Big waves and into Santiago

NP Pan de Azucar to Santiago

We left the national park Pan de Azucar and continued along the coast for a few kilometers before we got on the PanAm again and just flew down the 4 lane highway with a short stopover in Vallenar, where we found a really nice hotel.

La Serena is a really nice colonian style town and again we found safe parking and a real nice hotel just around the corner of the central plaza where we stayed for the night.

We continued our long stretch of days on the PanAm. Riding was very relaxed. Not too much traffic, the broad lane of the PanAm, an enjoyable landscape. Nothing to get overly excited about, but after all these eventful days in Bolivia we almost enjoyed not to “have to stop and look at something”. We just rode. You can let your mind fly away, think about the journey, about the country, about friends, family or just keep your mind busy by calculating how much time you would need to the next exit/town/gasstation when riding at different speeds (something I did a lot and I can proudly announce that I became the master of “I-will-be-at-the-next-exit-in-X.XX-minutes-at-the-momentary-average-speed-of-Y-km/h-sort-of-calculation”).

After we had enough of long straight roads, we decided to make a little detour via Monte Patria. It turned out to be a pretty road with some lakes, lots of curves and very little traffic.

We did not want to arrive late in Santiago and so we decided to find a place somewhere at the coast for the night.

And we found a pretty one: Pichidangui turned out to be a little village on a fantastic rocky coast. The deep blue ocean breaks its waves powerful on the black rocks of the coast. The setting sun added some warm color to the scene. And the birds contributed their squawking noises to the thundering sound of the breaking waves. It was a mind-blowing scenery.

On the road the day before we had to stop on a construction site. I chatted with the guy standing in his car behind me and he told me his friend owns a hostel where lots of motorbikers go. He marked the position of the hostel in my navigation (Case Matte 33° 26’22” S ;70° 37’43” W). So we looked for the hostel and drove up and down the road in Santiago until a young guy put his head out of the fence and asked if we where looking for a hostel. It turned out to be Christian, the owner. A motorcyclist himself he decided to start this hostel. For whatever reason it does not have a sign outside, but it is a fantastic place. Safe parking, a kitchen for use, a fantastic roof terrace, fast internet… everything we wanted to have.

He made some phone calls for us so we could get our bikes serviced at BMW.

The next two days we walked around the city, had fantastic meals, even a german Weissbier, had our bikes serviced (it turned out though they did not check the bearings on the steering, so we had to get this done a few days later in Osorno; grrrr).

It was a relaxing time there and a little break from all the riding we did in the past week.

3P-Info Part: Salar de Uyuni

The Salar de Uyuni is one of the most amazing places I have ever visited.

Crossing it on a motorbike is priceless. Don’t miss it.

Get there:

To get to Uyuni from LaPaz there are basically two options:

1. direct road from Challapata to Uyuni

2. continue in Challapata on the Ruta 1 to Potosi and then go west to Uyuni.

The first option is a really bad road. Lots of cur rogations, sandy parts, lots of construction. They are building a new road, so in a few months this might be a good option. But certainly till middle of 2015 this is a very bad road for 160km. But it is very beautiful and there a nice spots to pitch your tent on the way (eg. rock formations few km before Rio Mulatos).

The second option is all paved and in good conditions. Potosi seems to be a nice city with a silver mine. So this is by far the easier route.

It case in rains:

In case it had rained, it is strongly recommended (by a lot of people, including local guides and international motorbike guides) to not enter on your own motorbike. That is especially the case for modern motorbikes with a lot of electronic equipment. The water splashes everywhere and may cause serious problems. After a day, or a week or a month…

When the lake is whet (in ourcaseonly the first few hundret meters) the salt really gets everywhere.

Some people had to leave their motorbike there as the electrics got so badly torn up, that it was not repairable. Of course you can also go with your own bike if it is wet, if you are lucky you won’t have any problems.

You can rent motorbikes though (small Honda 400ccm which are big fun or more powerful DR650).

You can rent them at MTB:

They only rent including guide at 200$ per day. Thats quite pricy, but totally worth it. The alternative would be to take one of the many 4×4 organised tours. That is a lot cheaper, but you miss the feeling of riding a motorbike on the salar, which is fantastic.

If the Salar is dry it is safe to go on your own bike

Ride into the void:

There are only few places where you can enter the Salar.

Don’t enter anywhere else and only use the tracks from the 4×4. Off the tracks the surface can be very soft so that you may sink your bike and need a 4×4 to pull it out.

The eastern entrance is in Colchani at the road from Chalapata to Uyuni at approx. 20km north of Uyuni (S20° 17.876′ W66° 56.130′). You can’t miss it. There are 2 salt hotels at the entrance. We haven’t stayed there, but people we met said it was interesting (plus you can see the sunset over the salar there).

Once you are on the Salar you can go wherever you want.

Once in the while little holes (up to 50cm diameter) offer a view into the world of salt crystals underneath (the locals call them “Ojos”). They are no danger and you can go and have a look.

There is an island where all the 4×4 organized tours go to (S20° 14.498′ W67° 37.671′): Isla Incahuasi (formerly Isla Pescado). It has a little hill and offers a fantastic view. Only enter the island from the northeastern end (where you will see some huts and during the day dozens of 4×4, as the rest of the surroundings of the islands may have a thin salt crust).

It is great fun to ride the bike on the Salar. It is not slippery at all.

After the visit make sure to clean your bike at one of the many washing places in town.

Campsite at the beach

San Pedro to NP Pan de Azucar

The copper mine made a great impression on us and so we continued the road to Antofagasta. We crossed the Atacama desert, one of the driest deserts on earth. It wasn’t a very pleasant ride. The landscape became less attractive and everywhere there were little mining cabins and trucks.

Every second car was a red pick-up truck from the national mining company Codelco. A lot of watertrucks passed us on their way to the big mining sites near Calama.

We stayed in a good hotel in Antofagasta and even the car-park there told you that all there is going on in this region is about mining. Beside our motorbikes there were only pick-ups from mining companies.

We continued our way south and the PanAm gets really boring as it gets more inland. Not that the landscape is ugly, but it gets quite repetitive. The only interruption was a sculpture that an artist put up in the desert. The hand of the desert is right next to the PanAm and so we took a short break there in the shadowless boiling heat of the desert.

After 300km of heat and desert the landscape becomes more hilly and nicer. We finally turned off the PanAm to get to the coast to a nice little national park. The NP Pan de Azucar offers a lot of plants (mainly little cactus) that only life in this little area. It is a wonderful landscape as well. The area doesnt get any rain at all. But it gets humid with clouds and fog that rolls in from the coast. We had blue sky and sun all day long, but as we approach the national park the sky gets cloudy. We arrived at the coast on a campsite.

It is a quite little bay with a perfect sand beach, rocks on both ends of the 1km beach.

There are little shelters for cooking set up. All very nicely. We are the only guests. The owners live in a couple of little huts where fishermen have their boats. So we make our dinner and enjoying the beach and the stars all by ourselves. It is beautiful.


After dark we played around with the camera and Christy wrote my name with her flashlight really nicely. She had to write in reverse and it turned out she is a natural talent to as it is not as easy.

Chisties first attempt. Pretty neat.

Chisties first attempt. Pretty neat.

My attempts were less flattering. These are my best tries (out of many, many, many).

That went well... oh there is a letter missing...

That went well… oh there is a letter missing…

.... and another one missing

…. and another one missing, and why can’t I get the Y right?



After many other triesI finally gave up and just gave her a kiss instead.

"Damn" I gave up

“Damn” I gave up

Them thar hills

It’s certainly not the most romantic destination, but when we decided on Chile instead of Argentina upon leaving Bolivia, I knew just where I wanted to go — Chuquicamata! It’s not everyday that you can just stop by one of the biggest open pit mines in the world. It’s not on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, but this active mine is a testament to human ingenuity and development.

The volcanic veins of magma which have formed these hills of the Atacama contain copper. American mining companies discovered this here over a hundred years ago. Since then, operations were transferred to the Chilean State, but the mining hasn’t slowed down a bit. Today, a third of Chile’s economy depends on copper.

Mining is a fascinating and somehow horrifying industry. This is a place of absolute superlatives. Trucks larger than in your wildest dreams, moving weights unimaginable to get at a precious metal. Well, in the case of copper not technically precious. This base mental has a current spot per pound of just under US$3. In it’s path, mining leaves behind huge waste and destruction. But we all want our stuff… Christmas lights, phone cords, electronics of all sorts, including whatever device you’re using to read this blog, contains some copper.

Environmentally, the place is a nightmare. A mere one percent of the rock they extract here is actually copper. Some additional gases and minerals are yielded in processing and we were credibly assured that nothing which can be sold goes to waste. The guide admits they haven’t really found a good solution for the dust which results after the rocks are pulverized, and water is a real issue.

Situated in one of the driest deserts in the world, the Atacama, water is a serious problem. Massive amounts are needed to process copper. On the tour, our guide told us that a new law was passed that only allows mines to use sea water for processing (background). Water trucks are everywhere along the highway (don’t even begin to think about the carbon footprint the exhaust of all this is causing…).

They are working to find better solutions, but it seems the mining brings as many challenges as it does solutions. (Interesting article.)

In Chuquicamata, they have set a target to move operations underground to exploit the new finds located below the current pit. The massive trucks will stop burning their diesel at three gallons a minute, and instead conveyors will lift the rocks to the top.

Nevermind the fascinating eyesore the mine creates. Deserts are wonderful, magical places, but this area isn’t particularly beautiful. It’s hot, dry and I imagine if weren’t for the mine, nobody would want to live here. The sandy landscapes we drove through past Calama were mostly interesting because of the mining activity.

3P – Info Part: Southwest Bolivia – Laguna Colorada

Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama

Riding north to south it seems a logical route to go from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. It is fantastic ride, don’t miss it.

Here are some pictures from our trip.

Below there is some information about the ride. But first let me give you some general information:

The internet is full of reports about this area. A lot of people who did the ride had a hard time and that’s what they write. Don’t hesitate of doing it though.

With the right preparation everybody can do it on every bike (maybe not a Goldwing or a racebike).

Update: after I got an email of Bob, a great fellow, aged 74, who asked me about some details I would like to add one more sentence here: if you are not an experienced off roader, you have to be prepared to pick up your bike a few times. Little falls just may happen. At altitude of constantly over 4000m (13000ft) and at times over 5000m (16000ft) that might be strenuous. Take your time, take it easy and you are fine though.

We did it on a F650GS Dakar and a G650GS. We had Heidenau tyres which were quite low on profile.

My girlfriend made her license not a year before the trip. She had little experience before the trip and one long weekend offroading with a little Beta200. So you don’t need to be an expert at all. Just prepare and take it easy.

What you need is:

  • Fuel for 500km (we simply bought two 5L fuel cans that we strapped on the bike)
  • Enough water (we had 4L each)
  • Some money for the overnight stays (be reminded that you enter a national park where you have to pay 150Bs entrance).
  • Some snacks to keep you going during the day
  • GPS maps of the area (OSM has a good map which turned out to be very precise in this area). (The paper maps from Reise-Know-How are crap for this part of the journey).

Take your time. We made it in 3 days, which was quite relaxing.

Don’t be worried if something happens: There are many 4×4 running these roads as this is a very common touristic thing to do in organized tours (see below), so there is always help if needed. People will stop when you give them a sign. You can also ask them if you are unsure about directions. Just stop an wait a little bit. There will be someone coming.

The most4x4 tours make the loop: Uyuni-Salar-San Juan-Laguna Colorada- Laguna Verde- Villa Mar-San Cristobal-uyuni(3 days).

The 3 options:

There are basically 3 ways from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama.

  1. The Lagoon route via San Juan
  2. The route via San Cristobal
  3. The route via Tupiza
  1. The lagoon route is the by far most sandy one. It has a stretch of more than 60km (depending on the conditions up to 90km) sand. You pass a lot of lagoons and this is the route the 4×4 take from Uyuni via San Juan to the Laguna colorado all along the Chile-Bolivia border. You also pass the famous Arbol de Piedra, a rock formation that looks like a tree. For motorbikers this is the most strengous version.
  1. San cristobal route: This route is the one we took. It seems to be the easiest one. The first bit is in very good condition (almost like a paved road) and there are only short sandy bits of road (max. 1km). Most parts of the road are rocky and easy to ride. You pass a nice lagoon and some incredible rock formations that are certainly as spectacular as the Arbol de piedra. You can devide the road in 3 days or do it in 2 days (but that would be pretty hard or you are experianced off roader).
  1. The route via Tupiza is also pretty sandy, not as much as the Lagoon route (I was told by a 4×4 tourguide). It brings you to places where Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid lived and died. This route I have the least information on, but for people who are experianced offroaders and who want to spend some more remote time this would be the route. There are not as many 4×4 tours on this road.

Info Laguna Colorada

Flamingos, thousands.

Flamingos, thousands.

Route 1 and 2 are meeting at the Laguna Colarada.

There is a camp there (S22° 10.260′ W67° 49.049′) where all the 4×4 groups stay. Simple rooms usually as dorms, but you can also rent a complete dorm for yourself if you want to have some privacy.

There is another one (calls himself a hotel, but is not better than the camp(Info from a 4×4 tour guide) south of the Laguna Colorada (S22° 15.802′ W67° 48.961′). Here you can also buy water and snacks.

Close to the camp there is a lookout (S22° 10.222′ W67° 48.279′).

DO NOT MISS THAT. If you are doing route 2 go around the laguna (or take a short cut on the north side of the laguna) and go there. All the tourists go there so the place gets crowdie at times, but this place is incredible. The colors of the lagunas are in general better in the afternoon, as the strong afternoon winds stir up the water and the bacteria in it which create the great color

 Detailed describtion of Route 2:

Uyuni – San Cristobal – Villa Mar – Laguna Colorada – Camp Laguna Colorada – Geysers – Laguna Verde

The road leaves Uyuni south west direction. You pass a gas station (S20° 28.174′ W66° 49.200′) and leaving the town. The road is in very good condition. You can easily go 80km/h. In San Cristobal there is a gas station, but it does not always have fuel. So don’t count on it. But if you have very little reserve, you can try to get some fuel here.

There are also some shops where you can get water.

Shortly after the town of Villa Alota take a left (at S21° 23.974′ W67° 36.893′).

The road gets rougher now. A little bit of dust and sand is on the rocky road, so take it easy. Shortly after the turn off there is a water crossing. It is approximately 40cm deep and rocky. So you may get your feet wet. They are building a bridge there, so end of 2014 you may have a less adventurous crossing there.

The road gets up the mountain and soon you will see amazing rock formation right next to the road on your right hand side (S21° 32.155′ W67° 34.742′). If you plan to camp, this is an excellent place.

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The following part of the road is a bit sandy at parts, but never long stretches. And the sand is never really deep. So you can “powerwalk” through the sandy parts.

In Villa Mar there are a couple of simple B&B. The tours stop here on the way home from the Laguna Verde. We stayed here in a simple B&B at the end of the town and had a great meal in the evening and a good (simple) breakfast. You can also buy water here.

Shortly after Villa Mar you have to turn off the main road. The turn off is here (S21° 46.208′ W67° 27.818′).

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Turn to the right and follow up the hills into a beautiful little valley which I like to call “Lama paradise”. If you get there, you know why. The road gets pretty rocky here.

After a few kilometers you arrive at the first lagoon (Laguna Capina). You have a nice view on it. So make a break and enjoy the view.

A first lagoon

A first lagoon

After you have the lagoon behind you a pretty sandy strech begins. It is pretty much the worst part and it will bring you into the national park. There is a guy living here in a small hut. You have to pay him some money and you get a ticket. Don’t loose it. It will be checked on the way out (some told us, we were not checked).

Shortly after the entrance of the national park you hit another junction. You have to take a right here. The main road is where most of the 4×4 tours come back from Laguna Verde directly. So following the main road means you miss Laguna Colorada (and you don’t want to miss that!). If you have doubts, wait until the next 4×4 arrives, stop him and ask for directions. I think the junction is approx. here (S22° 09.125′ W67° 39.732′).

This will bring you to the laguna colorada. Don’t miss the viewing point (S22° 10.222′ W67° 48.279′) and stay a night here. Watch out, the way from the camp to the lookout is best on foot (500m from the camp). The road there is really really sandy. (deep sand).

It is worth it. Going around the laguna is pretty sandy. There is a track right north of the lagoon. I have not checked it out, but it would be worth a try. It would be a lot shorter than around the lagoon. (More info see chapter INFO Laguna Colorada)

The bit around the Laguna is pretty sandy.

The bit around the Laguna is pretty sandy.

After a cold night at the Laguna Colorada the road goes up the mountain. As soon as you have left the laguna the sandy bits are over. No more sand.

Leaving the Laguna Colorada up the mountain.

Leaving the Laguna Colorada up the mountain.

There is the Aduana (S22° 26.454′ W67° 48.357′) but you DO NOT NEED to go there You can do the customs directly at the border since 2014!

There are some geysers (S22° 26.002′ W67° 45.696′) and they are most active in the morning. So 4×4 tours start at 4am. We took it more easy and it was still impressive.

You pass another laguna (Laguna Chelviri) with hot springs. At the hot springs there is a little shop and you will find dozens of 4×4 from organized tours.

Shortly after that on your left hand side there is a fantastic rock formations on complete flat sand. For a reason this is called Disierto Salvador Dali. Its quite nice.

Finally the road leads between the Laguna Verde and the Laguna Blanca. Its a real highlight (S22° 47.292′ W67° 49.067′).

The Laguna Verde. The strong and cold wind stirred up the colourful lagoon.

The Laguna Verde. The strong and cold wind stirred up the colourful lagoon.

The road goes along the south side of the Laguna Blanca and is a bit soft (the road on the north side is a bit better id guess), but no bigger problem. Just take it easy. It is not far to tarmac anymore.

The border is not far away, just up the hill (approx. S22° 52.434′ W67° 47.426′). Not to miss. It is a small building in the middle of nowhere.

The little border crossing to Chile.

The little border crossing to Chile.

The border stuff for Chile you do in San Pedro de Atacama. Here:( S22° 54.666′ W68° 11.615′). BEWARE: you are not allowed to bring any fruits or seeds with you.

We did this route, and I didn’t have the feeling of missing something. I saw enough lagoons, and instead of the Arbol de Piedra we saw fantastic rock formations. But if you want to learn to ride sand you’d certainly should do the route 1.

GPX Tracks:

The tracks are found here:


Dust and colored lakes

Bolivias Southwest

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The south of Bolivia is a wonderland for off-roading and landscapes. And of course we wouldn’t want to miss that.

I wrote a long report about this part of the trip. But I just realized I can’t express this in words.

We saw the most amazing places, rode fantastic dirt roads. The landscape was dusty, colorful, vast.

We suffered from the intense sun and the dust. We hit some sandy roads and got our feet wet in river crossings. We crossed the border at over 5000m.

We saw red, white and green lakes with flamingos. We saw mountains of green, red and yellow. We had chilly nights and strong winds.

We had a fantastic time.

Take a look at the pictures and enjoy.

Sand and Sea

Nazca to Camana

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We left Nazca to make a little detour to have a nice view on the Cerro Blanco, the highest sand dune in the world. We are not very tempted by superlatives, but this dune is an astonishing 2800m high, just 50km from the sea. We love sand and dunes and so we were very curios to see it.

We ride into a dry valley which starts right in Nazca. On both sides mountains with soft shapes accompany the valley. Almost no vegetation is found here; just on the bottom of the valley there must be a little bit of water as some plants create a pattern of green once in a while.

Suddenly the peak of the Cerro Blanco appears over the smaller mountains in the foreground. The name is describing it pretty well. With all the brown mountains surrounding us the bright color of the Cerro Blanco sticks out and appears almost white. We find an opening in the mountains and turn off the paved road to get a closer look. Soft sand makes riding a lot of fun and as we approach we finally see the full flank of the mountain. A wall of more than 2300m of sand is piling up in front of us. It is an incredible sight.

We ride further down the bumpy track until it gets too difficult for Christy on her heavy bike.

We go back to the main road and continue until we reach a mountain pass. From here you can approach the summit of the Cerro Blanco. We stop, enjoy the view and play a little bit in the soft sand, but there is no point on continuing uphill with the loaded bikes.

So we turn around to Nazca and keep going south the PanAm.

After a few kilometers we get off it again to follow a sandy dirt road to a cemetery from pre-inca times: Chauchilla. Tomb raiders have dug the ground to find treasures and so the dead had been laying there in the open field for centuries. A few years ago officials have restored some of the graves and put the bodys into their original graves.

Since in the past years people have wandered around the dead and sometimes even posing with them for photos I think restoring the graves has been a great thing to do. It gives some dignity back to this place.

The whole place still is covered in bones, hair, clothing, clay fragments and other parts of the graves. All over are little dips, indicating other graves that have been opened.

We are the only visitors. It is boiling hot in the sun. The place is surrounded by hills in different colors. The place offers a strange morbid beauty and peace.

The deads have been dried in their graves to mummies. The many years in the sun have whitened their bones. So here they sit in their new graves with some rests of their belongings. It is really macabre and strange. But also beautiful and peaceful.

We hit the PanAm at around 1 and we have decided to go till the town of Chala. We expected the road to be sort of boring and to be one of the parts where we would just cover distance.

But we were wrong! It was a fantastic ride with lots of stops to enjoy the constantly changing scenery.

The landscape can be described in one sentence: Desert to the left, black strip of PanAm in the middle, blue sea to the right.

But the diversity was mind-blowing: we passed sections with complete flatness, areas with beautifully shaped rocks, colors of red, green and yellow. At one point the dunes towered a few hundred meters and rose directly from the sea. About have way up the PanAm crosses the dunes flank. We passed deserted sand beaches for kilometers. Sometimes the coast was rocky with the waves wildly shattering on the cliffs. Sometimes the sea was rolling in long surfers paradise waves upon shallow beaches.

The sea was deep blue, forming a perfect contrast with its freshness and vivid nature in comparison to the complete lack of water and lifeless desert on our left.

It was 400km of pure pleasures. From Nazca to Camana with an overnight stop in Chalca.



Long lines

We hit the road before midday and stayed on the PanAm which is a road with not too much traffic here. As the rest of the coast of Peru, the area is very dry. If it is not sandy it consists of dry rocks on both sides of the road. The wind blows the fine sand over the road in straight lines. These thin lines get disturbed when Christy is passing through. The turbulences of her bike makes the sand dance around the street for some time before the wind forces them in a straight line from right to left again.

The black line of the PanAm that is cutting through these different shades of brown and yellow is a fantastic picture and we stop frequently since the shapes and colors of the desert change a lot.

It gets more hilly after a while and finally the PanAm lowers through a couple of river valleys. In one of the valleys we take a short dirt road that brings us to the first signs of the Nazca geoglyphes. We ride up a little hill and continue walking for a short while until we get to a place where we have a great view. We are all alone here. Nobody else. It is quite and peaceful here.

We continue the PanAm and after it leads out of a small valley we suddenly find ourselves in a large plane. Little black rocks cover the ground till the horizon. The road is perfectly straight for as long as you can see.

Suddenly I notice something on our right side. I stop and turn around to have a better view. And indeed, I have just crossed one of the Nazca lines. I stand there watching the line. It is approx. 3m wide and maybe 10cm deep, continues on both side of the road to eternity as it seems.

The Nazca lines are most known for its figures. But in fact there are thousands of long lines, some lasting for a couple of kilometers. The reason for why these lines where drawn is unknown. It is just a mistery. And here I stand, looking at it right in front of me.

We continue to a small tower that is standing next to the road. From it’s top you have a great view on three figures. I have seen pictures of these images a million times. But I was surprised how small they look in real live. And the lines are really thin (approx. 20cm wide).

We continued to a little hill from which many of the long lines start (or end). We climbed it and had a perfect view along these long geometrical shapes. It was already 5o’clock and the low sun threw perfect shadows over the edges of the lines.

We looked for a hotel and ended up in a pretty fancy place: Nazca Lines Hotel. Maria Reiche, the main researcher of the Nazca lines lived here for more than 30 years until she died. The hotel owner let here live here for free to show his appreciation of her life long dedication to the Nazca lines.

We had a great dinner next to the pool and some nice palm trees and thought of that eventful day had just passed.



There is sand in the bottom of the swimming pool. Of course there is. They can clean it as often as they like, this is the desert. High sandy mountains rise up around us, lost a bit in the hazy morning air. The roaring trucks on the motorway suggest they have contributed to these milky hues. Despite the traffic and frantic horns of the mototaxis, it’s quiet and peaceful here. It is a paradox for the senses, the sound of the road and the calm of the lush garden here, half a mile away. The body relaxes in the warm, calm wind, with the sound of palms in the breeze, cheerful chirping of tiny birds and the cooing of doves on the rooftop.

In the night, the horns stop but the constant droning to the city continues. There are nine million people there who want fresh food and industry awaits precious minerals from inland Tarma and the Central Highlands which is at the other end of this dusty road. While dozing into the night, you can imagine it’s the steady white noise of the ocean which puts you to sleep.

The chaotic motorway connects one unremarkable dingy town to the next. We asked a mototaxi driver for a suggestion in the last town and he said there’s no place recommendable and suggested we keep going. There’s a country club ahead. There, the guard suggests pushing through to Lima, his colleague suggests a turn off immediately after the upcoming bridge. And here we end up, in a gated community of colonial estates just off the main road, our beautiful guarded oasis.


Through the desert

Piura – Trujillo

We wanted to make it all the way to Chimbote today. So we had an early start and left the hotel at around 9. The PanAm is a very good road the goes through the desert de Sechura (Dry Desert). In the morning it was partly cloudy and once we have left the town of Piura we cruised with around 90-110 km/h through the desert. The desert changed during the drive a lot. First there were still some bushes left and right and along the road there were many little wooden barracks and houses where people are selling their goods. But soon the barracks ended and so did the bushes. The landscape became more flat and sandy. Slowly a little bit of wind came up as well. Every now and then areas of sand dunes appeared, sometimes small, sometimes as high as 50m. In some areas u-shaped dunes appeared. In a perfect sickel shape they spread as far as one could see.

In other places the desert was perfectly flat.

It is quite amazing going through that desert, knowing that the sea is only a few km from the road. The landscape was fantastic and the quick change from the last days came to my mind a couple of times. Just 3 days ago we rode through rich vegation with banana trees left and right of the street.

As it got warmer, the wind picked up on speed. After 1pm the wind got really strong and riding got difficult.

Especially with the wind coming from the side, which was the case for most of the time.

Every time we passed a truck we swerved over the rest of the road. The road got more busy in the afternoon as well, and overtaking got real nerve wrecking with other cars overtaking us as well. We had a couple of situations where we had to slow down since oncoming traffic underestimated our speed and we were faced with two trucks coming right at us.

We made a couple of short stops. The breaks where really necessary to keep the concentration up.

In total it was a very beautiful day, but also very tiring.

At 4pm we decided to stop in Trujillo instead of pushing though the rest of the 150km to Chimbote. We went to Chan-Chan, the largest pre-columbian ruins but they were already closed, so we decided to return the next day.

We ended up in the fanciest hotel in town, directly at the main plaza.

And we saw something we haven’t seen in a long time: the golden arches of McDonald. So we decided to get some good old American fast food for a change.