 13months riding from England to Malaysia. We then spent 4months in a rented house in New Zealand. Danny stayed in NZ and I rode on. I'm grateful to Danny for committing to our journey as I don't know if I'd have had the balls to leave home alone. I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who set out on their journeys solo.
    However, now I'm solo I wouldn't have it any other way. I quit my job of 12 years standing and rented out my house that I'd spent 8 years rebuilding. I didn't do that to make compromises.


    I hope that doesn't sound like I'm preaching, just trying to save you some heartache down the road.

    All the Best for your trip


    Adam
  4. Anywhereness

    Anywhereness Been here awhile

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    :thumb
  5. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Hey bro,
    got yer PM, and the ADVentureLoft™ awaits. We are at your service. Just now getting caught up in your ride report. Great photos, great adventure. Happy safe trails -- we'll see you soon.
    (and yes, Idaho is pretty awesome! :evil)
    d
  6. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Luvlvy Jubbly

    Thanks for the 'bump' by the way...you've just made me realise how far behind I am with this RR...:eek1:eek1:eek1
  7. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    There going to be some interesting reading coming up for sure:ear
    I know I'm really looking forward to it:lurk
  8. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Damn!!! I'm soooo far behind with this. So, whilst its raining here on the Venezuelan Caribbean I'll get on with making a few posts...

    Cast your minds back if you will to #190. I was camped next to an unmanned radio mast SE of Arequipa, Peru and so that's where I'll pick up from...

    [​IMG]


    As keen as I’d been to get set-up as quickly as possible so I could get a brew on and watch the sunset I hadn’t given any thought to getting out in the morning. Rosie had settled into the soft sand and no amount of effort from me was going to turn her around to retrace my tracks. Straight ahead of her were two steep sandy banks, each about 4m high, that led to the access track. I carried much of my gear down to the track where I set up my camera for an action shot but the action proved too great and in somehow managing save an imminent crash down the second bank, my finger came off the remote button and I didn’t get a photo. Bummer, it would have been a great shot of crashing without crashing…if that makes sense!
    The drama didn’t finish there as I had Rosie at 80° to the direction of travel on at least four occasions as I made my way back to the main track. How I stayed on I still don’t know but I did and was soon cruising down to Coalaque in the cool morning air.
    As I approached the bottom of the valley the sides took on a yellow colour that I’d not seen before. Closer inspection revealed it came from tiny plants that spread everywhere like grass. Ahead, the arid landscape took on a surreal look and I was reminded that I was heading towards the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth.


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    A few more corners and I entered a valley totally devoid of plant life but made of varying shades of brown and cream rock that resembled a giant marble cake.


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    Soon after the valley narrowed and the plant life returned as it followed the Rio Tambo. I crossed the river and climbed up onto a plateau heading south but not before a final look back across the valley I’d just ridden.


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    55km later I met the main road from Moquegua and took a detour from my planned route into Torata to find a cold Coke and water for the nights’ camp. The road was surprisingly smooth and wide and provided a great ride as it wound its way down the valley. My paper map said it was a ‘Secondary dirt road’ which clearly wasn’t true. The stall holder I bought supplies from told me it was the main route to Bolivia (not on my paper map it wasn’t!)
    The dirt road I planned to follow through the mountains to Tacna led away from this main road approximately 130km west of Torata.


    I never did find the track I was planning on using. The sky was black and a freezing cold wind was howling across the 4500m plateau as I searched in vain for it. For some time I’d been becoming increasingly concerned that I was pushing my luck trying to fit my planned loop through northern Chile and my planned route through Bolivia into what time I had before the Amazonian rains came. With my new knowledge that the road I was on led directly to Bolivia I decided to scrap my plans for northern Chile in favor of a more relaxed ride through Bolivia and so it was that I spent my last night in Peru camped on Lago Titicaca in an unusual spot below the main Puno – Bolivia road.



    [​IMG]


    After dark the light gave me away to a fisherman’s family and suspecting poachers they came to check me out. They were perfectly happy for me to be there once they understood why and in the morning their daughter Laidey came to say goodbye.


    [​IMG]



    Next up...Bolivia...
  9. Flys Lo

    Flys Lo cool hand fluke

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    Adam,

    Wanted to make a short post to thankyou for putting up your route through Peru, we followed it where we could, and where we did it was simply incredible.
    Looking forward to more of your stunning photos.

    Adrian
  10. Cuttle

    Cuttle Seriously? Supporter

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    can't wait!
  11. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial Supporter

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    Chicago physically, Colombia en mi mente.
    This is totally awesome! I am in!
  12. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    After a painless border crossing at Copacabana (I’d exited Bolivia there in 2009 and so knew the system) I rode on to La Paz only to arrive at Hostel El Careterro just as Mark & Claire appeared on foot to take a look at the place. They’d been staying elsewhere but soon moved when they realized how much they could save my moving to El Careterro.

    Bolivian Border Policeman Amadeo Condori was impressed with Rosie!

    [​IMG]

    I hadn’t realized quite how tired I was until I stopped. The dirt roads, bushcamping and cold of the mountains had left me in need of a break that I hadn’t realized I needed until I stopped. La Paz was a better place than most to do that as I could afford a private room where I could make breakfast set-up my laptop etc without having to pack it all away every time I went out. I knew my way around having spent 19 days there trying to repair Lady P’s suspension back in 2009 (MY F650 that I originally left home on), knew where to get a great fruit/yoghurt salad for lunch and a variety of restaurants for the evening. It is also a ‘real’ city, not one that’s evolved around tourism and so it’s an interesting place to walk around.

    A few days later it was my birthday and Mark & Claire knocked on my door bearing gifts, the most fantastic handmade birthday card and an invitation for breakfast.

    Who's ever had a cooler birthday card that this...? :beer

    [​IMG]

    Later that afternoon Yoshi (Japan 1200GS) arrived and moved into my room which immediately halved the price doing us both a favor. That evening the four of us headed out to ‘Olivers Travels’, a gringo bar/restaurant that serves as good a Bangers ‘n’ Mash as you’ll find in any pub in England and, when they’ve got it, locally brewed draught Saya beer in either dark or amber. Being a birthday celebration it took several Sayas to wash down the BnM.

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    Great food and unhindered by political/sexual correctness! :lol3

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    It was the second time I’d spent my birthday in Bolivia and was in total contrast to the last time when I’d spent a memorable night camping alone on the Salar de Uyuni. Regular readers of my blog will recall this flashback to 2009…

    [​IMG]


    Next up...back to business
  13. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Cheers Adrian. Glad to hear it helped. It sure is stunning out there!
  14. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    I eventually rolled out of La Paz on the 1<sup>st</sup> September although that was easier said than done. I’d virtually drained my gas tank dry over the previous weeks by filling my camp stove and as a result I needed gas asap. At the first gas station I was exasperated to be told they couldn’t serve ‘Extrañeros’ (foreign licensed vehicles) and was sent to another station which fortunately wasn’t too far away. There they looked at my license plate and pointed to a sign stuck on a pump that said ‘Extrañeros’ were to be charged Bs8.69/l (normal price was Bs3.74). I’d bought gas for the regular price at a tiny place on the road from Lago Titicaca so I knew it was possible, I just had to find out where. Surprisingly, when I asked where I could buy it for the regular price they pointed to the gas station on the opposite side of the dual-carriageway – WTF! I promptly filled up there for Bs3.74/l.

    Eventually on the road, I headed NW towards Lago Titicaca. When the road split I took the right fork through Peñas and soon found myself back on the dirt following a series of narrow, rutted dirt tracks along the valley floor. When I came upon what looked from a distance to be a market I was waved down by a group of locals. I never was exactly sure what was going on but it appeared that a photographer from a local newspaper was there to photograph a local farmer with his prize llama. They wanted a shot with me and of course once one had had his photo taken, so the next guy wanted his, and the next etc. I took the opportunity to give my camera to the photographer and get a snap for myself.

    [​IMG]


    A little further on I rejoined the tarmac and began climbing. The views of Ancohuma (6427m) and IIIampu (6368m) would have been stunning but they were hidden in the cloud. I rode on through the trekking town of Sorata to beging what would be a 470km loop along the old ‘Gold Road’ (so named as it was built by gold prospectors) around the mountains to Coroico.

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    Sadly the cloud never lifted and I never did see the summits. I rode on through Tacoma and Ananea and eventually pitched my tent on an abandoned section of road.

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    The following morning I descended into the narrow valley and felt the heat of the elevation change immediately. The road was a narrow affair hacked into the valley wall high above the river, the going so slow I barely got out of second gear all morning.

    The further I rode the more traffic I encountered and by mid-afternoon I was in Caranavi and after taking on more fluids I turned south for Coroico. When I left town a strange and dangerous thing happened: All oncoming traffic was on my side of the road! At first I couldn’t work out why – was the road one-way? Had I ridden unwittingly into alternative running? At every blind corner I slowed enough to allow me to react to wherever the oncoming traffic came from and was promptly overtaken by a minibus and couldn’t see anything in the dust. There was nowhere to get off the road either and so with no chance of finding a campsite I had no choice but to ride on to Coroico. As I entered the narrow part of the canyon so, it became darker, compounded further by the setting sun. Some drivers had the sense to use their lights in the thick dust and failing light but many did not, waiting instead for it to get completely dark before turning on their lights. I realized (or so I thought) that we were driving on opposite sides of the road to allow drivers of oncoming vehicles to sit next to the edge of the road to better judge their proximity to it.

    Trucks and buses often had to back up to allow one another to pass making progress even slower. As it became dark I no longer though about time, I just wanted to arrive in Coroico alive. It’s no surprise that Coroico sits at one end of Bolivia’s once famous ‘Road of Death’. Often dubbed ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Road – BBC’ it was once said to claim the lives of 200-300 travelers annually. It seemed to me that the Coroico – Caranavi road was just an extension of the infamous part. The dust was incredible. It was the most dangerous three hours I can ever recall spending on a motorcycle.

    I was pretty fooked when I finally arrived in Coroico!

    [​IMG]
  15. bergsteigen

    bergsteigen One continent at a time.

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    Couldn't agree more with you on this one JediMaster. I've traveled both with a good friend and by myself. Definitly agree that solo travel is the better way to travel. Just have to know how to take care of yourself and have confidence. As for sharing and remembering your experiences, keep a photo journal and/or do what most people do; post your adventures here. "Dude, me and my bike will look so cool with this view in the background."

    Keep up the good work you're doing.
  16. Chiriqui Charlie

    Chiriqui Charlie Been here awhile

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    Absolutely AWESOME!!
  17. leftystrat62

    leftystrat62 Adventurer

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    SA is on my wish list where I want to travel,and after reading through your report and looking at your pictures I am all the more inspired to do it. Your photos aren't just nice to look at,they lure me in,as if they have a soul and are able to communicate.
    Is there anywhere in your ride report where you talk about just what you carry? I sure would like to hear about that with your experience. I always camp when I travel on my bike,and despite going minimalist while backpacking or climbing ,I still feel I can improve what I take on my bike. Cheers
  18. vaidasker

    vaidasker n00b

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    Nice pictures!!! What camera you use?
  19. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    See post #18

    Soulful pictures eh? I like the sound of that :thumb

    As for a kit list...how about this...

    Bike Gear

    Liners for BMW suit
    Alpinestars Vector boots
    FOX Pawtector gloves
    Aerostich Ultralight Rain Pants
    MSR Hydroshell
    Goretex socks
    Silk glove liners
    Buff
    Clear safety glasses

    *For tools and spares see my website - http://shortwayround.co.uk/suzuki/


    Camping Gear

    MSR Hubba Hubba HP tent
    Tough groundsheet
    Mountain Equipment Dreamcatcher 750 sleeping bag
    Thermarest Pro4 womens sleeping mat
    Silk bag liner

    Coleman 442 stove
    MSR Backlite cookset (pan & large pot only)
    Chopping board cut to fit inside (super thin one in REI)
    6" kitchen knife
    Titanium spork
    Small plastic spatula
    Lighters
    Flint
    Aluminium stove screen
    Stainless steel mug with folding handle
    MSR coffee filter
    Steripen Adventure
    Tea towel
    Washing-up sponge
    3-legged aluminium camp stool
    Petzl headtorch
    Leatherman
    2x MSR 4l Dromedery bags
    1l Nalgene bottle


    Clothes

    Mountain Equipment Lightline down jacket
    Aerostich TL Tec Softshell fleece
    2x thick socks
    2x thin socks
    2x Quick drying underwear
    2x Cotton boxers
    1x T shirt
    2x Underarmour long sleeve shirts
    1x Lowe Alpine base layer
    1x Snowgum Long sleeve safari shirt
    1x jeans
    1x shorts
    1x swim shorts
    Silk long johns

    1x pack towel
    1x Merrel walking shoes
    1x flip flops

    Sun hat
    Fleece beanie
    Sunglasses

    Electronics

    Sony Vaio 11" laptop (2006!)
    Kindle
    iTouch

    Photography

    Nikon D300s with Nikkor 18-200 VR
    Nikkor 35mm f1.8
    Sony HX5 pocket camera
    Wireless shutter release
    Ultrapod (mini tripod)
    Batteries, chargers, USB leads, SD/CF cards & reader, 2x external HDD's

    Miscellaneous

    First Aid kit
    Toiletries
    Various drugs from painkillers to anti-hystermine's
    Aerostich Ultralight bike cover
    3m x 4m tarp
    Map of each country
    Small bottle of kerosene
    Air filter oil
    Toilet paper
    Camelback tube cleaner
    Reading glasses

    Note: I camp a lot and so apart from my stove and windshield my tank panniers contain just food. I always have: Tea, coffee, sugar, salt, pepper, soy sauce, mixed herbs, stock cubes, cooking oil, porridge oats, washing-up liquid, tuna, noodles.
    I regularly have: Spaghetti, rice, bread, peanut butter, jam, granola

    I think that's everything
  20. TrophyHunter

    TrophyHunter Long timer Supporter

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    Hey Adam - While I put nowhere near the miles behind me that you do, I've had comfort success with a running short under my riding pants. I get one with the wicking liner. The wicking effect is good, there's slippery shorts between the liner and riding pants - reducing chaffing....and they wash easily and dry quickly. They also roll/stuff into a very small area. I get the cheap one's at Target - $10 US or so.

    Good to "hear" you're still upright & breathing.