First part for Southern Bolivia: After the end of the Salars, I continue my route with Alex and Mary for the region of the South Lipe reputed to be beautiful and hostile.
to other winds
On the island of Cactus, a little before 6 am, I wake up (a little after the others…) to take my bike and go for a morning stroll on the other side of the island to see the sunrise.
The night was not so cold but in the early morning, in the shade of the island, the temperature wakes up quickly.
We store all our belongings and we offer a little breakfast to the snack of the island… If it's not luxury…
We admire one last time the cacti of this impromptu place where tourists already arrive in numbers.
We ride our mounts for the thirty kilometers that we have left until the exit of the Salar.
We return to the earth after a photo shoot, follow several tens of kilometers of track to the cute and tiny village of Colcha K. It's Sunday, everything is very quiet but we still find a grocery who kindly accepts to serve us food (chicken, rice and potato of course).
We clean our bikes from the last traces of salt as digestion.
The afternoon is a little harder: the slopes become a little sandy in places but, above all, the wind rises. A constant face wind that becomes a fight for the thirty kilometers that follow to the village of San Juan.
We find a hotel for the night and can thus take showers and prepare well for what awaits us. This day should be just a glimpse.
After a good night in a real bed (whoa!) We prepare our bikes and reload our supplies for the days that will follow. Indeed, the next town or village will be in about 6 to 8 days. Although there are hotels, water points and some shops for tourists coming in 4×4; It is a km² of nothing that we are about to cross. In short, one expects to face the elements, especially after reading and hearing the numerous tales of cycling through the region. Zigzag door therefore not far from 9 liters of water and food for about 7 days.
We start with a first half-day of 48 kilometers which becomes more complicated a little at the end of the day when the wind is appearing and the quality of the track degrades.
The ruined house indicated as possible wind shelter on other blogs is not found, so we plant our tents in a depression of the ground. Alex and Mary invite me in theirs to eat all together, the ski socks will not be too much tonight.
We continue the same track the next day, it rises in the middle of sand and pebbles. We console our low speed by landscapes.
After too brief kilometers on a better track coming from Chile, we take the direction of the Laguna.
We arrive at the Laguna Hedionda at the 50th kilometers of the day and we restore ourselves to the only building of the corner: the Hotel Los Flamencos.
The managers of the hotel are immensely nice, they make room in a dining room just for us to spend the night. They even offer us a meal worthy of a gastro restaurant based on many vegetables.
All for FREE! We're thrilled and surprised at the same time:)
We order a breakfast for the next morning and let's quietly sleep safe from the wind
… Events arrive
The next day we leave with a well-filled belly ready to face the dunes we will meet.
The beginning is quiet despite the sand present in the vicinity of the following Lagunas.
Then it's not the dunes, but the dune that gives us a hard line. The impression of spending an entire afternoon to climb an infinite mountain of sand is troubling.
As we arrive at the top of this heap of sand after too many hours to push our bikes, a violent wind invites to the game for more fun…
Fortunately we arrive at a point where we shelter: the Hotel del Desierto. The reception is very friendly and we are offered free tea and bread. They also offer a sheltered corner for our tents. We are truly received as kings as cyclists.
The view from the hotel is beautiful but the evening becomes however fast icy. We quickly cook a few pasta before we warm up in our sleeping bags.
The record of slowness was largely beaten with an average of 6km/h on the day.
The rest of this challenging adventure for Christmas Day… If you're wise.