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Author: Fab

New Zealand: Mountains and sea ensure

New Zealand: Mountains and sea ensure

Hello Hello,
Here, my journey is over and I am already back in the Alsatian region. I can now summarize my New Zealand Cyber Adventures and unveil the beautiful wild landscapes of the South Island.

Preparation and first kilometers

I arrive in Christchurch after a jump in time through the various transits. It's simple, I fly on Saturday in San Jose, I arrive Tuesday morning in New Zealand (the date change line helping).
I leave myself 2 days of rest, visit and repair of ZigZag (the cassette and chain had rusted well in Costa Rica) while planning my future itinerary. I am greeted by Leisa a New Zealander using Warmshower. Super It shows me all the guides of the island with all possible trails!!!
I start to attack the mountains as soon as possible: direction Arthur Pass.

Castle Hill

It goes up, several weeks that I did not make long climbs, I feel it right away. So I climb to the pass in 2 days and 170 km; On the way I pass by Cave Stram Reserve: A small spring that passes under a mountain that can be traced from one end to the other on a few hundred meters. Equipped with a frontal it is possible to do without any guide as long as you agree to have water up to the size. It's actually a hell of a waterfall that I go back to with a family telling me the way. A first intoxicating experience totally free (you'll see more in the video).

The entrance of the Cellar = The exit of the source

I take the road back to the pass and reach it after 1000 m of elevation. I take advantage of my first descent in the middle of the New Zealand Mountains.

Valley before Arthur Pass
Arthur Pass

At the bend of a track I pass a bridge and discover a small river with a sparkling water. Neither one, nor two, I refreshed myself in this beautiful river, apparently unknown to all. Although it is a little cold, it is the clearest water in which I have bathed so far.

Eh no, this is not a swimming pool

I continue my route, fresh, ready to find out what the West Coast holds.

In the evening I go to a campsite and meet a French couple traveling in van. We spend the evening together sharing experiences of travelling around a great dish.
The next morning we see a gold digger in the river near the campsite. We talk a little bit with him and learn a little about these techniques and his life. I continue my way on the West Wilderness Trail: A bike ride through the lush nature of the West Coast. This trail is just extra!! Dense vegetation mingles with the mountains and the surrounding rivers and we pass on a small path by forcing ourselves not to take pictures every mile.

West Wilderness Trail

We stop on the way to a ranch remodelled as a restaurant for cyclists and we link the end of the trail in very fun trails to ride: small curves along a tiny canal descending the mountain (created for the gold mines of the time), or even Small trails where inertia is enough to drive without forcing. This trail is perfect:D
In the late afternoon, after a beautiful day of 80km, I leave my co-cyclist at the small town of Okitika at the edge of the ocean. Indeed, tonight I plan to sleep at a warmshower host. He warmly welcomes me and two other Swedish tourists. They have travelled almost all over eastern Europe, part of the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Indonesia by bicycle. So we discuss bike trips all evening. Kevin, the host, tells us that he travels now like this: by receiving and sharing stories with other cyclists.

The next day I have to say good-bye to these nice travelers who are just going to ride on the trail I travelled yesterday. We exchange some indications and contacts and I notice that the luggage rack of Zig-Zag is no longer straight. A screw had to break yesterday… So I lose a big half day to fix it and especially to find the screw that I need.
I'm leaving town at 3:00, heading north along the coast.

After Oktitika

The coast is very wild but it starts to get a lot of wind, I spot a cheap campsite that I can reach before nightfall. I'm getting a little more into the land at Greymouth level.

A good night's sleep and a good meal to attack still a large portion to the north coast of the South Island. The landscapes and valleys crossed are, again, at the height of the country's reputation.

The Rainbow Trail that I was planning to borrow to make a loop and return to Christchurch is unfortunately closed due to weather conditions. My buddy Flo who will accompany me across the South Island for a week and a half arrives in a few days and I have to meet him there.
So I decide to go to Nelson and from there, take a bus back down to Christchurch. It takes me four days of cycling, which turns into 5 because of a day of torrential rain, to reach Nelson.

To Nelson

I am fortunate to get to buy the last place on a bus allowing me to arrive almost at the same time as my buddy in Christchurch. On the way the bus stops at Kaikoura. I'll let you admire:

Kaikoura

I would have loved to pedal along this coast but you have to make a choice, the South Island is very large, I realize that it would take several months to bike to really see all the diversity that the country offers.
I look forward to riding with Florian, the next few days are looking beautiful…

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

"Once is not custom, nor two… Besides, we never knew how many times it was custom "… Here is the only article on Costa Rica.

My parents joined me to visit this small country of Central America, I have very little pedaled on my mount. The adventure was done quietly in a 4×4. It was probably best seen the weather conditions sometimes very humid and the roads Costa Rican not suitable for cyclists.

In short, I will not tell in detail the visit of this beautiful country, but just make you drool with photos and video.

Photos

Video

Itinerary

Down the Road

Down the Road

Given my enormous delay between my present adventures and my narrative on this blog, I decided to make a short summary of my visit to Chile so as not to accumulate it.

Chill in Chile

Here we are in Chile but before reaching the first small town (San Pedro de Atacama), the most dizzying descent of our lives awaits us: 2000 meters of negative elevation on just over 40 kilometers… In short, a sacred descent that is swallowed up in just over an hour.

The Licancabur before the dizzying descent

Arriving in San Pedro we rest several days to regain strength after our Bolivian adventures. We take the opportunity to fill up with fruits and vegetables and prepare great dishes. To say simply, a small week of vacation without too many kilometers.

San Pedro de Atacama

It's only a good-bye

That is when I leave Alex and Marie who continue their roads to Argentina. Many other events await them in Patagonia, starting with 2000m of positive elevation. We encourage and we say to the next… In France. ^^
For my part, I have to go due south because I have a flight to Santiago in less than 15 days. I pass by the Valley of the moon near San Pedro to contemplate the deserts, the impressive mountain range in the distance and a cave of salt perfectly fantastic.

After a day and a half of pedalling (and 1000 m of positive difference) I reach Calama where I take a bus to advance me south.

Cactus under the Stars

I arrive at La Serena which is a seaside resort 500 km north of Santiago. The atmosphere is relaxed in this rather large city. I allow myself a few days of extra rest on the Pacific Rim before I get back on the bike.

So I go inland to follow the road of the stars! Known for the many observatories and high mountains away from any light pollution, this road quickly becomes a track and passes through many valleys.

The mountains are very dry but the Chileans have techniques of capturing water in basins that allows them to have all year in the valleys. The contrast between the top of the mountains full of cactus and the green valleys is striking.

I camp several times in height and the warmth of the night allows me not to put my canvas of tent and therefore to contemplate beautiful starry skies lying on my mattress.

The night was perfect

Little by little the landscape becomes a little greener, I chain different tracks borrowed only by some goats. Long climbs and very pleasant descents follow each other.

I arrive at a small town somewhere north of Santiago, I decide to take a bus to avoid traffic at the entrance to the capital.

I come from the bottom of this valley

I just have to visit the city and find a box for Zigzag. My flight to Costa Rica is coming soon.

Video

Short video because like the last one of my SD cards dropped. But this gives a glimpse of the northern part of this country.

Being late on my schedule, I could not see the southern part of the country. It must be said that the shape of the country does not help. ^^
I will therefore not doubt to explore a little more these landscapes and all the different environments that it can offer.

South Lipez Part 2 – Would you like more desert?

South Lipez Part 2 – Would you like more desert?

Santa Claus is very late, but he has a surprise in his boot.

The Stone Tree

The night under tent sheltered by the some buildings of the hotel Del Desierto was rather cold, for proof, the frozen water bottles that we find in the morning.
We set out ready to cross another desert without ideas on how many kilometers we will have to push the bikes.

Several sandy passages require us to get off the saddle and push our steeds but there are several well-rolling kilometers. The terrain is rather flat, the heat overwhelming but the colors of the surrounding mountains are astounding.

We arrive at the stone tree after about twenty kilometers. This natural rock formation was gradually formed by the violent winds and the sand present here.

Árbol de Piedra

No tourist, no 4×4, we decide to satisfy himself close to the stone in question with a pack of noodles and a box of corn. A 4×4 makes its appearance and two European tourists are very impressed to see cyclists.

The afternoon track is even more sandy, the wind arrives quickly as usual. We are therefore rather slow, despite the negative difference.

We arrive at the Laguna Colorada and therefore the entrance of the nature reserve or full of 4×4 and tourists arrive from Uyuni. We must pay 150 Bolivianos for the reserve Eduardo Avaroa which occupies all the rest of the region up to the border with Chile. There are French and many other nationalities that go so far as to applaud us and our bikes. However, we still have a lot of kilometers and passes to go through.

The park rangers accept that we plant our tents not too far from their homes, a little bit sheltered from the wind. But they tell us that it is normally forbidden to camp near the Laguna and so we must wait until the sun sets… We wait for the sunset and put our tents in the wind.
The evening is icy, we warm up as we can with a nice dish of pasta with tuna.

Let's go camping above the Mont Blanc!

I think I spent the coldest night of my life, my sleeping bag is not made for temperatures like this. I plan to follow the sun for a year, it's not necessarily synonymous with following the mild temperatures.
We start the day by bypassing the Laguna and then climbing a pass, obviously the wind makes its appearance from 11am in the morning.

Laguna Colorada

Once this pass reaches we still have to make a little twenty kilometers to the geysers. This passage was the hardest for me: wind, sand and especially corrugated steel track all along. It hurts the back, the buttocks and the mind.
As well as bad we come to the ground of Mañana, the plateau to the geysers in the middle of the afternoon. We discover the fumaroles and the sick of bubbling mud. We are now just below the 4900 meters above sea level: higher than the Mont Blanc!

We are preparing to camp in the corner because these 36 kilometers have rinsed us (finally me at least). The endless wind does not help, but Alex decides to improve the rock that is used as a makeshift shelter.

A wall of pebbles to protect itself from the wind, thank you Alex.

In the evening it will be pasta with tuna (to change), the thermometers indicate-5 ° in the tent despite the pasta dishes, the stoves and US inside.
Tonight I sleep with a long sleeve T-shirt, a sweater, a fleece and my jacket; All in the sleeping bag obviously. The violent wind is raging all night, but with all these layers of clothing I am not too cold.

Another Planet

The alarm clock is obviously icy, it certainly did-15 ° in the night. The sun takes time to warm us because of the altitude we are in. A nice descent awaits us this morning, so we quickly motivate to pack our things and travel the last kilometers before the pass at 4900 meters.
Fortunately after the pass, the descending track rolls rather well one exceeds even the 20km/h at times!!!
We enjoy the best that we can from this descent to the Laguna Chalviri because we know that we are not at the end of our surprises.

Descent to the Laguna Chalviri

After a long break in Polques, small tourist place where there are hot baths for tourists and a small grocery we go back on our two wheels to attack another collar.
On the way, we pass by the desert of Salvador Dali, thus naming by the curious rocks that are there and thus giving a surreal aspect.

Salvador Dali Desert

The path is long towards the pass and the wind is increasingly violent as we advance, however the colors of the mountains take me totally: Would I dream?

The wind slows down our progression to the pass, once at the top it's even worse! Sanded track and ultra-violent wind. A caravan with a German family asks us if we need anything.
On the other side of the pass we see the volcano Licancabur which marks the border with Chile: so we are not very far.

Little tornado in front of the Licancabur
Just Whoa

We pass next to the Laguna Blanca to reach the hut/hotel/restaurant of the corner. They accept that we camp in a room next to the reception. Yay, we'll have no wind and a warm night. In addition to that we order sausage with potatoes, it will change us pasta with tuna. 🙂

Laguna Blanca

We meet two other Frenchmen with a group that is about to climb the Licancabur the next day.
We spend a great evening (without wind!) after a good day of crazy 66 km.

Bye bye Bolivia

The next day we have less than ten kilometers left to reach the end of the reserve and the border with Chile.
It goes up, but we know that it is soon the end of this sublime hell of sand.

Still beautiful colors just before the border
The latest efforts

As the guide warned us to meet the night before, the customsmen still want us to withdraw 15 bolivianos for nothing. They say they ask everyone but just talk about administration or call the embassy to change the subject very quickly.

Once in good standing to leave Bolivia, we pass the border and happily find the asphalt. A steep descent to the first small town awaits, but I would say no more at the moment.

Chile!

Gift

As a gift for this year's end: the video.
Santa Claus arrives late because I unfortunately lost a lot of videos of South Lipe (SD card that crash…).
The installation does not transcribe too much the weather and the difficulty of this region. I also embed photos to replace lost videos… 🙁

If you want another point of view on the area, I advise you to see the video of the biketrippers that have well morflés: here

I wish you all a happy New Year's holiday, next year!

Salt, salt and more salt

Salt, salt and more salt

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.

Salt and soil mixed at the beginning of the Salar

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.

The exit of the Salar de Coipasa

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.

Track a little Sandy
The Salar de Coipasa on one side of the col …
… And that of Uyuni on the other side

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.

Tunupa Volcano

But you saw those colors!
View from the Bivouac

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.

The Crossing

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).

Enter the Salar
The black dot to the left of the mountains is the island that one must reach

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.

Sports debut in Bolivia

Sports debut in Bolivia

This is finally the sequel to South America: Bolivia.

After the border

Always with Mary and Alex, we pass the geographical border then after the passage of a pass down to the small village of Puerto Acosta. We can have lunch for just over a euro directly in the kitchen of the restaurant, it is rather atypical.

The view of the Titicaca after the geographical border

We move to the border and customs post for entry formalities in the country. The other two pairs of French tourists join us, which makes us 7 to have to fill out the papers. The customs have never seen so many cyclists passing at the same time, they take us even in pictures.

We separate again because Mary, Alex and I plan to do a little more kilometers than the others. On a near deserted road, we quickly move on our mounts.

The evening came and after some unsuccessful research of a place where camp, we ask an old gentleman who was passing by. We will be able to plant our tents next to an empty ground; And fortunately, because the wind and the storm are not waiting.

Sunset from the Bivouac

The next day we take the road to Achacachi, the main town of the area. We provide fresh bread and fruit in the village of Escoma before attacking the few climbs and 80 kilometers of the day.

Alex and Mary facing the coast.

Well tired we arrive in Achacachi and we find a hotel (Alojamiento here) with a very limited cleanliness. Good, at €2 the room do not ask for luxury, there is besides no shower.

to the capital

The next day we take the road again, still south. The snowy mountain ranges are gradually appearing. Despite this, the road is still very monotonous and there is more and more traffic.

After about thirty kilometers and at the end of the lake, our paths separate. I have to go to La Paz to find a bike shop and repair one of my spokes from the rear wheel (you have to disassemble the cassette to replace it and I have nothing for) as well as my suspension that seems blocked. Alex and Marie did not wish to attempt the experience of entering a bicycle capital take the direction of the West.
We leave knowing that we will find ourselves soon to pedal together a part of Bolivia.

So I come to La Paz after a lot of miles.

La Paz

The Facebook page of Alex and Mary: here

Resume and video of Peru

Resume and video of Peru

Now it's time to make a little recap of my visit to Peru.

Recap Peru

Kilometers travelled

    By bike: 540
    By bus: ~ 1900
    By taxi: ~ 250

Peru has been a great experience very rich in discoveries for me. This is the first time I have travelled to South America and I really do not speak very well Spanish (I have improved since then), so the displacement was total as soon as I arrived.
I thank Gonzalez who joined me for two weeks, it was really nice and I finally got to speak French. I also thank the whole group with whom I made the trek of the Salkantay, the atmosphere was great.

Peru has a very rich culture, just walk a little bit to realize it. Nevertheless, in view of the number of things to see and the greatness of the country, I focused on its nature and its mountains. That is why, apart from Machu Picchu and some buildings in places, I did the impasse on the Sacred Valley, or the Chavín of Huantar. Nor did I have time to see the multicoloured mountain, the canyon of Colcan, the NAZCA lines … The country is anyway too big and too rich, I do not think there is a way to get bored. Despite this I took full view with these snowy mountains, these gigantic trees, this lush nature by location and very dry to others …
Its height and its diversity of landscapes make it a truly splendid country and I will not speak of the intense blue waters of Lake Titicaca.

What I'm going to miss:

    The view of the White Mountains
    The warm welcome of the Peruvians
    Fresh fruit juices pressed in front of you for a ridiculous sum
    Markets: Their atmospheres and their choice of products (bio?)
    The ceviche
Ceviche

What I'm not going to miss:

    The traffic of Lima
    Sometimes unsanitary toilets
    The quantities of waste at the edge of certain roads
    All dogs chasing cyclists

 

It's time for me to explore a little more South America, hoping to come back one day to visit everything I missed.

Geographic boundary

Video

Here it is in time and in time: