Friday, 16 November 2012

Day 132: Iquique to Calama, Chile

Well another milestone today (or should that be a kilometre kilogram?) Shirley has had her last day riding in Chile and flies home to NZud tomorrow to go back to work. The quality of photography is about to drop sharply. I won't like it much either.

Today started with a leisurely breakfast at the Radisson

before we headed south out into a beautiful morning.

We had discussed the route extensively last night. We had a choice of the faster inland route through the desert which was marked as multilane freeway (i.e. quick) or the coastal route. We chose the coastal route, knowing that we had pre-booked accommodation in Calama. What a great choice. It was a great ride. And quite fast enough thank you very much.

We took the coast road to see the sea. And what did we see? We saw the sea. And some other stuff too.

We weren't sure whether this was salt mining or guano.

Also this mass of crosses and graves. Perhaps some marine disaster? Or just a quirky location for a family cemetery?

We haven't found out what these birds were. Not shags although they definitely were. I'm hoping they're boobies.

"What youse staring at?" Huh? HUH?

Ebony kept her eyes shut.

We arrived at a customs checkpoint but assumed that it wouldn't apply to us. It did. Fortunately we had pulled over to the other side of the road for a coffee and the nice customs people came over to us and explained what we were supposed to do. Which was show them a piece of paper so they could go kachunka with their official stamp.

We thought this sign was a bit odd as we left till we realised it was about weight, not speed.

The road stayed on the coast all the way to Tocopilla.

With houses on stilts right up,against this tsunami prone coastline.

A great tunnel.

And rocks thickened with bird shit.

and rock slides just waiting to let loose again.

And this wonderful V formation of seabirds. Pelicans? The photo doesn't do it justice. They looked magnificent!

We had a lovely lunch of fried albacore and salad at Tocopilla (sin chips!)

and headed off. We separated at this point with D&D going on to Antofagasta and Shirl and I going to Calama. I will meet them there on Sunday after Shirl has flown out. They went further down the coast while we climbed a huge hill

with some very flamboyant memorials.

It wa a good time to be on a powerful motorbike.

We then headed west across the desert. The temperature rose to 35C and the wind increased too giving us all a bit of a battering, especially when meeting big trucks coming the other way. Apart from this train

it was quite a lot of not a lot. Again.

This is a "green" on the Tocopilla golf course.

So incredibly dry. Supposedly the driest desert in the world. (I read that on the Internet so it must be true.)

I stopped to make a little wet patch in the sand but it had gone almost before I was.

Then we cruised into Calama, a hot dusty little town that would be nothing if it wasn't sitting on huge deposits of copper ore. We found our hotel pretty easily and were surprised at how good it is. For $NZD88 per night it is good value in a mining town like this. Plus taxes of course.

We went for a little walk and bought nothing. Goodness me she is well trained! But did see this solar powered car.

I thought it was pretty kewl.

So that was our day. Tomorrow will be different. Shirl gets back to Welly on the morning of the 19th and Ebony and I head on south to Ushuaia.

Today's ride: 391kms
Cumulative: 32,887kms
Tip overs: 7

Location:Calama, Chile

1 comment:

  1. I believe those large red headed birds are condors. I'll miss your foodtography Shirley, Have a pleasant flight.