The northern part of Chile has some amazing scenery... that is if you like the desert.
The desert in northern Chile is known as the Atacama... it is on record as being the driest place in the world.
I don't know why, but I've grown rather fond of riding in the desert. I like the smooth subtle colors and shapes...dunes, sand, rocks, shrubs...earth tones.
And then there is the sky. The sky is blue...always...and it stretches from end to end... blanketing the horizon. There are few clouds...the forecast...little chance of rain. It is the same yesterday...today...tomorrow.
The smooth shapes seem to be formed by the sun and wind. Large formations like mountains, valleys and canyons formed over thousands of years by erosion, expansion and contraction.
Other formations like dunes seem to change before my eyes... growing, shrinking, moving.
It was subtle...
It was dramatic...
And harsh at the same time.
The elements of the desert were all very similar, but the alchemy of it all was kaleidoscopic.
Alejandro and I decided to ride together until he would go his way and I would go my way. We covered some good distance each day...500km...600km.
There were some long stretches of emptiness between the towns in the Atacama. It was nice having a partner along for the ride.
The towns that we stayed in were a blur...resting places...the goal was to ride...to reach the other side.
Have a BIG Coke and a Big smile
Tocopilla street dogs...there were lots of them
El Mano del Desierto (The Desert Hand) is a big sculpture in the desert
A BIG stone sculpture
In La Serena, Alejandro and I parted ways. He would cut across east to San Juan, Mendoza, San Rafeal...Argentina...for him...home.
I really enjoyed riding alongside Alejandro. A true gentleman adventurer...cultured, curious and moving forward. I hope to see him again down the road.
In August 2011, I purchased a new 2011 Suzuki DR650 motorcycle for a trip through South America. The engine, exhaust, chassis and suspension have been maintained in the original (stock) configuration. This approach was chosen to increase reliability and facilitate repair or replacement of items with original parts while traveling. The modifications were only made to the motorcycle to add durability, safety, comfort and protection. The prices listed below were the original costs of the items. The prices are listed to serve as a reference point for the cost of the build.
Many of you that follow this blog know that I really enjoy hiking, camping and backpacking. Whether it is camping in the front country or back country... it is all good.
I recently came across a resource that has really made it easier for me to research and plan my trips. The website, app and community are called TheDyrt. "The Dirt" is an idiom which means the gossip or real story. So getting TheDyrt is a play on words which translates to finding out the real story about campgrounds.
TheDyrt.com website allows users to search for campgrounds in the U.S. (currently only available within the U.S.) and read user generated reviews of the campgrounds. Sometimes the reviews are very general and sometimes very specific - down to the campsite number or cleanliness of the facilities. The website markets itself and its service as the Yelp.com of camping.
UPDATE as of April 2015. The roll-on roll-off ferry service Ferry Xpress to cross from Panama to Colombia has suspended their service.
The Darien Gap is a 30 mile stretch of land that lies between Panama and Colombia. It is thick jungle that is pretty inhospitable to most human beings. There are some indigenous people, guerrillas and drug runners that do inhabit the area.
There was one group of adventure motorcyclists that crossed through the Darien Gap in 1995 on specially modified motorcycles. Their journey is documented at Outback of Beyond.
For most adventure motorcyclists there are a few options for crossing the Darien Gap.
1. Ship your bike from Colon to Cartagena on a cargo ship and buy a ticket on a separate ship or airplane for yourself.
2. Ship your bike from Colon to Cartagena on a passenger sailboat that will carry both you and your bike.
3. Ship your bike from Panama City to Bogota on a cargo airplane and buy a separate airplane ticket for yourself.