I know that there are quite a few people stumbling up on this blog daily and I’d like to ask all of you to help on veto-ing a new bill which would allow deforestation of a large part of the Brazilian Amazon. This deforestation would affect everyone of you around the world as these trees produce the oxygen you breath. You have to sign the petition TODAY as this is a short term decision.

LINK TO SIGN THE PETITION. It literally takes 30 seconds to do it!

The Brazilian Congress has just passed a catastrophic forestry bill that gives loggers and farmers free rein to cut down huge swaths of the Amazon. Now only President Dilma can stop it.

Fortunately, the timing is on our side — in weeks Dilma will host the world’s biggest environmental summit and insiders say she cannot afford to open it as the leader who approved the destruction of the rainforest. She’s facing mounting domestic pressure, with 79% of Brazilians rejecting this new bill. Now, if we join them we can turn up the global heat and push her to axe the bill, not the rainforest.

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Direction: South towards Ushuaia.

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The roads looked something like this

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Doing a good 100km/h on a great gravel road shown above, I lost the rear once again. I make it to a full stop and by this time I wasn’t surprised to have yet ANOTHER flat.

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Nail went in through the middle and came out through the side.

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Another tube left behind. Good thing I had bought one in Bariloche.

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I change the tube and try to inflate it. The SLIME compressor I had purchased at Wall Mart before leaving has kept me good company along the way but like most Wall Mart products, it was limited to a real minimum number of uses. I was able to fix it just enough to get about 5psi in the tire and make it back to town a few KM back. The gas station was closed and so were all the businesses as it was Christmas day but luckily they left the compressor running so I was able to get the tire back up to normal pressure.

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I rode all day and it was starting to get late. I saw a camping sign on the right side of the road and went to check it out. I was in a national park and true enough, there were nice camping spots but no one there. I tried to find a person in charge but there was no one working on Christmas day. So I camped and shot a few pictures. In the morning, I turned on the hot water heater and even took a nice hot shower. It had been a few days that I haven’t showered so I can’t tell you how good it felt to be clean again.

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Empty insect shells.

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Cooked up some spicy rice with dried mushrooms.

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Next morning, back on the road. Luckily, no forest ranger came by to ask me for $$ so I ended up spending the night for free by the nice lake where I had running water and HOT shower! Pure luxury…

A few km down the road, I met this couple. They were riding on 2 BMWs in the opposite direction. Had a short chat and we went on our way.

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The roads turned purple

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Even though the roads were nice, mainly gravel and I was having a blast riding on them, I couldn’t stop thinking that I didn’t have a spare tube anymore for the rear tire. What would I do if I’d get another large nail and blow this one too? Coihaique was coming up and I thought I’d be able to find one for sure. It was a large enough city with Wall Mart type looking stores so a tube shouldn’t be a problem. Well, I was wrong.! There was one motorcycle dealer in town and only had the wrong size tubes for my bike. I tried every store in town but no luck. The next larger town was going to be a few hundred km south. While running around, I did meet Matt. He has been traveling south as well from the US. He did most of the trip on a bicycle in Central America, then crossed the Darien Gap in a Canoe and in Colombia decided to get a motorcycle so he bought a used Suzuki DR200. He wanted to get to Ushuaia before New Years, doing all South America in 30 days I believe… he succeeded! Crazy guy!

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We found a nice green place to camp for the night with spectacular views and some trees to keep the wind out.

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The next day, we split up. Matt made a left at the bottom of this windy road towards Argentina, meanwhile I continued south through Chile. He wanted to make it all the way to Ushuaia for NY, meanwhile I was aiming closer to El Calafate.

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Lakes and Mountains

Posted: May 5, 2012 in Argentina, Chile

The nicest part of Chile and Argentina was starting to appear. Lakes, mountains, volcanoes and vegetation all around. Gorgeous scenery.

The following picture was taken in Villarica. One of Chile’s most active volcanoes.

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This picture was taken in Pucon. I spent a few nights there exploring the surroundings. Nice lakes and a few hot springs.

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Crystal clear water and not too cold either.

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One of the hot springs.

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A lake close to the border with Argentina.

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Volcano at the border with Argentina. It’s here that I realize I was running low on fuel. I calculated and there was no way I could make it to the first gas station. I had 2 extra litters in a container and somehow I made it on fumes.

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Welcome to Argentina! Not too far from the border, I found a free camping spot in a National park right by a lake.

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What you see on top of the mountain is ash.

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A short time after I set-up camp, 3 Colombian backpackers showed up, Daniela, Mariana and Juan. We spent a few nights there by the lake admiring the horizons full of ash, the nice mountains and the crystal clear lakes.

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Ash storm?

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Ash, ash and more ash…

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I made it to San Carlos de Bariloche. I didn’t stay in town as it looked a lot like Banff back home. Really touristic with many overpriced stores. Just a few km down the road, there was a swiss colony and I ended up staying there for a few days to wait out the rain and the cold that was passing through. The nice lady from the campground, Anna, let me stay in a cabin for the same price as camping which was really nice since the temperatures at night dropped to around 0 degrees C. She also gave me a nice warm blanket to take with me on the way down to Ushuaia as my Big Agnes sleeping back doesn’t hold heat anymore. On the way out, I stopped again in Bariloche to get some brake pads for my bike, a new tube and to change the front tire.

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The views from south of Bariloche.

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Christmas day, I camped at the border with Chile. The ruta austral going down to Ushuaia passes a lot back and fourth between Chile and Argentina.

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Cooked up a nice steak.

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On the way to the border, I stopped at a store and bought a multi tool along with a boiling pan.

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A cute insect. It’s really friendly once you catch it.

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This scenery and water color reminded me a lot of British Columbia back in Canada.

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More lakes and mountains to come…

South of Santiago

Posted: May 3, 2012 in Chile

After spending only a couple of hours in Santiago to take a look at the center, I took the highway towards San Antonio on the coast. On the way I met a few riders and they invited me for lunch. My KLR had a hard time keeping up to their highway speeds on their BMW, KTM and Honda but they were nice and slowed down to wait for me. Thanks again for lunch guys and really nice meeting you!

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Patricio in the middle but I don’t remember the gentleman’s name on the left.

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While riding after lunch, I saw this statue along the road…

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I made it to La Boca. It was circled on my map so I was going to check it out. A nice small town with an incredible view of the river meeting up with the ocean.

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There was a campground in town but why pay for a dirty space next to a house when you can camp for free by the ocean with no one around.

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No one bothered me so I had a great sleep. Next morning, more riding…

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Who needs yellow lines on the road really?

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Camping in a deforestation site once again with a sweet view. A few people driving by asked me if I was the security guy for the site.

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Next morning, get up, pack up and ride… again…

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… but it wasn’t going to be an usual day. It was day 1 of the curse to come.

I was going about 100km/h on a nicely paved road that was ending and becoming gravel and rock. The my wheel hit the gravel road, which was going on a steep decline, I loose the rear and bike goes all over the place. I’m able to stop safely and surely enough, I’m on the rim. The hill is too steep to take the wheel off so I slowly get the bike down to the bottom of the hill about 1\2 km down.

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A big nail riped my tube up.

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I am thinking, no big deal, I have the spare, which was my thick tube I used for about 40 000km. A nice drunk old man passing by helps me get the tire on with the spare tube. We forced it a bit and pinched it too. Had to use 2 patches and hope they hold.

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Well, 60 km down the road, I started losing pressure again, about 90 % of it. This time I was 3 km to a town and it seemed possible to ride with only 10% or so pressure in the tire. In town, all the tire shops were closed. I waited in front of a mechanic’s door for about an hour. I wanted to vulconize the tube instead of using patches. I was thinking that my 2 patches came off. It was actually an old patch so the mechanic vulconized it. I asked around town and locals told me that I could camp by the river close to town.

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Nice spot… and once again, free.

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Next day, after riding for another 60km or so, I started losing air again. This time I was close to a city and if I kept adding air every 10-15 minutes, I could ride like that. I needed a tube really badly. At a Yamaha shop, I was able to get a really thin tube for about 15$ but it was the best one in town. I had it changed and thought that was going to be the last of my tyre problems for a while.

UFO land?

Posted: April 22, 2012 in Chile

While at Felipe’s beach house, we talked a lot about UFOs and such. He collects meteorites and he’s been a huge fan about Unidentified Objects since he saw one from up close in a scary situation a few years ago. The best part was that I was heading into interesting territory around that part of Chile which was supposed to be even more interesting than Area 51.

Heading inland, there was a lot more vegetation appearing in the valleys.

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A nice man made lake due to the construction of a dam.

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It looks like a kiwi, tastes similar to a kiwi but it grows on a cactus.

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Finally, I made it into the “UFO” sector around Vicuna, just a few km east of La Serena. It’s called the Elqui Valley. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. No one was wearing tinfoil hats, there were no souvenir shops selling alien dolls or anything at all you would see in touristic UFO places. It was a calm desert with a bit of green in between. What was a bit out of the ordinary was the number of observatories around. Supposedly there isn’t any rain there or clouds but the desert is hundreds of km in diameter there so why would the Russians, the Chinese, the Europeans and Nasa all have small observatories cramped in a little region? I’m not sure if it has to do with the sky or with the fact that this is also supposedly the most energetically charged place on earth. Close by, there’s supposed to be a mountain where around 3000m altitude, if you leave your car in park and get out of it, you can see it slowly move on it’s own. I didn’t quite make it to that point but many locals have confirmed it’s existence. I was somewhat hoping to see something unusual in the sky but all I saw was the sun during the day and an incredible array of stars at night. On the other hand, many locals have told me about a ball of light similar to the sun they have seen coming from afar, stoping and then flying away really fast. The sightings of the “flying sun” are not that common since the locals which have lived there all their life have only maybe seen it once or twice in their lifetime.

Some pictures of the mountains and valleys:

A waterfall in the desert

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The surrounding views

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The road

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Camping by a local man made lake. Nothing beats free camping with this kind of view! I also met a nice lady who had a house nearby and liked to go out fishing at night on the lake. She said that one night she also saw the “flying sun” a few years ago and it scared the hell out of her.

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A bridge from the old railroad.

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One of the 3 long tunnels created for the trains back in the day. You couldn’t really see the end of the tunnels and there was just enough room inside for 1 car. Before entering, I’d flash my high beam and sound the horn in the hopes that someone from the other side would hear as there wasn’t enough room for my bike and a car to go through. One of the tunnels was also curbed so there was no way at all to see if someone was coming.

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Back on the coast, I stopped for a bit to watch some 4X4 racing. These guys were racing through mud, sand dunes and small rivers.

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I think this last guy got me and the camera soaked. The automatic aperture on my camera stopped working afterwards and it took me a couple of hours to figure out that I could disable the automatic and set the camera on manual. For a little while, I thought the camera was done.

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A nice campground I found on a peninsula.

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A couple of days later, I went to meet Felipe again at his other house in the mountains not too far from Santiago in Quebrada Alvarado. Nick had come down with Felipe as well.

Here’s nick playing with lizards.

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And here’s Felipe, not too happy about finding out that his neighbor had installed an orange pole right in front of his window, destroying the amazing view he had from the living room window.

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Thanks again to Felipe’s great hospitality, I spent a few more days there and then I went up to Santiago. I just rode around the city for a couple of hours in the center and then got out of there, heading back to the coast.


I kept riding south while admiring the rocky ocean on my right and the really slowly changing desert scenery on the left. It was a great feeling hitting up some of the dirt roads the Dakar was gonna fly through a few weeks later. Most of the gravel and beat down hard clay back roads were in great condition and with my heavy, low powered and loaded up KLR I was able to hit around 100-120km/h so I can’t imagine the speeds those Dakar guys are able to reach.

Small fishing towns along the way.

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At some point, a couple of BMW GS650s showed up making gestures trying to talk. So we stopped and we talked. Turns out that Jan and Remi were from Alberta, Canada as well. They had rented a couple of bikes and were doing most of the Western side of South America in about a month time. We rode together for a short while and then split up as they were trying to get to Santiago as fast as possible while I was still hitting up the coastline smaller roads. It sure was a nice surprise to meet some Albertans on the southern side of America!

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It was getting late, but I made it back to the coast from the main road where I split up with Jan and Remi. It was time to find a place to sleep. Lots of empty beaches with much free space to camp were in front of me but I thought I would ask about camping in the town of Chanaral de Aceituna since it looked nice and calm.

At the campground, a kid told me to ride to the other side of the town as the lady in charge of the campground was living there. So I went, asked for the price and it was around 16$ for the night. I looked at her and said that it was quite expensive. She agreed with me but that was the price the town had set for the municipal campground. She then offered me to set up camp for free in her back yard but I didn’t want to intrude so I thanked her and said that I’ll just go sleep on the beach. She told me to wait and made a phone call. Afterwards, she said that Felipe was waiting for me and that I should go talk to him. Well, OK! I thanked her and went looking for Felipe. After asking around for directions, a nice lady got in her car and showed me the way. Felipe was living in a nice big house, overlooking the ocean about 300m from town.

I talked to Felipe for a few minutes and he offered me to sleep in one of the 2 domes he had constructed for almost half the price of camping. I had never slept in a dome before, especially not one that overlooked the ocean so that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was thinking of staying for a night but ended up staying for a week and the host became one of my best friends on this trip.

The view from Felipe’s house… and also from my room.

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One of the 2 domes he built. This one was his bedroom, and connected to the rest of the house.

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View of the desert on the east side of the house. As you can see, vegetation was finally starting to appear.

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This is the 2nd dome, my house for the next week or so. By far the coolest place I stayed in on this trip. The windows you see on the right side are overlooking the ocean. It felt like I was in a spaceship in there.

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Since vegetation was starting to appear in the desert, I took a bit of time to try and shoot it.

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Work in progress at the bottom of the cliff by the ocean. A nice and simple structure decorated with bamboo. In the middle, a fire pit.

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Felipe on the right, Fabiola, a friend of his on the left.

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Seen some nice sunsets there.

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After a few days, some woffers showed up. Travellers who will work in exchange for stay and food. We were a decent group now in the house. There’s Felipe in the back.

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Nick, one of the woffers.

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We were all watching the sunset off the cliff.

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And here he is on the left.

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I spent one of the most relaxing weeks of my trip there. Thanks Felipe!

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North of Chile

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Chile

Once I passed the border line-up and got my papers in order I was ready to take upon the desert. First town was San Pedro de Atacama which sounded familiar but it seemed packed with tourists from all around so I didn’t stay. Prices were also pretty high up, especially compared to every other place I have been to, but I was going to have to get used to Chile’s high $$. Turns out that San Pedro de Atacama is supposed to be the site where they filmed the moon landing, but I still think that it was done in a studio and not under the stars. Either way, the moon like desert seemed to be attracting lots of people. I just wanted to get to the ocean as fast as possible since I hadn’t seen it in about 2-3 months.

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I started riding, and riding and riding some more. There was no vegetation, only desert, copper mines and mining trucks everywhere.

Mining train

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Finally as the night was falling I made it to a costal town with tons of tourists. I asked around if there was camping but couldn’t get any positive results. A few km down the road from the town, I found a HUGE lot, right by the sea with noone around… perfect spot!

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The next day, I started riding along the coast. Just a few km down the road there was this “natural monument” as they call it here.

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And then the dirt roads started. I had to go a few 100km on these as the northern part of the Chilean coast is not that developed. Looks like mining companies have a monopoly over the land.

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After riding most of the day, I stopped for a few seconds to admire the scenery. A few meters down, there were temporary fisherman houses and one fisherman invited me from afar to go eat something. I was really hungry so I couldn’t refuse.

Seafood and potatoes, fried fish…. ahhh soo good and soo fresh!

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The next day they took me out fishing.

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This plastic yellow hose is used for diving. It just plugs into a home made compressor and into the regulator. Then they use rubber around the joints to keep it tight and the air from escaping. The better fishing is around 20m deep so they dive with this system to around that depth. There is no emergency bottle or any real emergency system at all.

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The compressor system. A small motor is hooked up to a compressor and then to a big air container and then to the yellow hose from above.

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First catch of the day. Not a bad day! Gotta go down a couple more times though.

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A bit tired, but gotta go back in! Many fisherman do this as their job a few months a year. They come to this region where they build a temporary house on the beach on GVT land, fish for a few months then go home with the $$ for a few months. Then come back and do it all over again. BTW, did you notice the thick wet suit? The waters are freezing up here.

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2nd catch of the day. The captain is happy, it’s been a great day and an incredible experience for me. Thanks again for the hospitality guys!

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