Bolívia

by Bicycle

Sur Lipez – Southernmost Region

Our last chapter of cycling Bolivia. Sur Lipez is known as a desolated region in high altitude loaded with snow-capped volcanoes, natural thermal pools, colorful lagoons, and geysers. Famous among adventure cyclists who wonder about their comfort limit in an intense full week.

ROUTE DONE IN December 2018 until January 2019

Distance

400 km

days

13

Difficulty (1-10)

9

An unreal plan in a surreal place – Sur Lipez, Bolivia

In this last chapter of Bolivia, we started with lots of considerations. We read many blogs and photos of cycling Sur Lipez, Bolivia and all of them look awesome! They made us envy and want to experience it ourselves. Yet, the cyclists’ tourers who did this route mostly have bike-packing style. This reason made us doubt if it will be fun or will be a full week of torture. It sounds like an unreal plan in a surreal place.

Long story short, we did this epic route with the quickest route we found – 11 days. Started from Uyuni, we stopped in little hamlets before we get into the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve – Ramaditas, San Cristobal, and Alota. In these places, we ate in local restaurants. So, we didn’t have to bring lots of food from Uyuni.

The struggle

The first days we rode in this surreal national park, there were storms and hail. We had to stop and camp in Cerro Caquella – 27 km away from Lagoon Hedionada, our initital plan to stay that night. On the next morning, Luís decided to make a sketch video of our camp back ground, Cerro Caquella. We thought that to go to the Lagoon Hedionda isn’t too far, so, we would arrive by midday and enjoy the landscape. Unfortunately, the bad weather continuously happens around midday throughout our journey. We had to stop before our destination for the day a couple of times. This made our journey longer than the initial plan.

My imagination of the legend laguna Colorado is fade. It turns into a water-logged lake full of fogs. Luís tried to convince me that this is the challenge that we had to accomplish. But for me, this was disappointing.

In the morning, when we camped in a high pass, I exploded. I didn’t want to ride more. I want to get a hitchhike until the border to Chile. All of these demotivate me to ride more, you know?!

In my opinion, why we have to struggle to ride if we couldn’t see anything? When we looked down, the sandy road was the view. And if we looked up, the dark clouds that threw the icy stones to our faces was the scene. It was depressing…

Slower pace due to lower pressure on our tires isn’t a new thing for us. Our journey from La Paz until Uyuni – through Sajama National park and the salt flats – mostly were loose sandy roads. In this last region, we also didn’t need to bring a lot of water like when we were in the salt flats. We could refill our water we need during the day in the refugies.

That morning we had a big argument and Luís couldn’t convince me to ride with me. He left me alone for me to refresh my mind and rode to the thermal pool near Laguna Chalviri by himself. Yup! He left me in the middle of a desert that miles away from a town. No internet connection, no village, nada.

How many of you had a quarrel with your partner in the middle of a desert or mountain that took you days to reach a town? I guess not many.

Do you see it? Travel as a couple is not always beautiful. We also have our dark days that could be extreme…

The funny fact was starting from the day I explode until we reached Atacama, Chile, the weather was perfect! It seems that the universe taught me to be patient and resilience through cycling Sur Lipez Bolivia. Nothing comes easy, but everything will come at the right moment.

See you, Bolivia!

In the end, this last chapter of Bolivia is surely one of the best memories we have in Sketch and Bicycle Tour through South America. Once we roll to the Chilean side, the road changes into a perfect tarmac road. For 30 km, we rolled down 2200 meters altitude. We didn’t need to pedal at all. Subscribe to follow our journey around the world.

Sketchbook

click on the image to see the sketches of this journey
  • Surreal landscapes: snow-capped volcanoes, colourful lagoons, and geysers.
  • Natural thermal pools around Laguna Chalviri
  • Hail and storm almost every day during our time there
  • Majority, the trail was corrugated loose sand yet rideable most of the time
  • Ticket fee: BOB 150 (Dec 2018 – Jan 2019)
  • Although the ticket only valid for 4 days, the rule was pretty flexible for cyclist.
  • If you won’t camp but the hotel’s rooms too expensive, driver’s room of tour agencies usually is cheaper.
  • A trick we did to make our bicycles lighter is we asked an agency tour in Uyuni to bring some of our stuff to the check out point office near the border of Chile.
  • Take photo in RAW because it was utterly wonderful!
  • Check the weather for the next week before start this route. Hail isn’t fun for cycling.
  • Wild camp is allowed but leave no trace!
  • Camp near refugies is recommended due to strong wind in the night and water access
  • Every refugios usually sell food – a bit more expensive than normal.
  • Refugios inside the park usually happily to refill our water.
  • Sometimes leftover breakfast also welcome to consume (even to take away)

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