Salar de Uyuni and flat tyres to Oruro

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March 29th 2013
Published: March 29th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

Tiny Tiny Tiny

Having a pit stop just outside Potosi
The ride from Potosi, was uneventful, just a great ride, after Tiny got a flat tyre, not 10 kms into the ride we arrived in Uyuni for a two night stopover. Everyone managed to get fuel on arrival except Tiny, that had consequences in a couple of days when we went to leave, the town had run out of fuel!!

Howard picks up from Uyuni and our adventure out onto the Salar...

Up at 6 am,onto the internet doing a blog and then after a quick breakfast, out the front at 8-30 for 2 x Landcruisers to take us to the Salar. First we saw some small flamingos near the Train Museum we had gone to the previous night. Carlos was the guide with Juan Carlos our driver and Roberto in the other vehicle. There wasn't much room for StrayRay, Barry and Radar in the dicky seat in the back. After a while Radar got into the other Landcruiser.Carlos was hard to understand with his English, but passable. They took us out to Colchani on a busy, very dusty ripio road. We stopped and looked at where a family business collected and processed the salt. There were also stalls there and bought a couple of things. Terry bought a nice jacket for 180bs.

Then to where they were drying the salt in pyramids and the water pooled 2 ft deep that we went through. I'm glad it wasn't my vehicle, thinking about the rust there. It reminded me of the top of Whakapapa with the slush of the water and ice, and the glare of the snow like the salt there.Juan Carlos seemed to fall to sleep and Scratch mentioned it but he didn'nt have glasses for the salt glare which he'd left at home. Then went further out to a salt Hotel, then 80 klms to the centre of the flats to an island where we had lunch and climbed the hill to see the view all around. It cost 30 bs to do that. There were alot of Landcruisers there with tourists from all over the world. We had lunch on a salt slab table.Radar climbed to the top and I thought it might be a bit too much, but he said he was fine. What a fighter.We then drove back to the centre where holes were close to the surface and you could

Looks like he has been away from home a bit too long
tap them with your foot and it would open up.

We took heaps of silly photos for an hour before heading back to a memorial to 2 x truck loads of tourists who died when they collided. One lot of Japanese and one of Israelis and the former driver fell asleep on the way out.On the way back on the dusty road we were worried about our driver who was following a yank ute following Roberto and you COULD NOT SEE A THING. Scratch or perhaps Tiny mentioned it, but it was a complete whiteout and here he is bowling along and moving out to pass even, when a bus loomed out towards us and he and the bus had to take evasive action. I tell you, that was scary and perhaps the most in a long while on the road. We got back to the hotel and we were all rather tired, but hungry so went for a Mexican meal and alot of the others turned up there too. On the way I bought a small camera stand that I've always been looking for for 30bs and for 180 I could have got a good Sony camera as
Barry Barry Barry

Looks the part at Colchani
well. That's less than $30NZ.

Sun 24-3 we ride from Uyuni to Oruro - Had a fairly early start because of the long and demanding ride in front of us. Tiny was going to lead as the first 8-10kms would be dusty and busy with vehicles going to the Salar and we were going to find a track for us to go on we'd seen the previous day. As we were pulling out Tiny had a flat again in the rear tyre from the one he'd fixed the previous day. So Gerardo lead with me and Rodrigo following going slow with no-one else behind us. Apparently someone didn't follow on, and others waited until when they finally moved they had lost sight of us (no cornerman-Rosco) then couldn't find the way out. We'll have to do better than that going into La Paz from all accounts.We went on a track beside the road for awhile which was fun. Then we stopped for awhile and the others finally came up. The road was sand every now and again, some deep but good fun. We carried on with Jack taking off and me next. It was really good and diverse terrain and ripio road we were going through with not much traffic initially. Then there were some quite deep fords, and major corrugations which shook you and the bike up. I spent all my time on my feet i.e standing up, in all 180kms which is the most I've ever done. I was fairly tired in the hips after all of that. I am learning fast on this tour, as are some of the others.We all met at a village for lunch, and I had some soup at a table served by an old lady with it in a cart at the plaza for 5 bs and a coke for 5 so all for about $1-50.Some of the others had some llama meat and veges in a wok from a lady sitting down on the kerbside and they said it was great.

Still no Barry, Terry, Radar and Rosco. Carried on from there on real bad corrugations where trucks were going slow at 30 km-h.I came to a road behind Jack at a river crossing before a village that Rosco had mentioned,and as he didn't want to cross, I went downstream looking for the other ford. Well, that was a handful trying to wrestle with the sand snake trying to take me out. Windy track where trucks had churned up the sand which was very deep with the handlebars going all over the place. The hardest part is trying to turn while having the power on with the bars going crazy. I managed to get through and over a concrete ford with water only an inch deep.Then through the village being chased by bloody dogs all the time. For some reason this lot didn't like strangers and really went for you. As I have a noisey bike, I tried to sneak up on them throttle off and just when passing blasting away. I got to the other side and was motioning for the others to go the same way as me, but Tiny just crossed straight to me and the others followed!Out of the village I was behind Tiny, then Jack on a very dusty road going too slow in the deep sand. Then Jack turned a corner and a bus was coming straight towards him and he had to stop. That was a close one.Finally after 180 kms we got off the ripio onto the seal and passed very fertile paddocks
Tiny Tiny Tiny

This is my new hat trick!!
and to my thoughts, more affluent area by the look of the vehicles and equipment they were using, like a weed eater doing a field! Came into Oruro after doing 330 kms. Refuelled again and for 4.5 litres it cost me 50 bs, which was a real rip off of the tourists.

Uyuni was 3500m up to 4200m and down to 3600 at Oruro. At the hotel which had a large courtyard and after a shower saw out the window Radar's bike on the chase truck. It had a flat tyre and Tiny had had the tyre levers, pump and tyre changing tools, after fixing his flat that morning, and had passed Rosco, so no option but to put it on the ute. So Tiny and Barry changed that which had a 3 inch nail in it. They then said it was a good time to change my tyre from the chinese one that was square with no tread, to the Pirelli I bought in Salta. Scratch said it was too early, and that I could get another 2 thousand kms out of it, but somehow I didn't believe him.I felt a bit better about tackling the Road of
Rosco with another hat trickRosco with another hat trickRosco with another hat trick

The only way he can keep this lot together!!
Death in the next couple of days.

All day in the 180 kms of ripio I was waiting for the puncture and imagined each sharp stone that I saw and tried to avoid was going to be the one that did the damage.I did a tally of the damage and incidents for the day, just from the hammering of the corrugations of that 180 kms from Uyuni to Oruro.Jack - broken taillight, and broken strap.Rodrigo - Lost bag - retrieved off the road.Barry- Broken exhaust mount repaired with Harley ties, crushed beer can and retread tyre part.Tiny - Flat tyre againGerardo- Lost beak off the front mudguard. Retrieved by Rodrigo who noticed it and stopped to inspect something strange. - lucky!!Don - Loose bolts for the number plate and taken off for safe keeping.Myselt.- Lost registration tag.Scratch - Lost bag - retrieved from road.

That night was an RRRA dinner at a restaurant we had to go to by taxi as the usual restaurant wasn't open on a Sunday, so to a fast food place for huge portions of food. Tiny couldnh't even finish this massive plate of meat pieces, salad, frankfurters, eggs and more stuff I can't even remember. That is a first to stump a Campbell lad. With all that food, we had to walk it off and most of us walked back through the markets that were packing up and clearing before the train moved through in the morning! Oruro to La Paz....Had breakfast which was pretty minimal and disappointing for the fare we are usually used to. Jack asked heaps of times for another coffee but that was a no go.Down to the bike where people were doing checks and maintenance still from the hard ride yesterday. Barry told me I should check my air filter which I did but it was still fine. Not bad after over 4500 kms.

Off we went, and today it was good grouping of the bikes staying close together and no hassles getting out. Even Rosco mentioned it and was impressed, which says something!It was cold. I didn't have the liners in from the fairly hot day yesterday and really felt it. Tiny told me later it was 13 degrees, but the wind chill was big and it felt alot colder.After 20 kms or so Gerardo got stopped by some cops as Tiny, Scratch and Jack had

Just a cool hand stand
been clocked by radar at 120km-h and he had his driver's licence taken. He was to find out who the riders were in front of him and report them or he would get a ticket And loose his licence....I took the opportunity to put the jacket liner in, but the legs were still cold. I had cold hands for the first time in the trip also.It was good seal most of the time but they were putting in another 2 lane highway all the way to La Paz all 230 kms of it. The Potosi to Uyuni was done, and Uyuni to Oruro was in process.

Lunch was at a nice restaurant about 50 kms from La Paz and we were glad to get there and warm up in the alfresco covered area at the front which acted like a glasshouse.They had a special going of vege soup and either Meatloaf with rice and veges or rabbit and pasta, then jelly all for 18bs. So we all had the special. On the way for the short trip to La Paz and on the outskirts we bunched up and were like a snake moving in and out of the traffic.

Trying to blow them away....

We had been given a good briefing by Rosco and Tiny the previous night. Be assertive and keep moving and the traffic will allow you to go there, even if they stop right beside you they won't hit you (generally). Also keep bunched up and move as a unit. It was hard going what with the altitude making my bike not idle and stopping all the time using the hands and hard on the bikes too. The KLRs especially took a beating as they are water cooled and overheated. It was very heavy traffic. Chaos. The worst I had seen ever.
Teeming with people. We got through Samo Alto at the top, and stopped to look out over La Paz. Also to top up the radiators on the KLRs of Staymondo and Radar. Then going down the 500 metres altitude to La Paz down the long hill before fighting traffic again at the main roundabout. Amazing that we had to fight across 2 streams of traffic to get to the street leading to the hotel.

Rosco and Gerardo were suprised to find the street direction had changed, and we circled the area a few times before Rosco located it, and the forward pack stopped on the one way street. Gerardo asked the cop on the corner if we could wheel the bikes back which we did, then jammed all the bikes in the basement of the hotel.Tomorrow it is out the 100kms to Coroico for lunch along the Road of Death, and back, fighting the La Paz traffic again a couple of times. Hasta Pronto, Howard

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Barry and Paso JackBarry and Paso Jack
Barry and Paso Jack

Boys with their toys

Having fun before his tyre goes flat

Riding the flat tyres KLR onto the truck as Tiny had all our repair gear....
Radar and RockyRadar and Rocky
Radar and Rocky

As Radar had Rocky's seat he still wanted to look out!!
Full pit crewFull pit crew
Full pit crew

Tyre repair for Radar and fitting new tyre for Howard at Oruro.
Pit crewPit crew
Pit crew

They still need some supervision!

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