Daily Archives: October 28, 2015

Photos from the last few days

Photos from the Meteor camp to Uyuni

Salt flats with Tupuna in the background

Salt flats with Tupuna in the background

Marina and Guillaume

Marina and Guillaume

Me on the gravel road

Me on the gravel road

The gravel road

The gravel road

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Meteor camp to conquenca

The Island Isla Inca Huasai

The Island Isla Incahuasai

Another view of Island

Another view of the Island

Cacti on Island

Cacti on Island

Cacti on Island with salt flats (Salar de Uyuni) in the background

Cacti on Island with salt flats (Salar de Uyuni) in the background

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Tags: | 3 Comments

Day 91/164: Conquenca to Isla Incahuasai – 38km

In the morning it is hard to believe it is the same place, as there is not a breath of wind anywhere and bright blue skies. We have a later start at 7am for breakfast, as a short ride today so the sun was out already with the day warming up by breakfast.

The ride is only 39 kilometres from the side of the salt flats to an Island we are staying on in the middle, called Isla Incahuasai.

Unfortunately I am in the lunch truck again as I have been constantly coughing and wheezy all night. I am disappointed not to be riding on the salt flats but there is another day riding on the salt flats tomorrow. The wind seems to kick in each day about midday so if I ride tomorrow I should be able to ride on the salt flats without the wind.

At the camp just before we are leaving a herd of about two hundred alpaca are let out of their night enclosure and wandering down to  the vegetation (would hesitate to say grass) in front of the camp and start happily munching. There are also a flock of flamingo at the edge of the salt lake, all very picturesque and difficult to believe this idyllic looking setting is the same windswept bleak cold camp of the night before.

Alpaca in their enclosure for the night

Alpaca in their enclosure for the night

Alpacca on the shore

Alpacca on the shore

There is gastro going around the riders again with about 12 riders currently affected. Halfway to the island we have to turn back to pick up Rolf and Sue who have got it again. Thankfully I am now day 2 without.

I am meticulous about hand washing so am sure I am not passing it around. I think our dish washing facilities need to be looked at. We don’t have running water to wash our dishes, and we have 3 oblong trays of water: one with soapy water, one to rinse, and one with water and bleach. However it is normally cold and does not get changed during a meal period, so once 40 plus rider’s dishes have gone through, and staff, it is pretty disgusting.

The salt flats are amazing, they stretch as far as the eye can see. It looks like a great big sea of ice.

The island is a spot that is very popular as a stopping point for tourists. There must be about 500 a day to the island. At $10 Boliviano to use the toilet they must be high return toilets. Thankfully they are clean and have paper.

We get to the Island at about 11am but due to the number of tourists visiting and it is a small island we are not allowed to put up our tents until 530pm! There is no wifi, and the island takes half an hour to walk around!  Then there is nothing else to do.

There are lots of cacti again, some up to 3 meters tall. From the top of the island is a good view of the salt stretching off in all directions.

The island on the Bolivian salt flats (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The island on the Bolivian salt flats (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Luckily there are some limited room options and I manage to be at the right place at the right time and get one. Very basic with a cotton mattress on a concrete frame, dirt floor, and cardboard where the window pane was. However it means that rather than spending the next 6 hours waiting to put my tent up I can have an afternoon nap.

Sharing a table at lunch, at the salt tables, just before the winds picked up! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Sharing a table at lunch, at the salt tables, just before the winds picked up! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The wind once again picks up at midday and there is a howling gale by dinner time. The TDA staff have cooked in a small cave like an enclosure. It is really cold, thankfully we are able to sit in the hotel restaurant to eat. That is until there is a disagreement between the bar manager and one of the riders, about whether he has paid for a beer or not. We know he did as we saw him pay, but he bar manager loses the plot and decides no one else can come into the restaurant and shuts the bar down!

It is freezing and I am pleased to have an inside room, but each time I need to go to the toilet I have to go out into the cold. My asthma is getting worse and I am getting concerned. I end up using my reliever about 15 times during the night. At 4am I decide I need to start the prednisone. Overall I think I would have had about 30 minutes of sleep. Things always seem worse in the dark and I am pleased when it gets light.

The island on the Bolivian salt flats (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The island on the Bolivian salt flats (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Day 91: Meteor camp to Conquenca

Today looks like a short day as only 76 k and climbing 590 meters and 650 down, however this is because there is going to be dirt and sand and corrugated surfaces.

The first 13 kilometres is on tarmac and then a dirt road and sand for 35 kilometres, then about 5 kilometres of salt flats, dirt for 10 kilometres, and sand for another 10 kilometres.

Once again lots of deserted villages and kilometres of old rock walls. The first 35 kilometres of riding there are still lots of construction trucks and dust, and my asthma has deteriorated again.

We spent most of the morning getting to the base of Tunupa volcano. After lunch we had to climb up and then down 8 kilometres over volcanic rock. Slippery and steep, and I had to get off a few times. I was careful on the way down but still nearly came off twice.

Salt flats with Tupuna in the background

Before lunch with Tunupa in the background

First view of Tunupa volcano

First view of Tunupa volcano

Heading towards the volcano (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Heading towards the volcano (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

On the way down I got the first real glimpse of the salt flats. These are called Salar de Uyuni. These are the world’s largest salt flats, at 12,106 square kilometres.

The first view of the salt flats (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The first view of the salt flats (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Once I got out onto the salt flats they were flat but I had to battle a strong headwind for the remaining 7 kilometres to camp.

On the salt flats - TDA orange tape to guide us (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

On the salt flats – TDA orange tape to guide us (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Once I got to camp it was really windy and cold. A number of the tents were getting blown around. There was the option of getting a room in the nearby hostel (which was made of salt), so I did. The room was pretty run down, with a sagging ceiling and a sagging bed, but it was out of the wind. As an added bonus there was a hot shower and the first cold beer for four days.

The campsite was very windswept and the awning on the truck started to rip. The TDA staff had problems with the wind blowing the cooking equipment around, and sand got into all the food. There was a problem with the gas they use for cooking, with a small explosion, but thankfully no one was hurt.

I started taking probiotics yesterday and thankfully today I have no gastro. My asthma is not good and I am constantly coughing. There about 200 Alpaca grazing along the shore of the salt flats, and flamingo at the edges.

The dinner was beans and mince and salad.

Alpaca at camp in Conquenca

Alpaca at camp in Conquenca

Flamingo on the salt flats periphery (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Flamingo on the salt flats periphery (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Rolph and Mark on the salt flats (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Rolph and Mark on the salt flats (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Marina and Guillaume

Marina and Guillaume

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | 1 Comment