The trip plan was conceived a few years ago, to round out my travels in South America. You see, I had been to South America twice before.
In 1996 I had traveled from Santiago, Chile south to Ushuaia, that "Uttermost Part of the World" also known as "Fin del Mundo", and then back to Santiago before shipping home from there.
In 1999 I returned to South America by riding from Canada through the USA, Mexico and Central America. I traveled down the west side of South America, through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and then across Argentina before shipping home from Buenos Aires. That was a six (6) month trip of over 40,000 km. Colombia was visited but not by moto. The Galapagos Islands too were part of the journey, but not by moto. Forty days and forty nights were spent enjoying the best that Peru had to offer, and still there was more. Bolivia punished us and Argentina nourished us. I had been bitten. I had to return.
Now, in 2006 the time has come to return to 'finish the trip'. The decision was made to ship to Santiago, Chile and ride back from there.
Originally, the trip was conceived as a solo venture to be shared at intervals by my wife Sandy flying in to participate. The more difficult parts of the journey would be traversed alone. I was at ease with that program as it provides the greatest flexibility with the least resistance. I proceeded on that basis. Then, one day I received a phone call "out of the blue". Murray Castle, whom I had spoken to only once before, by telephone, several years ago, called me. It took me a while to connect with 'who he was'.
I arranged a meeting and we sat down to get to know each other. Over the course of the evening 'his wish list' and 'my travel plan' came out. He wanted to ride with me. I was hesitant. It took another four (4) months of meditating for me to feel at ease with the 'shared trip' concept. Finally, in December 2004 I asked him if he was still interested. He was estatic. "Yes of course", he responded. "When do we leave?"
There was much work to be done. Besides the trip planning we had to get to know each other better, ride together and discuss the trip concept. "I'll go wherever you want", he said. "I am just happy to be going". That set the course.
I researched, planned and scheduled the entire trip. I worked with the weather cycles and the topography to ensure we had a good fit. I prepared budgets to see what the costs looked like. I contacted dozens of shippers and freight forwarders trying to get the best deal. 9-11 had turned the world upside down. It was much more difficult to ship a motorcycle now than it was five (5) years ago. I persevered and finally worked a deal with Skip Mascorro of Motodiscovery. I read history books, travel books and comic books and found out what to see and what not to see. Then I started to put it all on paper. I prepared a detailed 'trip schedule' outlining the daily travel plan and the mileage. I subtotaled it by country so we could see durations and mileages, on that basis, and get a feel for the trip.
I knew it was a big trip, but with Murray being added in it became even bigger. Even though he had volunteered that 'he didn't care where we went', I could not imagine any first time visitor to South America not visiting Nasca, Cuzco or Machu Picchu. How could you say to your friends, "I went to South America but I did not visit Peru?" My original program did not include Peru as I had visited it before. I added in a tour through southern Peru which became another twenty-five days and 4,000 kms. The trip was getting longer.
When the dust settled it was 180 days...6 months, fifteen (15) or more countries and 44,000 kms. Murray 'worked' to pay for his trip and I 'planned' to make it work. 'Father Time' kept ticking and soon it was time to leave.
The trip plan was to start in Santiago, Chile and work north through Chile sharing time between the coast, the desert and the Andes.
Then at Arica we would leave Chile and enter Peru to visit some of my favorite places from years past, as well as some new ones...Arequipa, the White City and Nazca, the home of the Nazca lines followed by a traverse of the Andes to Huancayo and Ayacucho, the former stronghold of the 'Shining Path'. Cuzco, Pisac, the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu are but a few place names. Then onward to Lake Titicaca before dropping off of the Andes to return to Tacna and re-enter Chile.
At Arica, Chile we would re-provision before assualting the Andes again. Then pointing eastward we would cross the spectacular Paso Tambo Quemado (15,280 ft) within the remote and pristine National Park, Reserva Nacionale Las Vicunas. On leaving the park we would enter Bolivia.
Travelling northeastward we would traverse the remote and desolate altiplano, heading for Tiahuanaco and La Paz. At La Paz we would hopefully obtain our visas for Paraguay and Brazil. Then still heading northeastward we would ride the 'Yungas Road', once coined "the most dangerous road in the world", heading into the Brazilian Amazon. If conditions permit we will push further and deeper into the Amazon, through the Cocoa rich region known as the Chapare and the Beni. Pushing eastward, ever eastward we will work towards Trinidad where hopefully we can view the remnants of the 5500 year old Paititi culture. Rising out of the Amazon we will ride the wonderful Bolivian Triangle bounded by Cochabamba, Sucre and Santa Cruz. We will exit Bolivia through the Jesuit Mission area and head for the Brazilian coast.
In Rio de Janeiro we will be re-united with our wives after an absence of eighty (80) days. Then for five (5) weeks we will ride the "Best of Brazil" before returning the wives to Rio for their 'norte' departure. We too will head north, but through Brazil, up to Belem, up the Amazon to Manaus and then ever northward to Venezuela.
When Venezuela has sated us we will push onward through Central America and Mexico, the Usa and finally home to Calgary, Alberta CANADA.
Only time will tell what happens, where we get to and how it all unfolds. Stay tuned for the real story of "South America Re-Visited".
In the meantime you can visit another "Pet" project of mine. My passion for photography has led me to photograph, identify and post a catalogue of Canadian Rockies Wildflowers. This site is updated and maintained by Drs. Lorence and Barbara Collins. They have been kind enough to post my work here, on their site titled "Wildflowers of the Canadian Rockies".
You can visit the site at www.clunet.edu/cr. Simply cruise through the site or SEARCH for your favorite flower(s) by SPECIFIC NAME or TYPE. For instance, do a search on "Orchid" and marvel at the delicacy of these fragile gems.
Wonder at the understated beauty of the "Cutleaf Coneflower below, or the elegance of the Fairyslipper aka the Calypso Orchid.
The trip starts the end of March. If you wish to contact me I can be reached at email@example.com.
...Until we meet again...
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