Saturday, March 5, 2011

Salar de Uyuni to Chile

Feb 22nd 2011
The road from Potosi to Uyuni starts nice, many llama crossing, then the road is dirt.

Found Uyuni, the whole city is flooded, I made a video on how bad it is per moment. I rememer ridding into 2 feet of water and mudd.

Then I took a road that seemed to be going towards the salar, at some point a look so closed to the salar that I decided to just cut through even though there was no road, it's flat sometimes rocky but accessible by bike. Everybody was tellimg me the whole salar is under water at that time, but I've found a drier area. It was a bit wet and the further I was going, the harder it was for the bike and me to keep control. It was like ridding into soft sand, but it was wet salt. Stopped when I decided it was enought. 

Then headed back towards the road, on my gps there was a road going across the salar so why not going since I'm there. I reach that point that was the "end of the road", for me anyway, I didn't want to drive into salty water and then having problems with the bike, but the tour jeeps were still going, it's not very deep as you can see further down. 

The tiny dot on the picture is the jeep far away. 
Snow capped mountains on the background on the other side towards the road. We are still in fairly high elevation so the mountain doesn't need to be very tall to get snow. 
I could see dark clouds coming from the mountains and I didn't what to get caught up by it. A dirt sandy road could become mudd and difficult to travel if it starts raining.
Once in town, the clouds seemed to stay away, so I headed to the train cemetery, from about only 2 km from Uyuni, not far. Finding the trains was easy, finding the road to get there was more difficult because many areas were either flooded or inaccessible. 

Then headed towards the town from a different way, which I was hoping to be easier access. As I was thinking the railway probably haven't been used for ages, a train came by, going towards the center of the town. I decided to ride the bike right on the railway just behing the train to save some time, made a video of it, I like doing stuff like that since here I think I can, or at least nobody cares. I would probably go to jail in Canada for doing that. I don't have a good program to edit videos, I'll try to upload more soon.
Found an hotel in town and went to the park area where restaurents are.
The trains were a big theme in this town. 

The next day I left, I didn't need to see any longer a flooded town and the salar. It took me about 30 minutes to find the road and I had to ask many locals, everywhere it's flooded and the direct way to Chile wasn't an option since it's also flooded or inaccessible, according to the locals. I went south towards Alota instead of going west. The road was dry.

Alota, a very small town, I was surprized to see it om my big map. I didn't have any Bolivianos, the money here in Bolivia, but I've managed to ask directions and buy fuel from a Jeep tour guide, which made me feel more comfortable going on a deserted dirt road that wasn't on my gps or my map, I trusted the tour guide, they came from that road and the tourists with him confirmed it.  
The scenery was quite nice, many salars and volcanos. 

The border: looked like a ghost town with another train cemetery. 

They used to have some kind of factory there and everything was abandonned, from the factory, with a few residential blocks, I didn't want to stay there overnight and the next town was Calama at about 200km of dirt. I remember doing more than 400km of unpaved road that day.

Here I felt I was on a different planet, nice salars and volcanos, it was an amazing place to ride. 

Once I've crossed that ridge, other salar, other volcanos. 
I arrived at Calama just before dark, by the time I've found a camping and some food it was late and dark. My meal felt good when I got it, about $12 for that plate, it's Chile, it's a mining town so everything was extremely expensive, I was happy to find camping, for the 1st time since Mexico a few months back.  

The next day I headed to San Pedro de Atacama, next post. Thank you for following. 


  1. Allô Simon,
    C'est vrai que le paysage du Solar de Uyuni ressemble à un autre planète. Tu ne te sens pas trop seul dans ce temps-là?
    Sur ces petites routes et dessert, tu ne dois pas voir beaucoup de personnes.
    Bon courage pour le reste du voyage au Chili. J'espère que tu vois pouvoir reprendre la route dans 2 semaines quand ta moto sera réparée.
    Tiens-nous au courant.

  2. I just love the Chilean Champagne, it is so.... much better than French Champagne! jejejeje Just Kidding Simon! Hey, this is Geoff from Iowa. I just read your blog and it looks like you had an awesome trip! I especially enjoyed seeing the pictures of of the beautiful women in South America. It looks like your F800 held up pretty well minus the suspension issue.

    Te via bien!