We managed to bluff our way through the Peruvian border when the border guards told us we were not supposed to be exiting there. After making our way through no man's land we came across the Bolivian border guard station. For Matt, being an American meant he had to pay a $160 visa. We decided this was too much for such a short time in Bolivia so we went around the guard station & straight into Bolivia.
Once we were far enough away we stopped to drink some soft drink & eat our snacks., looking over lake Titicaca. We continued to roll around Lake Titicaca. We had gained a great vantage point by climbing high on the road. Once we crossed one of the inlets by wooden ferry with a truck we knew we were safe from border patrol it was time to relax & see what Bolivia had to offer..
We decided to go around La Paz as it was not high on our to do list. Nothing there except a big city & we had just come from Cusco no need to rush back to a city. Bolivia was intriguing. There were houses, big houses but no people. The few shops we found generally had nothing in them. Dust & empty shelves. This is where our living on wafer biscuits & coke started.
The good thing about Bolivia was the ease of finding camping.. We camped in so many beautiful places. on the edge of Lake Titicaca, in the Atacama to the windy plains of Uyuni salt flats. We even managed to camp in a sheep herders shed with the sheep for a night.
We cycled some of the most quiet picturesque roads I have ever encountered. All you need to do is stay off the one paved road in Bolivia. We found a back way onto the Uyuni salt plains to avoid all the vehicles & Uyuni town site itself. No need to get involved with the hundreds of jeeps making the same trip across.
The crunching & cracking sounds the salt made was such an experience. It was really a world of its own. We cycled the 50km out to the island that I never knew existed & camped in the lee side of the wind.... The star filled sky was incredible but it was sooooo cold out of the tent that you couldn`t stand out there for too long.
We crossed over the salt plains the next day & onto what would be the hardest 300km of the entire 23,300km ride. We got onto what is called the Lagunas Route. It folows a bunch of Lagunas ( lakes ) across the Altiplano ( above 4,000mtr ) of Bolivia. It was tough going from the start.
Soft sand, deep ruts & a brutal headwind restricted us to around 45km per day. We would start riding as soon as we could in the morning around 7:30am when the sun had thawed out the tent & our bikes. We would ride for a while before being hit by the headwinds then we would continue on into it until 3pm.
Matt had to push his bike a lot as he had skinny tires on & all of his weight was loaded onto the front of the bike, meaning he would just sink into the ruts & go nowhere. It was a spectacular route, at one point i counted 14 volcanoes surrounding us. There were Flamingos in every lake & we managed most nights to find incredible places to camp. I would recommend this route to anyone who wants a challenge & to experince some of the most spectacular scenery South America has to offer.
After 5 days on the route we were faced with our final obstacle, the Bolivian border & Chilean entry. We decided to push our bikes through deep sand over almost a 4,800mtr pass to skirt the border. It took 4 hours or more of just pushing hahaha what a challenge. At that point we were weighing up if it was worth the money. We finally hit the pavement & final descent into Chile.
We were hoping for a solid ride into Chile down a huge 40-odd km descent but no, of course not. There was a big headwind reducing me to 60km/hr no matter how hard I pedaled, somewhat frustrating.
We finally rolled into the town of San Pedro De Atacama at 8:30pm. The border guard had Bob Marley playing, asked where we had come from and didn`t even look at our passports -- he just stamped them. WOW we got lucky. We somehow managed to roll into town on the Chilean independence day, meaning it was a 4 day weekend with a lot of partying going on.
it's the endless fatigue
The sleepless nights
The unkept hair
The miles upon miles of asphalt
The new friends
The star filled nights
The parting of friends
The ever changing landscapes
The constant exploring
But man I wouldn't change it.
I am an ultra runner, Mountain biker, Packrafter, Climber, Ironman, Endurance Athlete