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Old 01-16-2014, 05:57 AM   #571
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The Lagunas Route

Day 130 and 131 The Lagunas Route. Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama Chile January 12 & 13

What an exciting day for me. This route was one of the first things I plotted when I started my plan more than three years ago. I read a great ride report on ADVRider called Jammin Through the Global South which documented this route and I wanted to do it.

We started our day by filling up our spare fuel bottles (old vegetable oil bottles and 2L water bottles) because the distance without gas was potentially 430km. We were told that there is a gas station in San Cristobal 90km away but we didn’t want to chance it and took 10 spare litres each. I also filled my 3 MSR Camp stove bottles.



The road to San Cristobal was hard packed dirt and fast.



We did find fuel there so topped up and headed to Vila Alota another 80km of hard pack dirt.



The next 110km was either washboard, loose sand, or both.













This is the northern Park Gate 150 Bolivianos each please



The last section around the south side of Laguna Colorada was soft sand and very challenging in a strong cross wind.



Eran’s KLR is much heavier than my DR and it sank a few times into the sand requiring a push to get moving again.

We reached the spot where I thought there should be some sort of structure but nothing. The sun was almost behind the mountains so we had to make a decision fast. We moved north along the west side of the lake and after a few km we found a little settlement with a lodge. We asked if we could camp and they said yes, why don’t you use this building? So we set up our sleeping bags inside this perfect shelter. The best part is they wanted no money. A good thing considering that we had only 36 Bolivianos between us. This because we were surprised at the national park entrance expecting to pay 50B each but discovered the tourist price is 150B each. By the way, keep your receipt!

The wind died down and we settled into our shelter with a dinner of black beans and bread.

To Bean or not to Bean






During the night a man tried to enter the building. He seemed quite annoyed that we had locked the door but when I let him in he walked right past us and looked in all four rooms off our area and left, weird.

January 13


We awoke to a beautiful morning and had a breakfast of yoghurt and granola with a spot of tea. With a total of 150km to ride today we wanted a good start in case the roads were similar to yesterday.















The first stop would be the Bolivian Aduana (Customs) 33km away.



This building is on the site of a borax plant at least 70km from the border. You must have your vehicle import permit cancelled here or you will be making a long return trip. When we arrived the guard at the gate told us that the official was not there and would return by noon (more or less).

The guard post....Aduana cerrado




The time was 10:15 so we decided to ride to the geysers nearby which was on our list of things to do anyway.
The geysers are more like thermal steam vents but the landscape is pretty cool.











We spent an hour there and returned to the Aduana but had to wait another 90 minutes for the guy to return.

Waiting in the wind at 16,500 feet




He quickly stamped and returned a copy of our papers then we set off for the actual border some 70km away.







The roads were better than yesterday but still tremendous amounts of washboard. Just when you thought you could get going fast, a deep sand section would throw you around.





We passed a cyclist who’s tracks we had been following for two days. He had been on the route for a week already and was pushing his bike much of the way.











About 5km before the border there is a set of buildings that you must stop at. It is the southern park gate and they want to see proof you paid to get in from the north. There is also a little lodge and store there so we spent the last of our Bolivianos on Coca Cola and chocolate bars.





At the border the official wants to see your cancelled vehicle permit, your passport, and the green slip you fill in when entering the country. Very easy and fast.





The catch here is that there are no Chilean border offices. One must travel to San Pedro de Atacama to formally cross into Chile.



The location of the Aduana and migracion (called PDI in Chile) is clearly marked with road signs as you enter the town.
San Pedro is a cool little tourist town and it was full of people following the Dakar. There were many motorcycle tour groups and big bikes galore. After finding a very expensive hotel ($76) I was able to extract cash from an ATM but Eran was not. Fortunately his Visa card worked at the hotel so no big problem but he was naturally quite concerned.
Both of us were exhausted from the past two days and we had a great sleep.
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Old 01-16-2014, 06:19 AM   #572
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Wow, just amazing!



Safe Travels,

.
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:47 AM   #573
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The floating islands of the Uros people, on Lake Titicaca, are interesting and touristy. The visit would have taken about half of you day. My wife and I traveled to Peru in 2010 (non moto). Love your report.

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Old 01-16-2014, 11:04 AM   #574
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Originally Posted by sloperut View Post
The floating islands of the Uros people, on Lake Titicaca, are interesting and touristy. The visit would have taken about half of you day. My wife and I traveled to Peru in 2010 (non moto). Love your report.

I kind of wanted to see them but,

I learned very early on this trip that:

1) your plans will change almost daily
2) you will miss some of the things you wanted to see
3)you can't see everything but each day brings something you didn't plan on that is equally interesting
4) you need to return someday
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:05 AM   #575
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Wow, just amazing!



Safe Travels,

.
It was breathtaking to look at, when I had time to look away from the road
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:18 AM   #576
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Quote:
I learned very early on this trip that:

1) your plans will change almost daily
2) you will miss some of the things you wanted to see
3)you can't see everything but each day brings something you didn't plan on that is equally [or more] interesting
4) you need to return someday
Yes, words to live by when traveling - especially #3.
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:19 AM   #577
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I forgot to mention that when I pulled my bike out of the hostel in Uyuni I was swarmed by people. I'm sure some of them thought I was a racer although it is obvious I'm not to people who know better. A Bolivian T.V. reporter came up to me and asked for an interview which I agreed to advising him I spoke little Spanish. I thought that was pretty cool and made sure he got a shot of the website address!

After we entered Chile we encountered some Dakar race vehicles making a highway transit between two sections. As we approached San Pedro we were following a race car that was diverted by a flagman to the course. The flagman thought we were racers and waved us to follow the race car. Pretty darn funny!
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:15 PM   #578
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Hello,

Would be great to see a track log of the lagunas route if you don't mind sharing.


Nick.



No probs........ just found your spotwalla.........;-)
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:01 PM   #579
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"We started our day by filling up our spare fuel bottles (old vegetable oil bottles and 2L water bottles) because the distance without gas was potentially 430km. We were told that there is a gas station in San Cristobal 90km away but we didn’t want to chance it and took 10 spare litres each. I also filled my 3 MSR Camp stove bottles."

So with the station in San Cristobal the distance between fuel is only 360km? That makes it more doable for me.

Thanks for the info! I don't know if I'll catch up to you (i'm in Caraz now) But I rode with Kyle and Trevor a few times. Great photos and reporting. Buen viaje!

looking forward to hear how the road from atacama over to Salta is. I was thinking of that route as well.
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Old 01-17-2014, 02:24 AM   #580
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There is indeed a gas station in San Cristobal. However I can't say that they will always have fuel. Apparently there is somebody in Vila Alota that sells fuel out of a barrel.

The road to Susques is all paved and a nice ride (Google does not show a road there). You will find a gas station at the border if needed. There are a few hotels just before Susques, particularly nice is the one right at the highway 40 intersection but it's 395 pesos for a double. We rode pavement to Salta on 52. Just before Purmamarca there is a great twisty stretch that drops into the valley and into the heat.
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:29 AM   #581
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Wow...amazing pictures..try to check in with you daily..great stuff!!
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:21 AM   #582
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRRambler View Post
There is indeed a gas station in San Cristobal. However I can't say that they will always have fuel. Apparently there is somebody in Vila Alota that sells fuel out of a barrel.

The road to Susques is all paved and a nice ride (Google does not show a road there). You will find a gas station at the border if needed. There are a few hotels just before Susques, particularly nice is the one right at the highway 40 intersection but it's 395 pesos for a double. We rode pavement to Salta on 52. Just before Purmamarca there is a great twisty stretch that drops into the valley and into the heat.
They will sell gas at the little hostel at the Laguna Colorada if they have any as they normally keep a stash there for the Jeep Tour's Trucks.

Great update... Very nice pics
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:14 PM   #583
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Awesome RR, Dave! I've been following this for the last several weeks, taking my time. I finally caught up tonight. Now I can join the others in sitting on the edge of my seat looking forward to your updates!! :)

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Old 01-18-2014, 12:09 PM   #584
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Wow...amazing pictures..try to check in with you daily..great stuff!!
Thanks for staying tuned. The last few days have been without good internet but I think I can get an update done today

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
They will sell gas at the little hostel at the Laguna Colorada if they have any as they normally keep a stash there for the Jeep Tour's Trucks.

Great update... Very nice pics
we didn't ask if they had fuel there because we didn't need it, but I'm sure it's available if really in need.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob.G View Post
Awesome RR, Dave! I've been following this for the last several weeks, taking my time. I finally caught up tonight. Now I can join the others in sitting on the edge of my seat looking forward to your updates!! :)

Rob
Thanks Rob,

I'll try to get another update posted ASAP
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Old 01-19-2014, 02:48 AM   #585
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Moving away from Dakar

Day 132 January 14 San Pedro to Susques Argentina

Originally we were planning on heading to the coast and catching more Dakar festivities. By the time we got to San Pedro however we both felt we’d seen enough. Prices were inflated everywhere the race came near and the crowds were a bit much.




We decided to head directly to Argentina today and get back to Chile later. Pavement was on both our minds so we chose the Paso Jama which is a main border crossing. In order to get there we needed to back track the way we came 50km and climb back up to 4000 meters.

Climbing back up towards Bolivia







The border was easy because all four officials are in the same room. If not for a bus load of people there before us it would have been very quick. Still, it took only an hour to cross into Argentina where there was a gas station right at the border that accepted Chilean pesos.











We rode to Susques and found a bank machine for some cash. Then we located a hotel right on the intersection with Route 40 where we met some other bikers. It was a little pricey but this seems to be the theme and we are going to have to accept the higher prices from now on.
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