Ok... I rode from Los Angeles California to the southern tip of South America, and back. I started out with a friend from Alberta Canada - Larry is a rancher whom I met when I rode to Alaska a few years earlier and had stayed in touch with. He had recently bought a new bike and wanted to go for a ride. So we set our sights on Tierra Del Fuego. But, he had to turn back in Colombia. Then I rode with Brian from England, Patrick from Ireland, and Damon from New Zealand, from Columbia to Santiago Chile. After that, I was on my own.

This was an exciting trip for a number of reasons. It was over 30,000 miles thru Latin America and the Andes mountains, and I didn't speak much Spanish. There was also the small detail of the Darien Gap. And, then there was "Death Road" in Bolivia - supposedly the most dangerous road in the world.

Anyway, I blogged about the entire journey right here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bolivia - Death Road to the Amazon

We left Chile and the Dakar headed for Bolivia where we wanted to ride the infamous Death Road.  But, Damon’s bike had electrical problems.  So, Patrick and I went on to La Paz while Damon and Bryon stayed in Chile.  La Paz is the capital of Bolivia.  And, it happens to be very close to Death Road.  So we found our way to El Centro and checked in to a hostel where we ran into another rider I knew from the Adventure Rider website.  Small world.  Mark started from Arizona and had been traveling for about 8 months.  Anyway, we all needed to work on our bikes so we found a KTM motorcycle dealer in town and they let us use their shop to do the needed maintenance on our bikes. Then we were ready for Death Road.  Meanwhile, Bryon had rejoined our wandering group of moto-vagabonds in La Paz.  But, Patrick had gone off to climb a 19,000 ft. mountain.  So, Mark and I tackled the road of death.  I definitely would not want to ride a bus on Death Road - which is what most of the people who died there did.  But, it was fun on a bike.  So, the next day I rode it again with Patrick and Bryon.  Good times.  Then, as we were thinking about the route we should take to continue our journey south, Patrick says “Hey - lets go to the Amazon”.  Uh… isn’t that north?  Yep! But, its only a days ride.  And, it would be a shame to miss it when we are so close.  Alrighty then! -  to the Amazon!

The ride out to the Amazon basin from La Paz  was only 260 miles.  But, most of the road was dirt and a continuation of the infamous Yungas road - aka Death Road.  And, as luck would have it, heavy rain washed out the road in numerous places.  So, what would have been a nice one day ride, turned into 2 days of mud, sweat, and tears.  But, we made it to the small town of Rurrenabaque where we booked a tour into the Amazon.  Then, we spent three memorable days on the water and in the swamps of the Amazon basin.  Wildlife galore!  We saw turtles, monkeys, capybara, Alligators, Caiman, and lots of different species of birds.  We even went looking for Anacondas!  Yep!  We went traipsing thru the swamp looking for Anacondas - snakes that can grow big enough to eat a pony!  But, as luck would have it, we didn’t find any.  We did however find a lot of mosquitoes.  At the end of the day, it was these tiny blood sucking critters that drove us from the swamp, forcing us to abandon our search for the giant Anaconda.  And, it was these miniature terrorist that would leave their mark on our minds and our bodies - when I think of the Amazon, I will remember… the mosquitoes!  We did find a few Alligators while stomping around the swamp.  They lie in shallow water next to shore with just their eyes sticking out of the water.  And, they will remain perfectly still even when you approach them.  We walked within a few feet and still they did not move.  In fact, scientific tests have shown that these creatures will not move even if you throw small sticks at them. But, if you toss a rock and hit them square on the head, they will move abruptly and suddenly, scaring the crap outta you…. Or, so I’ve heard. Anyway, I took a picture of one just before the test.  I didn’t get any after shots cause I was too busy running.

After the Amazon Tour, we still had to ride back to La Paz.  Again, in good weather, it should only be a one day ride.  But, as luck would have it, the rain gods showered us with riches… so it took 3 days instead.  I actually enjoyed much of the ride as I have done a lot of off-road riding on my current bike.  But, the roads were very muddy and slick.  And, “mi amigos” were on much heavier bikes.  So, they enjoyed the ride far less as they spent a good deal of time picking up their bikes.  When all was said and done,  we were glad we went, but probably wouldn’t do it again.  Now, we are back in La Paz and need to do more work on the bikes before heading south again.

Chile to Bolivia - La Paz

The North Yungas Road - aka "Death Road"


Journey to the Amazon



( Inside the mosquito net covering my bed ) 

 ( can you spot the Alligator in this picture )

( a Tour Guide teasing/feeding an Alligator under the camp kitchen )