Wednesday 30 December 2009

The Atacama

A big hand for making it this far...

The Atacama is the driest desert on earth. When it rained in 1971 it broke a 400 year drought. In other parts rain has never been recorded at all.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Monday 28 December 2009

San Pedro de Atacama

Today's activity: sandboarding on a 300m high dune in the rather unfortunately named Valley of Death.

Then to the Valley of the Moon:

Sunday 27 December 2009

Bolivia to Chile

Two days of mud, dirt, gravel, sand and corrugations to get to Chile, but the scenery made up for the state of the road.
At the point that the track was at its wettest a car overtook me, spraying me from head to toe. Unfortunately I didn't get my visor down quickly enough and was blinded by mud.

I got to the Bolivian border without realising it. I stopped to ask for directions and it just so happened the person I asked was the Bolivian Customs man.
The off-road riding must've been more mentally tiring than I realised. Despite having been travelling through spanish speaking countries for the last three months, for some reason when I asked the border guard if there was a hotel nearby I did so in russian.

Thursday 24 December 2009

White Christmas

The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is the world's largest salt flat, covering an area of 4,085 square miles (about half the size of Wales).

Tuesday 22 December 2009


It wasn't the poshest hotel I've stayed in, but it was certainly the smartest parking spot the bike's had.

Saturday 19 December 2009

The World's Most Dangerous Road (?)

Although it feels as though I've been riding on the world's most dangerous road for much of the last 29,744 miles, in 1995 the road from La Cumbra to Coroico in Bolivia was named as the most dangerous. Known as the road of death its a single track dirt road that clings to the side of a mountain with drop-offs of up to 600m, with an estimated 200 to 300 fatalities a year.
In 2006 a new road was opened which now takes most of the traffic, leaving the old road to be used mainly by mountain bikers and television presenters.
Although its undoubtedly no longer the world's most dangerous road it has still claimed the lives of 11 cyclists.
For more on the road of death click here:

Friday 18 December 2009

La Paz

The highest capital city in the world (at 3,660m).
The journey into the city was a bit hectic and wasn't helped by a complete lack of signposts. I asked five different people for directions (three of whom were traffic police) and got five different answers.

Thursday 17 December 2009


Back up to lake Titicaca to cross into Bolivia and then a ferry across the lake on the way to La Paz.
There was a two pound 'fee' for the policeman at the border. I wasn't quite sure if it was to get him to do his job (fill out the paperwork) or to make sure he didn't (searching my luggage).

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Colca Canyon

At 3,191m Colca canyon is one of the world's deepest. A dirt track runs alongside it to a look-out point where if you're lucky you can see condors. The track starts off okay but gets progressively worse. It was at one of the tricky bits (downhill, loose gravel & dirt) that I was faced with a donkey roadblock. My attempt to avoid them ended with both me and the bike on our sides. I carried on a bit further after that but when the wind got so strong that it threatened to blow me off the road and into the canyon I decided that the condors weren't worth it and turned back.

On the journey from Arequipa to the canyon I reached the highest altitude of the trip so far - 4,900m. That's higher than Mont Blanc but as the rest of the day was spent riding over a 4,500m plateaux I wasn't really aware of the extra gain in height.

Monday 14 December 2009


Presumably in an effort to catch-out British motorcyclists who have been riding on the righthand side of the road for eight months Arequipa town council have decided that you should ride on the left around the main square.
Fortunately it didn't catch-out this British motorcyclist.

A slap-up meal of alpaca meat for dinner tonight. What does alpaca taste of? A bit like llama really.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Lake Titicaca

Some express tourism today - I arrived in Puno at 3.30, by 4pm I'd checked into a hotel and was on a boat trip to the floating reed islands on lake Titicaca.
The boats aren't quite as traditional as they look - each one is made of 3,000 plastic drink bottles and is then covered in reeds.
Depending on who you believe, at 3,920m lake Titicaca is either the world's highest navigable lake or it isn't. Even Lonely Planet can't decide - on the Peruvian side it says it is, on the Bolivian side it says it isn't.

Friday 11 December 2009

Machu Picchu

When somewhere is as well known and over-hyped as Machu Picchu there's a danger that visiting it could be an anti-climax.
It isn't.
It lives up to expectations and then some.

Thursday 10 December 2009


Cusco is twinned with Samarkand (been there), Lima (been there), Istanbul (been there), Copan (been there), Cuenca (been there), La Paz (going there) and Rio (going there?).

Tuesday 8 December 2009


Cerro Blanco is the world's highest known sand dune.

Monday 7 December 2009

The Nasca Lines

The nasca lines were formed around 2,000 years ago by removing the reddish pebbles that cover the ground to reveal the lighter earth underneath. The jury is still out as to why they were formed though its believed they have religious significance.

Friday 4 December 2009

Wednesday 2 December 2009


The idea was to take a dirt road from the coast into the mountains. Unfortunately it was being rebuilt which meant lots of delays and after 70km the road was blocked completely. Waiting for it to be cleared would've meant having to finish the journey in darkness so it was back down to the coast road.

Tuesday 1 December 2009


A day spent visiting ruins around Trujillo. In the morning the temples of the sun and moon, constructed over 1,500 years ago, and in the afternoon Chan Chan - the largest pre-Columbian city in the americas.