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.
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 ;).
|We knew this thing would come in handy eventually|
|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
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.