Sms sent 15
Snuggled up in the tent waiting for the sun to rise in the north Atacama Desert,
Chile. Scenery spectacularly dry, not a living thing in sight for miles!
veilig in Santiago, Chile. Ons het die ry deur die noorde van die land
geweldig baie geniet. Vanaf so 250km van hier af lyk die kus net soos ons
weskus. Het sommer so tuis gevoel
Ons is veilig in Osorno (110km noord van Puerto Montt) . Die terein is pragtig , en die herfs kleure van die bome goud geel. Die pad is sover goed en ons maak goed tyd op.
Epos gestuur 2 Mei 2009...........................Quillion Chile...
Ons is in Quillion, aan die suide van Chiloe eiland.Die ferrie is vertraag weens slegte weer en kom eers more oggend (sou vanaand gewees het).
Die eiland is pragtig en lyk in baie opsigte net soos Skotland. Die weer is kouerig, maar nie so erg nie. Ten minste reen did nie, het nog tot dusver geen reen in Chile gehad nie. Die kleure is pragtig hier in die suide, kyk die aangehegte foto.
Sms sent 2 May 2009 .........In Quellon tonight, ferry only leaves tomorrow at 11am!Weather OK above 10'c.
Email sent 3 May 2009 .....Northern Chile
We are currently riding in Southern Chile, on our way to the Southern most city in the World, Ushuaia. The north and central parts of Chile have impressed us tremendously and has a very similar landscape to the South African West Coast. We felt at home the moment we crossed the border and were greeted by friendly people and rode on very good roads. The desert in the north was as barren as you will get on this planet, in some ways similar to what we've seen in Yemen and southern Oman with hundreds of kilometres without a single plant or animal. We love this kind of terrain and had no intension of racing through it.
It took us 6 easy days to ride the 2200km's between Tacna and Santiago. Tacna (in Peru) was a really smart modern town compared to the other Peruvian towns we've seen. The border facilities are good and the procedure to cross was quite smooth on both sides. On the Chilean side some of the officials spoke English and were very helpful with advice about their country. They made us feel very welcome from the start and we just knew Chile was going to be a nice country to travel in. The stretch between the border and Copiapo (more than 1000km's) has almost no vegetation and is clearly extremely dry. It has the label of the driest part on Earth and is called the Atacama Desert. There is a certain amount of beauty in the bareness of a desert, a beauty that not everyone likes or appreciates. We've been through a few deserts on this planet, and they all differ from each other. The colours in the Atacama are remarkable and vary between dark red to yellow and brown, sometimes black.
We spent our first night in Chile camping under the stars out of sight from the road. There was not a sound to be heard and we had a wonderful nights rest. The next morning we were up at sunrise and headed further south. The terrain was again extremely barren with not much more than the horizon to look at. These kinds of roads give you time to think and man do we have lots to think about. We were counting our blessings in our minds and reflected on the past year and the 70,000km's we've done from Iran to the UK, North and Central America and now South America. We thought off and said a prayer for all the wonderful people we've met, and wondered about of those whom the Lord will have us meet further down the road. About 60km's before Antofagasta we pulled of the road again and set up camp. Before the sun set we both had an open air 'shower' in the icy cold winds! Yes, icy cold winds, this desert is very different to the other deserts we've been through and we have had mostly cold weather especially at night. When I think of a desert, I think of it being extremely hot like we experienced in the United Arab Emirates but the Atacama was different.
The next morning everything was soaking wet from the thick fog, so we only got away late as we waited for the tent to sort of dry a little. It amazed us that there was absolutely no vegetation despite the moisture that the fog brings. Antofagasta is the largest city in the north of the country and lies on the coast. The city did not appeal much to us and we struggled to find a coffee shop or restaurant that had wifi. We eventually found one and I had my internet 'fix' for the week before we headed out of town and away from the coast to look for a place to pitch our tent. Not too far out of town we saw the famous statue of the hand. I've seen many pictures of this statue and always wanted to have my picture taken next to it, Praise the Lord for He has blessed me with this opportunity! Unfortunately the statue has been ruined by inconsiderate people who have sprayed ugly graffiti on it (like so many other buildings in Chile). When I turned off the main road toward the area that looked good for camping, I noticed that the ground surface was much softer than up north. We plough our way through the soft bits and out of sight from the road and noticed that the mountains actually resembled huge hardened sand dunes.
Early the next morning we were on the move again. Part of this stretch goes along the coast and we were looking forward driving next to the ocean and wanted to set up camp on a beach, if we could find one. The closer we got to the ocean, the colder it got and by the time the road reached the ocean it was freezing cold and covered with fog. It was still desert but with some plants and bushes; and not as pretty as we would have expected it to be. There was no way we wanted to camp in that cold so we kept on going, to get away from the foggy coast! The city of Copiapo marks the end of the Atacama Desert and lies in a long valley that resembles a dry river bed but was full of vineyards and orchards. It was a welcoming site to see some plant life again but it was short lived and disappeared as we left the city and valley. The terrain was still desert-like but with some bushes and like we found out later, sandy soil. This time, when I turned off the main road toward the area that looked good for camping, it was hard work and after dropping the bike once in the soft sand we decided to just pitch the tent where we were. Again, we had a magical night and slept sound.
Unfortunately we woke up in thick fog again and everything was wet but we were keen to get on the road early, so packed up wet! The road took us past Vallendar, a green fruit growing and wine producing valley. The surrounding hills were still barren, but the valley really lush green and pretty. We only stopped for a sandwich and coffee and head further south. On the road we saw some other local bikers heading the opposite direction on their new V Stroms and 1200GS’s and I knew we are approaching the wealthy heartland of the country. About 250km north of Santiago we found a beautiful little town that resembles Lamberts Bay (in RSA). We liked it and found a nice B&B with a nice view of the ocean. The next morning the owner brought us our breakfast on a tray at our little cabin and we had breakfast in bed. Man, we felt so spoiled. Unfortunately we had business to take care of in Santiago and had to go, otherwise we would have stayed another night, just for the breakfast in bed thing!
The terrain changed as we came closer to Santiago. We saw plenty vineyards similar to the vineyards we have in Worcester and Rawsonville and felt at home driving around there. Down in Santiago we got all our business done, which included getting our already approved visas for Australia, book our flight tickets and make arrangements to ship the GS across the Pacific ocean. Santiago is an impressive city, completely different to the other cities we’ve seen in Latin America. They have a fantastic public transport system and it is a friendly city, we also stayed at really nice hostel called Hostel Sammy. Here we made good friends with Ron and Maureen, an elderly (retired) Australian couple who just finished their 6 months back-pack holiday from Cuba down to Chile. We also went down to Valparaiso, a city built on a steep slope with lots of old-style buildings like we’ve seen in San Francisco. After one night in Valparaiso we headed south along the coastal road to Pichilemu. Pichilemu lies in a pretty bay said to be very popular with surfers and it has black coloured beach sand. The town was quiet as it was clearly out of season; a lot of the touristic shops were closed. We had a full bungalow to ourselves for less than what we normally pay for a room in a hostel. It was amazing to notice that the temperature was warmer down there than what we’ve experienced further north on the coast. We liked it and the surrounding terrain was again full of farmlands similar to South Africa's Western Cape.
The GS is running really well since the replacement of some parts and the modification on the dif in the USA which was about 30,000km's ago, Praise the Lord we have had no more problems.Most of you might have already seen some of our photos on facebook, but here is another photo or two.
Die pragtige dorpie van
Puerto Octay tussen Osorno en Puerto Montt. (Puerto is Spaans vir hawe
The road leading out of Coyhaique and the surrounding valleys is unique and very beautiful. Tall steep snow capped mountains, thick forested areas with trees mostly bare on top as those leaves had already fallen to the ground as the cold of winter set it; yet some were still showing the late autumn colours ranging from yellow to orange to deep red. The weather was fantastic, one of those rare crisp bright blue sky days! Even though we had wonderful sun shine it was really chilly as the temperature remained between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius. The good tar road ended at Villa Cerra Castillo and we would only see tar again at the border crossing into Argentina. The road had a lot of loose stone which made the GS back slide out on occasions! And then again some sections were really good. We took the turnoff at Puerto Rio Tranquila towards Puerto Grosse and headed for Tomas and Cathrine’s Guest House which is in a rain forest and only 8km’s from the Northern Patagonia Ice Field but 44km’s down a bad gravel road!! We arrive just before the sun set and were greeted by a very jubilant Cathrine. After a semi-hot shower (boo hoo hoo) we went up to cuddle in bed to get warm. We eventually fell asleep and then woke up at some strange hour of the morning boiling hot...
The next morning we were blessed again with wonderful blue skies and headed the 8km’s down the road to go look at the San Valentin Glacier. We did a short hike through dense rain forest up to the glacier look-out point! We could see where the glacier was coming down from the top part of the high mountain and into the valley in front of us. If it was not for the striking blue colour in the deep crevasses, we would not have realised that the sand and stone in front of us was actually part of the glacier. On a closer inspection with the binoculars we could see that the clear white and blue ice changed into a blend of creams and browns as the glacier got stained by layers of sand and stone from the near-by banks of the valley. The rain forest was fascinating, the temperature was much colder amongst the trees and it was full of little ferns and fungus. We even saw purple mushrooms and the bright Orange Peel Fungus.
We woke to a very cold wet morning and thanked the Lord that we had decided to leave when we saw that the mountains around the house were turning white. After about 30 minutes on the bike the rain eased off but there was still drops falling out of the sky.... the rain had turned to snow! Thankfully this meant that we would not be getting drenched... as our rain suits were giving up the ghost after excessive use!! The snow stopped when we got out of the valley but it was still raining on and off all along the shores of Lake Buenos Aires. The scenery was stunning; turquoise blue lakes, trees with bright yellow, orange or deep red leaves, dark mountain rock with snow on top. This is a very popular area for fly fishing and hiking in the summer months. This time of the year is the quiet season for the locals and most of the many lodges and camp sites we passed were closed for renovation or the owners were away for their annual holiday. Most of the people we spoke to thought we were crazy to brave the cold, especially on a motorcycle! Just after Cruce El Maiten the road entered another valley and we could see that it was snowing up ahead... we decided to carry on as we only had another 60 odd km’s to go to get to Cochrane (the town we intended to get fuel and spend the night). The road climbed in altitude and the light snow fall became heavier and heavier. We could not believe it, in a short distance of 14km’s we were in thick snow and everything was now black and white. Trees, bushes, fences, cows, horses, houses were all covered white. It was stunningly beautiful! We stopped to have a closer look and saw up to 3 inches of snow balancing on the thinnest of surfaces. On we went, until we realised that the GS was no longer breaking through the snow to the gravel and the back wheel was starting to slide... ice... we stopped and discussed the possibility of getting snowed in at Cochrane! Not a good idea!! By this time we were cold from our wet clothes and our feet freezing in our .... wet boots (walking in the snow also did not help!!) Fuel was our main concern but we decided it was best to do the u-turn and head back toward the lake road! Thank the Lord for His intervention (ice on the road) - we found fuel at Puerto Guadal and a wonderful little cabin right next door to the super market. All our wet things got hung in front of the inside fire to dry and we headed for the shower.... oh it was so wonderful and hot! We had yummy home-made chicken and spaghetti; and hot milky coffee! It was still raining the next morning and as you can imagine the thought of getting wet again was not very exciting and we ooed and aaed about staying another day... but eventually rationalized that it would be ‘dry’ in Argentina! So we headed out in the rain toward Chile Chico. Praise the Lord, the rain stopped at the border and we were back on tar road all the way to Perito Moreno.
Snow on the road to Cochrane, Chile
How thick the snow is on the thin
We did our last ride on this continent when we drove from Santiago to Valparaiso yesterday.The mountains next to Santiago is white with snow, making it a really pretty site to see as we left the city. We drove along a very beautiful road and mountain pass that ended up at the Pacific Ocean north of Valparaiso, where we followed the stunning coast line pass Vina del Mar, an area that is similar to our own Camps Bay - Sea Point, just stunning. And to make the day perfect, the Lord blessed us with clear blue skies, despite of a rain forecast the day before! We have found a nice hotel/hostel near the town centre, where we will stay while we do all the preparations to send the bike and equipment to Melbourne. Once we are 'rustig' again, I will write in more detail about the last week or two of our journey. We've been through the nicest scenery in Southern South America. The road from Mendoza to Chile was also just 'out of this world'. We climbed above the snowline and played in more than a meter thick fluffy snow next to the road.
Thank You for all the support and encouragement from you all.
Email sent 14 July 2009.............Mendoza to Valperaiso Chile
The road between Mendoza (Argentina) and Los Andes (Chile) has the reputation of being one of Argentina’s most scenic, and to top the amazing scenery we had a perfect sunshine day to make it one of our most enjoyable rides between the two countries. The scenery was stunning as we rode past a few ski-resorts and saw people on their snowboards or skis coming down the steep white slopes. It was the kind of scenery we as South Africans only get to see in postcards and overseas travel magazines. We considered ourselves extremely blessed to be able to see it in real life. After the border crossing, on the Chilean side we stopped and played a bit in the light fluffy snow next to the road. This type of snow was different than what we have experienced before, as it was more like dry-ice, and we did not get wet playing with it. It was an amazing experience. The road itself was perfect with no ice on the surface, which made the riding a pleasure. Yes it was cold, but with scenery this beautiful who cares about the temperature?
The road took us down to the town of Los Andes, where we had an empanada (meat pie) and Pap (local cool drink) for a snack, before we headed on to Santiago. As we rode past the rolling hills covered with vineyards we both agreed that the Chilean side of the mountains are much more scenic and nicer than in Argentina. In Santiago we stayed at the same hostel we stayed two months ago. Unfortunately the owner of the hostel was away on holiday, so all rules and regulations were not being enforced like last time we were here. The place was a mess, and guests were noisy until 2AM. In Santiago we fitted a new set of tyres on the GS, as it is cheaper here than down under in Melbourne. The guy at the BMW shop told us the bikes has gained amazing popularity here in Chile the last two or three years. While we were there waiting for the tyres to get fitted, we witnessed a student and his dad buying a brand new blue F650. It reminded me of my first new bike, an excitement you can’t explain and can only experience once in your lifetime.
The next Sunday we left for Valparaiso. This would be our last ride on this Continent on this journey, and I wanted to make it a memorable one. Instead of riding on the main duel carriage highway, we rode a scenic road over a winding mountain pass and past the lovely Vina del Mar Resort-town. There were not a cloud in sight and it was the perfect final day on the bike for us.
We used a local well known agent (Enzo and Martina) to do the paperwork and built the crate for the bike, but it was still up to us to ensure that the bike is clean enough to clear the strict Australian quarantine rules. It needs to be free of all road grime, dust and dirt. After being through some of the muddiest and dustiest roads in South America the last four months, is was no easy task. Enzo and Martina had shipped hundreds of bikes before, and had some good advice for us cleaning and packing-up. After we spent two full days cleaning the bike, we find out we have to still ride the bike to the container-yard, about 15-20km away! We were not amused about this, but had no choice, so drove as slow as we could to avoid dust and dirt to come onto the bike again. The last 100m of road into the yard was dirt, and we saw our two days of hard labour ‘down the drain’. Surprisingly there were very little dust on the bike, and after another 15 mins of wiping the tires and mudguards clean, she was ready to roll into her crate and being strapped down for the long boat journey to Melbourne. The next day we were supposed to do the customs clearance, just to find out the customs officials are on strike for the following two days! Luckily Enzo (our agent) had some good contacts inside and he arranged our paperwork to be done despite of the strike. We were all done, but all the other goods that were also due to travel with the same container could not be done, resulting our container to be delayed by one more week! This is just frustrating, and something we are not too happy about, but such is life, can’t have it your way always, can you?
Our bike is loaded in its box and is due to leave Chile on the 20th on a ship that will take 55 days to get to Melbourne, Australia. On the 25th we will board our first Airplane ride on our RTW tour. In the past we have made all our water crossings by boat or ship. We will fly to Auckland, New Zealand, and spend a week or two there with fellow CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Association) members and do the back-pack thing, before we will fly over to Melbourne and wait for the bike to arrive, which will only arrive by mid September.The cost of the shipping also tirned out to be a bit more than what we had expected, with all sotrs of handling and port fees that brought the bill up to $1450, almost the same that we paid for airfreight between London and New York.
Anyway, the waiting period will give us time to get ahead with many other things, and also will give us time to visit Auckland and the CMA chapter in New Zealand.
The GS has been generally very good since our last break-down in the USA, and did the rest of the journey without any major failures. The only part that failed was an electrical part that I don’t need anyway (RID panel), and at a replacement price tag of $600 I will continue without it for many more miles to come. The bike has done 176,000kms till now, and is still good for a lot more and still is in pretty good nick too.
We are spending our off-time now
educating ourselves about Australia and planning our
route around the huge country. At this stage it seems
that we will be doing a clockwise route around, from
Melbourne to Perth to Broome to Darwin to Cairns and
then back south to Melbourne, and over to Tasmania. But
more about that on a later stage.
God bless and until next time, ride safe. . . . . . . . .