Posts tagged “Chile

Arriving in Ushuaia under heavy rain and storm

Our last leg was another long drive: We were driving from El Calafate to Rio Gallegos under bad weather. From there we entered Chile. After we had finished the migration, we continued to the ferry which took us to Tierra del Fuego. Fortunately you don’t need a reservation for the ferry, you just have to wait in the line and half an hour later you are on your way. Fifteen minutes later we finally reached Tierra del Fuego!

But the weather was not getting any better. Under rain and wind we continued to Ushuaia. Unfortunately we had to ride on 80 miles of dirt road. The road was one of the worst we had so far. We had to cross numerous pot holes, puddles and pieces of wash board roads.

Soaking wet and freezing we arrived at the border to Argentina in San Sebastian. We could cross the border rather quickly, but anyway it was already quite late and raining heavily. The expected city of San Sebastian unfortunately was not more than a border station, a gas station and a hotel. Since the next real city – Rio Grande – was still 50 miles away, we decided to stay for the night in the quite expensive hotel. Some other travelers, whom we met earlier, also staid in the same hotel. So we spent a nice evening with them in the hotel restaurant.

During the night the weather got much better and we started our last leg to Ushuaia under nice sunshine. About 50 miles before arriving in Ushuaia, a motorcyclist with swiss license plate passed us and was waving. It was Georg, whom we met while crossing the Darien Gap on Stahlratte. After a heartily welcome, we drove the last miles together to our goal, Ushuaia.

Unfortunately the weather was getting worse again and we were quite cold. So we went to a little, nice Cafe in Ushuaia first. After warming up, we rode to the end of Ruta 3 in the Tierra del Fuego national park. After 6.5 months and more than 30.000 miles we finally arrived at our goal!

Tierra del Fuego

On our way back into the city, we met two other bikers, whom Carmen got to know via Facebook and whom we now met for the first time in real life. Claudia and Werner are traveling with their BMWs across South America and plan to join the Stahlratte tour across the caribbean in April. We decided to drive to the visitor’s center for a cup of coffee and talked about our experiences.

At late afternoon we finally drove to the camping place Rio Ripo, on which many motorbike travelers meet during Christmas and New Year’s eve. Here we staid for a few days and had a great New Year’s eve party with many other travelers.

Arriving in Ushuaia

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Two panniers is one too many ;-)

Hey, if YOU who found our pannier read this, please write us an email. We will be very grateful! 🙂

After our little trip to Bolivia, we entered Argentina on the next day via Paso Jama. Since there is no customs on the chilenian side we had to do the paperwork in San Pedro de Atacama already. So we did officially leave Chile already, although we were 100 miles from the border. Interestingly they even told us that we were not allowed to drive back to the gas station in San Pedro, but we just ignored that, since the next gas station was supposed to be 300 miles away.

The road to the border was leading besides more salt lakes and across 4800m passes. Although our bikes were still running well ( because of the injection ) we felt that there was not much power available. So we were driving rather slowly across the passes.

The paperwork was pretty easy, but still took some time, sine a big bus arrived just before we did. Surprisingly there was a gas station right at the border, so that we did not have to use our gas cans.

At another salt lake, the Salinas Grandes, we did another foto stop and were driving across the lake.

Salinas Grandes

Salinas Grandes

After we continued, Michaels bike started to wobble a bit and Michael suspected a puncture. He glanced briefly at the wheels but everything was fine. So he thought that it was just a little bit windy. However it was strange that a car behind him honked, but the south americans are honking because of anything, so he ignored that.
Our way was leading through curvy mountain roads surrounded by cactuses. A nice landscape, so we stopped for taking pictures. Michael used that opportunity to check his wheels once more when Carmen asked: “What did you do with your pannier?”. Michael did not answer and Carmen asked again. Then Michael realized at last that his left pannier was missing including the rollbag on top of it. Unfortunately this very pannier was holding the MacBook, credit cards, hard disk, tools, and clothes. So we immediately turned back to the salt lake to search the pannier.

We were driving the piece of road up and down and asking everybody, but nobody saw or knew anything. Since it was quite late already and since Michaels bike currently lakes any lights, we had to go to Purmamarca to find an accommodation.

In Purmamarca we went to the police to tell them about our loss, hoping that the finder will bring the pannier to the police. But the guy at the police just took Michaels name, phone number and email address and did not ask anything. That was our last hope to find the pannier including its content.

Purmamarca is nice but very small and so we continued to Salta, a larger city nearby. There Michael could buy some of the things he lost.

Since Salta has got quite some infrastructure we stay here for two days. Carmen took the opportunity to change her rear tire, buy a bike insurance for Argentina and Chile and got a haircut. The haircut was good for the guiness book of records: It took only two minutes and she was told that her hair is actually not good for that kind of cut. Not sure about the result, she left the hairdresser’s shop. No problem, the hair will be growing again. 🙂

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Little Trip to Bolivia

Not far from San Pedro de Atacama there is the beautiful Laguna Colorada in the south of Bolivia. Since there are only bad sand roads leading to the laguna, we decided to book a 4WD tour to Bolivia. However we were not sure whether we would get problems when crossing the border without our motorycles, but after asking customs in Chile, they said that this is possible without problems.

After we finished customs, we went to the bolivian border which was nothing but a small hut and a “pee bus” in the middle of nowhere. There we did not only get our migration stamp but also a small breakfast.

In Bolivia the roads were getting worse pretty quickly. After a few milers we were driving through deep sand and gravel roads and sometimes completely offroad.

We did our first stop at the Laguna Salada, a colorful salt lake in which flamingos were looking for food. The tour continued to geysers and the actual highlight: the Laguna Colorada. The Laguna Colorada is almost glowing in different red tones in which the mountains and clouds are reflecting: an impressing but also surreal landscape.

Laguna Colorada

After our stop at the Laguna Colorada we continued at high speed and bad roads to Laguna Verde and Blanca. Since it was pretty late already, we just did a quick foto stop there and drove back to Chile.

In San Pedro de Atacama we again did customs to enter Chile. However this time it took a little bit longer, since the customs officials found a big amount of drugs and therefore we pretty busy.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Looking for the Moon Valley

On our ride to San Pedro de Atacama still everything was fine. Then there was a sign heading to the Moon Valley. So we took the turn onto a gravel road and tried to find the moon valley. We were getting bad feelings when we saw a sign warning about mine fields. But the mine fields were enclosed by fences, so we just continued. After 20 miles of gravel road we still did not see the moon valley and decided to return.

Approximately 3 miles before we arrived back at the highway, it happened: Michael overestimated his riding skills and his bike started to fishtail at about 40 mph. He lost control over his bike and flipped over. Carmen just saw a huge cloud of dust and when the dust disappeared, she saw the chaotic scene: Michaels panniers and luggage was scattered across the landscape and parts of the bike, like mirrors and indicators, were laying on the ground. The cockpit of the bike was completely crushed and speedometer and rpm were destroyed. However Michael was pretty well and not hurt beside some scratches. After a little rest we tried to fix the bike. We attached the panniers and the luggage temporarily and bent the cockpit so that Michael was able to steer the bike again. Very slowly we were driving to San Pedro de Atacama and checked into a hostel.


On the next morning, Michael removed all damaged parts and bent the cockpit so that he could drive the bike again. Afterwards we did a small test drive to the Salar de Atacama, a salt lake in the Atacama desert. The Salar de Atacama is much smaller than the famous Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, but at least we now have a little impression of the beauty of the salt lakes.

Afterwards we continued our search for the moon valley. This time we took the right turn and arrived at the moon valley after a few miles. We took some pictures and rode back to the hostel.

In the hostel we met Linda and Samuel, two germans, whom we got to know in town in the morning. We spent a nice evening together in San Pedro de Atacama.




Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Let’s go to Bolivia… or better Chile?

Our actual plan was to continue to Bolivia, so we went to Puno at the Titicaca Lake near the border to Bolivia. Besides the view at the Titicaca Lake, Puno is quite an ugly town. We had a hard time to find a good accommodation including parking lots for the bikes. Finally we managed to find one.

In the evening we wanted to prepare for our ride to Bolivia and found the following web page about the road conditions in Bolivia. Reports by other travelers were not better either and so we were thinking a long time on how to continue.

On the next morning we finally decided to ride to Chile, since the road conditions seem to be pretty bad in the rainy season in Bolivia. Unfortunately this means that we won’t see the Salar de Uyuni, a huge salt area in Bolivia, which we wanted to cross. Anyway most of the Salar seems to be covered by water already, so we would not have been able to cross it in any case.
To go to Chile, we had to drive back to Tacna at the coast. On our ride, the police stopped us and asked for an insurance which we did not have. 😉 Fprtunately they accepted our fake insurance which we printed ourselves a few weeks ago.

The border crossing itself was very easy but quite annoying, because the first time we were asked to detach all our luggage and bring them to x-ray. At night we staid in Pozo al Monte, a little city in the north of Chile.

Art in Chile

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road