For the past 5-days we have been both geographically and physically high on altitude. In an effort to acclimatise, we scaled the side of a Volcano to 5500m just outside Sand Pedro in Chile. Small sections of snow made the ascent even more demanding, as the slightest struggle on the bikes would leave us gasping for breath. And while our KTM’s Electronic Fuel Injection kept the engines running clean throughout the altitude changes, they’d lost close to half of their horsepower by the time we’d reached the highest rideable point.
Before the sun set and the temperature dropped to minus 10, we made camp at 4500m. I never thought I’d ever require stamina to try and sleep, but it was a very difficult experience and a necessary test for our well being in Bolivia – where there’s no option to descend if one of us succumbs to altitude sickness.
Packet soup and canned tuna … Yum.
Crossing the border into Bolivia, we are now bound to a minimum altitude of 3800m, are travelling at an average altitude of 4500m and coping with minus 10˚ nights. Our plan was to ride the main route through the Volcanic Plateau and cross the great Salt Lake, I think it’s called Salar De Uyuni, but as it turns out, our bikes fuel range does not coincide with the available fuel stations. We had no option but to take a 200km Overland shortcut to Uyuni, navigating purely by compass and waypoint.
Now day 10, we are 3600km into the journey and have made it to La Paz, a city like nothing we’ve ever seen before. From here we’ll have a rest day and work out our return loop through the Bolivian Salt Lakes and onto Argentina. I’m thinking we’re going to have to buy extra fuel containers then try and convince one of the 4WD tour groups to carry them a few hundred kilometres for us. That, or strap them onto the bikes as sacrificial fuel cells. We’ll work it out, Hollis and Ports are loving it and ready for anything.
Just discovered MOTONOMAD? See the first two films here: