After many days in La Paz to repair my bike and recover from food poisoning (apparently almost inevitable in Bolivia), I take the road to southwestern Bolivia.
Several hundred kilometers of not very exciting roads allow me to arrive in Sabbaya, a small village close to the Salar de Coipasa.
Reunion in Salty environment
I'm starting to roll, ready to cross the Salar de Coipasa. There are tracks everywhere that go in every way possible. I choose one that traces in the middle. I have to find Alex and Marie in the vicinity, but there is obviously no network here.
The immense expanse of salt is rather simple to roll (bah yes it is flat) but on some passages, salt is moist, splashes of salts bleach Zigzag and my saddlebags.
I stop at the small village of Coipasa which is on an island of the Salar to take some provisions in the only tiny grocery store. The manager tells me that two French bikers passed half an hour ago: no doubt it must be Alex and Marie.
I'm taking my road as fast as I can to catch them.
Distances are very difficult to interpret so this desert is flat, but after a short time I see two silhouettes in the distance. Although it is impossible to determine whether these silhouettes are cars, bikes or anything else, I decide to direct myself to them.
Bingo, after a few kilometers I find Alex and Marie who stopped to take a break with two other Germans on the bike; They just crossed each other. Nadja and Julian, they go up north, they carry all their climbing equipment as well as sails for paragliding (and yes all on their bikes!), so they are rather loaded and are very friendly (their blog). It's kind of magical to find ourselves five in the middle of this landscape, so it deserves a souvenir photo.
We split up to pursue our respective paths. The dish and the non-existent circulation of the Salar are perfect for chatting while rolling with Alex and Mary. The mountain in front of us comes very very slowly despite our speed, but after several tens of kilometers we finally leave the Salar.
We camp the same evening not far from a deserted track near the village of Luca and try to rid the bikes of the blocks of salt accumulated in places.
Towards even more salt
The next day we go towards the direction of the following salar: that of Uyuni. It is the largest salt desert in Bolivia and the second largest in the world. But first, we still need to pass two passes and sixty kilometers.
Once the first pass we stop in Salinas to eat and restock in fruits, vegetables, drinks …
In the afternoon we continue our route around the Tunupa volcano which is surprising in colors.
After the second pass we finally see the Salar de Uyuni in all its splendor. We bivouac to the edge of the track and admire the sun lying on this immensity of salt.
Today the plan is simple (and flat), we just have to cross the half of the Salar to the island of Incahuasi, also known as the Cactus Island.
The entrance to this white expanse is simply incredible, it really feels like another world. We each prepare a suitable soundtrack because the next 35 kilometers will be Dante but redundant (personally it will be a compilation ' of Pink Floyd).
All Flat Earth theorists can come here to get an idea for themselves. The day before the height we saw the island in the center of the desert; Once at its entrance (and thus level), it is impossible to see it. A small black dot appears and begins to swell only after several kilometers.
We arrive very quickly to our destination, it must be said that the route was really simple, it was like riding on asphalt. Fortunately for our bikes, this salar was totally dry.
We rest and take a good meal (from the lama!) at the island's restaurant. There are only a few families who live here, but tourists coming in 4WD with organized tours come constantly.
We meet a Spaniard who also travels by bike and mark a word in the guestbook reserved for the cyclists. We notice that the number of French bikes passing through there is rather important.
The sun begins to fold, locals tell us where we can mount our tents and insist that one can shelter in one of the houses if the night is too cold. They're really super nice to us.
The wind is starting to be strong. We will be the only tourists that night to sleep on the island, amid the cactus, rocks and this immense white desert.
Late at night, once the moon is lying down, I take my head out of my tent to admire the starry sky … I'm really on another planet.