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Published: October 16th 2016
Finally we get on the Road.
The new battery arrived on time and Pete fitted it into Nikki's bike that evening and checked the charge on the other bikes and all were good to go.
We finally got away from Vina del Mar at 10.00am and headed North up the coast via Concon and Zappella, finally joining the Pan Pacific highway and onto Tongoy, a quaint little fishing village just south of Coquimbo, where we were welcomed by Marcela.
We had a day off in Tongoy, so we all rode up to Coquimbo to check out the Cross of the Third Millennium, then onto Andacolla for lunch and check out the corrugated iron and wooden church of the Virgin of Andacolla and then the long way home to Tongoy via Ovalle. This was a 287km ride to lunch!
The next day we were up and away by 9.00 am headed north to Copiapo for the night. The road is now a fully functioning motorway, even through both mountain passes, just fantastic roads for cruising.
All the bikes are running great as we find our sweet spot around 120kms per hour is good for everyone (maybe not for Gerardo!)
The next day
was our ride through the lower section of the Atacama Desert up to Antofagasta, this was a day of scenic contrasts, as we left in the morning it was only 12 degrees but as we left the coast and headed inland, the temperatures got up into the low 30's but with no humidity it was pleasant riding.
We had two nights in Antofagasta and enjoyed the city and our hotel right on the waterfront.
Gerardo left us, as he has family here and he will ride to San Pedro de Atacama in a few days to rejoin us after our two night stay in Iquique.
The ride through the desert is a love/hate thing as the wind and dust gets into everything but the expanse of nothingness is really too much to take in and I'm happy to get it over with in a few days.
I just can't imagine the hardships that were endured here during the Nitrate mining era in the early 1900's. We stopped for lunch and fuel at one of these leftover Nitrate mining towns called Maria Elena, where we found a 'restaurant' that was so dark inside as we entered from the bright desert sunshine
Our visit to the church of the Virgin of Andacolla.
This church is constructed of fine corrogated iron and wood. The inside wood work is painted to resemble marble.
that we couldn't see a thing, but after the lights were switched on and our pupils adjusted we found ourselves in a very pleasant and homely environment. After our soup, salad and steak we were ready to tackle the desert again.
When we reached Humberstone, I stayed with the bikes as the others all went in to enjoy this unique Unesco World Heritage Site of an original Nitrate mining town that was abandoned in early 60's. After an hour or so we all made our way down the hill, past the huge sand dune to Iquique and our fabulous hotel on the rocks, with the Pacific Ocean surf crashing around us.
We had two nights here and I heard a rumbling that we should just stay here and ride back to Vina del Mar in a couple of weeks to ship our bikes home!!! I must admit the stay here at Hotel Gavina was just stunning, five star plus.
We reluctantly left this bit of paradise and headed south along the Pacific coast to Tocopilla for fuel and a hot dog before heading back into the heat of the Atacama Desert as we made our way to San Pedro de
Atacama for our last night in Chile for a while.
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