Bolivia - tour from Salar de Uyuni to the Yungas road of death


 


Since i'm addicted to travel, , I used the winter to start another adventure with the help of Hein-Gericke - Feel the ride, Motorrad - Europas biggest Motorcycle Magazine and Touratech - New Ideas for Motorbikes and Mitas.
 

From La Rioja I went 400km past San Fernando de Valle de Catamarca to San Miguel de Tucoman. Then I followed a new, winding road, which was recommended to me by Andreas' father across a 3000m height pass past Tafi de Valle to Santa Maria.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Here, it was very cold and I found a total different type of plants. Many huge cactus plants were growing towards the sky and made me feel like an ant.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Luckily, I never had problems to get petrol every 150 km along the main road. I found a nice place to pitch my tent at the house of funny students.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

In the evening I reached a big crowd of people and suddenly I was in a big Rhodeo event. Different cowboys were trying to stay on a wild, jumping horse for as long as possible. Most of them fell down after a few seconds.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

The next morning I started very early and followed the road 68 to Salta. The recommendation by Andreas' father was really good.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Here it wasn't to hot and I really enjoyed to ride my bike through the beautiful landscape.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

The new build tar road followed a winding river through big canyons and past small villages. On the video controlled road blocks the police only asked where I'm from and let me go on.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

There were only very little trucks but many tourists.
Many times animals crossed the road. They always seem to wait until they see a vehicle and then they started to walk in front of it. Now the Puna de Atacama ended and it became much greener again.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

The nice, winding road from Salta towards San Salvador de Jujuy went past some really nice rain forest GPS S24°30'34.0" W065°20'26.4". I could hear many birds and insects.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

It was stunning to see all those big trees and other plants. Some plants were even growing on the branches of other trees.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Long Liliana's tried to reach the floor. Only some monkeys were missing...
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

I stopped many times to watch the beauties of nature and to take a lot of photos.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Despite all the beauties, one always has to have respect for the rain forest. Specially in this tropical climate there life many snakes but there are also diseases like Colera or Malaria.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

As evening came, I started to look for a place to sleep very early. I was allowed to stay at the jachtclub at GPS 24°25'52.1" W065°17'14.1" near a small lake. I was even allowed to swim in their big pool. Ke Bueno.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

OK, there was no Internet and specially if you are travelling alone, you miss this way of communication, but still, I enjoyed the place.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Now the sun goes down past the lake and I will watch a documentation about the motorbike club Hells Angels instead of making a fire.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Luckily, there was electricity so I could also do some work on my web page. For dinner I had chocolate, which I was carrying since a few days.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Traveling these days isn't anymore like it was in the old days. Thanks for watching anyway ;)
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

When I woke up, the sun was already shining. Like every day, first thing I did was to brush my teeth.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Then I packed my sleeping bag, my air matress and my tent. Then I swapped the 12 Volt Battery charger with my GPS Navigation system to it can look for satellites, checked the Oil and put some grace onto the chain. Then I was ready to leave.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

This daily routine does not take more then 15 Minutes. After Jujuy I went up the Paso de Jama towards the Chilean boarder.
The higher I went up the winding road, the more my small bike lost power. At 4170 Meters my maximum speed was only 50 km/h at 8000 turns per minute.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

It did not help to give more gas. Then the engine started to vibrate and took too much petrol. It was the oxygen what was missing. The only thing I could do was to ride more slowly then usual.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Even at this altitude, it was really cold and windy, I saw many Alpacka Lamas beside the road. They did not mind the climate here.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

I could feel the missing of oxygen. My heart was beating very fast and even little things like putting the motorbike on the stand made me gasp for breath.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

All the effort was gone when I saw the salt lake at GPS 23°35'35.9" W065°53'17.3". On this very touristic place, many people were selling figures made out of salt. They were all wearing masks to protect them selves against the strong UV light of the sun.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

I also was wearing sunglasses and long sleeves clothes and used a lot of sun lotion in my face. Carefully, I rode my bike on the white white ground. Now and again, there were places with water. That's where it was easier for the locals to take out the salt.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Back down in the valley I wanted to buy petrol for the trip towards the Bolivian boarder. But the first petrol station did not have any petrol. So I had to ride another 50km to see that the next petrol station had petrol, but there was already a a very long queue of waiting cars. I took my jerrycans and went past all the waiting cars to the front end of the queue.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Here the guy who was selling the petrol worked very slowly. Between two customers, he always disappeared for a few minutes to change money or so. I took the chance, filled my jerrycans and gave the surprised man the exact amount of money when he returned. That's what I call German efficiency.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

The road to Bolivia went 180 km up to 3500 meters. A strong wind was blowing towards me, which reduced my travelling speed to 60 km/h. I saw many backpackers along the road who were traveling using the public transport.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

A few kilometers later, some protesters were blocking the road. When I went past the waiting cars and tried to cross the barrier, they offered me some food. Suddenly, I found those people much more sympathetic ;)
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

On the boarder town La Quiaca I found a hotel with WiFi, which I was allowed to use to tell my family I'm still alive. Especially if you are travelling alone, I find it very important to have Internet to connect with my friends back home.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

While I was searching for a place to sleep, I was send to a free camping place called camping Municipal GPS S22°06'31.2" W065°35'35.2". Because this place was in the middle of the town and everybody could enter it, I did not feel save there.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

When I told a story about my virtual friend has being robbed in Argentina, I was allowed to camp at the police station.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

In the morning I went to the boarder to Bolivia like many other people but the officer who was in charge of the export of the vehicles did not want to work. He just sat there drinking his mate and did not care about all the people, who were patiently waiting for their stamp.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

After 4 hours I finally got the stamp and they accepted my insurance. I was allowed to cross the boarders over a bridge. There was already a big crowd of a few hundred backpackers patiently waiting for their entrance stamp under the hot sun.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
I was less patient and drove all the way past the row to the front. There I parked my bike close to one of the officers so he had to watch it and entered the room.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
There only one officer was very slowly pressing his stamp into the passports while he did some private conversation on his phone. After having gotten my stamp, I quickly changed 10.000 Chilean Pesos to 100 Bolivianos and went on.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

In Tupiza I wanted to refill my jerrycans on a video controlled petrol station. Because I was a foreigner, they wanted 9 instead of 3,7 Bolivianos per Liter from me.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Because I did not want to pay more then everyone else, I asked another customer to bay the petrol for me. Then they noted his Bolivian numberplate like they always do on their list.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

I quickly bought 3 buns with vegetables and salad for only 2,50 Bolivianos. That's what they call hamburger here. Then I went on. The Andes went on and I had to stay on 4000 meters altitude. Here, my small Honda did not get enough oxygen and therefore did not want to go very fast even I had screwed the "Gemischregulierschraube" all the way in wich helped a bit.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

50 km outside Potosi I came past many flowering carcases and past numerous empty houses. Because I did not want to drive anymore and it started to rain, I pitched my tent in one, which still had a roof GPS S19°56'05.6" W065°34'23.0".
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

I always thought to own a house feels much better. To be polite, I went to my neighbors to introduce my self, but they were not interested in me and closed their door.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

The people in Bolivia seemed much colder and not so hospitable then the people in Africa had been, but since I did not have visitors, I had time to write these lines :)
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

On the next morning, I drove from Potoso to Uyuni. The street except the last 20 km and some construction sites is all tar by now. From Uyuni I had to ride 25 km gravel to reach the salt lake at GPS S20°17'55.2" W067°37'03.4".
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

When I arrived a big storm started. Dark clouds were on the sky. Because I also knew it can get very cold at night, I did not feel like pitching my tent. I wanted a house.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

While travelling, I got a different perspective of some things. When I reached the village, I already had seen an empty house, which was good to sleep in. I had another look through the windows: yes there was no one living in.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

As the new owner I could even invite some other backpackers to stay, which I met outside.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

The house must have been an old hotel. It was completely made out of salt. Even the Tables, the chairs and the beds were made of salt. There was a fireplace, where my gusts made a fire to cook spaghetti. It was nice not to be alone for one evening.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

After a not too cold night, the salt lake was filled with water and had become a big mirror. Because of the beautiful light I took some photos. My motorbike had to act as my model again.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Again, my nice little Honda had to work hard to go up all those mountains back to Potosi. There even was a strong wind coming towards me, which reduced my speed to 30 km/h. When it also started to rain and then to snow, I felt really bad.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

My mood did not became any better when the man at the petrol station in Potosi called the police because I did not want to pay the double tourist price. The police man insisted me to poor the petrol into the drain. Bastard.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

My mood only cheered up when I found a place with Internet GPS S19°35'07.8" W065°45'22.2" and had something nice to eat beside the road. Then I left Potosi and went towards Oruro.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

On the next petrol station, I tried to get petrol again, but the guy did not want to fill my jerrycans. I took the pistol and tried to fill them my self but the man blocked the machine. Then I sat on the floor waiting. All the other customers around had to wait as well. Finally I was allowed to fill up, payed the normal price because jerrycans are not foreign vehicles and went on.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

A few Kilometers later, I found a place to wild camp in a mine. I was a little afraid when I heard big explosions down the hill, but still did not want to go on.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

It was raining the whole night and the following day. It only stopped to start snowing. I decided to ride 550 km to La Paz, the highest capital town in the world.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
There I wanted to dry my stuff at the Christians company. I met Christian while I was waiting on the Bolivian boarder and he had invited me to stay.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
From Challapat further on, the mountains stopped and the strait Altiplano level started. Now my bike reached up to 80 km/h again. Again and again wild dogs came running towards me and tried to snap my feet.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

Its amazing how many bad things you can handel, if you know you will have a dry place with internet to skype with your family in the evening.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
It was raining and hailing and the trucks came very close to me when I tried to reach the GPS position in La Paz, which Christan has given me.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
Only after I reached my destination, I allowed myself to have a break and to eat nice Spaghetti and hamburgers beside the road. Later on, I got a really nice room and my own bath :)
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru

It was raining and snowing again, when I went to ride the Yungas road. It's also called el Camino de la Muerte or Road of death.
Still every year up to 300 people are dying here like the bus driver Cliff Richardo on 05.01.2012.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
From La Paz I had to ride 20 km up to 4800 meter altitude GPS S16°20'37.0" W068°02'20.8". When I arrived with 20 km/h maximum speed, I was totally soaking wet. It was freezing cold and foggy.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
Still, there were many mountainbike groups like freebikes-bolivia who started their downhill ride down to Coroico from here.
 
Southamerica on a motorbike - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru
One could either take the new tar road for 89 km or the old, dangerous 39 km long single lane gravel road with no barriers, pass steep abysses from GPS S16°17'46.2" W067°49'20.3" into the Amazonas rain forest at GPS S16°13'59.6" W067°44'23.4".
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
One had to drive on the left side so the trucks could see how many centimeters were between them and the gorge. In the past, up to 300 people died every month. But today, the road is basically used by tourists. A really nice trip.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru

On the next working day the company started their production again. Christian invited me for lunch into his restaurant. I got some big portions of really nice food and the people cared about me as if I would have been a king.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru

Christian told them to supply me for a whole week and went to a meeting after we had a view on my map. He recommended me not to ride through Venezuela into Brazil and take the Ferry from Manaus to Belem.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
I should rather travel via Bolivia or Argentina to Paraguay, Brasil and Uruguay after I come back from Ecuador. This road would be much nicer and more interesting.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
Till then, there still was a lot of time. First I went to visit La Paz. I took some nice photos at the marked place near the stadium GPS 16°30'7.60"S 68° 7'46.00"W.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru

Here, they were selling all sorts of small things. A ritual said that you have to burn a small car or small money if you want to get a car or lots of money in the next year. They also had shooting galleries and sold nice food.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru

On Saturday, Christian picked me up and showed me the Plaza Murillo, where you could feed the deaf birds GPS 16°29'43.90"S 68°08'00.95"W
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
and the traditional marked at GPS 16°30'01.11"S 68°08'22.70"W, where you could buy nice food, vegetables, meet, fish, clothes and electric stuff.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru

Later on he introduced me to his family and friends and made a really big and very nice barbecue for us. It's much nicer to stay in a big city if you have friends there!
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru

Around midnight, Christian's friends took me to another party and introduced me to new friends. That's how I met the high society of La Paz and was amazed how hospitable everybody was :)
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru

While staying in La Paz, I also had the chance to get new party for my bike, even hardly anyone is riding a motorbike in Bolivia.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
A D.I.D chain set or a tire only cost 200 Bolivianos = 30 Euro here even it was hard to find the right shop for that.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
When I wanted do continue my trip, Christan had a surprise for me. He had called a friend and arranged that I was allowed to stay in his house at the lake Titicaca. I went on happily and just ignored the rain season, which lasts from November till March.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
I travelled east of the 3821 meters above sea level high and 8300 km² big lake Titicaca past the yacht club GPS S16°12'39.0" W068°41'52.5" and the reed boat fabric GPS 16°12'52.8" W068°40'41.2". Close to Huarina, I took the ferry for only 15 Bolivianos for me and my motorbike to cross to Copacabana.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
From here, it were only a few kilometers to Yerkos fish fabrica GPS S16°12'44.9" W068°52'16.6". I was welcomed and got a nice house directly at the lake. I'm sure other campers are welcome here as well.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
On the next morning I was allowed to come along to the huge swimming island, where thousands of troud fish were growing until after 9 months, they reach a wait of 500 Gram's.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
When they threw many bags of food in, the water seemed to boil. Thousands of fishes were jumping trying to get the food.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
With a big machine made in Germany, one was able to sort the fishes by their size and pump the smaller ones into a different net, while the bigger ones were taken out. This way the plant is producing up to 3 tonnes of fillets and fish fingers every months.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
The fillet (fried or smoked) were specially good since some women have been taken out all the bones by hand. For nice luxury things like that you could not pay for in Germany.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
In Bolivia, many things are still done by hand. I saw people growing their own food on their fields or producing bricks out of mud and water to build their own house if they did not like the old one anymore.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
Nothing had to be bought to build a new house. If a house doesn't get used anymore, it goes back to mud without leaving any waste. A very ecological way of living.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
Only walls made out of stones seem to last forever. On places like that I start to think whether I really go to the big crowd of Machu Picchu, were I will have to pay 80 Dollars to see an empty village.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
Unfortunatly, not all people in the villages I went were so friendly as the man who showed me, how he made bricks to build a new house and proudly presented me the fields, where he, his son and his wife were growing vegetables by hand for themselves to use.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
People were whistling towards me, I heard the words gringo and photos, followed by some not friendly sounding spanish words, which luckily I did not understand.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
I somehow feel ill right now. All the rain, the cold weather or some bacteria made my bally go crazy. Im happy I was allowed to stay in a house while outside a big snow storm with thunder and all wich belongs to it went down.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
I used the time to study my big map, read other people's travel reports and plan my further trip. Thanks to the very good description of the Krad Vagabunden I think I will go to Machu Picchu now, even if the weather there will be as bad as here.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
You never know when you will be so close to the most known place in South America again...
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
Afterwards I'm looking forward to go down to sea level again, were my pizza bike, which has the name "Chikedita" (small one), will be able to run fast again.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
In the morning, Christian and some of his friends picked me up with his 600PS boat and took me to the other side of the lake, where we had a really nice barbecue.
 
Südamerika mit dem Motorrad - Chile, Argentinien, Bolivien und Peru
It really hurted when he dropped me at the fish farm again and went back home. Christian has made the time in Bolivia so nice for me. Thanks so much for everything. Looking forward to see you in Germany!!! Continue to next page.




 
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