Kilometres eating. It was a surprise for me, how long distances there
could be and also long distances between gas stations...
I made a mistake and run out of gas. Luckily there wasn't more distance
to go to the next one than a couple of kms. I started to push the almost
300 kg bike, as I didn't want to leave her alone on the road.
Hard work... Then a truck driver stopped and gave me some gas.
Very friendly done, and also a good lesson for me.
Mendoza seemed to be a very beautiful town near the Andes. In the center
of the city were many parks.
21.9. Mon (439) Argentina
General information about Chile.
As I rode towards the west (& the Andes), the sceneries became more
and more beautiful. Blue & white high mountains... Woooow! Great!
About 100 kms before the Chilean border, sceneries were like from a
painting, or even better.
The Chilean border crossing was 'a piece of cake'. It took just a moment
with all formalities.
The road went on some 3000 metres above sea level and therefore the
air pressure was also lower. In the air there wasn't so much oxygen,
as on the sea level. The carburation became richer on the mountains and
the bike lost some power. I had also lots of luggage added with two
spare tyres, so lots of weight too. I had to use fully open throttle in
the steep uphills. Luckily there wasn't any snow on the road.
And then: a sign to Cerro Aconcagua! It is the highest peak (6959 m)
of the continents of Americas. Just 14 kms from the Mendoza - Los Andes
highway. Lots of beautiful, snow-covered mountains nearby! But: BOTH
of my cameras (a Minolta 115 pocket camera and an old Konica FT-1)
refused to work!!! Sigh. "I'll be back".
22.9. Tue (440) Viña del Mar, Chile
I tried to repair the faulty cameras, the Konica came into condition
again (jammed shutter).
23.9. Wed (441) Chile
I decided to make a day tour back to the Andes. From Viña there was
more than 200 kms. Just before the Chilean border there was a special
part on the way: in 11.5 kms distance the height difference of the
road was some 1000 metres and there were 32 numbered, nearly 180 degrees
curves! A real serpentine road indeed!
Near the Cerro Aconcagua mountain I met a German guy, who was going to
the peak alone! Crazy! It is minimum one week tour. Many dangers on the
way. Definetely a tour like that should be done with a group.
452 kms photographing trip, but it was worth of it!
25.9. Fri (443) Viña del Mar
On the last two nights I had parked my bike outside the hostel. It
wasn't good place and I considered it to be unsafe for my bike.
And: one night some people had tried to use/steal it!!!
I had used all the locks: two locks through the brake discs' holes
(total 4 locks), a big cryptonite U-lock in the rear tyre and a
hardened chain too. ...The thiefs' attempt was unsuccessful!
In the morning I told to the hostel staff about it and they let me
put my bike into a room!!!
Very friendly! ;-)
26.9. Sat (444) Viña del Mar/Valparaiso
Viña del Mar was built on many hills, as much as 44 of them, the locals said.
Valparaiso seemed to be very similar to Viña. The 'touristic life':
fast food restaurants, cinemas, cafés and banks were located in the
valley, but houses and more poor areas were on the hills.
28.9. Mon (446) Viña del Mar
For trying to secure the continuation of the trip in the next months - as long as possible - I started to search for computing jobs. Internet is a
suitable means for this kind of remote job search, that way I thought.
There can be found lots of recruiting companies, that search engineers
for telecomms & computing jobs in the States... I sent my applications and
was optimistic for the best.
29.9. Tue (447) Vallenar
Also in Vallenar (a small town) the people were friendly. Some 700 kms
to go to Antofagasta. In Chile the distances were vast, I could learn
it. From Viña to North Chile about 2,000 kms!
I did some
700 kms trip today, but the road had been excellent and almost with no traffic, so I could ride some 100 km/h safely. The sceneries north of La Serena were just dead desert. What it comes to sceneries, they were a bit like in Sahara, but here was a good
road to ride... Photo from the way
I could park my bike at the staircase of the youth hostel again :)
1.10. Thu (449) Antofagasta
Near the city there was a sight that reminds the Rouchi at West
Beirut. It is a big rock where is a big hole. (In Beirut it is 45
3.10. Sat (451) Antofagasta
A famous place,
Valle de la Luna
(Moon Valley) was near, so I moved closer there.
On the way, the exhausts seemed to be black... Carburation just had become
too rich in the altitudes. That meant of adjusting the carburetors
for higher altitudes in near future.
At Calama people confirmed my theory: we were at 2400 metres above
sea level. That is not much, but seemed to be enough to enrich the
4.10. Sun (452) Calama
Calama was a small, tranquil town with a warm and dry desert climate.
In the town there were many Bolivians, working in Chile.
The carburetors had to be adjusted (part indexes 6 & 28) for higher altitudes. Bike tech comes even more familiar on the tour :)
Work is easily and quickly done. I did it the first time and
succesfully. When returning back to sea level, the settings have
to be restored, otherwise the engine will overheat.
So, the 'Amfibio X-Globe Machine' was set to operate in the altitudes
of the Andes now! Adjustment worked! The engine got LESS gasoline,
but gave out MORE power.
5.10. Mon (453) Calama
San Pedro de Atacama
My intention was to visit Valle de la Luna and also to go higher and test
the carburetors better. I set the GPS on the tank. Yes, it displayed:
altitude was 2400 metres indeed.
Valle de la Luna, 100 kms from Calama, was like a moon valley! Dry,
dead desert and mountains. I was told that NASA did some tests there
for the equipment to be sent to Mars, a few years ago.
Village of San Pedro de Atacama was a small, but touristic
village. Mostly there are restaurants and
travel agencies. They arrange tours to natural sights nearby. There
are agencies that rent 'beach bugs' for the tourists to visit the
Valle de la Luna. A five star hotel was to be built too.
I continued testing the carburetors more. The road went higher and
higher near the volcano Licancabur. GPS displayed 4000 m... 4400 m...
the road just continued higher and higher. Bike didn't show practically
any signs of weakness. ...5000 metres. On the peaks was snow.
There was a hut. I met a somebody there, the hut was a measuring station
of the University of Pennsylvania. They were measuring some microwaves
coming from the space and they were researching the birth of the
Universe and what was before the Big Bang...
The altitude was more than 5 kilometres above sea level. In 5500
metres the air pressure is half of what it is at the sea level.
I had ascended very quickly. I really could feel it: I had a weird
feeling in my head, my heart was beating hard and I could feel the
pulses in the arteries! Time to get back and soon!
Anyway, visiting that high was an interesting experience. Air was so
thin there. In San Pedro de Atacama there was a restaurant owned
by a Finn. Unfortunately I didn't meet him now.
8.10. Thu (456) Calama
San Pedro de Atacama
Before heading to Bolivia, I wanted to meet the Finnish guy
in San Pedro first. This time we met. His name was Reijo Pasanen.
He had a restaurant together with his Chilean wife, Meybol.
Reijo and Meybol
The cuisine was excellent in their restaurant. Reijo had travelled
1.5 years in South America and met his wife there.
9.10. Fri (457) Chile
As there was plenty of tour agencies, I made a contract with one of
them. They take tourists from Chile to Bolivia through the Uyuni
desert with jeep. I could put my heavy luggage into their jeep. So
I got help in transportation, guide services (as in the desert it's
difficult to orienteer), cooking services - and good travel company.
My travel mates consisted of a British couple Satnam and
Alka (originally from from India), Adrian from Australia, Heidi
and Ralph (USA/Switzerland).
We travelled some 50 kms and arrived to the
Bolivian border. I could
follow the jeep. Actually in the desert there was practically no
"Tshau Chile, Viva Bolivia" :)
The sceneries were magnificent. Mountains, a frozen lake and
flamingos! They changed the vehicle to another one, to a Toyota Land
Cruiser 4x4. The driver loaded almost all my luggage on the jeep.
The next sight to admire was Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon). Photos tell
The lagoon was green. But: after a moment it
changed its colour!!!
The place was 4400 metres above sea level. Small ponds were frozen.
Most of the other tourists started to feel ill soon. The altitude was
the problem. If the ascending is done too quickly and at too high
altitudes, the symptoms can be at the mildest diarrhea and headache.
If more severe, it is called AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). At the
worst, it can lead to lung and brain edema which is serious.
The main point is to ascend slowly enough to let the body acclimatize (to get used to the altitude). This time there wasn't chance for that. I had visited a high place at Volcano Licancabur a couple of days before, that was my luck. I was a bit used to the altitudes by now. I could follow the jeep
without any problems.
The sceneries were all the time - I would say - breath-taking. Very lifeless, but so beautiful. The area was volcanic, there was a stream of warm water. Some
After 160 kms of travelling we had an accomodation at a hostel.
It was filthy. Altitude was at 4400 metres. High up at the mountains, in the nights temperature will go some 10 degrees below zero. The hostel was in a very isolated place, but we had nice time. We played some games :)
10.10. Sat (458) Somewhere in Uyuni desert
We continued the desert trip. We saw some geysirs too. The boiling
sound of the water sounded aggressive. The air stank rotten, as there
was lots of sulphur in it. The place was the highest on the way in
the Uyuni desert, at 5000 metres. Others suffered from diarrhea.
This day we saw many lakes and ponds, where were flamingos. One
excuisite sight was Laguna Colorado (Colourful Lagoon).
It was a red, big lagoon.
11.10. Sun (459) Uyuni desert
Salar de Uyuni
This was to be the last day in the desert. We had gone 340 kms,
some 200 to go to Uyuni. Soon the dusty desert ended and a white
salt lake spread in front of us! Riding at Salar de Uyuni
Incredible. It seemed to be larger than eye could see. It was like
riding on the ice of a sea, where is hard snow on it. But is was just
salt. Pure white enormous field. We travelled some 120 km/h, but
the mountains far away didn't 'come any closer'. The Salar de Uyuni
salt lake is the biggest salt lake in the world, 12,000 sq.kms at
3650 m above sea level.
Riding there was fun! Lots of space!
After a half's hour riding, we arrived to an 'isle'. There grew giant
cactuses. Really weird. In the middle of a salt lake there is an isle,
where grows something! The name of the isle was Isla de Pescadores
Some pictures: Salt lake. Lamas at Isla des Pescadores Giant cactus
The needles of the cactuses were long, some 15 centimeters (6 inches).
Very sharp and strong like steel.
As we continued, the jeep driver decided to leave me. I was alone in
the middle of desert! He had sometimes been 'racing' with me
(not seriously) in the desert as in his group there had been bikers
never before. Now I started a bit late and it took 15 minutes for me
to catch the small dot (the jeep) in the horizon :)
At the almost end of our three-day trip, in a village named Colchani
there was a fiesta!!! We were extremely lucky. Timing was perfect.
The fiesta started just when we had arrived.
"The youngest dancer"
There were two brass orchestras and many, many dancers on colourful
Uyuni was a small town in the desert. Basically OK and touristic too,
but there wasn't anything special. Just tourists, restaurants and
travel agencies. As there is no proper border between North Chile
and Bolivia, we took stamps to passports in the Uyuni immigration.
Next town, Potosi was about 200 kms away. But people said it's five
hours trip. Filling tank full of gas, as there are no gas stations
between cities. On the desert, during 535 kms my bike had consumed
ridiculously little, only 26 litres of gas. In the high altitudes
fuel consumption reduces.
The road to Potosi was a bumpy earth track. One stream crossing too.
Sceneries were beautiful. I became convinced that Bolivia is a very
Potosi is the world's highest city in the world of that size, at
altitude of 4070 metres. In Bolivia, the accommodations are cheap.
In Potosi I paid 25 Bolivianos of a hostel room, less than 5 USD.
There one can feel the altitude: you have to sometimes *breathe*
as the air is so thin.
Time to change tyres. I had carried them from Buenos Aires,
5,500 kms. The old ones were 'slicks'. Totally worn out. Changing
work cost 8 Bs. of both (1.4 USD). Incredible, work is really cheap
in Bolivia. The workman deserved a tip. Next update of the Tour