During our time in El Salvador we had discovered that there was a Salar (Salt Lake) about 100km to the east. We headed out on the good salt roads and before we knew it were weaving through a valley between amazing coloured mountains. We passed neglected mining houses and started climbing higher and higher. The temperatures also started to dip, and we were in a way happy for this taking a chance having bought pieces of meat for dinner.
Somewhere along the line we had missed our turn off, and were happy to see some locals pulling purple flowered plants from the ground. We asked them where the Salar was and were happy to hear that it was ‘only’ 5km down the road. This landed up being 20km but nevertheless we arrived. It was an incredible sight, a big white salt pan with dam in between a long mountain range in the distance, although hidden by big grey clouds. We stopped in and admired a few flamingos in the dam before heading towards the desert to find a place for a very late lunch. Luck was on our side, we found an excavation site off the road which was well hidden and a good supply of firewood. Assuming it would be a very cold night we figured this excavation would be good protection from the wind, hidden from sight and we could make a fire to braai our meat – Sold! The evening was spent in awe of the silence that surrounded us, bar from the occasional donkey calls in the distance. The full moon rose over the clearing mountains and we lapped up the heat from the fire a little worried about heading into the cold tent!!
|Vultures every where like our indian mynahs|
|Altitude making the bikes a little unhappy !!|
|just chilling !!|
|Nothing like an old truck filter for an improvised braai grill !!|
|It gets a little chilly at 3500 meters above sea level !|
|Yummi steaks , grill worked like a treat|
|What does the fox say??!!|
|Top of the world !!|
|Fish and chips yummo !!|
|The med ??!!|
The wind had died down in the morning and it turned out to be an great spot we had chosen. We had seen quite a few cars come along the road both during the late afternoon and evening and assumed the road should improve again. So we headed along the very rocky, rumple stripped and sandy road and after 80km thought we may actually be on the wrong road!! It was quite strange to see these make shift shelter homes come out of nowhere and many of them had a pack of dogs that were thoroughly excited by our motorbikes. A few times we had to wait for the dogs either to get bored of us or for the owners to shoo them away because they can be quite aggressive and persistent as you drive past!!
The ride was probably the hardest we’ve had yet in Chile, and we both wished that we had brought our kidney belts to help with the vibrations and jerks our bodies were enduring. This was all numbed suddenly when we saw about 15-20 dolphins jumping and swimming south! It was an incredible sight and we are so lucky to have seen them!
|Route 1 ...bumpety bumpety all the way !!!|
The wind towards Antofogasta was crazy and we were flung around when either a truck passed us in the oncoming lane or overtook us. At some stages we had to slow down to 60km to make sure we could control the swerving in our lane…not for the faint hearted!
Antofogasta is the second largest city in Chile, but there are not as many high rise buildings as in Santiago. We found a great hospedaje and were lucky enough to take our bikes off the main road and into the open court area right ourside our room. We have now managed to print a copy of our padron for the bikes, organise international insurance for the Mercosur areas from Penta Security, buy spares for the motorbikes, stock up on a few more supplies and catch up on the blog.