ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 10-29-2012, 09:10 AM   #61
Cisco_k OP
Chuck
 
Cisco_k's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Oddometer: 42
Lima 10/25
The KTM dealership did a great job of putting our bikes back into top working order. They washed then completely and check all fluids and did whatever routine service was required. They cleaned and oiled the chain and sprocket so that they looked new again. The bikes were ready Thursday morning as promised. I have to give a big thanks to the dealership for taking care of us so well and especially to Jesús Paredes who went well above and beyond what would be required or even expected to see that we had a place to stay and knew how to get to and from places in Lima. It is workers like him that make a business successful.

After picking up the bikes we headed south along the coast out of Lima. What we found was pretty much the same as what we found north of Lima. There were mountains to the east and some rolling hills along the coast but most of all was a vast desert. In most places it was mile after mile of drifting sand. The ocean looked inviting but we knew it was cold because of the cold wind blowing in off of the sea. We found that we had to keep our jacket liners on and everything zipped up tight because of the cold along the coast. For most of the way to Pisco the road was four lane divided and traffic was light. The road was in super condition and we could easily have done well over the speed limit. We have tried to keep our speeds to the set limit which is either 90 or 100 kpm (56 mph to 62 mph) because one we don’t want to get stopped and two we are doing our best to conserve our rear tires by keeping the speed down.

If you are ever looking for it, here's what the KTM Dealer in Lima looks like.



It is large inside and this is just one of the two arched buildings. Lots of parts too.


Here is a photo of Jesús Paredes who had dinner with us and was most helpful at the dealers.



Pisco 10/25
We stopped in Pisco because it was a reasonable distance from Lima and we were not sure exactly where we needed to go to book a flight over the Nasca Lines. Pisco is actually about 3 ½ hours north of Nasca and we found out that to fly over the lines we needed to get to the Nasca airport. We were able to book a flight from our hotel by having someone from one of the sightseeing services visit us and set up a reservation. Our cost was $110 US each. It seems like a lot but we had come a long way to see them and we gladly parted with our dollars. Our only concern was we paid in advance and we had to get to the airport the next day by around 11:30 to make our flight.

Not a lot to see on the way to Pisco but more sand. One thing that one sees a lot of before and after cities are little huts built with grass matts. Nothing else, just little huts in the sand.



Nasca 10/26
We left our hotel early and started our ride to Nasca airport. The ride wasn’t eventful and the scenery was just about what we had seen for the last several hundred miles. The biggest change was the highway switches to two lane and once it turns inland the temperature rises. There really isn’t much to see along the coast and even inland it was more of the same with an occasional irrigated field of grapes, sugarcane or some crops I didn’t recognize. However, one should expect to encounter towns that aren’t really listed on the GPS maps that go on for miles. The towns were our only slowdown and we made it to the Nasca airport around 10:30 and they quickly moved us to a flight that left around 11:30.


The Nasca airport is a small airport that appears to be primarily for use by tourists flying over the Nasca Lines. When we pulled up a lady came out and called us by name so they had expected the two giant gringos on the motos. While I was waiting in the lobby some people came up and wanted their photograph made with me because I was about twice their height. We are truly giants in their land. The airport personnel quickly processed us through and after paying a $25 airport tax, being weighed to see that we didn’t exceed the planes capacity and going through security we were led to our plane by the copilot. There were four of us, two small women (I guess they countered our weight) and the two giants.


After squeezing into the plane we were off to see the Nasca Lines. We didn’t have to fly far because they are only a few miles outside of town. We were given a paper that showed each thing we would see and the location and order of our flight. The plane would go over each item tilted to either the left or right and then circle back and tilt the plane the other way so those on the other side of the plane could get a good view. It all went by pretty quickly, all 14 figures I think, and the total time in the air was only about 35 minutes. But, as far as I was concerned 35 minutes was adequate. The day was hot and windy with lots of updrafts and with the plane constantly circulating back and tilting one way and then the other, I was feeling like I needed my feet back on the ground. I took several photographs but with all the bouncing around of the plane and trying to frame them on a small viewing window, I didn’t get as many good shouts as I would have liked. There is a tower along the highway where one can look, but only two small figures are visible from it and they are not easily identified from the low tower advantage either. All in all, I feel like the flight was worth it but I wouldn’t do it again. If there was a way I would really like to be able to walk some of them but that’s probably not possible.

Only this one photo of the Humming Bird because there are lots of them out there, but this does show I was there.



Puquio 10/26
As we left Nasca and headed to Puquio we rose high into the Andes Mountains. From Nasca it took about 40 kilometers to reach a height of 14,960 feet. There was a high plane where sheep, alpacas and llamas were grazing along with their protective dogs and a few shepherds. It was probably 15 or 20 miles across the high plane before we began our decent. We encountered several indigenous peoples that were tending their flocks. There would often be people sitting along the road miles from any structure or other people. The temperature dropped to 38 degrees F and it was quite cold riding before I finally stopped and put my heated jacket liner on. The weather was mostly overcast with a few patches of rain and even one place where there was small BB sized hail that turned the road white but wasn’t a problem riding. The highway was in great condition but if one doesn’t like curvy roads, they had better stay away from these mountains because other than the fairly straight road on the high planes there is virtually no straight road and one is either ascending or descending with some very tight corners. We found a decent hotel on the town square and the owner put up a ramp so we could ride our bikes into an extra room on the lower floor.

On the high planes there were livestock pens made of rocks.




There was a large lake at almost 15,000 feet.


Large flocks of sheep, llama and alpaca were grazing on the highlands.


Abancay 10/27
Not too much to say about Abancay. It was a reasonable sized city, much larger than what was shown on our maps, and a place where we met a fellow biker, Will, there that was doing some traveling about in South America. We had dinner with him and as is always the case, got as much information from him as possible about places he had been where we wanted to also visit. It seems as though we meet someone every place we go that has some information to share with us. We have never run into unfriendly people and everyone is helpful. For instance, when we arrived in Abancay we couldn’t find the hotel we were looking for. Joe asked a taxi driver if he knew and he said to follow him and took us to it. Nothing asked for by the driver either.



Ollantaytembo 10/28 10/29
To avoid having to stop and put on rain gear or cold weather gear, we decided to put it on before we left. It always seems warm when getting ready to go but quickly cools when we go up into the mountains. Most of the cities we have been in other than the coastal ones are close to 9,000 feet in elevation. No air-conditioning in the hotels and heavy wool blankets on the beds. Once out of the city we were quickly up above 12,000 feet and glad for our cold weather gear. But, go another 75 k and we drop down into a long river valley where it’s hot. So, we stop and take off our extra things. Then we rise up again and it gets cooler and when we turn off on a gravel road to cut across to the highway to Ollantaytembo, it begins to rain. Somehow gravel roads seem to always bring out the rain for us. Fortunately the rain only went on for 30 or 40 minutes and the road never got too muddy. I did have a little encounter with a bull while riding through one small village on the gravel road. Joe had just passed the bull and as I approached the bull started to bellow and when I got close it put its head down and charged me. It was time for me to crank open the throttle and while he got close to my left side, I got just out of his reach. I don’t know what Joe said to the bull, but it seemed to have pissed him off.


Ollantaytembo is the very small town that is the crossest to Machu Picchu and we are staying here one night (Sunday), taking the train to Aguas Calientes (Monday), and then visiting Machu Picchu the next day (Tuesday). By taking the train and staying the night in Aguas Calientes we will be able to get up early on Tuesday and beat the crowds to Machu Picchu. We will then take the train back in the late afternoon to Ollantaytembo where we will spend the night (Tuesday) before heading to Cusco on Wednesday. The town seems to be here for the tourists and also has some ruins that one can hike up to and walk around on one side of the town.

Last night in Ollantaytembo was an interesting one. There was some kind of celebration going on and it included lots of locals. We had noticed that there was something going on in the town square because when we arrived there were people setting up sound systems, stages and bleachers in the middle of the street. Later as we ate dinner we say several floats going past. The floats were shaped like rocks and had people on them dressed as Inca warriors and kings. Once we finished dinner we went to the square and got a seat on the bleachers and watched for a while. There was a lot of music and singing and drinking. From what we could find out the celebration was to mark some anniversary and the intent was to drink as much as possible. Not being local, we decided that drinking all night wasn’t necessary for us and left after about 45 minutes. Joe went to the square (only a block from our hotel) this morning to see if he could get some coffee and there were still some folks left, but they were not in too good of shape.

We're getting close to the mountains where Machu Picchu is located.



We made it to Ollantaytembo which is the closest one can drive/ride to access Machu Picchu.



The locals are starting to fill the stands that were added to the side of the plaza. Between them and the stage that is across from them, the floats and parade took place. However, from time to time trucks and other traffic would also pass through as all shared the narrow streets.


Here are some of the locals as well as a few tourists.

__________________
"Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," ~Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

Cisco_k screwed with this post 11-02-2012 at 12:37 PM
Cisco_k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2012, 09:30 AM   #62
GHT
Weeee Rider!!!
 
GHT's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: League City, TX
Oddometer: 162
Great reporting! Glad to see Joe has'nt abbandoned you yet! Be safe!
__________________
'08 Suzuki DL650 WeeStrom (Yellow/Black)
'08 Yamaha WR250R (Blue)
'03 KTM 450 EXC (Sold)
'03 Yamaha FJR 1300 (sold)
'06 Suzuki DRZ400SM/S (sold) '06 Suzuki M50 (sold) '05 Kawasaki KLR (sold)
GHT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2012, 06:48 PM   #63
Rydah
Remember the Night Rydah!
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Clear Lake, TX
Oddometer: 209
Man, sounds like you guys are having a great time. Sure appreciate you making the effort to keep us updated, and we sure miss you fellers at our meetings. Be safe!
__________________
----------------------------
"The Night Rydah.. remember him, when you look at the night sky" - Toecutter
Rob
2006 Honda XR650R - Plated
2012 Suzuki 650 Vstrom
Rydah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2012, 06:48 AM   #64
knthrall
n00b
 
Joined: Sep 2012
Oddometer: 5
Cant wait until I join you in Santiago and can become part of this blog! I love you.
knthrall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2012, 02:56 PM   #65
Cisco_k OP
Chuck
 
Cisco_k's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Oddometer: 42
We took the mid-day train out of Ollantaytembo and headed for Aguas Calientes (Now called by many Machu Picchu City). The train moved rather slowly along the Rio Urubamba and takes over well over an hour to travel about 40 kilometers. The slow ride is due to a very uneven road bed which causes the narrow gauge train to constantly sway from side to side like a boat on a stormy sea. The views along the track are pretty spectacular with the fast moving Rio Urubamba on the one side and views of fast rising mountains on both sides. Where the valley widens there are often corn fields being tended by the locals. The train is well kept with comfortable seats and tables. There is a steward in each car selling larger snacks and drinks as well as passing out a complementary small snack and drink. I can say that the complementary snacks were better than the little bags of peanuts that some airlines are known by.

Our train in the station.


The cars were comfortable.



When we arrived in Aguas Calientes, we quickly realized that it is primarily a tourist town. The railway station empties into a huge market of booths that goes on for a few hundred feet in all directions. There is no way to get from the train to the city without passing through them. Once past the booths one finds narrow streets with shops, restaurants, hotels and hostels lining them. The streets are very steep and narrow often with steps built into them and are intended only for pedestrian traffic. There are no cars, motorcycles or any other motorized vehicles other than construction equipment and busses that are limited to shuttling tourists to and from Machu Picchu which is about three kilometers down the river and up a very steep slope.



There was plenty of shopping once off the train.


The city streets.


Another view.


Our poor Spanish bites us. Joe wanted to order sour cream for some Mexican food. He got what seems closest to a strawberry milk shake.


All the goods for the shops and other businesses has to be hauled up from the train station. These guys were pulling all they could trip after trip up a steep hill. I don't know if we have folks in the states that would do this.


Here is where I will confess to what could have been a big screw-up. We went down to purchase our bus tickets, one can walk up but it is not easy, and made plans to be at the departure place early for the first bus at 5:30a.m. The next morning we checked out of hour hostel/hotel early and proceeded to the bus. There were a couple of busloads of tourists already there but not too many as the busses are small. Our bus made its way up to the entrance where we got in line for the 6:00 opening. It was while waiting in line we found out that they don’t sell entrance tickets at the gate but that one needs to have purchased them in town or previously on the internet or from a travel service. We hadn’t intended to hire a guide but after a very nice guide offered to call someone down in Aguas Calientes, get them to purchase tickets for us and email them up to the entrance; we decided that a guide made good sense. It took about 40 minutes and we had our tickets and were inside.

Our guide spent over two hours taking us all around the facility. There were no places that she took us that were not open to the public but her explanations of the history and culture added immensely to our visit and we learned a lot that we would not have even guessed about the place. For the most part the area is open for visitors to walk around and view it. Interpretive signs are not present so one would need to know a great deal of the history to appreciate the city. Archeological work is being done in a few small restricted areas but they are also limited in number. Most of the grassy areas are restricted from the crowds walking on them and where one walks across what are grassy terraces there are plastic grates to prevent erosion and killing of the vegetation. The crowds were numerous but because the facility is so large it never seemed crowded.

The Cliff Notes of what I learned was that the city was constructed over about 700 years by 20,000 people that would spend three month shifts working there and it was never finished before the Spanish invaded and conquered the country. Machu Picchu was inhabited during the construction phase and it was nearing completion and the work was greatly sped up toward the end after the Spanish began the invasion of the Inca Empire. To prevent the Spanish for discovering and using what was a sacred place, it was burned, abandoned and forgotten.

Yes there it is, Machu Picchu.


The original Inca Trail as it makes its way to the city gate.


The lower part of the wall was the original construction method. The upper part is once the construction was hurried after the Spanish began conquering the Incas.




Our guide pointing out where mummies would be placed.


We rode the train back to Ollantaytembo where we had left our bikes and luggage stored at Hotel Casa de Mama Valle. It was a reasonable place to stay and the people were friendly. We never felt that our bikes or luggage were in any danger and I would not hesitate to stay there again.



Our plan was to leave early the next morning and ride to Puno, Peru where we would have a short ride to the Bolivian border and then La Paz on Thursday the 1st of November. We aren't much for sight seeing and we didn't even go through Cusco. The ride was a pretty easy one with good roads and the only limiting factors being several long slow towns along the way. What we did have happen, for the first time on this trip, was that we were stopped by the police for a check of documents. The stop was as we entered the town of Juliaca, a real arm pit of a town too. Early in our ride we had been told by other riders that they had been stopped at the same place and it ended up costing quite a bit in bribes because they didn’t have insurance documentation. We pulled out our SOAT policies that we had purchased for Colombia and kept insisting that because of an international treaty between most of the South American countries our policies were also good in Peru. The officer kept arguing with us that we were wrong but we stood our ground, plus we couldn’t speak any Spanish and he didn’t speak English, and he finally just stormed off, got in his car and left. An hour later as we entered the town of Puno we were stopped again. As Joe went to get off his bike he turned to me and said “here we go again”. The head officer looked at him, asked if we had been stopped before and when Joe said yes, he just waved us on. Although we had been through many places in all previous countries where cars, buses and trucks were stopped, we had always been waved on and had formed the opinion that the corruption had been cleaned up. But, I guess there are still pockets of it.

Farming along the shores of Lake Titicaca.




Floating net cages where fish are raised by the locals.


The next morning we got an early start for the Bolivian border and had no problems along the way. Getting out of Peru was not difficult at all. The line at the immigration office wasn’t too long and after getting our passports stamped out we had to go to an office across the street and have our bikes processed out too. It was very easy and no hassle at all.
We rode over to the Bolivian side and were instructed to get our visas first and then get the bikes processed in. After filling out visa papers we met with the immigration official, paid our $135.00 US visa fee and were told that all we needed now was a copy of three pages in our passports. One thing that I noticed was that the lights were not on in the first several offices. Well, it seems that the power was off on that side of the border and we needed to go back to Peru to get copies. Joe waited with the bikes while I walked back across the bridge and found a copy shop. The guards on both sides didn’t pay me any attention as I walked back and forth. One guy that had let a rope down so we could ride out of Peru gave me a funny look and I said I need to make copies and he pointed down the street.


Returning to Bolivia I gave the document copies to the immigration officer and he finished with our entry requirements and said we could go get the bikes check in. At the officials office that was to check in our bikes we were informed that it was all automated and online but that with no power he couldn’t do anything. He estimated it would be perhaps two hours before power was restored. We decided to go down the street and get something to eat. We left our bikes at the officials and walked about three blocks down the street and were ready to order when we noticed a light bulb had come on. We went back to the official’s office and after about 20 minutes more, when the internet started working again, he imported our bikes and we were on our way.


The ride to La Paz went well after that and despite the usual heavy traffic getting into the city we were able to get to a hotel at a reasonable time. While I say the ride went well, I guess I say that because I’ve began to get use to speed bumps everywhere along the highways anytime a town or group of buildings are present. There will be a sign saying speed 80 kph and a speed bump twenty feet later and another a hundred yards after that one and many many more all along the highway. And in the city it is crazy the way the main highway ends up on small city streets with traffic all fighting to get ahead. In La Paz there is even a new feature…speed bumps on the larger streets just before the traffic lights. I guess it keeps people from speeding up to make the light but it causes a real problem with getting traffic through the green lights.


We’re taking a rest day or two here and will be back on the road in a couple of days.

Llama, cute and tasty too.
__________________
"Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," ~Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

Cisco_k screwed with this post 11-02-2012 at 03:40 PM Reason: Add Photos
Cisco_k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2012, 04:11 PM   #66
Cisco_k OP
Chuck
 
Cisco_k's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Oddometer: 42
I don't know what happened in my previous text but most of the caption and most importantly the name was left off of this phone of the person that helped us so much at the KTM dealership. Here he is during dinner with Joe and me.

His name is: Jesús Paredes

__________________
"Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," ~Archbishop Fulton J Sheen
Cisco_k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2012, 09:41 AM   #67
smeghead
b00b
 
smeghead's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Oddometer: 126
I just caught up on your ride report so far. Great stuff and good pics.

Are you still on track to make it to TDF by the end of the world/mayan calendar?

I heard Joe is on vacation from vacation... what are you doing to pass the time in the interim? Sounds like you should have a lot of blog updating time available!
smeghead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-2012, 07:00 AM   #68
Cisco_k OP
Chuck
 
Cisco_k's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Oddometer: 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeghead View Post
I just caught up on your ride report so far. Great stuff and good pics.

Are you still on track to make it to TDF by the end of the world/mayan calendar?

I heard Joe is on vacation from vacation... what are you doing to pass the time in the interim? Sounds like you should have a lot of blog updating time available!

I had a lot of time in Santiago but didn't seem to get much done for my ride report. The last week there my wife joined me. Joe is back from his vacation and we have started south again. We are on track to make it to the end of the world on time. I'm going to try and update my report today.

Thanks for the comments.
__________________
"Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," ~Archbishop Fulton J Sheen
Cisco_k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2012, 07:38 AM   #69
Cisco_k OP
Chuck
 
Cisco_k's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Oddometer: 42
I've found that it's very easy to find something to do other than update my blog. Also, once it gets way behind it takes an effort to bring it up to date. I'm in the process of updating it and editing my photographs. What I need to add are the days that have passed since La Paz Bolivia as well as a little about La Paz, which wasn't my favorite city. What I have found is that Chile and Argentina are a world apart from the other South American countries that I have visited. I'll explain what I mean by that as I complete my update.

La Paz, Bolivia 11/1,2,3
 
As I said before, La Paz was not my favorite city. It is one more place where the traffic is terrible, the driving is no better and the streets are crowded and very slow at all times of day. The air is dirty with trucks and buses belching out huge clouds of black smoke. There is no good way to get into the city without fighting heavy traffic. The concept of bypass and feeder roads isn’t known there. Also, speed bumps before traffic signals just add one more element to slow travel. Markets spill out into the street and people, buses, motos, cars and trucks scramble around like ants to move forward. If one can avoid riding through La Paz, I would recommend it.

We did stay an extra day in La Paz because we wanted to ride the infamous Road of Death. To get there we road north through some very pretty mountains and at the highest point we crossed a pass at 15,280 feet. The bikes ran well but did experience a significant loss of power. It was cold at that altitude and we stopped to add some cloths. When we got to the start of the Road of Death, the clouds had moved in and there was nothing but fog to look at so we turned around and made our way back to La Paz. I guess I can say that I rode 50 feet of it and Joe did about 150 feet before turning around.

15,280 feet and there's a lake with Llamas and sheet grazing.



As we got close to the Road of Death, the clouds closed in.





Potosi, Bolivia 11/4
Uyuni, Bolivia 11/5
Hotel del Sol Luna Salada, Bolivia 11/5,6
We left early for Potosi, Bolivia on a Sunday and the traffic was much better, however, we almost ran out of gas. The gas problem wasn’t because we couldn’t find a station open but was because we couldn’t find one that would sell us gas. We pulled into the first couple and they took a look at our license plates and told us that they couldn’t sell gas to us and to go on down the road where we could purchase some from the next station. The stations are few and far between and we had both been running on reserve for several miles. After being turned away at two stations and finding one that wasn’t open, we pulled into the last one for many miles and when we were told that they couldn’t sell us gas, we just sat there at the pump and kept asking. A line of cars began to build behind us and finally we were told that we could purchase gas but that we would have to pay a special tax. They were correct about the tax because the government subsidizes the gasoline and foreigners have to pay about three times the pump price. We said ok and paid what totaled around $6.00 per gallon which was about what we expected. They even gave us a special government receipt for the taxes.

Tanks filled we set off for Potosi. The roads La Paz, and several other places, are asphalt but rutted. The trucks have pushed ruts into the asphalt that are as much as 4 or 5 inches below the areas between the tire tracks where the asphalt has been raised up. It makes driving a little tricky and passing a maneuver that will keep one on their toes. The ride wasn’t bad although it was laced with a little rain and a search for gas that required searching in three little towns and finally finding fuel in the third one. Most of the ride was above 12,000 feet as we were on the Antiplano which went on for miles and miles. Finding the center of the city in Potosi and a place to stay was a little challenging but we eventually found a place near the town square. Nothing really noteworthy to say about the city.

For a long long ways the Antiplano just kept on going.



The ride to Uyuni was mostly on new toll road and it was great. The ride also offered spectacular views of mountains, canyons and planes all within 150 miles. Arriving in Uyuni we found a dusty little place in the middle of no where. The streets are mostly dirt and the wind seems to blow constantly. We had made it there riding on fumes and were afraid we were going to run out of gas so the first order of business was to get gasoline. The one station in town had a line of cars that must have been half a mile long. There hadn’t been gasoline available for a while and the tanker trucks had just filled up the station and everyone wanted gasoline while it lasted. Fortunately, they let motos go to a pump at the side and filled us up without waiting. I liked that system. After getting gas we drove around looking for a place to stay and found a room at a little Hostel. We took our gear off our bikes and rode back to the center of town to find a bite to eat. It was there that I had the worst hamburger of my life so now I have a new baseline for bad.

We had wanted to see the salt hotel (Hotel del Sol Luna Salada) that is about 20 miles to the north on the edge of the salt plane so we rode out to it. We wanted to stay there but hadn’t been able to book a room. Joe went inside just to check and found out that an arriving flight had been cancelled and they had a room. It was at this point that we found out how accommodating the hotel staff is. We explained that all our things were at a Hostel in Uyuni (down one of the worst washboard roads in the world). They said no problem because they had someone in town that would be coming our way. Oh, we also had the only key to the padlock that was on the door. The hotel person got the hostel to break the lock, give them our things and then paid the hostel for our room. All our things were delivered to us within a few hours. The lock was about $6.00 and the room was not much.

The rate at the Hotel del Sol Luna Salada was reasonable and the rooms were very nice as well as it having the distinction of being made of blocks of salt. There was a very good buffet dinner as well as a great buffet breakfast. The breakfast was included in the room rate and the dinner was reasonable too. The next day we were rewarded with the second instance of great hospitality when we returned from riding across the salt and part of the road that we would take to our next destination. The racks that I had made for our extra fuel tanks were failing due to conservable shaking. We asked at the desk if they knew someone in the area that could weld. No problem we were told because they had a maintenance man that could weld. He worked a couple of hours on the bikes and the hotel didn’t want anything. We did tip him well, as we had done with the other employees that brought our things from the hostel.

I had a great time riding on the salt flat. I’ve wondered for years what it was like for the people driving at Bonneville and now I have some idea. The salt flat is about 40 miles wide and 80 miles long and as flat as can be. Each winter it gets flooded and then dries in the spring. The surface is like concrete and except for some small ridges formed by the drying salt, it is perfectly flat. Out on the salt one can loose track of where they are because most landmarks are far enough away as to be unseen. We navigated by putting coordinates in our GPS units and going straight to places as one would do if they were on water. You can go as fast as you want and not have to worry about a traffic cop. There are some tracks, or polished surfaces, that one can follow where the tour guides have driven between popular places, but there are no signs and one could find themselves lost if not careful. Driving around the edges of the salt is also tricky because where the salt is thin there is mud beneath it and ones bike or auto will break through and become stuck. This happened to Joe when he followed me as I made a little navigation error on our way across the salt. Try to avoid getting stuck because the salt flat is over 12,000 feet in elevation and getting someone out will kick your butt.
 
Inside our room at the salt hotel.



Joe kind of likes it there. Note that the furniture is made of salt blocks and the floor is crushed salt.


Joe heads off into the great unknown. I hope he set up his GPS before he left.



This is an island in the middle of the salt flat. There is a resturant on it and it is where Joe took the photo of me and the little girl.


San Juan, Bolivia 11/7 La Magia de San Juan Hostal
When we left the salt hotel we rode across the salt and picked up a little road to San Juan. That little road was one of the worst that I’ve seen. Actually, much of what I’ve seen in Bolivia is the worst that I have ever seen when it comes to roads. There were washboards easily 3 inches deep and when they weren’t present there was sand…deep sand at that. One has to throw in a few boulder sized rocks just to keep it interesting too. After riding for most of the day we came to San Juan and a very pleasant surprise. We asked a a little store if there was somewhere to stay in the town and were told to go to the two story building…the only two story building in town. What we found was the La Magia de San Juan Hostal. It is a great place and if anyone takes that road, they should look it up and make a reservation. It was clean and very nice. Because there isn’t anywhere to eat in town, breakfast and dinner are included. The food was excellent and the owner speaks some English and is very helpful. They even borrowed a hose so we could wash the salt off of our bikes.

Here's the La Magia de San Juan. Easy to spot since it's the only building with more than one floor.


The streets of San Juan.

 
Where but in San Juan can you have an oven in your back yard?



Ollague, Chile 11/8
If you didn’t have to go there, you probably wouldn’t but it is on the road at the border and while it isn’t the most modern place, the people are friendly. To get there we had to navigate more bad, no exceptionally horrible, road. Oh, and one thing to keep in mind, there are no road signs and the GPS routes don’t all connect. In many places roads will go off in several directions and one must do a bit of dead reckoning to find their way.

We were told to go toward the base of the big mountain and the border would be toward the left. Did anyone say desolate?


Crossing the border was a bit of a challenge. Not that we had real difficulties but because nothing on the Bolivian side is marked. When we got to the border there was a bar blocking the road so we went around it and parked outside what seemed to be the only official building. Inside we found an agent that took our motorcycle documents, processed them and said to proceed. We asked about passport control and he just motioned toward Chile. We got on our bikes and rode a few miles into Chile and were told that we needed to go back and get our passports processed out. We rode back and went to the first agent and he didn’t seem to understand what the issue was. A second person that had come into the office said that we needed to go to the police station that was across the rail yard that is across the road from the offices. We could just make out a flag behind some rail cars so we set out to walk across the rail yard and find the police. We found a building that looked kind of official and knocked on the door. After a few moments a sleepy policeman opened the door, asked us in one at a time and processed us out of Bolivia. We rode the four miles back to Chile and were greeted by officials that actually knew what they were doing and seemed to care about making the entry as easy for us as possible.

Here's the building, the only new one in the country, where we checked our bikes out of Bolivia.


Over there, to the left end of the orange car on the right...see the flag sticking up.


Try the door on the left, I think I hear snoring coming from behind it.



We then found that there was no gas station in the town and there was no way we had enough gas to get to the next town of Calama. After asking around we were told to go to this Hostel/Restaurant and that they may have gas. They did have gas, at $12.00 a gallon, but at this point they had us over the proverbial barrel. It was getting late too so we booked a room and went to the back of the building where a woman took gas from a drum, put it into a jug and filled our tanks. Nothing was really cheap but at least we had what we needed to proceed the next day.
 
Fill er up.




Calama, Chile 11/9
We were told the road to Calama was in great shape and we could make it there in less than two hours. Well, it was better than what we had been on in Bolivia, but it was no super highway. It had it’s share of washboard and sand and deep gravel but it was still an improvement but no way to do it in less than two hours. Oh, and once again we were stopped for road construction. This time they were blasting. At least we got to see it from where we were stopped for an hour or so.

Still many salt flats and places where the road went across them. But, we were making good time.


There were even flamingos in some of the marsh area of the salt flats. I think they were looking for Orlanda, Florida.



I guess I said good time one time too many.



By the time we got to Calama we were seeing a vastly different country side from what we had seen in the north. As we rode in Joe said to me, “You know, this could be any town in West Texas”. It appeared we were back in the modern world. No more adobe huts, trash everywhere, drivers that didn’t know what traffic rules were and no black smoke belching vehicles. It was a refreshing change and one that we welcomed. Prices were higher but that was ok.

Chanaral, Chile 11/10
La Serena, Chile 11/11
Leaving Calama we headed toward Santiago where I would stay and await the arrival of my wife and Joe would catch a flight out for a vacation from his vacation. There wasn’t too much to see but rocks, sand and
some far-between towns. The route eventually took us along the coast and while it wasn’t always spectacular, it was a nice change and interesting. As with riding along the coast in Peru, there was a strong wind and it was cool, but the roads were superb. The two towns we stopped in were interesting and nice too. And I’ll say it again, everyone we met was as friendly and helpful as we could ever hope to find.


Land for sale, make an offer, any offer.


Still waiting on that offer.



Even on the coastal highway.

 
Santiago, Chile 11/12 until 11/25
We checked into the RA Hostel in Santiago. It is a pretty small place, converted from a home, but is well kept and the two men running it, Alfredo and Francisco, are great to work with. I spent a week there before my wife, Karen, arrived and I enjoyed the time. The hostel is located in a primarily residential district of the Providencia area of Santiago. It is two blocks from the subway, main streets, shops, a huge multi level mall containing high end stores, many restaurants and cafes. It was in a place where I felt comfortable day or night walking around. The streets are tree lined and well kept. Oh, and there is a Starbucks only a few blocks away so we could finally get some good coffee. If you are looking for an inexpensive place that is clean and in a safe area, you should check it out.
 
They say Santiago has a stray dog problem. They are pretty tame, don't bark and don't even raise up when people step over them. These are laying on the walk about 50 yards from the Presential Palace.
 
 
When my wife arrived, I changed to a nice modern hotel because she had been telling me that for my being able to take this trip, she expected to be treat well. I heard the message and so went for the 5 star rating. And the hotel was fantastic too. We stayed a total of five nights at the Best Western Premier Marina Las Condes.It wasn’t like any Best Western that I’ve stayed in before. Our five nights were broken into two sets with side visits to Mendoza, Argentina and Valparaiso, Chile.
 
Mendoza, Chile 11/25,26
For Mendoza, Karen and I climbed on the KTM and headed for the border. It was a nice ride and went well. Our only difficulty was in finding out that to go into Argentina one has to pass the first border control building and go another 10 miles or so to the second one. Take your vehicle inside the border control building and the officials from Chile will process you and your vehicle out and those from Argentina will process you in. It worked very well and was efficient. One needs to realize that if buses are present, there will be long lines of people waiting to get checked in or out but we were able to go to an open line for individual travelers.
We stayed at the Casa Lila in Mendoza. It is a small B&B with only four rooms. The rooms were built strictly for use as a B&B and are nice and comfortable with a great yard area for sitting or having a bite. The owner speaks English and was quite helpful. While there we went on a wine tour that was arranged by the owner of the B&B. If travelers are looking for wine testing’s like the ones back in the states, they may be disappointed. The testing’s were all at vineyards that require reservations and that charge. But, they were great and the tour was very nice. There were two couples and we were driven to four different vineyards where we were given generous samples and at the last one we were provided a late lunch of grilled meats. When we returned from the tour, Karen and I walked around a nearby park. As is often the case in South America it was some kind of holiday and we were treated to some music and costume dancing and many picnickers.

Leaving Mendoza.

 
Valparaiso, Chile 11/27,28
We left Mendoza for a visit to the port city of Valparaiso. This is where Karen was able to experience the great experience of Road Construction Delay. Things went well and we easily completed checking out of Argentina and back into Chile. As we headed down the highway we quickly came to a barrier and a stop sign. We were told that there was to be blasting ahead and we would have to wait. The blasting didn’t happen for well over an hour and then another hour to clean it up. But, because the road ahead was reduced to one lane we had to wait our turn to go and those folks below had to come up first. The problem was right in the middle of 29 switchbacks that are one after the other on the Chilean side and traffic was halted before either end of them. The result was that it took a long time for groups of vehicles to travel through the area in one direction before the opposing vehicles could go. All told it took over three hours before we were allowed to proceed. And the great part, we were the first people not to get to go before the delay. So, had we been five minutes earlier, we would have had no delay at all. At least now Karen knows why I can’t always make it to a destination when I said I would be there.

The buildings in Valparaiso.


The Yellow House in near the center.



Here's a look at some of the switchbacks. They have yellow road signs at the corners so you know where you are.


It's hard to see but Karen is giving it a thumbs down. Oh, another caption could be "Honey, does this riding suit make me look f@#?" But I would never say that. Nor would I say that all the insulated liners and sweaters may have the Michelin Man chasing you around. Oh, she's going to kill me. But, she was warm and that was the whole idea.


In Valparaiso we stayed at The Yellow House. It is a multi level house on the side of a hill. While it’s not brand new, it was well kept and the owner was very friendly and is English speaking. The architecture of the city is quite interesting. Many of the homes are built on the sides of the hills and are multi level with the rooms stacked one on top of the other. The homes are painted in all colors imaginable and many have “graffiti” painted on the outsides. But, the “graffiti” isn’t street gang type. It is put there by artists and is intricate and well done. We were warned about pick pockets and people that would snatch and run with things left dangling but we saw nothing that left us uneasy. We walked around the streets, shops and sea coast and had a very enjoyable time.
 
Santiago, Chile 11/29,30 12/1,2
All too soon it was time for us to return to our hotel in Santiago so we mounted the KTM again and made our way back to the city. We had enjoyed our earlier time there and continued to move about the city. We took full advantage of the subway transit system. It is easy to figure out and if one has used subways anywhere they will have no problem with it. The system was clean and the trains ran frequently. On the first day that we were in Santiago we had gone on a walking tour of the old city and we headed back to revisit some of the areas where we had been before. If one has some time, I would recommend on of the walking tours because they acquaint one with the area and add a lot of history too. And, if you are in the area and want a great meal, be sure and make reservations for the restaurant Como Agua para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). I had my doubts because it is in a book and a movie and sometimes things aren’t the same in the real world. Well, Karen wanted to go there and I will say that the food was excellent and the atmosphere was also excellent. The notoriety hasn’t hurt the restaurant at all.

Here's my beautiful wife in the restaurant but she's standing with some old gray-bearded guy. I think she can do better.



A final though for Santiago. As I sat on a street side park bench, on more than one occasion, I couldn’t help but think that if I didn’t know where I was, I could have been on a street in Manhattan or many other US or European cities and it would look and feel the same. Chile is not a third world country but is very modern and can be visited with comfort and safety.

Temuco, Chile 12/2
San Martin de los Andes, Argentina 12/3,4
San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina 12/5
There’s not a lot to say about these three cities where we stayed other than we spent the days riding in the rain and nothing eventful happened. The border crossing went well and the only thing that set it apart from other border crossings was that it was in the rain and mud and cold. San Martin de los Andes reminds me of any mountain tourist resort area. It has the same look and feel and is reliant on the tourist trade. We stayed an extra day there mainly because I was suffering from a cold and wanted an extra day of rest. We were in a place that probably went for a lot more during the winter ski season but it was reasonable and comfortable.

Welcome to Argentina.


About 15 miles on each side of the border are not paved and that's not too bad on the Chile side because of good gravel, but the Argentine side has lots of soft sand and some mud.


Getting on into Argentina and some beautiful country.



Esquel, Argentina 12/6,7
We stayed an extra day in Esquel for a couple of reasons. One, and a small one, was that by this time Joe was in the middle of his own cold (probably thanks to the one I was getting over) and he had just crashed his motorcycle about a hundred kilometers back. What happened was that he hit a bus. While going around a highway corner at about 65 mph, he looked at his GPS and let his bike wonder across the center line. A bus traveling the other way was coming around the corner and hugging the center line. Joe saw it a split second before impact and tried to move but he hit the side of the bus and it knocked him over, tore his side cases off, ground down and broke his engine crash guard, ground down the left side passenger peg and shredded his rain pants and jacket. He was lucky and one can be and his only injuries were a sore wrist, scraped elbow and sore big toe. The bike even did pretty well. The engine guard was repaired by a local welder and the left side case is now held on by straps. Everything else appears fine. The bus had a 15 to 20 foot crease in it at the luggage compartment level. The local police took down the information from Joe and the bus driver and asked Joe what he wanted to do. He said nothing so they said ok that he could go. They then had him follow them to where the welder was so he could get his bike fixed. I’m sure he will give more of an account on his blog. Oh, we didn’t photograph anything so nothing to show. I didn’t see anything because I was a few minutes ahead waiting at a gas station and only found out the details when the bus and Joe showed up and went to the police station.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD, EXPECIALLY AT TURNS.
__________________
"Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," ~Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

Cisco_k screwed with this post 12-12-2012 at 05:56 PM Reason: Add photos
Cisco_k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2012, 02:16 PM   #70
knthrall
n00b
 
Joined: Sep 2012
Oddometer: 5
Hey, I got mentioned on the blog!

I wanted to reinerate that yes, Chuck showed me a wonderful time. If any of you guys are considering a simlilar journey, remember to be good to your wives/girlfriends ! Behind every great adventure rider is a good woman!
knthrall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2012, 12:53 PM   #71
Cisco_k OP
Chuck
 
Cisco_k's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Oddometer: 42
Rio Mayo 12/8
We left Esquel early so we could get a long ride in and make it to Rio Mayo with plenty of time to find a place to stay. The ride was through rolling hills and plains. While the scenery was interesting, it was more of the same thing that we had seen for the last several hundred miles. What really made an impression was the wind. We were finally down on the Argentinean plains and the wind was fierce. At times it was all one could do to keep their bike in their lane. It was the first time that I’ve made a fairly sharp left turn at highway speed and kept leaning to the right throughout the turn.

As it turned out, finding a place to stay wasn’t much of a problem since we could only find two places and they were within a block of each other. We ended up staying in the Hotel Akata. The night before we left I found a review for the Akata on the internet. The review said it wasn’t a great place to stay and that the room smelled musty. I’ll have to say that in this case, the review was correct. We picked the hotel over the other one because at least there were cars in front of it and the other one looked pretty bad and no one was there. The owner was friendly and it also had a restaurant where we could eat. The owner ended up pan frying two steaks each for us. He also cooked up some papas fritas and made a salad. The steaks were very thin and a little tough but they had a good flavor. It was the best in town and the only thing on the menu for the night.

The towns streets are gravel and the wind was howling and blowing up clouds of dust. It reminded one of a cheap western movie. Joe had some problems making it to town and we figured it may have been dirty fuel filters so right there in front of the hotel, in the wind and dust, he took his gas tank off, removed the fuel pump assembly and cleaned the filters. At least there was no worry about spilling gasoline or acetone on the street. The biggest problem was the dust blowing in ones eyes.

Leaving Rio Mayo


We get to Ruta 40 ripio (gravel)



Bajo Caracoles 12/9
We left Rio Mayo about mid morning and headed for our first encounter with Ruta 40 ripio (Highway 40 gravel road). Accounts that I had read indicated that the most difficult thing about riding on Ruta 40 was that the gravel was deep and one had to ride in ruts left by cars but that staying in the rut was difficult because of the gusting wind. It turns out that the reports were exactly on track. In some places the loose gravel was as much as five inches high between the ruts and if one were to ride into it, their bike would do some crazy fish-tailing while they tried to regain control. Despite the wind, we kept our bikes under control and didn’t have any problems. I was, as usual, the slowest one and Joe had to stop and wait on me several times.

We had been told that the only gas for about 300 miles was in Bajo Caracoles and that it was also the only place to stay for about the same distance. We stopped and filled up our bikes and the extra tanks and also checked into the hotel. The town has only about 300 people, although I think that could be high, and the gas station is also the restaurant and general store. As in Mayo, the restaurant had only one item on the menu for dinner. Tonight we had spaghetti with meat sauce. Joe and I didn’t think it was too bad but a couple of Italian riders that had stopped for the night didn’t think it measured up. The next morning we had the usual breakfast that is offered by many of these places…toast, jam, instant coffee and mystery juice.

The gas station, hotel, general store and restaurant.


The view at sunset was amazing.


 
El Calafate 12/10,11,12
Riding to El Calafate saw the most ripio that we had seen. We probably rode about 150 miles of gravel and an equal amount of asphalt. The gravel that we did ride was pretty rough in most places because it consisted of mostly temporary roads as they work to put asphalt down on Ruta 40. In fact, of the total time we rode on Ruta 40, all but perhaps 60 miles of it was being worked on to put down asphalt. My guess is within two years all but a short section here and there will be finished. For those wanting to ride the old traditional ripio, they will be left with very little of the old excitement. For those that prefer pavement, they will have an easy time.

El Calafate is a tourist town no doubt about it. If it were not for the nearby glaciers and ski areas there wouldn’t be anything there but a little ranch town. Everywhere one looks there are little lodges and restaurants and shops selling outdoor equipment. It also seems to be a Mecca for the backpackers. The hostel where we stayed was overflowing with them. I guess it must be an age thing with the backpackers that we have encountered lately but they don’t seem to even want to talk to us. Other folks that are passing through and staying where we stay are open, friendly and engaging.

Our reason for going to El Calafate was to see the glaciers so we booked a trip on a boat that would go to five different ones on lake Argentino. Our bus left the hostel at 7:15 a.m. the next morning and headed to Punta Bandera where we boarded a tour boat for our trip to the glaciers. Wanting to have a good view and some room, we purchased seats in what they referred to as the Captains Lounge. It had large leather seats with lots of room and large windows on three sides. In addition, we found out that the drinks were free and they also provided some snacks. As it turned out, it was probably a good thing that we took a bus and didn’t have to ride back to town.

The cruise to the glaciers was very nice. We got up close to them and the host and hostess in the lounge also served as tour guides and explained a lot of what we were seeing. When we wanted to, we could also go out on deck and get a really clear view of them. The weather was cold and at times wet but we could quickly warm up inside the boat. The cruise lasted close to 8 hours and was well worth the time and money. The glaciers start in a mountain range that includes Monte Fitz Roy, which members of the climbing world will recognize. I wanted to get a photograph of Monte Fitz Roy the previous day when we rode past the end of Lago Viedma but there was nothing to be seen but fog, haze, high clouds and bands of rain that didn't make it to the ground. I think that is the normal weather.

We stayed an extra day in El Calafate so we could relax a bit, catch up our blogs and shop for some things. It was a pretty laid back time but we’re well ahead of schedule for making it to Ushuaia before the world ends so we are taking it easy for the last part of our trip down.

The ride down to El Calafate. If it looks cold, it's because it was.


On the road to the port.



The Captains Lounge.


The captain wanted me to take the helm through some difficult passages. Joe can't watch.


The glaciers flow down and around part of the mountain.


A closer view.


A view from further back.



Punta Arenas 12/13,14,15
Riding to Punta Arenas was more or the same thing we have been doing except the wind was not as severe. The weather has been mostly overcast in the mid 40’s and there has been very little rain while we rode. We had about 50 miles of gravel where Ruta 40 makes a cut off from the paved road that goes on southeast to the Atlantic coast. The gravel wasn’t deep here but the road was rough. I’m not sure where they get all the fist sized rocks that are packed into the surface but a rock crusher and some sizing screens would do wonders.

We searched around a little for a place to stay. The place that we had intended to stay ended up in a not too nice area of town and it didn’t have much to offer in the way of a room either. We ended up in the Hotel Chalet Las Violetas, which isn’t too bad and had a pretty good rate too. It’s close to the town square and several restaurants and shops.

While here we’ve done a little bike maintenance and shopping too. Joe is still trying to replace the rain suit that he destroyed when he crashed. He found something way back in Esquel but the but split out the first day he rode in it. I took my bike to a mechanic and had a new rear tire mounted (I had been carrying it since Santiago) and also had my chain adjusted and a couple of other things done. The place where I took it is a fantastic shop if anyone is ever in the area and needs work.

The place where I took my bike was one that we were told about by a couple of riders from Australia back in El Calafate. They couldn’t say enough good things about the place and it was as nice as what they had told me. If anyone needs mechanical work or if one need tires or filters or other items it’s the place to go. He stocks Heidenau K60 Scout tires in 19 and 21 inch fronts and 17 and 18 inch rears. (By the way, I had over 9,000 miles on my Heidenau K60 Scout rear tire and could have done another 1,000 but it made sense to change it here because of where my next change will be. The front will make it until the next rear change.) His name is Alejandro Lago and he speaks pretty good English too. He maintains the bikes for a couple of adventure rental companies and had several BMW’s of various sizes and a KLR or two in his shop. The shop is spotless and no bike comes in the door before he has given it a thorough washing. He can be reached at alelago44@gmail.com or phoned at 96401233, fax (56)(61)212737. His place is located at Ona 0471, Punta Arenas, Chile. If one goes there, don’t look for a sign but look for the address. The building is blue with yellow trim.

We plan on leaving in the morning on the 9:00 a.m. ferry for Porvenir, Chile. From there it should only take us a day to get to Ushuaia. If anyone has been following my Spot tracks, they may notice that not too many of them are showing up and I haven’t gotten an end of day message sent and received for several days. We are so far south that if the view north isn’t absolutely clear, Spot can’t see the satellites that will are now low on the northern horizon. When riding south, my body blocks the signal and when riding east or west, I have to ride one handed with my north side arm at my side.
__________________
"Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," ~Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

Cisco_k screwed with this post 12-15-2012 at 01:21 PM Reason: Add Photos
Cisco_k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2012, 03:24 PM   #72
jmn
Adventurer
 
Joined: Nov 2009
Oddometer: 11
Chuck , good to see you and Karen had a nice "vacation from vacation' also.



Jeff
jmn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2012, 05:51 PM   #73
Cisco_k OP
Chuck
 
Cisco_k's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Oddometer: 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmn View Post
Chuck , good to see you and Karen had a nice "vacation from vacation' also.



Jeff
Thanks Jeff. It was very nice to have Karen here for several days. As good as it is riding with Joe, there are just some ways that we're not compatable. Karen will return for another week when I'm in northern Brazil and Joe takes another vacation to see his son pitch. Hope all is going well in Houston.
__________________
"Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," ~Archbishop Fulton J Sheen
Cisco_k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2012, 01:11 PM   #74
Cisco_k OP
Chuck
 
Cisco_k's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Oddometer: 42
Punta Arenas to San Sebastian Argentina - 12/16
Today we are taking a ferry across the Straits of Magellan and will end up on the island of Terra del Fuego. We had to be at the ferry terminal before 8:30 a.m. for our 9:30 a.m. departure to Porvenir, Chile so we were up at 6:00 a.m. 6:00 a.m. is kind of early for us now days because we have adjusted to the life-style of the locals and don’t eat dinner until around 9:00 p.m. and end up getting to bed after mid-night. It wasn’t a problem for us but there was a sleepy eyed young lady from the hostel that had to get up to give us our breakfast and let us out.

We had to get our bikes out from the side of the building and then pack them for our trip. We had taken our cases off because we couldn’t fit through the hostels gate with anything sticking out to the sides. It had been raining a little during the night and lucky for us, it started raining pretty hard as we went outside. The rain continued until we were almost across the straight. We’re getting use to riding in the rain and one had better get use to it because down here it rains off and on every day.

The ferry crossing went pretty well and the cost was only about $20.00 US for each of us and our bikes. $20.00 apiece isn’t too bad when one considers that it’s a 2 ½ hour crossing. There were a lot of people crossing without vehicles and seating was pretty crowded but fairly comfortable.

The sun was just coming out when we arrived in Porvenir. It gave us a false hope as it soon disappeared and a light drizzle started. The road to the Argentine border isn’t paved but it wasn’t bad for the first 10 or 15 kilometers and then for about 10 it turned into sticky clay mud. Someone in the roads department had decided that it was better to surface that section of road with dirt rather than the gravel that we found everywhere else. Once the dirt got wet it was almost impossible to get through. It stuck to our tires and at times the front tire would stop turning with mud caked between the wheel and fender. For a lot of the 10 kilometers we were paddling along with our feet trying to keep our bikes up and out of the ditch. On one hill I thought we would never get to the top as we kept bogging down, turning sideways and sliding into the ditch. Finally we got through the worst of it and only had to contend with washboards and pot holes.

As has been the case, border crossings were no problem. For leaving the country one presents their passport and a little 4” by 4” slip of paper that was filled out and stamped upon entry. Next one goes to the Aduna window and presents the paper that was received upon entry and covers the motorcycle. Then go to the entry immigration point and do essentially the same thing except one is filling out the forms and getting receipts for presentation upon departure. At some of the border crossings there is a little inspection of the bikes to make sure fruits, vegetables and other food stuffs are not brought into the country. The whole process has generally been very easy and the agents have always been friendly and helpful.

The two border crossings are several kilometers apart and in towns with the same names of San Sebastian. I wouldn’t call them a real town because there isn’t much at either one except the immigration service and one or two other buildings. There is a hostel in each one but the one in Chile is very small and I’m not sure of the other services there. The one in Argentina is pretty large and we stayed at it. Also, the road turns to asphalt in Argentina so we knew we had easy riding for the trip to Ushuaia and so it make a good place to stop. Where we stopped also had the benefit of a restaurant. At a gas station next to the hostel we filled up for our trip to Ushuaia and the operator also let us use a hose behind the building to wash the mud off of our bikes.

We’re sitting in our room now waiting for the rain to slow down for our trip south. If it goes on too long, we’ll have to just ride in it.

The bikes sat outside our room window waiting to get started.

 
San Sebastian, Argentina to Ushuaia - 12/17
The rain kept up and didn’t seem to be slowing down so we decided to ride in it. It was about 41 degrees F when we left in a steady rain. It was cold but not too bad with my heated jacket liner and really great rain tight riding jacket and pants. I’ll give more of a product review when this ride ends but to date I have had no problems with gear and except when it was extremely hot and humid in Colombia, I’ve been able to regulate temperature with the amount of exposure I allow. For those interested I’m riding in a Firstgear TPG Escape Pants and a Firstgear Rainier Jacket. They were not cheap but they really do work. No problem with getting wet and they have multiple vents that can be opened or closed to adjust for temperature. And, the great thing is that when it starts to rain, all I do is zip everything up and I don’t give a second thought to stopping and getting out rain gear. On the ride down to Ushuaia, as well as the ride in several other places, we went in and out of rain and the temperature was all over the place. It was very nice to deal with only one riding suit.

Except for when we got close to Ushuaia, the traffic was very light and we made good time. For the first three quarters of the ride the scenery was mostly flat to rolling plains with grazing cattle, sheep and the ever present llamas. There is some coastal riding but it is limited and flat so that there are no spectacular views. As we closed in on our destination the terrain changed to hills and then mountains and lakes. The mountains were all snow capped and to my surprise we had to go over a pass to get to Ushuaia. I was unaware of the mountains that separate it from the rest of the island. While the pass was pretty low, about 2,600 feet, it was very beautiful with lakes, rivers and lush forests. It is also quite steep so there is a great view on either side of the summit.

A note to anyone riding down here is to fill up with gasoline whenever they can. We filled up at San Sebastian and with only 180 miles to Ushuaia we figured we would make it easily. When we were close to 40 miles out I looked at my instruments to check on the temperature and was surprised to see that the temperature had fallen to 3.6 degrees F. After some thinking about it I looked again and realized that I had been on my reserve for 3.6 miles and it was about 35 miles to town. The problem was that we had been riding into a strong head wind and didn’t realize it because it hadn’t moved the bikes around. For the rest of the ride to town I was in a slower gas saving mode and coasting down from the pass and hills. We could have filled up at Rio Grande but didn’t think it was necessary. We did make it to town but found that there are only two gas stations in town and they both had four block lines so we decided to go to our hostel and deal with it later. Joe ran out of gas trying to get his bike off the street and parked at the hostel. Luckily I had left about two cups of gas in one of my auxiliary tanks and we used that to get him off the street.


The trees seemed stunted and with more moss than leaves.

 
The view was picking up.



As we approached the pass.



Ushuaia, Before the End of the World - 12/18,19,20
There is a lot more town here than either of us expected. It seems to be based more on tourism than anything else, although there is a port which has kept busy load and unloading container ships. There is a small naval presence and coast guard here too. Cruise ships and tour boats to Antarctica are plentiful too. I’m not sure about a fishing fleet but there are several restaurants that feature fresh fish and king crabs. Avenida San Martin seems to be the main tourist and commerce street with shops and restaurants lining its length. The city is a nice city with clean streets and one has a secure feeling walking about. And, walking is one thing that we do a lot of because we park our bikes in all towns and walk or take taxies. Dinner ranges from three quarters to a mile away but trips to the grocery are within blocks. Oh, and when going to the grocery, take your own bag because they don’t furnish them here. It seems to be the custom in tourist towns because this isn’t the first place where we have encountered it.

On our second night in town we were treated to a labor protest. As we walked down Avenida San Martin looking for a place to eat dinner, we noticed that trucks, all kind of trucks, were parked down the middle of the street for probably 20 blocks. Some of the trucks had drivers sitting inside them and some sat unoccupied. As we proceeded we saw large stacks of wooden pallets at a few of the corners and in the distance we could see smoke and fires. No one seemed really concerned and we walked on toward the fires. Finally when we got about two blocks away we decided to go into a restaurant where we could eat and watch from a distance. As we ate there were pallets piled up and set on fire about half a block from us. Still no one seemed too excited. People were walking along with their kids and taking photos and the police would just walk past and even say hello to some of the drivers. We asked our waiter about it and he made a motion with his thumb and fingers that indicated it was about money and the drivers wanting higher wages. After a few hours the trucks left, the street was cleaned up and everything went back to normal. While walking back to our hostel we did come upon a street full of garbage where a garbage truck must have dumped its load in front of the local government office. It was a very peaceful demonstration where there were no power struggles between the police and labors and a point was made and everyone left probably feeling a little better having made their statement.

Yesterday we took a tour boat for a ride in the Beagle Channel to visit some islands and look at the sea lions and other birds. We also visited an archeological sight where the indigenous people had lived many years ago. Having been to the Galapagos Islands a couple of months ago, it wasn’t a jaw-dropping trip for us but it was interesting and gave us something to do as we await the end. The boat was pretty small with only about 18 or 20 tourist and a crew of three which included our guide. We were, as seems the usual case, the senior members but they still treated us well. It seems that there are many young people taking long vacations and traveling to the places where we’ve been. But, the young people don’t seem to be from the USA. Europeans by fare make up the majority of the tourists. From what I’ve seen, people in the USA don’t have nearly as much vacation time when they are young and they seem to have more commitments, like kids, that keep them from leaving for a month or six weeks. Also, I think that Europeans tend to travel to more distant places in other countries while in the USA we travel to other states and for shorter periods of time for our vacations.

Today, the 20th, we were going to go to the park that is at the End of the World (end of the road) but there is a steady rain. It looks like we will go tomorrow rain or shine because we don’t want to miss the End of the World at the End of the World.

The mountains start at the edge of town.



Another view from the bay.


Did someone bring the mashmallows?


The trucks were down the middle of the street.


Please dispose of litter properly.


Long days. This is with natural light at about 10:45 p.m.



Coast Guard on the left, cruise and tour boats on the right.



Leaving Ushuaia.


The big guy thinks he owns the island.



Looking toward the Atlantic Ocean.



There were several lighthouses for navagation. They have been converted to solar power.



One needs all the lighthouses to keep out of this part of the channel.



This is a small depression where a village hut once stood.


There sits the SS Minnow. Good for us it was a four hour tour.


That's Chile on the other side of the channel. It's cold too.




There may or may not be anymore posts. It all depends upon whether or not we are here after tomorrow. But, if there are no more posts, that means there is no one to read them either so I guess it will not be a problem. Then again, if there are posts, our friend George is going to have some explaining to do at the bank about why he can’t pay for his new Lamborghini.
__________________
"Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," ~Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

Cisco_k screwed with this post 12-20-2012 at 02:28 PM Reason: Add photos
Cisco_k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2012, 03:25 PM   #75
GHT
Weeee Rider!!!
 
GHT's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: League City, TX
Oddometer: 162
Thumb

You are so right....

Hope to here from you guys tomorrow, I'll be looking for a loan!
__________________
'08 Suzuki DL650 WeeStrom (Yellow/Black)
'08 Yamaha WR250R (Blue)
'03 KTM 450 EXC (Sold)
'03 Yamaha FJR 1300 (sold)
'06 Suzuki DRZ400SM/S (sold) '06 Suzuki M50 (sold) '05 Kawasaki KLR (sold)
GHT is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 02:31 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014