Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Never Tire Of The Road - Chile - Moto Trip: The Americas

We entered Chile on January 16th and we immediately noticed a difference from Peru. Suddenly no one was trying to kill us on the road!
We had an easy border crossing (finally!) and quickly found ourselves in Arica, a surprisingly nice beach town just 10 km from the border. After a couple days of recuperating from Peru, we were on the road again. We headed south through the Desierto de Atacama, 1000 kilometers of the driest non-polar desert in the world. 

Santiago and Josh at the Presencias Tutelares

The views in the desert often looked like a painting

Johanna relaxing under the Atacama Giant


The famous Hand Of The Desert

Cars are abandoned like this all over the desert
We had a few long days riding on Ruta 5, a nice highway (think US quality) that perplexingly has very few gas stations along it. We had to start riding with gas in our Rotopax just to make it to the next station.

We knew this thing would come in handy eventually
Chile is surprisingly expensive. Well, it was surprising to us. Gas has gone up to $6/gallon, hotel rooms are around $40-50 a night, and food seems to be around US prices. Wine, however, is cheap ($4 for a 1.5 L bottle), plentiful, and really good. We've had to resort to washing our own clothes and wild camping. At least the camping gear is finally getting some use ;).

Wild camping in the Pan De Azucar National Park

Mimir is still hanging in there, although this desert was terrible for his complexion
Someone was here before us and had too much time on their hands

After more than a week in the Atacama we finally made it out of the desert and arrived in Valparaiso for a couple of days to enjoy a well deserved break from the road. We said goodbye to our travel companion of the last few thousand miles, Santiago, who had decided to take it easy in Valpo for a week or so.

These ascensors are helpful to get around the very steep city

We continued on to Santiago (the city, not our friend) for our last (we hope) motorcycle service in South America. We popped in to Johnny Motos who, despite being closed for the day, allowed us to bring our bikes in and started working on Johanna's bike which had blown a fork seal and invited us 
 to stay for a barbeque.

We partied late into the night with Johnny and his friends, and spent the weekend doing absolutely nothing. It was glorious. On Monday we hoped to get our bikes, but Johnny sent us on a mission to find parts, which we discovered was incredibly difficult. Our bikes aren't sold in Chile apparently, and we had to visit numerous Yamaha and other bike shops to find the necessary parts. We never did find the correct ones, but we found stuff that would work. Johnny replaced a fork seal on Johanna's bike and stripped Josh's entire engine down in search of a strange sound it was making, but found nothing. We decided to continue on, hoping for the best. 

Near the end of our week in Santiago, we met up once again with George and rode South together. The day we left turned into a very long day, where we rode over 352 miles before finally finding a campground. They had a pool that was open for another hour so we quickly changed and jumped in with the locals, finishing the evening over beers and staying up way too late. 

The next day we continued down Ruta 5 where we found another campsite overlooking the small town of Las Palmas. They also had a herd of sheep that was very frightened of us.

The next morning we continued on to Puyehue where we stayed at yet another campsite, this time overlooking a lake. We were able to have a campfire, which was pretty fun since we haven't had one since we left the United States. That was our last night in Chile before we crossed the border into Argentina.

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