Heading across the cactus desert
Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
136Trip End Apr 20, 2013
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We set off knowing that there were very few villages or facilities along the way and that we would probably need to camp for the next few nights. We were well stocked up and ready for the next part of the adventure of cycling across Bolivia. By the time we had packed up our things, chatted to the tandem cyclists and restudied the maps, we were hungry again, and tucked in to a second breakfast
The road climbed sharply out of the city, and continued to rise for most of the morning. We made our way over more cobbled streets to get out of the city limits and were pleased when they finally gave way to a paved road. As we climbed around the side of the Cerro Rico, we could see mining trucks entering and leaving the mine sites. The landscape was scarred from the years of mining, and we stopped to take a few photos and to catch our breath again. Potosi sits at 4100m above sea level and now we were climbing an extra couple of hundred meters higher than that.
It took most of the morning to climb the hills out of the Potosi area, and we wondered how far we would make it for the day, as the start had been so slow going. We finally reached the turn off onto highway 14 and were relived to see that although it wasn't the main road, it was still paved. It was a shortcut to the border, which would save us cycling a couple of hundred extra kilometres and we had hoped that the road would still be in good condition
Thankfully the road was paved, and as it wasn't the main thoroughfare it was quiet. We had the road practically to ourselves. We cycled through a desert like landscape, surrounded by red rock and thousands of cactus. The air was slightly warmer, but as we were still at almost 4000m there was little humidity and we were able to cycle hard without building up a sweat.
We stopped numerous times to snack of Saltenas and drink the juice we had packed the night before. We would usually sit by the side of the road, and have no interruptions to the peaceful landscape other than birdsong. The prevalent alpaca from the altiplano were replaced by resilient goats, who didn't seem phased by the lack of grass, and numerous cactus. We would cycle passed hundreds of goats at a time, who were roaming the red soil landscape.
As the afternoon continued we came across a small village which had a big water container, which was collected from rain water. We filled up our water bladders and cycled on with 8 litres strapped to the back of each of our bikes. We managed to cycle 120km over the day, which seemed respectable considering we had so many hills