Before entering the town of Uyuni, I go to get acquainted with the Salar, an expanse of salt of 1,600 sq, km. A pity that I find it partly flooded after the recent rainfall and I can’t enter with the Rossa.But I stay there anyway for hours to take in the spectacle that is presented before my eyes.
In the following three days, with an organized tour on board a jeep, I come into close contact with the nature that surrounds it: the salt lake itself, a series of salty lagoons and scenes of pure Dakar. The last morning we leave, and during the night it had snowed (here it is close to 5,000 metres) creating an incredibly fantastic scene with extinct volcanoes and surreal colours.
I take my Rosso again and going through Potosì and Tupiz, I get to Villazon in the evening. A look at the border that is waiting for me the next day to get into Argentina makes me understand that it won’t be simple. And that’s how it was, in spite of being there already at 6 in the morning, I find a line of people and vehicles that had bivouacked all night. After about six hours I manage to touch white/blue soil, but boy it was hard and exhausting. It will remain the most complex customs I have ever gone through.
During the ride of the next two days, that will take me to Chile, I admire the famous Montagna of the 7 (or 14) colours at Humaucaca. Nature always surprises you for what it creates and it makes you reflect on how Man, on his progressive and slow path, tends to destroy the planet where he lives; if he doesn’t change the tendency, our descendents will have to deal with a sad reality.
I go through customs to enter into Chile, I ride through the Jama pass and the view of another Salar: the Grand Salar. What pleasure with all those hairpin bends at high altitude. The road takes us to San Pedro of Atacama; this stretch makes us definitely leave the great heights behind us; we go from 4,000 to 1,500 metres, even if, I repeat, I was by then after 20 days, adjusted to the situation.
In the two days of stopover in San Pedro, I visit the Valle de la Luna, really evocative, a lunar landscape in fact, with its salt deposits that look more like a snowfall that whitens the high ground.
In the following three days, I travel through the Atacama desert, the roads become boring, long, straight for hundreds of km, with a lot of dust. Pit stop at the most famous sculpture in this area: La Mano del Desierto. Unusual and strange, a common image for whoever travels through this area.
To return to Argentina, you have to go over the Aguanegra pass at 4,753 metres. The border of Chile is situated before the beginning of the ramp, and at its end there is that of Argentina. Magnificent, in my opinion one of the most beautiful stretches of dirt road, in the middle of these peaks the road climbs and descends through the valleys, and the breath-taking view prevents you from worrying about the route. Absolutely worth it.
I am on the last straight before arriving in Santiago del Chile and I make a stop at San Josè de Jachal and Mendoza. All this while coming back from Argentina to Chile through the pass of Cristo Redentor with a series of breath-taking hairpin bends, in comparison though the uniqueness of our Stelvio resists. Santiago del Chile, important appointment full of emotions. Here, as well as the stop for a few days to visit the capital, an overhaul of the bike at the local BMW, I wait for the arrival of my love and life companion, Cristina. Having ventured into the skies of half the world, she does not disappoint the expectations, she arrives at the arranged appointment and will stay with me until Ushuaia. I have a small problem at the BMW in Santiago because, as well as the change of the rear wheel, I do a general check, but the excessive diligence of the workers , with the washing of the Rossa, create a problem with the Hall sensor and the bike no longer works. 24 hours of panic with the spectre of the interruption of the journey, but then the spare part is found and finally, on the 11th of February, we start off again. 35 days have already passed and 7,000 km, but the best is yet to come.
The Route 40 is there, with its complexities, asphalt, dirt road, and the infamous ripio!
In the three days it took to reach San Carlos de Bariloche, we cross the Border from Chile to Argentina again and we immerse ourselves in the zone of the 7 lakes; suddenly we are catapulted into a world that reminds me of Norway: lakes, greenery and reflections that replace dust and desert.
Starting off again, Cristina and I separate from the group, to avoid a stretch of off-road in Patagonia, which is very tricky, and realizing that I am overloaded and with a bike that is heavier compared to the others, we head off by ourselves , partly changing the itinerary. The next 4,500 km will see us tackling the rest of the journey in solitude.
From San Carlos de Bariloche we cross Argentina diagonally, and it is truly boundless pampas. Interminable roads you don’t see the end of. Few populated areas, which allow us anyway to supply ourselves with petrol and food. We make a stop at Sarmiento. At this point the Atlantic coast is near.
In two days we get to El Calafate, stopping off at San Julian, not before admiring a large colony of sea lions at Caleta Olivia. What a thrill going on to the beach and admiring these enormous animals, just think, the males can grow to a length of 3 metres. Their “barking” makes your skin crawl.During the transfer, as well as getting to know the lamas (Perù), we begin to meet the first ostriches. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat gives us strong emotions.
Our 40th day sees us arriving in El Calafate, our starting base for the visit to the famous Perito Moreno, after having travelled the last 800 km in a downpour.