Published: April 11th 2011April 10th 2011
Wim looking for answers
Arequipa to La Rioja.....
We were all set to go after a day off in Arequipa for some more shopping and a bit of moto and body maintenance, when Wim hit his starter button on his BMW 800 GS, nothing happened ??. It seemed that the battery was dead as a dodo, so out came the jumper leads, but still nothing happened.
After a bit of searching around, we found that the lead to his GPS was in meltdown mode, so out with a pair of pliers to solve that problem, next we disconnected then reconnected the battery to reset the computer, as it had shut down everything during the GPS melt down, so a press of the starter and all systems were go…
We needed a reasonably early start, as this is a big day with a major border crossing and loosing an hour into Chile, so it was not a good start.
I settled into a good rhythm as I headed out of the city, with all the motos in front of me…..about 25 kms out of town, I spotted Diane waiving frantically at me from the side of the road, there was Robin, with his
BMW 800 GS, side panels off and water everywhere, big bugger, it was overheating again…
With the help of a local and his hose, we were able to cool the motor, refill and bleed the system, along with the adjustment of his thermostat, we replaced all the panels and with fingers crossed, we hit the road. As we were about to leave, Baz and Alan arrived back, as Alan had wrecked his luggage on the toll barrier as he was ‘sneaking’ by, so we loaded that onto the truck along with Han’s luggage, that fell off ages ago.
String, Paul and Wim arrived at the border hours before us, so Paul and Wim, took themselves through, seemingly without any problems, found their hotel and lazed around the pool as if they were on holiday!!
Meanwhile, the rest of us gathered at the border, I had to empty all the luggage out of the truck and put it through the x-ray machine.
We all did our paper work and then had to wait about 45 minutes while the final check person had her lunch/afternoon siesta!!
Finally she arrived to give us our entry stamp, with 2 hours to
process into Chile we got to our hotel in Arica just on dark.
The run down Ruta 5 to Iquique was punctuated by our lunch at Huari and I made the decision to visit the old nitrate mining town of Humberstone. I have been past this historic town 4 times and never had the time or desire to visit this run down hot and dusty place, BUT what a surprise, once inside, many of the old building are little museums, with relics displayed from a bygone era, basically when the nitrate boom collapsed in the mid 30’s, the 3500 inhabitants just walked away leaving everything there.
There is a huge machine shop, complete with old belt driven lathes along with many locomotive engines in various stages of manufacture. Check out the photos, but again it is hard to do the place justice with the photos.
With everyone arriving late afternoon, some went for a cold swim in the ocean, others a cold shower, well a soap up any way as Diane found out before the water went off in our hotel. We grabbed a couple of taxis and headed off to Zona Franka for some duty free shopping….more
One Hot BMW
luggage for the truck.
The run down the coast from Iquique to Antofagasta is always a good ride, a long day, but very Atacama scenic.
Leaving the Iquique area, there is a Customs Control point, as we are leaving the Economic Duty Free Zone, they like to check what goods we are moving in/out of the area.
They also check all motor vehicles in and out. When I arrived at the check point, I was surprised to see, Paul, Wim, Robin and String there (well String had to wait for me as I had his papers in the truck)
It turns out that Paul and Wim had got into Chile without any import papers for their moto’s!!! As far as customs were concerned there was only 5 motos imported through Arica not 7.
Lucky for us there was a fellow (traveler) that had a good grasp on English, so he was able to help explain to the woman, who was now having a bad day….that they were not given these papers at the border and I wanted her to process all the motos with papers, but as Baz, Alan and Hans were not there yet, and she
was reluctant to do anything.
Finally when the others arrived, she processed us all except for Paul and Wim, I was making a bit of a fuss by now, finally she gave me the pass for the truck (with no luggage inspection) and via the fellow with English, told me she didn’t want to see my face anymore today..vamos!!
So that was my chance to get the truck through without any inspections.
We all had some coffee at a small canteen on the other side of the check point, while waiting for Paul and Wim to get sorted. Finally after an hour or so, the two boys had new papers and were allowed to proceed. In a funny way, it was much better to pick this problem up here, rather than the exiting border into Argentina in a few days time. Another reminder to keep on top of the paperwork.
Today was Robin’s Birthday, so that night we celebrated with cake and alcohol….sharing with Jan, who had her Birthday while hiking the Inca Trail.
Leaving Antofagasta, we checked out the Hand in the Desert, then back tracked 20 kms to pick up the ripio road around
Baz and Jan with Alan and Hans took the sealed road past the Charnell telescope and down to Tocopilla on the coast, meanwhile the rest of us wound our way down mountain valleys, with very few road signs to keep us on track, finally we reached the coast road, that wound it’s way along the base of the rocky cliffs, there were a few challenging moments for the riders and also me in the truck, it was a bloody long way at 40 to 60 kms an hour, this is a 570 km day on the highway!, but well worth the time and effort. It was a good feeling when we hit the seal again at Tocopilla and onto Copiapo.
The ride from Copiapo to Tinagasta in Argentina, is always a challenge, as it is 528 kms between gas stations, so with the truck, motos and extra containers full, we headed off into the wilderness, with expected altitude in excess of 4,700 mtrs.
Exiting Chile was a dream, with very helpful and jovial border guys. Chile is putting a major effort into the road heading over the pass to Argentina, with huge heavy machinery shifting tons
of rock and building up the road way and filling many of the sudden dips that we have enjoyed in the past.
Arriving at my other not favorite border post, last year Gerardo and I were stuck here for 4 hours, this year was a dream, we all got our stamps and moto paperwork without any fuss and we were all on our way in less than 45 minutes, I think that must be a record and on top of that we all kept our hands out of our pockets!!
Argentina have now totally paved the road from the International Limit with Chile, all the way down the hill. I just love this ride down this side, with amazing colours, it is as though the mountains have been dusted with pastel dust, when you see the green, you know it is not grass, just green dust?
We had a very pleasant evening at our adobe hotel in Tinagasta, but how they could ruin the meat that night is way beyond me.
We are now in La Rioja (say like La Rioka) having a day off to do washing, rest up etc. We only have three more days
here in Argentina and two in Chile, but we still have much adventure to fit into those days.
Only three days riding left and we are thinking it would be great to continue on. Unfortunately demands back in New Zealand dictate that the next chapter has to be some time further into the future.
Diane and I have thoroughly enjoyed this adventure. Great travel companions, massive and extraordinary scenery and always the local people have been friendly and helpful.
This despite a serious lack of capability with the local lingo.
It is also time to acknowledge the fabulous support we have had from home. Soon after joing the journey we found that some of the group were a little light on maps to run in their GPS's. This proved to be only a small problem as I quickly made contact with Tony Savage in Cristchurch. Tony had put together some mapping for Wim, Paul and myself. Not only did Tony respond with a way of making more copies of the maps he also sent us a new version.
Everybody using this mapping has been thoroughly impressed!!!! Thank you Tony. Should anybody be contemplating motorcycling overseas and
you find you are short of maps we recommend you contact Tony to see what he can do (Tony Savage of KiwiGPS – e-mail email@example.com).
On the motorcycle front there has been a range of small matters such as punctures and brakes to bleed. Gravel roads, dust, ice and snow slush have all added to dirty radiators which have needed a good wash from time to time.
Unfortunately, my bike has had more than its fair share of more serious problems. The colour yellow might be more accurately seen as lemon???? On the plus side Ray and Darryl at Mount Motorcycle have been an endless supply of help and I can happily recommend them to any BMW adventurers.
My first problem occurred at high altitude where we notice the bike overheating on the downhill side under little load. After much investigation we think the thermostat failed. Many experiments later, without replacement parts, found a robust solution.
My next problem was a burned out clutch. The cause for its sudden demise is still not understood and no doubt there will be more discussion to try to improve our comprehension. Needless to say I am now unning with plenty
of free-play in the clutch cable and am also avoiding slipping the clutch.
Getting spare parts to us in South America proved impossible. The problem being that customs held up the release for over a week. More home-work to do on this subject as it is essential that parts can be sourced from time to time. Spare parts supply from the BMW network here in South America. was also non existent.
A crazy situation for a brand that promotes itself as an adventure bike.
I am now the proud owner of a new BMW GS800 in Bolivia. Cory Rowden helped with the purchase and is holding the bike for me. We are exploring how to run a rental bike company from his home town. I will be back to use it and we will be delighted if you wish to do so too. Cory has yet to work up a biz plan and set some daily hire rates.
Corey's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
With the help of Baz and Hans we quickly canabalised the new bike to rebuild my clutch.
The last few days it has been running sweetly and we are slowly rebuilding our confidence in it!!!
Rosco has been keeping up the photos and news so I will not repeat what words struggle to encompass. Diane and I reckon you just need to come and enjoy the experience!!!
There are more photos below