Meanwhile back in Europe again, I want to say thank you, Herbert and Gerald, for a great South America experience.
I enjoyed your good company and all the good off-road parts we took
Keep on riding, and maybe see you again on the road some place.
Your tour guide Angela
On our last riding day we took the road that lead us from Mendoza in Argentina back to Santiago de Chile - the famous Paso de Christo Redentor. To cross over the actual pass road you have two choices: either go through the tunnel or ride over the dirt pass road. It was no question at all which one we would take
Up on top of the pass...
...it was obvious that you were crossing from Argentina into Chile. Although the actual border formalities are done a bit further down the road.
Downhill on the other side was a bit more challenging, but we managed fine
Gerald on his ride down the hill
Back on pavement, there are more curves yet to be taken to make it all the way down from over 3000 meters above sea level
Days 11-13 Vicuña - Villa Union, including a rest day there, San Juan
From Vicuña to Villa Union we probably had the most beautiful ride on tour. The Paso de Aguas Negras is a 150 km gravel road which took us from Chile back into Argentina. The border crossings between these two countries are really easy compared to what you could experience in other countries.
Riding this pass, the beauty of nature simply blew all of us away.
We decided to leave Vicuña in the very early morning...
...to have enough time during the day to enjoy our ride
Finally ending up at 4753 m above sea level, the signs in-between tell you when you should take a break. Climbing up too quickly into high altitudes doesn't do you any good.
Yes, we made it!! This is Herbert on his summit run Unusual vistas for European eyes... snow on the sandy mountains
Villa Union - a truly sleepy little town welcomed us for our rest day
Day 7-10 Cafayate-Belen-Fiambala-Copiapó-Vicuñia
From Cafayate onwards the route takes us further south into Argentina and from Fiambala we take the breathtaking pass road over the Paso de San Francisco, which is partially still a gravel road. What a great day!
Sometimes the roads are washed away after a heavy rain. To ride on it looks worse here than it actually was.
The weather same as the roads are changing constantly here in Argentina. From rain to sunshine and from cool to warm in the valleys and then back to pretty cold high up in very high altitudes. And, of course, from long straight roads into winding sections and then again into a gravel road.
All kinds of traffic along the road
Argentinians, same as Chilenians love to put up statues where ever they can.
Herbert on his way to Fiambala...
...where we planned to visit the huge sand dunes of Totón
There are three entrance ways to the dunes and we tried very hard, but the river water has blocked our way through at all three places.
Herbert tried walking it but the waters were too deep and fast.
Frustrating enough for us there was a 1 horse power "vehicle" coming on to us. We were watching the guy...
And, of course, he was easily crossing the river and was passing us with a smile
But on our way back (I don't know if it was because of the short prayers of a motorcyclist) we found another path leading us to some smaller dunes allowing us at least as magnificent views
Afterwards a nice and winding road took us to the Thermas (hot water basins) of this area where we enjoyed our lunch
Very early the next morning (we were already on the bike at 7 am) we challenged the road from Fiambala to Copiapó over the San Francisco pass.
Riding in altitudes over 15,000 ft just can't be expressed in words so easily. Simply magnificent, beautiful!!
Almost all morning long we didn't come across any person or other vehicles. Only a couple of vicuñas, maybe
Shortly after the Argentinian border the gravel road starts, which takes you about 50 kilometres into uncontrolled but already Chilenian country. Only from the Chile border onwards almost until Copiapó there is the next long section of gravel.
At the Chilean border the guys where so kind to offer us a cup of tea
After a good night's rest we continued the next morning to La Serena and finally to Vicuña
Day 4-6 Purmamarca-Salta-Cafayate
From San Pedro de Atacama to Purmamarca we already crossed into Argentina and are staying here for a couple of days. In Cafayate we have a rest day. Here in the valley the Argentinos grow a lot of wine.
After Purmamarca, the town of Salta was our next destination. And we found some gravel roads that perfectly meet Gerald's and Herbert's riding taste
Enjoying a bottle of Salta beer, which comes in a one liter bottle!!
Argentinia... what a question - you have to have a proper steak, right?
Horses, next to many other means of transportation, are still highly valued in the sometimes rough regions of Argentina
The road to Cafayate runs through a beautiful valley showing red rocks
For our second rest day we are staying on a typical Argentinian wine growing hacienda in the middle of nowhere.
Cafayate belongs to Argentina's important wine growing regions. So a visit to a winery including a wine tasting is obligatory
Herbert and Gerald found their favourite wine and we were enjoying it along with some snack and a breathtaking view of the valley
Day 1-3 Iquique to Purmamarca
Two very good friends decided to travel by motorcycle in South America... Where exactly? as it turned out this will be in Chile and Argentinia. Gerald from Austria and Herbert from Australia were looking how to best get their dreams to become true and chose to do a special tour with Edelweiss, meaning that they were telling us where they would like to go and what they would like to see, and Edelweiss Bike Travel created a tour for them.
Well, and here we are in San Pedro de Atacama, already having enjoyed our first three riding days.
The tour guides Francesco and Angela are looking forward to and already enjoying a great time riding through the great landscapes of the Andes mountains.
Gerald and Herbert are looking forward to starting their special tour
At the Gigante de Atacama, an ancient petroglyph in Chile
At this point we have already climbed up from sea level to about 8000 ft in altitude
On our way to San Pedro de Atacama. Wind energy is big in Chile.
Weather may change frequently in the Andes mountains but luckily you can see it well in advance.
In the amazing Valle de la Luna near San Pedro de Atacama
On our rest day here in San Pedro de Atacama, we wanted to go and see the world of the geysers, the gushing waters up above 13000 ft.
To our surprise we found a rich flora and fauna. Even flamingos call this area their home
Llamas and Alpacas, the typical animal of the Andes mountains
Simply spectacular landscapes up here above 13000 ft.!!!!
The only thing missing up here is a red sofa, which you could sit comfortably on, enjoying the views and the gushing waters
The landscape is so breathtaking that it is inviting to stay and watch for a while.
Herbert is about to test the temperature of the geyser's water
Next to the ride up here, Gerald is enjoying the geysers, too
The normal time for the geysers to sputter their water out in big fountains would be earlier in the morning. But we would need to leave the hotel early in the morning. Riding in the darkness is not so enticing and therefore we decided to leave a little later. Some of the geysers did us the favour to still spray out a little bit. We simply needed to be a bit patient... There you go... this is what we came here for
Back in San Pedro de Atacama we enjoyed some Empañadas for lunch
The next morning we continued our travels towards Argentina over the almost 16000 ft high Paso de Jama
Yes!!! We successfully made it over the border So did Francesco, our mechanic, driver, and jack-of-all-trades
More fascinating landscape through the Atacama accompanied our ride to Purmamarca in Argentina
... and more Empañadas. Obviously, they look and taste different here in Argentina compared to Chile.
We finally reached a goal, we came across one of the salt lakes up here in the Atacama
Nothing to ride on with the motorcycle, though. It is way to much water on it, which would ruin the motorcycles.
Having arrived in Purmamarca, we explored the short ride into the Cerro de Siete Colores, a beautiful rock formation showing various shades of red, white and grey.