No Comments Written by Tam on 22/11/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Adios Argentina (for now), Bienvenido Chile! Some long, tough, unpaved cycling days across into Chile, including a drop by Butch Cassidy’s cabana; a bushcamp near Villa Vanguardia with an awesome fire and a dying goat bleating through the night; and camping in the national park under the Collante Glacier, where some of us managed a couple of hour hike for a closer look – watching the front edge carving off and crashing noisily down into the valley below.

Patagonia is starting to show its colours, with a drop in temperature; difficulty drying laundry over several days; low snowline (below 1000m); impressive torrential rivers and crystal clear lakes; spectacular steep sided mountains and lush green valleys full of lupins, broom, cows, sheep and goats; and a full night, by Lago Las Torres, and day of persistent rain yesterday. In summary: weather and scenery that could be mistaken for Scotland!

A day off in Coyhaique was approached with an early Thanksgiving dinner (Mexican themed) plus toasted marshmallows, followed by a trip down to town following Didier’s recommendation and followed up by a bit of research in Ghilly’s Lonely Planet guide, resulting in us at what used to be a live music bar with disco and dancefloor, but now just beer on tap, a quick round of bingo, with cocktails and wine as the prizes (we didn’t win though), and then a late night of Latino karaoke.

One more day of Chile (for now) before heading back to Argentina for a 9 day stint into the Pampas… 45 degrees South…

San Carlos de Bariloche

No Comments Written by Tam on 13/11/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Stages 75 – 80 of cycling completed with Patagonia treating us remarkably well – an odd day of strong winds which were mostly tail/side winds and only the last 20km of a strong, dust-filled headwind. A second day over a high pass drove us to set off at 7am to try to miss the wind, to find out that the bad weather had come through the day before and made cycling virtually impossible, but we were very fortunate again with low winds, and forests full of monkey puzzle trees all day. We’ve then spent a couple of days riding the Ruta de 7 Lagos, a popular and incredibly picturesque tourist route winding past 7 beautiful lakes with scenery to rival Norweigian Fjords, or the Alps, and the roadsides covered in bring yellow broom and purple lupins. 3 days ago we came past a stream that split and flows from that split to the Pacific and the Atlantic. That night we camped beside Lago Faulkner and some of us managed a quick dip in the rather chilly water, collected wood for an impressive fire, borrowed a Canadian Canoe for a quick paddle round the lake before sunset, and found that the campsite shop was well stocked with beer, wine and snacks :) A couple of short, leisurely days through Villa la Angostura and into S C de Bariloche has seen a lot of coffee drunk, ice cream and cakes eaten, and the odd bottle of wine…

Nobody’s leaving here, but Jo is back! She was missing us so much that she’s come back to join us for the last few weeks to Ushuaia :) Kevin’s very happy! Also we have a couple of new cyclists – Rob (Dutch) and Wouter (Belgian) – welcome aboard!

41 degrees South. Nights are geting cooler but the days are still warm. Thinking about everyone back home as you roll into winter and I can’t really say I’m looking forward to coming back ;p

Chos Malal

No Comments Written by Tam on 07/11/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Stages 69 – 74 of cycling bring us to Patagonia and specifically Chos Malal. The first night in San Carlos saw the 240th anniversary celebrations of the village itself with a massive party in the plaza. 2 bushcamps, a bunch more of Ruta 40, a “bar” skilfully created by Rob at a kiosco in the middle of nowhere at the Buta Billon bushcamp, some fantastic scenery, loads of snowcapped peaks and volcanos, and yesterday a 1424m unpaved climb over the Troman volcano – an awesome day, with not only cool lava flows visible (it last erupted in 1822), but also a couple of lovely lakes full of flamingos on the huge descent down the other side. Some awesome days of cycling. Let’s hope the wind doesn’t pick up too much – we’ve been lucky so far :)

Yesterday evening we listened to the Melbourne cup for which we’d held a sweepstake the day before. I shared a horse with Michelle (there weren’t quite enough to go round) and Jackleberry came in 3rd, so we won $60. This was promptly reinvested in a bunch of red and blue drinks to share round as each US state called their election result – a bunch of us were up drinking them until 01:45 local time when we cracked open the champagne for Obama’s reelection! Makes up for the lack of bonfire the night before if we’re going to tick off all the national traditions, although we did have bbqs the nights either side 😉

37 degrees South…


No Comments Written by Tam on 01/11/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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The last 6 days of cycling has seen the winds pick up (although they are still warm); a broken truck which took a full day to get fixed and caused logistical issues for the day; a bushcamp next to a service station on the edge of Villa Union; several more km on Ruta 40 and success finally in sourcing t-shirts; Adie’s birthday, for which we managed to make a beer-can car-shaped cake (covered in cream) which exploded as he cut into it (as he burst a can); Didier’s birthday the next day which was celebrated by a lunch-time party; two days of awesome views of Aconcagua (South America’s highest mountain at 6962m); and finally reaching Mendoza for a ‘hat party’ to see off Anna and Pops Bridgeford, Wilbert, and Kirsten’s folks. Here we are joined by Arunas (Aussie), Gerdi (Dutch), Zander (Dutch, Paul O’s son), and Wilbert is replaced by Rob (cycling crew).

Mendoza is an awesome city, full of tree-lined streets, lovely cafes, and a stark contrast to so much of the poverty we have seen so far in South America. There’s some great outdoors shops, and a couple of well-stocked bike shops, so supplies have been sourced. We’ll be back here in about 7 weeks’ time as this is where the Aconcagua expeditions all start from…

We’re now 32 degrees South, and have another stint of 6 days, all camping, ranging between 94 and 140km, before our next rest day in Chos Malal on 7 Nov. Here’s hoping for tail winds…


No Comments Written by Tam on 24/10/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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6 days of northern Argentina full of vineyards, lots of tasty wine, barbecues, campsites, long, dull, undulating, straight roads, and 500km of Ruta 40, which runs almost the entire length of Argentina. 3 days ago we had a ‘bushcamp’ at some hot springs – awesome showers! 2 days ago we did 160km (~100miles) in one day – Ghilly’s 60th birthday! and yesterday saw another 120km into a strong headwind all day. Sore knees led us in to one of our final hotels here in Chilecito for a relaxed rest day.

Another 6 days of cycling now until Mendoza, and then apparently it starts getting cooler and maybe more windy. Let’s make the most of the good climate until then! :)

29 degrees South…


No Comments Written by Tam on 15/10/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Adios Bolivia, Bienvenido Argentina!

Made it safely across the border, and 4 days later we’re in Salta for a couple of rest days. Only 4 more hotels/hostels on the trip – the rest is camping, but we’ve come down off the altiplano and are down at 1400m so it’s much warmer, sunnier, greener, nicer cars, good coffee, good food, wine with dinner the last couple of nights, barbecue last night in the campsite, and they reckon this should last for a few weeks before we hit the winds of Patagonia. Also the hour time change means lighter evenings so it really is party time :)

Two days ago we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, so 23.5 degrees South! In actually cycling distance, however, Salta marks our half-way point :)

Here we sadly say farewell to Susana, Jo (Kevin’s gf), and James (who’s going to ride his own way to Mendoza) – all awesome people and they’ll leave a significant gap in the party :( But we gain some new faces – Dean and Jacqueline from the US and Kirsten’s parents from the Netherlands – best behaviour, Jonathan 😉

Here’s looking forward to a lovely 6 days cycling to Chilecito!


No Comments Written by Tam on 10/10/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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212km, 2230m of ascent, on difficult unpaved, sandy, washboardy tracks, over the last 2 days, has seen us cycle through some of the most awesome canyons, past loads of huge cacti and some awesome rock formations, to what seems like the end of the altiplano, and now down to a rather green 3100m at Tupiza where it’s positively toasty compared to the last couple of weeks! After washing all the salt off my bike in Uyuni, it’s now covered in pink dust and mud again. Ahh well.

Tomorrow we head to the Argentine border and stop in a border town overnight (it has 2 names ? Villazon (Bolivia) or La Quiaca (Argentina)). I can quite happily say farewell to the crazy Bolivian drivers, but sadly to another hour’s sleep; and here’s hoping for good coffee, good steak, and good Internets!


One Comment Written by Tam on 07/10/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Yes! We’re alive! Although getting this uploaded given the quality of internets here is quite the challenge. The last 7 days have been pretty cool – both figuratively and literally! My knobbly tyres are back on and there’s been a bunch of rough tracks.

The most notable stops were the bushcamps, at the “bus accident” where a bus crashed in 1998 and the shell of the bus, and graves of a Belgian, Dutch and Israeli sit beside the road; then the following night at a ~1km across meteor crater.

The third bushcamp was on the edge of the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt lake, and the next morning we cycled 38km across the salt to the Isla de Pescado in the middle for lunch. It was a very rough surface (presumably churned up by the recent rain) and hard going, but an awesome novelty and felt so much like being on ice. Another 64km followed on a much smoother surface, following the route that the tourist coaches used, to the east of the lake and to a salt hotel where we spent the night.

Yesterday we did a time trial across the last 6.5km of the salt lake, setting off at 1 minute intervals in reverse ranking order. All just a bit of fun really – surprising how nerve racking it was! A final rough 28km and a huge nail in my tyre so a replacement tube, saw us into Uyuni for a rest day.

2.5 cycling days left until Argentina; 20 degrees South!

La Paz

One Comment Written by Tam on 29/09/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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The highest capital in the world… two days off after a few beautiful days cycling alongside Lake Titicaca with spectacular views of the snowcapped Cordillera Reals. Nothing too tough except for the mad downhill on a sub-optimal road surface, and many fast, crazy drivers, down into La Paz… which I might add was incident free this year (the previous 2 trails have seen such injuries as broken collarbones on this section!).

I meant to say as we left Cusco we saw Monique, Johan and Chris Brown off – thanks for some awesome company guys! – and were joined by Tim (Aussie cyclist), Michelle (US cyclist who was supposed to start in Quito but injured herself so only just joined us), Jaap (Dutch chef), and Alberto (Susana’s friend from Aruquipa, who joined us for 3 days of cycling).

Sadly Kees (one of the Dutch cyclists) has decided to leave us as he misses his family, so heads home tomorrow. As does Tim, who cycled through the Pyrenees a month ago with Bike Dreams, and whose farm and sheep need his attention more than the salt flats of Bolivia. Farewell to both of them. It’s sad to see them go :(

However we gain Paul (Anna’s Dad, who cycled part of the trail 2 years ago) and Bob (another Aussie, also known to the Bike Dreams crew), so hopefully some good characters to fill the gaps.

We now have a long stint of 7 days before the next rest day, and some of those are long and tough. Here’s hoping for good weather, good health and good luck all round!

16.5 degrees South so far!


No Comments Written by Tam on 25/09/2012 in Andes-Trail.

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Adios Peru, Bienvenido Bolivia!

We had an excellent hike up to Maccu Picchu, and then up Huayna Picchu, although it was steep, and those Incas built huge steps for people with short legs! Back to Cusco for shopping, eating, sleeping, laundry and then back out on the bikes!

We’ve then done 4 long days to climb up onto the altiplano and we stay up here for the next couple of weeks at above 3800m. I’ve cycled 537km and climbed 3493m in the last 4 days. Phew! We had a cool bushcamp by the Racqui ruins and another half way along to Puno (159km in 1 day!). 2 days ago we stayed overnight in Puno and took the boat out to the Uros islands (floating reed islands) on Lake Titikaka.

Yesterday afternoon we crossed the border and cycled 10km into Bolivia to Copacabana where we are staying for a rest day before 2 fairly short days (and a ferry ride) to La Paz for another couple of days off. So Bolivia seems sunny, full of road works, cheap, plentiful and has great coffee and beer. I wonder how long these first impressions will last…