|Some fascinating rock formations to be seen|
|A camp spot inside an old abandoned house that I was told to use.|
|Flamingos in a lake I passed|
|The city of Oruro was the biggest dump I've been in to date.|
This is not a dump simply rubbish dumped by the side
of the road.
|Ripio aka washboard|
|Not the first river that I've had to cross but the first time I've had to make a quick|
retreat due to quick sand in one spot
|I was surrounded on three sides by a gigantic mud flat, it was an incredible view.|
|Anything to avoid the ripio|
Before leaving La Paz and for the few days cycling south I had being weighing up whether or not I would cycle across Salar de Uyuni which is the biggest salt flat in the world. It is one of the "must sees" on most cycle tourists itineraries and during the dry season most cyclists cross it. But it's the wet season and during this time most cyclists don't cross it as it's mostly flooded not to mention that salt water is a sure fire way to destroy your bike prematurely! I arrived in the late afternoon at Colchani which is the closest village to one of the main entry points to the salt flats. I cycled straight through the village and down the 5 km road which is almost like a spit for the last part stretching out into the salt flats.
I was in my bare feet not too far from the road taking a few photos when another passing cyclist stopped to ask me in Spanish where I was from. It did not take long to notice neither of us were native Spanish speakers and it turned out that Chris was a fellow Irish man from Galway. Chris was a few months into his South American cycle and was eventually heading for Colombia. A short while later we bumped into Ted, a French cyclist from Lyon heading north. After the photo session it was back to Colchani in the dark where we stayed in the same hostel. I had decided that I wasn't going to cross the Salar. It was physically possible but it would have added time on between the detour and then needing probably the best part of another day to take the time to thoroughly clean the bike. I didn't have any time to play with as two good friends were flying into Santigo de Chile in early March giving me only a few weeks to make it the few thousand kilometres further south.
|A map of the famous Salar de Uyuni|
|Pretty impressive sunset all the same|
|Chris and Ted|
|The Dakar rally had passed through the Salar|
a week or so previous
As always we exchanged stories and tips, me singing the virtues of the Casa de Ciclista that they could look forward to in La Paz with both Chris and Ted separately warning of the crazy winds that I could look forward to in Patagonia. Not the first time I'd been told about that. Ted also told me that he had bumped into Simon and Olivia only a day or so riding ahead of me. We had all come from different directions and the following morning we all set out in our different directions. I was heading south, Ted north and where else would a Galway man be headed but out west... into the flooded salt flats with a cracked rim.
|Chris preparing his bike for the Salar crossing|
|As Chris said himself, it's an Irish thing. Proudly attaching his Tayto crisps pen to the bike!|
|Showing off the Galway colours|
|A roundabout sculpture in Uyuni|
My last full day in Bolivia however topped this, a record that I hadn't particularly been looking to break!
|Three wild donkies|
|Muck getting clogged between my tyre and mud guard|
|Not much traction with the salt sticking to the wheels like snow|
|Getting deeper into the sand, mud and salt mix.|
|More hot, bubbly mushy bananas..|
yum yum. Taste great when you are running
low on food ... kind of
|Add expletives as required.|
|This surface was actually better for cycling on than the bumpy wash board road near by|
|Dragging my ass south one metre at a time..|
(I am doing this cycle to raise money for rural poor communities supported by Trocaire in Central America.
Please sponsor me now at
or by clicking on the "Donate" button at the top of this site. Thanks.)