When I have been disembarked with my bike in Cartagena
I was ready to go to Venezuela and then to Brazil along Ruta BR174 to Manaus. From there I have been supposed to take a Transamazonica BR319 towards west. This is unpaved muddy tracks through the tropical jungle. Then road come through Inapari (Amazon region Peru) and traversing along the eastern mountainside of the Andes run out in Cusco. Beautiful places! But I did not because of rain season. I took more common way Cartagena — Medellin — Quito. I passed through Ecuador along the eastern way Quito — Banos — Cotopaxi(volc) — Zumba.
The road much more interesting than Panamerican HWY but unpaved and in some places under construction near Peruvian border.
Peru is more poor than Ecuador and roads are worse. From the border I continued movement across the Northern Peruvian highlands. Amazing!
Mountain roads are not paved, density of population is low.
It is possible to go through highlands all the way towards South to TitiCaca lake and bolivian border.
But I was in hurry to Lima because of Dakar rally should be finished there on January, 15. So, I rode a couple hundreds kms along the Panamerican HWY through Trujillo.
It seemed horrible in comparison with highlands. Therefore I went back to the mountains in the direction of Cordillera Blanca and Huaraz. I managed to meet Dakar rally in Lima.
It was my childhood dream! I fixed the bike in Lima, ordered some parts from Europe. I got a great experience with international post and custom services. I left hot and dusty shore and continued my way to Cusco through the Andes.
Yes of course I had to visit MachuPicchu but as for me it is just a "Disneyland".
Bolivia was a next destination on my way. This is the only country in South America I need visa to entree. But it`s for free and took me couple of hours. Bolivia is poorest country on continent and moreover most high.
La Paz is highest capital in the world. But I was surprised with "gringo tax".
Even fuel cost three times more for the tourists. But the real "gringo" knows the real price and dont want to pay more than it costs. And when somebody wants to get triple price for nothing he's not happy, angry and ready to spread democracy everywhere around.))
Salar de Uyuni is biggest salt lake in the World.
There is 3800m altitude and always cold.
Actually I dont know when is a best time to visit this places. I have been there in February. Not so cold but rainy.
The road is extremely bad and muddy especially in winter during the rain season. Once I crossed a river over the railway bridge.
A little bit stressy especially if you dont know train schedule. Salar was covered with water. Not so deep, but unrideble on the bike.
The only way to go across the lake is rent a Land Cruiser. All cars use petrol…much petrol. For three days tour they must carry 2 or 3 plastic cans on the roof. It`s more than 150 l unsafe fuel over your head. Most of cans are leaking. 4 years ago there was incident with 2 cars. 18 persons burned and died…
There are no paved roads from Uyuni to Chile or Argentina or anywhere else.
And you must carry enough fuel for 400-500 km. It`s strongly recommended to take extra fuel as more as better. The firing rate is 15-20% more than normal because of altitude and poor quality of "combustible".
Everybody who crossed a border from Bolivia to Chile or Argentina felt a great contrast.
The alternative way to South is legendary Ruta 40 runs across Argentinian provinces Salta, Tucuman, Catamarca, San Juan. I chose Atacama and rode along Panamericana from Antofagasta to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.
I was surprised with fuel absence in Patagonia. Many times I was forced to wait whole day a next gas-tank truck on the Ruta 40. Nothing special but sometimes it breaks your plans. It looks like an Argentinians dont have any plans at all! All this fuel troubles are normal for them. They wait the truck, then they stay in the line couple of hours talking about the life and business but no rush even if it`s a morning time and people must go to work. They are Argentinians…
It would be unreasonable don`t ride Carretera Austral. And I did.
But there are many gulfs and fjords on the North and you must use a ferries. That is not cheap. The alternative way goes via Esquel and Futaleufu and crossed the Ruta 7 at Villa Santa Lucia. I took this one.
And they was absolutely right because they was independent of fuel. I was not. In the end of winter 2012 shouthern Chile was disturb with protests of people who expected price-cutting for education, medical care, food and fuel.
Because of this Copec and another fuel companies cut off the combustible on this strike region.
I consumed my fuel tank and 12 l extra reserve but could find more. My Carretera Austral was finished after Coyhaique.
The last drop of fuel I burned at the Argentinian border. My tank was totally empty. The frontier guard helped me. I got 3 l of combustible it was enough to reach first argentinian village but the gas station was empty, "no combustible hoy no combustible manana" But it does not meen there is no fuel at all. Yes there is but you must to find it. My Spanish was not bad…it was worse than bad. But it's better to speak don`t be aware of language than to know and don't speak. I got 10 liters of fuel. It was enough. Perito Moreno is a wonder of Argentina.
There is a part of Chilean land on the way to Ushuaia. Chilean roads are not paved there. The gravel is deep, trucks dont respect bikers plus strong wind makes riding dangerous. But it`s less than 100 kms.