Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Global Reports => Topic started by: Three Dawg on April 25, 2020, 10:12:18 pm

Title: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on April 25, 2020, 10:12:18 pm
As you may know, me and Mrs Three Dawg have taken a few trips abroad with the long suffering 1997 1100GS, fllying or shipping the bike to some interesting destinations south of the equator. This is because we are very busy during our summer, and because we both hate the Scottish winter. This time we decided to try South America as neither of us had been there and we could be sure of some spectacular scenery and a decent amount of gravel roads, which I really enjoy riding. Much planning took place over the preceeding year to make the most of our six weeks, along with some prep for the bike, including refitting my 'Africa' spring for the rear shock and fixing the gear position indicator and a full service.  Not much really, but my 1997 1100GS is a reliable old girl.  I should have replaced the electrical connector for my Garmin - this would come back to irritate me later.

Shipping the bike from Inverness is a bit of a mission - van to London, then plane to Santiago.  Happily The Bike Bus in Aberdeen and Motofreight in Feltham are easy to deal with and take care of everything. 

Off she goes, again...

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We work on the basis that we can do about 300km a day even on gravel without having to push too hard, and it seemed like a route from Santiago in Chile north to the Atacama Desert, then into Bolivia to the Uyuni Salt Flats then down Argentina's famous Ruta 40 to Patagonia and back up to Santiago would be do-able. We were joined on the ride by my mate from the world of Laverda, Rob, and his missus Nicky. They're noobs at this adventure riding lark, but were fully kitted out with a nice 1200 Triple Black. All good to go then at the beginning of November, 15 hours on a 787 to Chile's capital, Santiago. Where the sun is warm and the people are mellow.

Well we nearly didn't make the starting gate - fog at Inveness had grounded everything for most of the day, but fortunately things were beginning to move a bit by the time we arrived at the airport.  Wouild have been bad news if we had to leave the next day - the bike was already in Santiago and the next flight was two days later.

Fog, receding.

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Once safely on board Boeing's finest (?)  from LHR, Mrs 3D seemed happy enough ready for the longest non-stop flight BA operate.

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Did I say l say mellow?  You may remember that back in late 2019 (we were due to arrive on November 1st) Chile was having a fair bit of civil unrest.  So to wind up our travelling companions I mocked up a couple of scenarios.

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Well it amused me anyway. :biggrin:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: katana on April 26, 2020, 10:56:17 am
Sub.   :ricky:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: DUSTRIDERS on April 26, 2020, 11:36:29 am
Cannot wait for the rest!! :thumleft: :drif:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on April 26, 2020, 01:26:09 pm
Anyway, in view of the ongoing aggro in downtown Santago we organised a quick change of hotel away from the city centre and a slight reshuffling of the route meant we should avoid any trouble - not that foreigners often get caught up in stuff like this unless they're stupid, and in fact it worked out quite well as we didn't have much time to get the bikes out of customs as we arrived on a Friday so being near the airport was quite handy.

Rob and Nicky arrived a day or two earlier than we did and had already got the 1200 out of the airport so I just followed him around to various offices and the bike was mine in about four hours or so. Easy, especially if you ask for a Black and Decker to undo all the screws holding the crate together.  I have to mention the freight agent in Santiago here, Julio Harboe, who made it all super easy and also stored the bags we couldn't take with us.  What a guy. 

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Screen, mirrors and rack extension plate back on and we are good to go. Clean as!  This bike is ancient, but it's paid for and it is stone dead reliable.  Just what you need for this kind of thing.

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After a good night's kip (we'll gloss over the horror of me finding prawns in my tomato soup at dinnner), the following day we headed north out of Santiago towards Salamanca, a straightforward 300km or so. However, after approximately 100 yards I took a wrong turn down a one-way street and lost Rob. We didn't see them again until we got to Salamanca.  Literally lost 'em within sight of the hotel.  Sheesh...

Ready to rock and roll.  Looking forward to adding a few more countries to the beak.

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Getting off the superb but dull blacktop once we cleared the city, heading up into the hills we passed through quite a few rough-hewn tunnels like this. Only wide onough for a car you set off down one hoping that some maniac wasn't coming the other way, especially in the ones that had a curve in the middle.

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Regrouping in Salamanca we headed out for a beer. We found a nice wee place, but couldn't help noticing the VERY drunk guy at a table nearby who was clutching on to a screwdriver like his life depended on it. Attempts to shift him by the staff failed, but eventually he left of his own accord. We later spotted him in the town square, slumped on a bench still holding his screwdriver.

The follwing day gave us our first proper taste of gravel to Vicuna. We were both getting to grips with the bikes and stopped occasionally to play with tyre pressures. We also used our Desert Fox fuel bags for the first time. I managed to spill some fuel inside Rob's crash helmet, which was an unbelievably dumb thing to do.

Just before filling Rob's lid with unleaded.

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Vicuna is a charming town at the bottom of the Elqui Valley with an excellent craft brewery (they had one of the best new world IPA's I've ever had the pleasure of supping). Rob and I were by the bikes in the hostal's back yard when the ground shook fairly violently. Turned out it was a magnitude 6 earthquake!

Slightly disturbing public art in Vicuna's square.

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Most towns showed some evidence of the protests, but it seemed like this all took place in the evening and then they cleared all the crap away the following morning.  Very civilised.

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There are a great many stray dogs around. They DO NOT like the noise a 1200 makes - Rob was often chased while me, on my purring 1100 was left alone. :ricky:

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We had two days in Vicuna, so headed up the Elqui Valley to Pisco de Elqui. Pisco is a popular spirit in Chile and originated here. A cocktail called a Pisco Sour is very popular, as is Pisco and Coke. We developed a liking for Pisco Sours which are a bit like a Margarita.

Cuatro Pisco Sours por favor!

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Even in the back of beyond, Chilean towns often have very pleasant squares, this is Pisco's.  The road up the valley from Vicuna was cracking snaking along beside heavily irrigated valleys full of vines.

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Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: RobD on April 26, 2020, 03:59:50 pm
 :sip:  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Amsterdam on April 26, 2020, 04:58:03 pm
So many places to explore still.  And a smart idea to go with the reliable bike you have rather than the newest shiniest thing you want.
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Tom van Brits on April 26, 2020, 05:13:03 pm
 :sip: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Ri on April 26, 2020, 05:19:02 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on April 26, 2020, 05:33:24 pm
Quote
So many places to explore still.  And a smart idea to go with the reliable bike you have rather than the newest shiniest thing you want.

I'm sure the latest hot poop from BMW would be a marvellous thing, but I'm not rich enough to have a new bike and do these trips. 8)    I would always take my own bike if it is economically sensiible. Shipping to Chile was expensive, but then renting a GS is very spendy there too - I think about $US210 per day, and I'm not sure if you can take a rental out of Chile.  I usually figure on breaking even after about 4 weeks, but it can be sooner - shipping to New Zealand was a lot cheaper as the bike went by sea both ways and we have friends there who looked after it before we arrived..  Of course you have the thing set up the way you want it, and you don't have to worry about every little scratch you put on it.

Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on April 26, 2020, 06:39:07 pm
OK, let's see if we can get to our first major stop: San Pedro de Atacama. The next couple of days out of Vicuna were basically slabbing it up to SPdeA. Plenty of it was done on the Pan American Highway (Ruta 5), but it wasn't all bad. Coming down to the coast at La Serena we saw plenty of evidence of unrest around the university, and we had to weave our way through quite a lot of debris on the road from the previous night's protests. 

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We were able to duck inland and find more interesting roads north, almost completely devoid of traffic. This took us right into the Atacama Desert which I believe is the driest on earth. Any water that is there has come down from the mountains.

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Oiled mine road.

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We overnighted in Copiapo, where those Chilean miners got stuck underground for a month or so. The hotel was all boarded up, clearly there had been some trouble, but any aggro was directed at the police barracks oposite and the bikes were safely in the underground car park.  It was faintly bizarre to sit there enjoying a steak and some wine with all hell breaking loose just down the road in the main square..

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More tarmac down to Taltal the folowing day.  There was so little traffic.

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Taltal was a nice little place, and we had booked a simple hotel right on the shoreline.  "Yes yes, bring them up to the door and park them in everyone's way."  At least I think that was what the receptionist said, my Spanish ain't that hot. ;D

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Again, the shady pleasant square that they do so well.

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The next day were were heading for Antofagasta (a fairly short day) and would be able to visit  'La Mano del Desierto' the Hand in the Desert, pretty much a must see around there. I've seen lots of pictures of it defaced with graffiti, but they seem to be keeping it clean now.  There was a steady stream of people heading up from the road to get their pics, but we managed some without anyone else in them.

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The run down to the coast at Antofagasta was grim - definitely not a place to linger unless you look good in a hard hat. Checking in to the hotel was a farce - they wouldn't start the process until 3pm (we arrived at abot 2), and then lost my booking while seemingly having three for Rob. Hopeless. Anyway, they did redeem themselves by providing an excelent barbecued meal that evening.  I mention the meal because by and large the food we had was pretty indifferent - don't believe everything you hear about Argentinian steaks.  We eventually worked out that sharing a bunch of starters tapas style worked best.

The next day the fog was down when we left.  This is the same phenomenon with a cold sea current that makes Swakopmund such a chilly place to be in the morning, but once we moved away from the coast normal (sunny) service was resumed.

Coming down to San Pedro De Atacama after refuelling in Calama.  We were starting to gain height - 8000 feet (2500m)  or so in one day so started to take our altitude sickness pills - we expected to top 14000 feet (4300 m) and didn't want to take any chances of getting ill.  Wimps?  Maybe, but we soon noticed the weight of the bikes manoevering them round later in the day - made our heads swim and left us breathless.

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At the excellent Hostal Desert.

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Just enough room to bet the bikes into the courtyard....

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San Pedro is full of springy young things backpacking around and travelling on busses.  It's lively in the evening and great fun, but the reason it's popular is what is around the town.  More on that later.

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All tucked up while their owners go foraging for beer.

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Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: BMWPE on April 26, 2020, 07:02:17 pm
Sub
 :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: alli on April 27, 2020, 11:34:13 am
Subscribed 🤗
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: RobD on April 27, 2020, 11:44:28 am
Epic trip indeed guys!!

Must have taken careful planning around fuel stops etc?

Why the blacked out section of headlight?
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on April 27, 2020, 12:06:22 pm
Yeah, some planning was needed for sure - I don't want to arrive with no ideawhat to see and do (this happens fairly often at my B&B, so much so that we had to put a crib sheet together for bewildered guests) but also because I'm aware of my limitations with a big GS two up and loaded - you won't find me tackling many D roads in Namibia fr'instance.  I tend to do the route and Mrs 3D finds the accommodation and researches what to see, but there is a fair bit of crossover.

You're right about fuel, we both carried Desert Fox fuel bags and used them on three occasions.  Unfortunately there is no South American version of Tracks4Africa, but an app called iOverlander is pretty helpful for up to date info on petrol etc.  At the pace we travel I'm looking at 350km on a tank though, so carrying extra fuel is more for peace of mind.

The black tape on the headlight is to deflect the dipped headlight beam as we were travelling on the 'wrong' side of the road.  Quite a common thing to do here for travelling on the continent.  Probably not really necessary as we never travel after dark, but you can't be sure if some cop might pull you up on it.
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: RobD on April 27, 2020, 12:11:06 pm
Yeah, some planning was needed for sure - I don't want to arrive with no ideawhat to see and do (this happens fairly often at my B&B, so much so that we had to put a crib sheet together for bewildered guests) but also because I'm aware of my limitations with a big GS two up and loaded - you won't find me tackling many D roads in Namibia fr'instance.  I tend to do the route and Mrs 3D finds the accommodation and researches what to see, but there is a fair bit of crossover.

You're right about fuel, we both carried Desert Fox fuel bags and used them on three occasions.  Unfortunately there is no South American version of Tracks4Africa, but an app called iOverlander is pretty helpful for up to date info on petrol etc.  At the pace we travel I'm looking at 350km on a tank though, so carrying extra fuel is more for peace of mind.

The black thing on the headlight is to deflect the headlight beam as we were travelling on the 'wrong' side of the road.  Quite a common thing to do here for travelling on the continent.  Probably not really necessary as we never travel after dark, but you can't be sure if some cop might pull you up on it.

Thanks for the reply!! Valid points I had not considered.... :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: NoRush on April 28, 2020, 06:31:40 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on April 28, 2020, 06:34:18 pm
San Pedro de Atacama - great little place, but it's what is around it that is the draw. I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

Tebinquiche lagoon (and flamingos!) You have to pay a small fee to enter these places, but they seem to be run by the indiginous people, who were extremely helpful. We were able to dump our riding gear with the ladies manning the office while we walked out to where the birds were, just as well as it was bloody hot.

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Moon Valley.  Notice the bicycles - madness, don't these people know about engines?

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After three pleasant nights in SPDA it was time to head north to Ollague and the Bolivian Border. I was looking forward to this - borders and border towns are interesting places, and we would really be travelling in some remote areas to get through to Uyuni in Bolivia.

I wasn't at all sure if we could get fuel in Ollague as from what I had read it was a real one horse town (our booking at the hostal there looked a bit shaky, bad news if we arrived and they has mislaid our booking) so we brimmed the tanks in Calama and filled up our Desert Fox fuel bags. This should be at least enough to get us to San Christobal where there should be fuel.

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The road to Ollague is tarmaced now, but the weather gradually closed in until it became clear that we were heading into a storm, complete with thunder and lightning, which up on the altiplano was very very frightning me! At one point we stopped to see which way it was moving, because i was genuinely worried about our safety. Fortunately it seemed to be movin to the right as we looked at it while the road headed to the left, but we still got pretty wet.

Before the weather closed in Mrs 3D managed to capture some spectacular colours on the mountains.

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Looking less lovely now. And the temperature was dropping like a stone.  Lonely place even with our friends riding along.

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Anyway, we rode through about a half hour of rain to reach Ollague. The hostal weren't expecting us (!) but had rooms anyway. It was a surprisingly comfortable little place considering the location. Ollague is a rail head and border and nothing else, huddled under a large and smoking volcano. Altitude? over 12000 feet (3650 m ). 

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Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on April 29, 2020, 05:29:39 pm
The following morning the border was quiet and we got through without a delay. We'd been warned that we may be asked for a 'tip' but weren't. The guys on the Bolivian side did however warn us about the protests that were ongoing, caused by President Evo Morales trying to seek and third term in office - something the constitution doesn't allow. This means roadblocks and petrol shortages, but he reckoned way out here we'd be OK. You hear about people being delayed for days and days at big roadblocks near Sucre and La Paz, fingers crossed we wouldn't encounter anything. I stashed a few dollar bills in an outside pocket just in case the local plod decided their beer fund needed topping up by some travelling gringos...

Welcome to Bolivia!  Mighty happy to be here, gracias.

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Ah, now this is more like it!  We had a whole day of gravel ahead of us, happy happy. The scenery was stunning. If we were at 12000 feet, how tall were those mountains?

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A few from the Altiplano.  The going was generally very good with only a few sandy sections where work was being done to slow us down.  But it was very remote.

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Some wildlife - lamas

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It was here that Rob couldn't restart his bike after a rest stop. Turned out he had his spare key in the front of his tank bag and the signal from it was confusing the immobilizer. Sorted by banishing it to the top box. Technology eh?

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Anyway, it was a great day's riding in brilliant weather, and presently we rocked up in Uyuni (not needing fuel at San Christobal as the bikes were so economical at our 50mph gravel road cruising speed) to check in to a hotel made entirely from salt.

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Unusual place, reminded us of a plush prison with the arched roof, but it was a decent place to stay with a receptionist who could speak excellent English. She remarked how sad she was at the latest trouble, as it was impacting on business and in fact we witnessed one American guest checking out early because she was worried about the protests. Yanks are such pussies, no wonder they need all those guns.

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Anyway, time for a beer as it's off to the world's largest salt flat tomorrow; the Salar de Uyuni.  For me this was one off the bucket list and I was buzzing - litterally - as the altitude was making my extremeties tingle something rotten.  But did I spray enough ACF50 on my aged machine I wonder?
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on April 30, 2020, 06:28:12 pm
Uyuni. Right on the doorstep of the biggest salt flats in the world. Waaay bigger than Bonneville, the Salar de Uyuni 10500 km2 of white stuff and something I had wanted to see and ride for a very long time. And boy, I was not disappointed. It is an amazing place. But first, a cup of coca tea to steady ourselves and a short run out to the edge of town to see the steam engine graveyard.

Might have over done it on the coca leaves, but at least I would be alert... ::)

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Back into town then out the other side to try to find the entrance to the flats.

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Nope, ain't gonna happen.

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We found a way onto the pan after riding about 20km out of Uyuni at Colchani.  I had a vague idea about what to see - the flags and the Dakar monument, but no idea where they were.  Fortunately the 4 x 4s lay down plenty of rubber so there is an obvious track to follow.  GPS useless, of course.

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I seemed to remember (maybe from Top Gear) that there was an island with a cafe on it somewhere in the middle of the Salar. Following a promising looking track we set of in search of it. Bearing in mind that it's ten thousand square kilometers of flat whiteness...

Found it !  It's called Isla Incahuasi, it's in the centre of the pan, maybe 50 km from the entrance at Colchani.

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I thought at first that my final drive bearing had shat itself, but it was just salt.

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 We mucked around a bit, rode round the island and got lost. The salt got softer and softer until it was like riding on firm sand. We had to basically do some dead reckoning and eventually we found a track that lead us back to where the flags were. Phew!

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There ain't a lot of money going spare in Bolivia - this is Colchani.  We got back to Uyuni and managed to find a jetwash open to remove the worst of the salt.  It was absolutely caked on, gawd knows what it must be like when the salar is wet.  Probably dissolves the bike in front of you.

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Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on May 01, 2020, 06:38:50 pm
As we headed out that evening for another indifferent meal, we noticed the army was on the street.  Not something I would normally photograph, but the women both did.  We seemed to be in a lull in the action in Bolivia (there is actually a 'live' map showing where the roadblocks are) and I was hoping that the following day we could make it to the Argentinian border without any hassle.  Note the 'Dakar' monument in the background - would have been a big deal I guess.

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The following morning there was a colourful market in full swing outside the hotel.

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No cocaine for sale, but plenty of pot...  The girls bought some fruit for the journey - we generally ate by the road.

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Heading south there was evidence of roadblocks - we rode through several, all abandoned, happily - this toll plaza was trashed.

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Diversions. These started to fill me with dread and fear when we came upon them. They basically buldoze a track around where the work is going on in a way you will be familiar with, and the trucks trash it. Rob had already lost it on one section (not this one, we got through here fine) , and I had come bloody close, bucking over a berm so violently that it set off Mrs 3D's electric toothbrush inside the pannier.Very happy I was running a TKC up front!

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A pretty starightforward day down to the border at Villazon/La Quiaca.  For some reason you have to produce insurance here and can't buy it nearby.  I was aware of this, and the  iOverlander app threw up a contact in Salta, Argentina, who would arrange cover.  This was all done over Watsapp for very reasonable cost.  OK, it's fun to chase round at a border sometimes sorting the paperwork out, but not at the end of the day.  The border was very staraightforward, just the temporary import permits to sort really - no carnet needed in South Americ - on the Bolivian side they didn't even bother to stamp us out of the country.

Not far to go after the border, we were staying in La Quaca.  I was delighted to be asked to ride (not push) my bike through reception to the courtyard, another ADV box ticked.

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We were looking forward to the next day - 300 km of gravel on Argentina's famous Ruta 40.  This should have it all, I was stoked!
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on May 06, 2020, 09:56:13 pm
Sooo, Ruta 40. Argentina's iconic road runs down the eastern side of the Andes for 5000 km from La Quiaca to Patagonia. Unfortunately much of it is paved today, but there are still some tasty bits that aren't, and today we were going to have a 300 km full day on probably the best bit, from La Quiaca to a roadhouse called Pastos Chicos near Susques. It is one of the very best days I have had riding my GS. Fast in places, tricky and slow in others, the scenery was never less than epic. No traffic other than the odd mining vehicle, it felt truly remote, and it was here we expected our altitude to top out - quite something as we'd been riding at 12000+ feet since Ollague.

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No, me neither.

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Stop after about 100km to empty the fuel bags.  Those things are so useful.

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You just know you're in for a good day when it looks like this...

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What is this dwelling made of - looks like an upside down 'coil pot' like we made at school in art class.

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There is some water, even out here.  There were a few streams to cross and cool off the boots.

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Church was in decent shape, rest of the village a ruin.  Looked like something out of a spaghetti western.

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This little fella was the only living thing we saw in the village.

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Apples, nuts, slurp of water and good to carry on.

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Just great riding. Less traffic than Namibia - just the odd vehicle from the mines.

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The highest point I saw on my GPS.  14662 feet is 4408 meters.   I think we'd been higher, but the electrical connection was failing, so I was turning it off to save the batteries for the end of the day when they might be needed to find our accommodation.

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This is Rob's GPS which shows that we were descending at the time..

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Getting towards beer o'clock now.  Sensibly the beer comes in litre bottles, saves a rapid reordering.

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It took as seven hours or so (whatever Google maps said) to reach Pastos Chicos and I was done in.  The altitude was partly to blame, your energy just gets sapped so easily, especially off tarmac.

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Plenty of evidence of previous visitors stuck to the windows.

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When we arrived at Pastos Chicos I threw my gear into the room and headed straight to the bar for an ice-cold Salta beer.  Pastos Chicos was a bit of a dump, although the staff were cheery, but they had cold beer and gasoline, so the two main requirements for motorcycle touring were covered. Stand around too long and someone will probably slap a sticker on you...

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Our next stop was the town of Salta, presumably the home of the beer I was supping at Pastos Chicos.  Unfortunately this meant rejoining the tarmac.  We were photographing some more salt flats when a German (or maybe Swiss judging by the 'CH' on his pannier) dude rocked up on a Triumph Tiger looking for fuel.   Judging by his waistcoat he'd been on the road a while.

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Still, being on blacktop wasn't all bad - this road descended about 10000 feet in no time.

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We had a couple of days in Salta.  It's a charming place with many colonial buildings and a busy square lined with restaurants.  All very civilised.

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Interesting Buick - right hand drive - maybe an import from Australia?

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Salta was a great place to take a break from the bikes, but after two nights we were ready to continue our journey south towards the Chilean lakes and Patagonia.
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on May 23, 2020, 02:34:58 pm
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Heading south I was struck how many of the villages in Argentina reminded me of France 30 or 40 years ago. There seemed to be less inequality here, in sharp contrast to Chile where lots of people live in shacks out in the sticks. They (the Chileans) have plenty to protest about, but Argentina has problems too with spiralling inflation. Still, silver lining, our holiday was getting cheaper even as we rode. 

For some reason this place in Guandacol reminded me of some of the places we've stayed in Africa - it was on a farm, and beer on arrival on the verandah was just what was needed.  Lovely hosts gave us some big bags of their own raisins to keep us going on the road.  Perfect.

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Not much of interest on this bit - just scrub and mountains in the distance.

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Mendoza, famous for it's wine is a fine city. It was stinking hot on the run in to town - 38 degrees according to Rob's on board computer. Mrs 3D celebrated here birthday there at a fancy restaurant. Total bill, including wine for the four of us? About 36 quids... This meal was the exception in terms of quality, I'm afraid generally the famous Argentinian steaks weren't up to much, but the empanadas were great.

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Further south the going was pretty easy with the boards on the Ruta 40 signs ticking down.  Mostly tarmac, we just settled into a steady cruise on easy roads with little traffic.
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We arrived in Zapala in torrential rain which completely flooded the road to our accommodation.  This was on top of disagreements between the two GPSs about exactly where we were supposed to be staying  which meant I wasn't at my most relaxed when we arrived.  Fortunately I found out that beer was available when I went to find the owner to apologise for being a grumpy dickhead, so it ended well.  The following morning we were woken up at about 6 am by two KLR riding arseholes who went up and down the stairs stomping around in their boots about a million times loading up their bikes.  I have seen removal trucks filled with a lifetime's worth of posessions in less time.  So back to square one in terms of my mood then. ::)

Fortunately the weather had turned again and once over the hills  south of the town we were able to get back on to the gravel in perfect conditions.  Happy happy.

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Monkeying with tyre pressures.

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The Battlestar Galactica cruises through having just lost its possum scraper, happily not needed as we encountered no possums, although I think I did run over something that looked very much like a pangolin. :-[

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Another roadside shrine.

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Or possibly just some creatively arranged fly-tipping.

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Truckers often build these shrines to keep themselves safe. This one was going a bit far really.

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And here we are in the very Germanic town of Bariloche. Famous for its Nazis and earlier fugitives such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. At least the Germans left a fine brewing legacy. We came fairly close to running out of gas on this day; a mis-read map saw us hitting 235 miles before we found some. As it happened that was 19 litres to fill my bike, which meant I was getting around 55mpg. Not bad two up and loaded.

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Bariloche. Nice place and clearly showing the influence of German settlers and also full of shops selling Gore-tex to hardy mountaineers. It was absolutely Baltic though - a wind that whistles through the Andes isn't going to be balmy, I suppose. Has a terrible effect on the bladder to - judging by these sculptures at least.

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The German influence extends beyond the architecture, there is a strong brewing tradition in Bariloche and many good pubs. We didn't hold back, that would have been rude...

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We woke up on our second day to find our street cordoned off and some sort of protest going on. Turned out it was the second anniversary of the police shooting of an unarmed Indian (Mapuche?) lad. I suspect the lady shouting at the riot cops was his mother. Very dramatic, but the rocks were thrown only at the police who hih behind their shields, squirting papper spray on anyone who got too close.

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So, that was Bariloche: Beer and rioting. Bit like a Saturday night in Manchester then. Next we were heading south into Patagonia proper now via the town of Trevelin which is notable for it's Welsh settlers.  We made the decision to come off the main road and ride through the Los Alerces national park - a good move as we were back on unpaved roads as a result.

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Some nice hard packed roads through the park.

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Luvverly.

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Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on June 02, 2020, 05:52:07 pm
Staying on a farm in the town of Trevelin (in part of northern Patagonia where the Welsh settled) we met a German chap called Elmer, who was on a year long trip to South America on his Africa Twin. He'd travelled with his bike from Hamburg to Montevideo and was planning to stop often and absorb the culture as he travelled. His bike hadn't been on the dock in Montevideo for five minutes before someone nicked his screen spoiler and auxilliary lights - one of the dangers of shipping by sea I think. Anyway, he wasn't phased by that, or by the fact that his AT was perhaps a bit big for him.  Of course, he didn't know what was going to be the major disruption in his plans, did he?  Hopefully he was able to leave his bike somewhere safe and will carry on at some point in the future.

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Our next stop was our most southerly point - Puerto Puyuhuapi, and another border crossing.

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At the Argentinian customs desk there was was a big sign in the office - Las Malvinas son Argentinas - and this was not the first one we'd seen.  Clearly the Falklands conflict is still something of a sore point  - there are loads of Avenue General Belgranos around in towns to remind the Brit traveller of one of the less glorious episodes in our military history (the sinking of a shonky old WW2 battle cruiser by a state of the art submarine).  Rob had clearly decided that the GB sticker on his pannier was not such a good idea, so had scraped it off by then. :o

The day started sunny, but after clearing Chilean customs (and a very thorough check to see if we had any food on us) it started to rain. Fortunately the gravel road was well packed so not muddy, but it did mean concentrating hard. That said, I was having a ball. The road wound through towering mountains that appeared and disappeared through the mist and rain, and the scenery in the valley reminded me very much of the farms that line the road on the west coast of New Zealand's south island. Unfortunately because it was slinging it down no one felt like stopping and taking any pictures. So I nicked a couple off Google Streetview...

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Along here somewhere we came across two couples on Triumphs. One had a puncture in the rear tyre and had foolishly ridden on until the tyre had unseated itself. I don't know if Tigers have tubes (you DO NOT want to be changing a tube in these circumstances; actually as far as I'm concerned, in any circumstances, but then I'm a wuss) but if it was tubeless they were never going to get the tyre reseated with a tiny compressor. They didn't want any help, so we left them to it. Someone with a pick up would have come along, but in the lousy weather it all looked a little desperate.

Presently we joined the famous Caretera Austral, Chile's Ruta 7. To Be honest, all we wanted was to get to Puyuhuapi as by now even Rob's mega high spec Gore-tex Rukka was leaking.

Puerto Puyuhuapi is a modest wee place with a few restaurants (one on the water which was quite smart) a couple of supermarkets (well, grocery shops) and several hostals. I liked the place, but by gum it was wet for our first day. Clearly it rains an awful lot - I was constantly reminded of the sodden west coast of NZ - because as soon as we arrived the hostal owner had our gear hanging up on a large drying rack in the back hallway. The main compartment of my tank bag is lined with a dry bag so everything in there was fine, but I forgot about the top pocket so my document wallet was wet, as was all my money.

I handed all my cash to Mrs 3D, but she wasn't budging...

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Eventually the sun came out and we went exploring. I liked Puyahuapi, it had a certain ramshackle charm, although I think the rain would bug me after a while. Or an hour.

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As it wasn't raining Rob and I went to gas up in preparation for the ride north the following day.  I wish we still had gas stations like this in the UK.

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While we were getting fuel, Rob noticed I'd picked up a screw in the back tyre.  It was fairly small and right in the centre so probably could have been left in (maybe...) but as it might be pissing down again the following day we decided to put a plug in it.  UK customs had removed all but one of my wee tubes of glue from my kit, so Rob donated his Bikeseal 'string' repair kit.   https://bikeseal.co.uk/product…plug-puncture-repair-kit/  It worked a treat.  The kit is very heavy duty (no nasty plastic handles) and the repair was done in a few minutes.  Bollocks to tubes.

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Sadly the next day saw us heading north, and therefore back towards Santiago. The good thing was that it had more or less stopped raining, so we were able to enjoy the ride to Chaiten before a day largely spent on ferries.

Some of the Caretera Austral is still hard packed gravel, but more and more is being tarmac-ed

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Chaiten was an interesting place. Some time ago the (previously dormant) volcano had blown it's top and basically destroyed the place. It was slowly being rebuilt, but it must have been a hell of a blow given that things must be pretty precarious economically at the best of times in such a remote location.

Mahoosive volcano just behind the church not visible.

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The following day was beautiful.  I was so happy becuse we would be taking two ferry rides through what I reckoned would be some stunning scenery.

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First up was a pleasant ride anlong good hard packed gravel to Caleta Gonzalo and the first ferry.

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Straight to the front of the queue at the ferry terminal (natch), unfortunately Rob decided to cause a spectacle by falling off here. DOH! No harm done, except perhaps to his pride...

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After about 45 minutes we arrived at the start of the next road section, about 20 minutes drive in convoy to the next ferry.

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I was right, the scenery was amazing, and it was just warm enough in the sun to stay up on top and enjoy the mountains as we trundled sedately along for three hours or so.

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That's Hornopiren the mountain dominating Hornopiren the town, or next overnight.

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We stayed in a very strange (and potentially lethal due to the stairs) house on stilts overlooking the harbour. - the ferry is pulling away in the background. Funny place Hornopiren, we went out to the local supermarket and were served by a lad wearing a carboard box on his head like a hat.   Well, I suppose you have to make your own entertainment in such a remote place. ;D

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Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: frankmac on June 02, 2020, 07:46:29 pm
Stunning scenery and excellent commentary. Thanks for sharing.

The South Americans seem to love a protest (where I'm sure there is plenty to complain about).
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on June 03, 2020, 06:16:16 pm
The following day started very wet, which was a bit of an issue as they seemed to be tearing up the road everywhere making the riding very dodgy in places. Once again I was thankful for my TKC80/E07+ tyre combo.

We were heading for Puerto Varas, a nice looking place on a lake, with another ferry ride along the way to entertain us. I managed to leave my lights on while we waited for the boat, but fortunately was able to bump it on the slipway ramp. On the other side we wound around the coast which in many ways reminded me of west coast Scotland.  Once off the ferry the weather cheered up considerably.

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Anyway, apart from a near dead battery, what should have been fairly straightforward day turned into a bit of a mission. Rob and I had slightly different maps loaded in our Garmins - we both used Open Source Maps, but perhaps different versions. I was also having problems with the charging cradle on my unit, which is a bit rubbish really - two tiny pins which succumb eventually to the vibes and dust on a trip like this. Also, I'm ashamed to say there was some human error involved - I had been succesfully using the Booking dot com coordinates for our overnight stops, but on this occasion I keyed in something incorrectly, with predictable results. We got separated because of a disagreement between GPSs, and then I nearly ran out of juice on mine while lost in the back blocks of Puerto Varas.:rolleyes:

Eventually I realised my mistake and re keyed the coordinates and we made it to town to find that for about the fourth time there was a cock up in our reservation.:cursing: I was getting sick of this, and had noticed a nice looking four star hotel on the waterfront so was ready to bail out and let Amex take the pressure, but eventually after a bit of faffing around we were given a slight upgrade and decided to stay.

Puerto Varas turned out to be a pleasant little place with some nice craft shops, good bars and some really buzzy restaurants. It also had a VERY eccentric museum...

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There was nothing of note in the museum, apart from this super creepy picture...

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...and assorted junk.

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We found a funky bar which did the best Pisco Sours of the trip.

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Over the next couple of days we would duck back into Argentina to S. Martin de Los Andes, and then out again.  Good job the borders were fairly well organised.  This was good riding through the mountains with occasional stretches of gravel.

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Crossing the border into Argentina we were slightly puzzled by the completely stripped look to the land and trees. It was only after a while that I realised this was as a result of a volcanic eruption. Must have been a hell of a thing. You can see the ash next to the bikes in the first pic.

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Scenery was still on top form, and the view from our hostale wasn't too shabby either.

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SMDLA was a grand little town, clearly a place for outdoor enthusiasts. However, after a long day in the saddle you need a bit of a feed, and the town's restaurant industry is happy to oblige.

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After SMDLA it was our final border crossing and back into Chile, heading for the town of Pucon.  More great riding through Arucaria forests and past volcanoes.

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Pucon lies on a pleasant lake in the shadow of an active volcano. It's another town full of little shops selling outdoor activities like white water rafting. I liked it. We managed to find a cool little bar on the lake shore for a cold one.  Spotted a US registered 1200GS with a 21" front wheel conversion, something I hadn't seen before.  Looked good, but tubes, well, you know...

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Pretty odd place to add a light, on the fork bridge, but he was well equipped in the pannier department - Mosko's are great.  Bike was using Excel rims - maybe these were done by Woody's?

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That evening we had a bit of a meat feast.  I've already helped myself to one of the black puddings and a kebab in this pic, but this little lot was supposed to serve just two.  Now I like a steak, but this was just silly. :o  I know some of you will be wondering what I'm on about...

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Another day, another volcano.  Turned out you could take a rough cinder track quite far up Pucon's volcano.  It was a little technical in places, but without luggage and fairly in the groove by now we made it up just fine.

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When we got back to town late afternoon there was a small demo to skirt round.  Noisy, but not threatening.

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On the recommendation of the hostale owner, we went to the local Italian.  What a treat!  The owner was super enthusiastic about her food, and rightly so.  Bibs on to save extra washing...

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Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: frankmac on June 03, 2020, 06:42:01 pm

That evening we had a bit of a meat feast.  I've already helped myself to one of the black puddings and a kebab in this pic, but this little lot was supposed to serve just two.  Now I like a steak, but this was just silly. :o  I know some of you will be wondering what I'm on about...

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Wow, that is intimidating but looks delicious.

More incredible scenery.
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on June 04, 2020, 05:59:43 pm
Yeah, that's the problem - you're beaten before you start.  :o

Anyway, this is the last leg, heading north towards Santiago.  The ride north from Pucon was nothing special - a lot of slabbing along Ruta 5, the Pan American Highway. Towards the end we managed to come off the main road and rode through pleasant landscapes, but compared to what we'd seen earlier in the trip it was a bit low key.

We did however stop in one place which had some pet ostriches (never quite found out why) as well as a fine waterfall, and also a place with traditional style Mapuche cabanas. I managed to avoid dressing up as an Indian, thank gawd.  I felt a bit bad as the owner was passionate about her culture, but the others took part. :biggrin:

Who the hell is Inspector Fernandez, and why does he have his own exit off the highway?

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Traditional Mapuche (style) dwellings.

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Our final destination was the port of Valparaiso. If you ship your bike here it will most likely land at this port.  This city is known for its funky vibe and street art - seemed like a great place to wind down before we headed back to Santiago.  Reminded me of a cross between San Francisco and Lisbon.  We rented a rather lovely Italianate vila overlooking the centre and the post in the distance. It even had a garage.  It may seem a bit extravagent to have a house like this, but at the beginning of the trip we were supposed to be three couples, but our friends pulled out for family reasons.  Massive mistake in retrospect eh?  Anyway, the deal for the house was done, so they had to cough up unfortunately.

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The street art is amazing - you can come to an arrangement with the local artists so if you give up a wall or a garage door then once it's been painted it will be left alone. Very civilised. Around where we stayed there were loads of funky little shops, bars and restaurants. We loved the place, and werelucky enough to be given a guided tour by the guy who owned the house.

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Cool street art.

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Managed to pick up a small art work ourselves - the artist was off to a good start sporting a Joy Division tee shirt.

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Valparaiso was the home to the famous poet Pablo Naruda.  His house was fascinating and had a great view over the city.

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There was a bit of protesting going on, and on the second evening we came out of the restaurant to find armed riot police on the street, but they clearly didn't think we posed much of a threat and let us pass without any hassle.

We managed one last run out - up the coast through Vina Del Mar to Zapallar for a spot of lunch at a restaurant recommended by the guy who owned the villa we were renting. Villa Del Mar is all highrise apartments and more than a little like the Costa Del Sol, and you shouldn't take that as being a compliment. The traffic wasn't good at all, but we made it. Kind of wonder if it was worth it as although the restaurant was in a lovely setting, once again the food was indifferent. Saw some pelicans though, not a bird I think I've seen in the wild before.

Zapallar is full of fancy holiday homes - this is from the restaurant. Nice.

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Allegedly the smart side of town.  Not my cup o' tea at all.

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After three very pleasant days in Valparaiso, unfortunately the ride back to Santiago was just slabbing it to get there, a bit of a damp squib to end on really, although we did leave town via the rough bit way up on the hill.  This part of town made the news a few days after we got back by being extensively damaged by fire.

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Onne back at the shipping depot we hooked up with Julio who organised putting the bikes on pallets ready to fly home.  Normally I'd ship as it is often cheaper, but in this case there was very little in it as Julio seems to have found a deal with Aero Mexico (I think) to fly the bikes.  We had to make sure the tanks were fairly empty and disconnect and remove the battery, mirrors, screen and in my case, the rack extension.  It was 36 degrees on the tarmac doing this, hot work.

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Job's a good 'un

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Back at the airport hotel we celebrated a successful trip with a couple of bottles of bubbly (Team Dawg tours likes everyone to come back in one piece!), and then the following day it was the loooong flight home. The Andes looked great from above, but riding them is really where it's at.

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The bike should have been back before Christmas, but got delayed somewhere along the way, so it didn't get back to me until after New Year.  No matter, I'm not so keen on biking that I would go out in the Scottish winter.

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So, South America. Good place to ride? Oh yes, superb. Some of the driving left something to be desired, especially in the cities of Argentina (they don't like gaps between vehicles in the same way as nature abhors a vacuum), but mostly it was easy going and very little traffic. You could do this whole trip on a road bike if you wish, but the mighty GS or something similar is useful for when you have to do long stretches of gravel like Ollague to Uyuni. We had no issues with the bikes other than Rob's key and my puncture, although my GPS charging cradle stopped working (a known fault) and my headlight assembly vibrated loose a few times. My TKC 80/Mitas E07+ tyre combo was great and after 6200 miles both tyres still have a little left in them. Getting the bikes to Santiago was expensive, but once there things are cheap, well if you are paying in GBP. Our accommodation ranged from about $25US to $100US a night, with about $50 being typical. I think fuel was about 80 pence a litre. Everyone was super friendly and tolerant of our pathetic attempts to speak Spanish. Wine is cheap, as you might expect, and there are plenty of different craft brews to try, although the ever present Cristal is pretty drinkable for a mass produced beer. Despite all the civil unrest we never once felt threatened, although I think we were lucky finding a window of peace in Bolivia. The riding kit was tried and tested, but I would ditch the linings for my riding suit and take an extra thermal layer and an oversuit if I was heading to Patagonia again, that place is properly wet!

Now, where to next? Nasty viruses notwithstanding, yer a long time dead and there's no pockets in shrouds... :biggrin:

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Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: DUSTRIDERS on June 06, 2020, 11:47:17 pm
Stunning places you've seen and rode!! :thumleft: :drif: :drif:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on June 07, 2020, 11:11:55 am
Glad you liked it.   Funny ride really - big spaces, stunning scenery and plenty of gravel like Africa, but then a very European feel to the towns and cities.
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: DUSTRIDERS on June 07, 2020, 11:13:50 am
What would be next for the 1100? Eastern Europe, Mongolia?
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on June 07, 2020, 12:53:02 pm
Well, funny you should say that - I've been looking at some videos from rides around 'The Stans' ie. Tajikistan, Kyrgistan.  There is some epic riding there and the local officials are getting more used to tourists, but that would mean travelling in our summer, when in normal times we should be flat out work-wise, so I don't know (yet  >:D) how I would swing that.  Most likely is Morocco - Mrs 3D is very keen and the riding looks good in spring or autumn. :ricky:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Clockwork Orange on October 26, 2020, 06:26:37 pm
Wow, great trip and report
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: BMWPE on October 26, 2020, 07:22:12 pm
Fantastic  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Thanks for posting
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Wolzak on October 26, 2020, 08:41:16 pm
Great RR, with beautiful Pictures, thank you for sharing.
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Aprilian on October 26, 2020, 10:45:21 pm
Wow, great report. Definitely on my wishlist. Beautiful 1100 - had one and loved it  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on October 26, 2020, 11:56:01 pm
Thanks chaps, glad you enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Splash on October 27, 2020, 08:08:18 am
Loved the report - thanks for posting.
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Mother on October 27, 2020, 09:03:46 am
wow very nice.......a bucket list for me for sure

thanks for sharing  :spitcoffee: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Grunder on October 27, 2020, 09:36:12 am
What a trip.   :ricky:

Thank you for taking the time to share it with us
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on October 27, 2020, 10:48:25 am
 :thumleft:

Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Ian in Great Brak River on October 31, 2020, 04:09:47 am
Wow, that was a great read, thanks for sharing. Lots of really usefull info for the next copy cat ride I'm dreaming about.

 8)
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Wooly Bugger on October 31, 2020, 07:02:06 pm
 :sip:
Title: Re: Mr and Mrs Three Dawg's South American Adventure
Post by: Three Dawg on October 31, 2020, 07:41:58 pm
 :thumleft:

Exactly one year ago today... :'(   Fog finally lifting at Inverness airport for our connecting flight to London for Santiago.

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