Expenses in South America

Here a summary of our expenses whilst touring, might come handy if you’re trying to figure out a budget. On top of food and accommodation (although we try to camp whenever possible) we had various other expenses (repairs, illness, shipping down gear, etc) – so don’t be fooled and be prepared to spend (a lot) more than you expected.

As a general rule, things get more expensive as you go south, but I think for us food averages also increased because we ate better (more, and in Chile, for example, more variety was available…).
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Shutting down

I was full of enthusiasm, a few years ago when the idea of this trip began to form. The recent emergence of bikepacking blogs had caught my eye, and I put myself into the shoes of the innovative few who had begun to bikepack South America. Studying and analyzing small lines on google earth, looking for any signs of trails and paths less travelled. Slowly, the hopeful mapped out squiggles turned into real trails beneath our tires. The fruits of labor were becoming real, sometimes working out and other times not. Either way, it was exciting. Bike maintenance mirrored this enthusiasm, and our Pugs were a happy pair of stallions. Smooth bearings, and well adjusted brakes. Continue reading

Forbidden Fruit

DSC03847As part of our plan to find detours along the Austral, we found a nice piece of sendero action to try out. Unfortunately, after putting in some serious effort to arrive at the trailhead, we were informed that it is prohibited to pass through by bike. With a bit of smooth talking we managed to cut a deal wherein we would “carry” our bikes the whole trail. As it turns out, the first day we weren’t lying. Steep climbs and bush bashing were a recipe for slow progress. Unfortunately, due to the un-transited nature of the trail, we picked up a few spikes along the way and managed to use all but two of our patches. This left us 30km from any chance of meeting anyone, with two patches, on a trail covered in spikey death. Continue reading

Going Lateral (ish) – Palena to Coyhaique via Argentina and 4×4 track (Lago Verda – La Tapera)

Our second episode of escaping the Austral begins from Villa Santa Lucia. The kind of town which makes you wonder if anyone actually lives there. Unfortunately for us riders hunting out dirt roads, the Austral is being paved piece by piece. A huge step in the right direction for an interconnected Chile, but not much fun if a fatbike is the only arrow you’ve got in your quiver. Most people seem to duck out of Chile and head into Argentina to seek refuge from the rain, but oddly enough we’d enjoyed seemingly endless hot and sunny days while following the Austral. We directed ourselves towards Chile’s relaxed neighbor for other reasons. A dirt section through pampa setting us up perfectly to ride a small part of the Sendero de Chile from Lago Verde to La Tapera. Continue reading

Entering the Austral

The past few weeks have marked an entirely different pace for us. My folks came for a lovely visit which provided us some downtime from riding. There comes a point in any tour where one forgets to appreciate the incredible experience they are living, and I think it’s safe to say that Gina and I were very much in that position. However, It’s amazing what a week off the bike can do!

The Carreterra Austral is iconic route for South American cycle-tourists. Usually marking the beginning or end point for some very epic adventures. In our situation, a realization hits us. We’re on the home stretch and that’s pretty scary for two . We’re lined up to hit Ushuaia in early winter, but neither Gina or I are in any great rush to try and make up the time. We’ve decided to use the Austral as a sort of “home base”, branching off whenever something more interesting comes along. Continue reading

Don’t take my Kodachrome away (Tolar Grande to Antafagasta de la Sierra)

I’m writing this sitting in the home of Anibal Vazquez, a mountain guide in Antofagasta de la Sierra. He’s kindly let us stay with him for a couple of days while we decide how to push forward. Our plans have been halted by a golf ball sized lump which has developed on my backside. Our beautiful adventure route through to Paso San Francisco is definitely a no go, rough roads and shredded shorts are a recipe for me ending up in the hospital at this point.
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Find your zeal: Zeal Optics sponsorship

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The folks over at Zeal Optics make some pretty nice shades. They’re also doing cool things with some environmentally friendly materials. They even have biodegradable models which will disintegrate if kept under dirt! We thought they made pretty nice stuff so we sent them an email asking if they’d like to sponsor us with a few pairs. A couple friendly emails later and they offered to FedEx some down to us!
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Bolivia, a quick but tough ride

Our time in Bolivia flew by. In only a month or so we discovered some landscapes east of La Paz that many cyclists dismiss, and continued more ridden routes through Sajama, Coipasa, Uyuni and finally the Lagunas route.

Renowned for its terrible roads, especially the Lagunas route proved a pain on the ass. The landscapes were diverse and the weather extreme (dry, hot sun, cold nights) – although, at the time we cycled, not as bad as we had thought.

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Backroads and dog bites (Sicuani to Azangaro)

Having taken the highway from Checacupe to Sicuani made us yearn for dirt again. Unfortunately Dan’s over adventurous food exploration landed him with food poisoning and made him unable to continue. After a rest day he still didn’t feel much better so we decided that I would ride the dirt section to Azangaro solo. Unsure as to whether the route fully existed due to some dodgy satellite imagery, I was in for an adventure. Continue reading