April 01, 2013 GMT
Cafayate to La Quiaca

Leaving Cafayate we head out with plans to ride Ruta 40 to Cachi, we stop to refuel at the YPF but with no luck, an English speaking Argentinian on a BMW redirects us to another fuel station up the road and follows us there.

After refuelling he advises us not to ride Ruta 40, 'very dangerous' he says and gives us a map with alternative routes which we reluctantly decide to take, but it is such a stunning ride along the RN68 we wonder if Ruta 40 could be any better?


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Lan on the stunning RN68


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View from Tres Cruces on RN 68


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El Obolisco on RN 68

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The Devil's throat on RN 68


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Riding the RN 68

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Riding the RN 68


Just before reaching Salta we turn off and head over the pass of Parque Nacional Los Cardones. The vegetation here is green and lush in the beautiful valley and then we start climbing. The weather starts to deteriorate, it begins to rain lightly and then the fog closes in as we climb and climb, then onto narrow ripio road with no barriers and we keep climbing the switchbacks up to 3,300 metres and its now very cold. The visibility is down to only a few metres, we can barely see the edge of the road and cannot see anything of what must be a great view. We finally start to descend and slowly conditions improve and then suddenly we pop out into bright sunshine in middle of a desert complete with cactus! This is a good thing as I am damn near frozen, once again the scenery is breathtaking now we can see it again.

We arrive at Cachi exhilarated and thankfully, defrosted. We decide to camp and have views up to the snow covered Nevado del Cachi (6380m), we pitch the tent and as the sun goes down it gets cold and the wind picks up, so we retreat to our tent.

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Scenery on the road into Cachi


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Lan defrosting


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Lan inside the tent – red wine time


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Skill inside the tent

We manage to reheat our left over curried sausages and eat in the tent, before rugging up and venturing out to spend the evening with our neighbours, Natalie and Alex an Australian/American couple who are overlanding in a 4WD, shared stories and wine make for a late evening.

Next day we are up and at em, we have breakfast, pack up, hop on the bike and say “Where are we going?” After a brief discussion we decide, despite the 'very dangerous' warning that we will tackle the 160 kms of Ruta 40 ripio back to Cafayate, surely it can't be that bad. The first third of the ride is quite easy and we enjoy the scenery, it is quite stunning and there are cute little adobe villages and farmhouses every few kilometres.

As the scenery gets better and better the road does start to deteriorate. It is mostly a hard packed gravel surface but there are numerous undetectable patches of sandy bull dust which are not that great for our poor old bike, it is just so big and heavy and a real handful in the sand. I guess I should have more trust in Skill's riding ability as we arrive back on the sealed road outside Cafayate in one piece, shaken but not stirred. I really struggle to enjoy these riding conditions, and this sometimes detracts from the landscape around me, but the scenery on this road is amazing, whatever the road conditions, it is something really special.


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On the road from Cachi to Cafayate - Ruta 40


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On the road from Cachi to Cafayate - Ruta 40

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On the road from Cachi to Cafayate - Ruta 40

Back in Cafayate we decide to find a better hostel than last time and luck in on the Rusty K Hostel which is the same price and absolutely gorgeous. We take off the panniers and Skill squeezes the bike down a narrow alleyway to park in the garden.


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We squeeze the bike down this alleyway

This hostel is lovely and we wish that we had discovered it last stay. We enjoy the afternoon in the garden.


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Skill enjoying the garden at the Rusty K Hostal

That evening the owners cook up a big asado and the guests and staff eat together, it is a great evening. A huge dinner including wine costs us 50 pesos, $10.00 AUD each, a complete bargain.

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Cooking our dinner


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A shared asado

Next day we sadly leave this little hostal (put it on your list of places to stay if you are a biker) and retrace the stunning RN 68 back to Salta. We have a lead on accommodation in Salta and find it easily via Carmen (the Garmin), but are a bit worried as the promised parking looks as if it will be non existent. I should have more faith, as I check in they tell me parking is “No Problemo” and proceed to open up some big doors onto the street. Skill rides the bike in past the reception desk and parks in the courtyard. “No Problemo”. We have often questioned our choice of panniers but over the years and our travels we have learnt having detachable panniers makes life much easier for manoeuvring the bike into tricky parking postions, ie hotel and restaurant foyers, over gutters, up ramps and stairs, down alleyways etc etc etc.


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Skill parking the bike at Hostal Salta Por Siempre

We spend a couple of days in Salta as the weather takes a turn for the worst, it rains not long after we arrive and continues to do so the following day. We decide that we should get out and about and pay a visit to the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology, a museum which tells the story of the discovery of three mummified child sacrifices found at an altitude of 6700m on Llullailaco Volcano. The museum is a little devisive in Salta, many locals argue that the perfectly preserved remains should be laid to rest. The exhibition was amazing but as I gazed into the little girl's face I felt quite melancholy and thought that perhaps we should not have visited this museum and maybe she should be returned to her home high in the mountains.

We visit Salta's other highlights in the rain


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Iglesia San Francisco - Salta


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Streets on Plaza 9 de Julio - Salta


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Iglesia Catedral - Salta

As we get ready to leave Salta the next morning we run into a recently arrived Englishman, Paul, riding a Tenere which is parked next to the V Strom in the foyer. We have a long chat about travelling, road conditions and bike problems before getting away mid morning.


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Skill with Paul, another bike traveller

We have a fairly easy but none the less gorgeous ride over the mountains through lush vegetation on a narrow one lane road that brought us out at the city of San Salvador de Jujuy. Then we start to climb to the tiny town of Purmamarca still with the idea of heading to Bolivia. Purmamarca is a lovely little village, more Bolivian than Argentinian with crafts being sold everywhere. We eventually find a reasonably priced hostel room. After a cook up in our room (of our left overs from Salta) and a bottle of the excellent Estancia Mendoza wine we decide we will head over the Paseo de Jama to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. We do a bit of research via the internet about fuel availability and get an early night, Chile here we come AGAIN!!!!!


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The best decisions are made over food and wine (gourmet spread cooked in our room)

Next day we do get away early as we know it will be a long day. On leaving Purmamarca we just climb, switchback after switchback on ashphalt, it is absolutely sensational.

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We start to climb

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and climb and climb and climb

We then hit the plateau and stop for a break at Salinas Grande,


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Riding accross the Salinas Grande


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Lan at the Salinas Grande

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Salt figures for sale - Salinas Grande


before climbing some more to reach the the small adobe village of Susques. We refuel on the outskirts of Susques and admire the native wildlife before we do some more climbing and stop for lunch near Salinas Olaraz in the lea of an old abandoned adobe house as the wind has started to pick up.

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Refuelling at Susques

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The well accessorised natives

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Lunch stop in the lea of old adobe ruins

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Lunch stop

From this point on we ride in cold driving wind that gets worse and worse, nearly up to Patagonian standard, we are down to 60 km an hour to keep the bike on the right side of the road. We refuel at Paseo de Jama and once again say goodbye to Argentina before entering Chile, however we have to travel 160 kms to San Pedro de Atacama before we reach the Aduana and can be officially stamped into Chile.

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Hello Chile........again!!!

We climb yet again, the lunar landscape of the altiplano is stunning, we can see flamingoes from a distance in the salt lakes, there are huge wind blown monoliths dotting the landscape, and snow capped mountains at each turn, then finally we are at the highest point, 4800 metres the highest we three have ever been. The bike is behaving impeccably, I am not, I am frozen, frightened (not really but the wind is bloody awful) and fighting for a breath in the thin air. This road is above 4000 metres for about 200 km and above 4500 metres for nearly 100 km. GET ME DOWN!!!!!


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4800 metres – The highest we have ever been

So finally down we go, a few twists and turns and then to quote Ken and Carol Duval a huge straight slippery slide down to the plains of San Pedro de Atacama at 2440 metres. We are instantly warmer but still windblown, clearing Chilean customs is a breeze compared to finding accommodation, everything is outrageously expensive or booked out, thankfully Skip and Rach and other travellers had warned us. We end up at Hostal/Camping Takha Takha which is about the most moderate decent place with parking we could find. We opt for a dorm type private room with shared toilet/bathroom facilities for about $60 AUD.

We decided not to camp as they want an outrageous $36.00 AUD per night! The room is bit of a compromise, as we can still use our camping gear to cook in the camp ground when we want, however on that first evening we head down town (200metres down the street) and enjoy soup and pizza dinner in a courtyard restaurant, the stars are visible and there is a huge brazier burning, a lovely way to finish what has been an exhilarating day.


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Camping and basic room accommodation at Takha Takha


San Pedro de Atacama is a hotch potch of dusty streets lined with adobe style buildings, it is certainly the wild west but it has appeal. We enjoy our first day here, after a fabulous breakfast with Marlon (a lovely Brazilian man riding a BMW GS800) we wander the ramshackle dusty streets. We even manage to find oil and a place where Skill and Marlon can do oil changes on the bikes. That evening we enjoy a fabulous dinner in another courtyard style restaurant.

We have another day wandering the streets before finally deciding on which tour to book. Sure we could ride the bike out to all the sites but I would actually like Skill to be able to relax and enjoy the views and walks rather than having to wrestle the bike over the heavily potholed and highly trafficked roads. Our decision is made we use Cosmo Andino Tours and book the high altiplano lakes tour.


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Wandering the streets of San Pedro


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These ladies are cooking flat breads


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The decaying Iglesia San Pedro


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The ceiling of Iglesia San Pedro is made from hand hewn Cardon Cactus


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The Paseo Artesanal

Later in the day we jump on the bike and head out to Valle de Luna for sunset, where we also meet Marlon.


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Valle de Luna

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The two bikes at Valle de Luna

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Lan in front of the Tres Marias


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Sunset over Valle de Luna

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Sunset over Valle de Luna

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Moon over Valley of the Moon

Next day we are up at 6.30 am and board our mini bus at 7.30 am, first light is about 7.00 am here. Our first stop is to see the flamingos on Laguna de Chaxa, I am pretty excited although we have seen quite a few flamingoes on our travels, it has always been from a distance, these guys are up close and personal.


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Flamingo on Lake Chaxa


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Another flamingo

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And yet another flamingo


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more bloody flamingoes....


We have a Chilean picnic brekky and then head off to visit the Altiplano Lakes of Miscanti and Mingues.


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Lake Miscanti

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Lake Mingues

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Wild Vicuna

before travelling another 60 km towards the Argentinian border to the amazing scenery of Salar Agues Caliente where we stop for a substantial lunch. At this point we are only 40 km from Paso Sico and the Argentinian border.


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Scenery of Salar Agues Caliente


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Scenery of Salar Agues Caliente

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Scenery of Salar Agues Caliente

From here we retrace our steps to the small village of Socaire with it's quaint adobe church


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Adobe Church at Socaire

and then onto Tocanao where we check out another church and the local street scape.


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The Tocanaco Bell Tower


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Local Street scape


We get back on the road and return to San Pedro around 6.00 pm. It has been a truly great day. Back at Hostal Takha Takha we share a beer and chat to Marlon. We decide we will stay for one more day before riding back over Paso de Jama, but Marlon will head that way tomorrow.

Our last day in San Pedro is a day of tackling chores, washing, boot maintenance (my 12 year old boots are not going to make the distance) and a few minor motorcycle repairs. We plan to get on the road early and be off the altiplano by early afternoon to hopefully avoid the wind which seems to get worse in the afternoon. Can't wait to ride this road again................................. Well we are up and at em early, on the bike by 8 am, cleared Chilean passport/customs by 9.30am and ride back up the huge slippery dip to the Altiplano.


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The gorgeous Altiplano


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Riding the Altiplano

Just after we reach the highest point and come down to the first corner there is a “Problemo”, a truck has not made the corner and has overturned, recovery is in progress.


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Truck Rollover

Nothing we can do so we continue on, it is an absolutely spectacular day and we are loving the ride and the scenery with no wind, did I mention NO wind! We take a dirt track off to the beautifully eroded monoliths.


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Monoliths in the lunar landscape


We pass the lakes again and there are flamingoes everywhere, three take off and seem to soar above us for two or three minutes, I have to keep reminding Skill to keep his eyes on the road, not skyward bound. They are just so beautiful and graceful in the air and these guys are really pink. We clear Argentinian immigration, refuel and stop for lunch in the same spot as before, refuel in Susques before recrossing the salt flats and then it is finally time for the downward twists into Purmamarka, this has to be up there with our best rides ever.


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The downward twists


We go back to the same hostal as last time, what can we say this is the view from our bedroom.


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View from our room.


An early night and next day we get away quite late as we have a wander around and take the obligatory Purmamarka motorcycle photos,


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Purmamarka


before enjoying another spectacular ride to the border town of La Quiaca, it is typical of most border towns, a bit wild and woolly. We find the Hostel Copacabana easily, but Skill has to negotiate the gutter, steps and a building site to get the bike into the courtyard. We enjoy a quite night and a bloody dreadful take away pizza before making it an early night. (Well we are in bed before midnight, we have become Argentinian with our time keeping) Tomorrow is another border crossing, this time into Bolivia, we will see what the new day brings.

Posted by John Skillington at 09:16 PM GMT
April 19, 2013 GMT
Bolivia - Tupiza, Uyuni & Sucre

Well what will today bring, another new country - into Bolivia!

We get away by 10.00am after manoeuvring the bike out of the building very carefully, as you can see.


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We get the bike out of Hostal Copacabana


Arriving at Argentinian immigration and customs is a breeze and we are processed pretty quickly, then it is on to the Bolivian side, immigration is quick, but there is always a catch, Customs. Where is our segura (insurance), well we don't have any, our inquiries of other travelers indicated we didn't need it for Bolivia. Where can we buy it? From La Quaica, NO. From Villazon, NO. On the Internet. NO. So we need it but we can't get it? So what do you want us to do?

He motions for Skill to step inside the office and quickly intimates if he slips Sesenta US, $60.00US inside the passport, then “No problemo”. Skill declines and the amount drops to $50.00US, then to $40.00 US in quick succession. Skill comes out to the bike to talk to me as I am trying to get the camera out to take this joker's photo and tells me that apparently $40.00 US will make the problem go away. “Bull****”, I say and walk into the office and smilingly say, “No, no, no, you are naughty, this money is for you” and point at him. Still smiling and laughing, meanwhile secretly wanting to hit the slimy little git.

Then all of a sudden he waves Skill to the front desk and the bike is stamped in, the problem has gone. Apparently whatever I did seemed to do the trick, wish I knew what it was. Then after a bit of a broken conversation we ask if he has children, “Si” and we plonk a couple of koalas on his desk. After that everything is fine and as we are repacking the bike, he comes out and jokes with us to “Hurry up”. Nothing like being bribed with a smile.

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Chinese made Aussie Koala 1 - Slimy little Bolivian Customs Guy 0


After this we are extremely wary and get on the bike and ride, not even bothering to get out money in Villazon. At the first checkpoint (a piece of rope across the road) the rope is down, as a mini bus is stopped so we just ride around the bus and wave, no one stops us so we continue on. At the second checkpoint about 40 km further on the rope is down again and we just ignore the guys who are in their hut. (Apparently these guys gave Paul – English guy we met in Salta - a hard time) We arrive in Tupiza after negotiating our way through a landslide on the highway. We find the Hostel Valle Hermosa (recommended by the Copacabana Hostel) easily, but as usual we are on the top floor and have to lug everything up the stairs, it is only 12.30 and we are stuffed, must be the altitude??????

Tupiza's claim to fame is it's dramatic desert landscape and in the early 20th Century Tupiza was home to one of Bolivia's biggest mining barons, Carlos Aramayo. His mines and their payrolls were rich enough to attract the interest of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who apparently died in a shoot out in the town of Saint Vincente, 100 km Northwest of Tupiza.

We wander out into the streets, and find a money machine as we have no Bolivianos, thankfully no trace of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, then find a local cafe and have the “menu del dia” which was pretty yummy. So far we are really liking Tupiza, the people at the hostel are friendly and the town is easy to negotiate. That night we have dinner at the most bizarre restaurant "Alamo" which is like an American movie themed restaurant but the food was sensational.


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Lan and Skill at Alamo restaurant Tupiza.


We enjoy this little town and spend another day before deciding we will do the Uyuni Salt Flats tour from here, the bike is safely locked away in the garage, Valle Hermosa tours seem to have a good reputation and the tour is a day longer tour than out of Uyuni. The other plus is they will bring us back to Tupiza for nothing. That night we sort our gear out, buy a cheap bag to put on top of the roof rack, and meet our fellow travellers, there will be two “jeeps” actually a landcruiser and a patrol, we will be travelling with two young French guys, Cedric and Maxamilien and in the other vehicle are a French couple, Priscill and Mattheiu, a young German girl Katia and an Israeli guy, whose name we never got, sorry.


We leave at 8.00 am the next day and luck in with our driver, Vincente, and cook/guide, Celia. They are both really nice, Vincente doesn't speak any English but luckily appears to be a fairly careful, competent driver. Celia does a great job with the food given the lack of facilities, and speaks a little English. We are so lucky as our French travelling companions, speak three languages so kindly translate for us the whole time. How lucky are we?

The first day is a really long one, over 11 hours. However the scenery is stunning, the company good and the food delicious.


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Is this a bit like Inshalla (I hope Vincente isn't trusting in God too much)


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Another Moon Valley


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Cactus


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Lunch Stop Lan with the Llamas, what a magic place


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Lunch stop with the Llamas


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An Adobe Village along the way


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An Adobe Village along the way

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Mountain Scenery


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Ghost Town at an altitude of 4690 metres, the vehicles are refuelling


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Lan and Skill enjoying the mountain scenery


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Altiplano Viscacha


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Scenic view of Lake Morejon at 4855m View to volcano Uturunco 6008m

We arrive at our very basic accommodation after dark, a concrete compound with a series of 4 share dorm rooms, no shower, but working toilets. Poor old Max is not feeling great and disappears to bed while Skill, Cedric and I have dinner before retiring to bed at about 10.30, it has been a long day and it is very cold, we are at nearly 4300metres. I am wearing my thermals, socks, am wrapped up in my silk liner, my down sleeping bag and am under three blankets, I am quite warm.

Next morning we don't rise till 7.30 am have a leisurely breakfast before packing up and continuing on. Max is feeling much better and we all enjoy the drive to the next Lake, even if it is a bit smelly, the flamingoes are gorgeous.


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More Flamingo photos


Onward and upwards to Laguna Kollpa where there are huge flocks of flamingoes, it really is a sight to behold.


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Huge flocks of flamingoes on Lake Kollpa


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Huge flocks of flamingoes on Lake Kollpa


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Cedric, Max and Lan

We then venture out to the Dali Desert


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Lan in the Dali Desert


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Hanging around in the Dali Desert

before we have a lovely swim in the thermal pools before lunch. As usual lunch is a feast which we really enjoy.


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John & Lan bathing at 4350metres. Lovely warm water

Unfortunately after lunch Bolivian belly suddenly hits Skill and we have to dose him up on medication to make the rest of the journey (thanks Katia). We then visit some of the world's highest geysers at an altitude of 5200 metres,


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The Geysers


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The Geysers

then it is a leisurely drive to our next accommodation, before we venture out to the Red Lake.


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The Red Lake (Known as Laguna Colorada)


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The Red Lake (Known as Laguna Colorada)

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The Red Lake (Known as Laguna Colorada)

Because it is an early day, Skill hits the sack for a while, while I have a few vodkas and watch the kids play “Cheater”.


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A very competetive game of cheater with Matthieu, Priscill, Cedric, Max, Katia, and our other travelling companion


Skill manages to make it to dinner and the eight of us have a few wines and continue to chat and enjoy each other's company. At 8.30pm a very toey middle aged American man from another Tour comes and asks us to be quiet, we are making too much noise, there are people trying to sleep. What? It is 8.30pm, we try really hard to be quiet, but at this point it is a lost cause as we all have the giggles at our own audacity to be making noise at this time of night so we eventually give up and go to bed. It is absolutely freezing, once again I have everything on and am inside my silk liner and sleeping bag, under three blankets, I also have on my beanie and gloves. I cannot move.

We are up and at em for a pancake breakfast before packing up and moving on. Today we travel lots of amazing 4WD tracks, first visiting the Tree stone in the Sili Desert,


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Tree Stone in the Sili Desert


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The absolutely amazing Sili Desert

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The starkly beautiful Sili Desert

before venturing on to countless Lakes with countless flamingoes.


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Lake Hedionda (??>)


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A flamingo on Lake Hedionda


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Eco?? Hotel at Lake Hedionda

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Lake Hedionda Landscapes

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Lake Hedionda Landscapes


We then cross various salt flats before arriving at the small village of San Juan.


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Local Lady - San Juan


It is then onto a Salt Hotel on the edge of the Uyuni Salt Flat itself. Skill and I actually get a room to ourselves and even manage a hot shower, even though we have to queue for over an hour. The hotel is amazing, nearly everything is made from salt including all the furniture. Once again we share a meal with our fellow travellers before lights out at 10.30 pm (the generator is turned off), this time we didn't get in trouble for making too much noise, and surprisingly the hotel was toasty warm, I didn't even use my sleeping bag.


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The very comfortable Salt Hotel


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Dining Room of the Salt Hotel


The following day, a very early start, 5.30 am we are driving across the Salar, at first we are high and dry following some sort of road, then we hit the water and probably drive for 10km through the salty water before stopping to take in the sunrise. It is absolutely freezing!!!


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Skill watching the sun rise over the very beautiful Salar de Uyuni.


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Sunrise over Salar de Uyuni

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Lan enjoying the sunrise

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The very beautiful Salar de Uyuni at Sunrise. Not a bad way to celebrate a wedding anniversary


We continue on to Incahuasi Island for a brisk hike before breakfast.


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View over the Salar from Incahuasi Island


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View over the Salar from Incahuasi Island

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View over the Salar from Incahuasi Island


It is then a glorious drive across the Salar before we stop for those ridiculously childish photos


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It's Easter Sunday so chocolate is in order


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A BIG block of Toblerone


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Childish photos

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Childish photos


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The jump - Katia, Mattheiu, Priscill, Lan, Max and Cedric


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Our travel team Lan, Skill, Katia, Priscill, Mattheiu, Cedric and Max


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Our travel team with driver Vicente, and cook Celia.

and continue on to the now closed down salt hotel, trading as a dodgy museum.


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Salt Hotel Museum

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Lan and Katia at the Salt hotel museum

We arrive at the village of Colchani, a highly touristed village selling all manner of textiles and trinkets. Colchani residents are also involved in the harvesting of salt. All done by hand. Surprisingly the salt is only for the Bolivian market, I don't think they will run out any time soon.

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Harvesting the Salt

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Harvesting the Salt.

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A Colchani lady sells her wares

We arrive in the dusty outpost of Uyuni where everyone else disembarks, quick goodbyes and we return to Tupiza with Vincente and Celia. It is a five hour journey back through amazing countryside, it has been a long day for us but an even longer one for Vicente and Celia. We really enjoyed their company and insight into this amazing country.

Next day we are very lazy and can't be bothered to move on so repack our gear, organise to get some washing done and wander out for a late lunch before a very early night. We try to get away at an early hour as we have mixed reports on the road and driving times to Potosi. So far we have heard that the road is paved, that it is ripio, that it takes 7 hours, that it takes 5 hours. We head off to refuel, we only need 5 litres, we arrive at the first service station but they refuse to serve us as we are foreigners and they don't have the government receipt books for the foreigner priced fuel, so we head to the next service station that does have the receipt books but they are out of gasolina (it is not a ploy, they really are out of fuel), back to the first service station where a lovely English speaking Argentinian family try to help us and do a big translation for us. To cut a long story short, the manager will not back down for any money, he refuses to sell us fuel and keeps saying camera camera. OK what to do next.

We ride back into town, wave a $50.00 Bolivano note at a taxi driver for 5 litres of fuel. He accepts the challenge, he and Skill disappear in the taxi, go back to the same service station we have just been at. The taxi driver buys 5litres of fuel in a jerry can and he and Skill return to the bike. Fuel goes into the bike and the taxi driver pockets $30 boliviano profit. It would of cost us 45 Bolivianos at the foreigner price anyway. What a bloody rig morale.


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What to do when they won't let you buy fuel.

By this time it is getting quite late so we head out of town wondering what will be next. So far we have only ridden 75 km on Bolivian roads, and we have had attempted bribery and not been able to buy fuel.

The ride to Potosi is wonderful, a lovely paved road with only one minor dirt detour, very little traffic and not a single police or army check at any of the checkpoints, we are waved through. We stop for a late lunch in the shade of a pepperina tree in the middle of nowhere, it is a beautiful day. At the next village we find a service station where they have no problem serving us but still at the foreigner price. We continue on to Potosi where we have a little bit of a problem negotiating the one way street system but all in all we manage to find a hotel with parking reasonably easily. So we can now tell you the road from Tupiza to Potosi is 260 km, it is paved and it takes about 4 hours with a stop for lunch and fuel.

Potosi is actually the worlds highest city at an altitude of 4100metres. The city of Potosi sits beneath the cone shaped mountain of Cerro Ricco, the richest source of silver the world has ever seen. Mining began in 1545 and continued for three centuries. During this time it is believed nearly nine million people died in the harsh conditions, mainly Indigenous and African slaves. Archaic style mining continues to this day, but it is no longer silver, but minerals that are the prize. Due to my aversion to small spaces we decide against a mine tour but do go out for a wander around the town. It is a chaotic, edgy mining town with incredibly crowded, narrow streets. We find a nice restaurant to eat in before retiring for the night.

We get away early next day and after negotiating the crazy traffic and one way street systems, emerge on the road to Sucre unscathed, and once again enjoy a glorious ride on a paved road to Sucre. The weather starts to close in and rain clouds loom on the horizon, we ride through a few scuds but make it to Sucre without getting wet. It is only midday and we book into the first hostel we find with parking, it is quite luxurious and a little expensive by Bolivian standards, however a good decision as it starts to rain and continues for the rest of the day.

Later in the afternoon we check out another Hostel with parking, Hostal Pachamama. Here we run into Paul, the Tenere rider from Salta. This Hostel while not as posh as Hostal Tukambamba is less than half the price, has a beautiful garden, big kitchen, pleasant rooms and heaps of parking. The decision is made. Tomorrow we move. We go back to our lovely room, with king size bed, spotlessly clean bathroom, endless hot water and fast internet. We enjoy it while we can.

Next morning after breakfast we do move to Hostal Pachamama which is to become our home for the next three weeks, it should have taken us 10 minutes to travel across town but there were student demonstrations going on so it was an hour trip instead. All part of life in Bolivia!!!!!

Posted by John Skillington at 07:27 PM GMT
 


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