CHILE / ARGENTINA
ROAD INFO: PASO AGUA NEGRA (4,775m) - LA SERENA (CHILE) TO JACHAL (ARGENTINA)
(Info as of November 2012)
The Pass Agua Negra is the highest pass that links Chile and Argentina (4,775m). The opening of the pass varies according to the snow, last years (2009-2012) were very dry and it was opened from the third week of November until end of May.
WATER: Water is never a problem. On the Chilean side there is water all along the way almost till the top of the pass (km 214) and on the Argentinean side you find the river 12km after the pass till the workers camp (km 290.4). Access to the main river can be sometimes tricky (steep slopes), in that case it is easier to take water from the side streams (quebradas) with crystal clear water. Anyway if you keep biking 5-10km you will always find a way to reach the river.
CAMPING: There are very nice camping spots all along the way. Shepherds (on the Chilean side btw the immigration and “Llano de las liebres”) go up in the summer making exquisite goat cheese.
ROAD: The climb is gradual (no steep slopes) and goes up at one shot till the top (no up & down) and then down to Rodeo. In 2013 the tarmac will probably reach km178 (from La Serena), the piste is well maintained.
WIND: Going from Chile-Argentina you should have tailwind for the whole climb and afterwards half of the downhill. From the lake near Rodeo we started to have face wind till Jachal.
Km 0: La Serena, city, all facilities, alt.sea level
Km 62: Vicuña, nice touristy town in the heart of the “Pisco region” (alcohol similar to Cognac), last big supermarket Unimarc), Wifi available at the “Casa de cultura”, all facilities, alt. 670m
Km 107: Huanta, last little village
Km 128: Puente “Las Terneras”, clear stream water (on the right), alt. 1’680m
Km 146.5: Aduana+Immigration Chile, water and public toilet, END OF ASPHALT, alt. 2’100m
Km 174: Shepherd hut and nice little stream, alt. 3’010m
Km 178: Laguna, nice “beach” to camp and clear stream water, alt. 3’110m. The bike ride along the lake goes for 6km. There is 3 “beaches” to camp
Km 184: Bridge, end of the lake, clear stream water, alt. 3’120m
Km 187.5: “La Colorada”, shepherd hut and clear stream water, alt. 3’190m
Km 190.5: Last shepherd hut, clear stream water, alt. 3’285m
Km 195.5: “Llano las Liebres”, clear stream water, nice camping spot, alt. 3’515m
Km 202.3: Clear stream water, camping ok, alt. 3’710m
Km 204: Clear stream water, camping ok, alt. 3’775m
Km 209.5: “Los Corrales”, clear stream water, good camping spot, alt. 4’000m
Km 211.5: Clear stream water, camping ok, start of the final climb via the hair pin bends, alt. 4’060m
Km 214: LAST clear stream water and camping spot till the top of the pass, alt. 4’155m
Km 230.3: Paso Agua Negra, alt. 4’775m. From here gentle downhill in large hair pin bends
Km 241.5: “La Olla”, end of hair pin bends and beginning of the valley. Rio Agua Negra nearby, alt. 4’455m. From here the piste gets better.
Km 251.1: “Proyecto Tunel Agua Negra”, ruins of houses: good for windbreak, alt. 4’090m
Km 255.3: Easy access to the river and good camping spot, alt. 3’970m
Km 259.4: “San Javier”, little stream water coming from the side, camping possible, alt. 3’845m
Km 280.5: Asphalt starts!!, alt. 3’055m
Km 282.8: Guardia Vieja (Arrequintin) - check post, water, alt. 3’000m. There is a camping spot just a few hundred meters further next to the river.
Km 288.8: Short climb for 1.6km. On the top, workers camp, water, alt. 2’720m. From here, no river on the side till the lake nearby Rodeo. Gentle downhill till the immigration
Km 317.4: Immigration Argentina, public toilets, water, alt. 1’960m
Km 318.8: Crossroad to Las Flores, turn left to go to Rodeo (RN150) or straight to Iglesia – San Juan (RN149)
Km 323.6: Crossroad to Termas Pismanta, alt. 1’950m
Km 333.8 and 337.3: Crossroad to enter Rodeo, village, all facilities, alt. 1’675m
Km 342.8 and 344.8: Artificial lake, good camping spots, alt. 1’600m. From here, the road goes along the Jachal River, up & down, face wind and finally slightly down to San Jose de Jachal
Km 382.8: San Jose de Jachal, big village, all facilities, wifi @ the YPF pump station, alt. 1’300m. (Free Camping at “Vivero” municipality camping and BBQ area (2km before the village at Km 381 on the RN 149))
To see our blogpost and picture about this crossing, click HERE!
ROAD INFO: COMMENTS TO THE "RUTA DE LAS LAGUNAS"
(Info as of October 2012)
Here are some comments to the “Ruta de las Lagunas” in BOLIVIA based on the excellent pdf document: CYCLING SOUTH WEST BOLIVIA http://www.tour.tk/tour-guides-south-west-bolivia.htm
The following information is as of October 2012. We did the route from San Juan del Rosario to San Pedro de Atacama. Conditions can vary from year to year so it is better to check the most updated info. The comments follow the same day by day structure as in the pdf document.
COMMENTS TO ROUTE: SAN JUAN TO SAN PEDRO VIA THE LAGUNAS
Day 2: It is extremely difficult to cycle the 10km climb up (80% is pushing due to the sand and stones). This climb is a shortcut instead of going to Ollagüe and taking the international road to Villa Alota. Since the climb is so tedious and there is so much pushing we would rather recommend to take the longer option through Ollagüe.
The condition of the international road leading to Villa Alota is excellent.
Day 3: After Laguna Santa Cruz the road does not disintegrate badly. There are many tracks, try to follow the least sandy which was for us the one most on the right (a track that is almost new and not too much run over). This way we did not have to push any single km, just a few hundred meters before the top of the pass.
Day 4: The 6km descend to the junction to the Hotel del Desierto (real name is Ojos de Perdiz) is very hard to cycle. There is so much sand that we had to push in the descend (60% of the time)
20km before the Arbol de Piedra the road is maintained till Laguna Colorada. The road conditions are from good to excellent depending whether the machine has repaired the stretch the same day or not. From now onwards till the end (Laguna Verde) the road is maintained by a machine that eliminates the corrugations and the excess of sand. However conditions of the road vary depending on the stretch, it is not the same quality all the way.
Day 7: After the old customs post you will have to turn left (right goes to Chile through Apacheta border), but do not turn on the first junction which is shorter but very stony and not possible to ride, instead make a longer way and turn left on the second junction (the road is in much better condition and you will be able to ride)
Day 9: The climb through Desierto Dali is mostly impossible to cycle due to the sand (60% of pushing)
Day 10: The first “refugio” 7km from the observatory is closed and out of use. Go to the other “refugio” 1km further
You do not have to pay anything to leave Bolivia (there is no 21 Bolivianos exit fee) and there is no option of changing money in the border
ROAD INFO: CYCLING ON THE SALAR DE COIPASA
(Info as of September2012)
We used the information from “ www.marek.li” and followed the variant nº 1 going East for 20km to the Salar de Coipasa and then South to exit it near the village of Irpa. We didn’t use any GPS and as of late September the conditions were almost dry. Here is our experience:
- From the village of Pisiga Bolivar at the pump station (Eastern exit of the village) you can see a big antenna and a little village called Pisiga Sucre at its right bottom side. There is a military base there were you can ask information about the piste and the Salar conditions, they have drinkable water too.
- From the 1st military base (km 0), go to the 2nd military camp (which is temporary - 2 tents and a bolivian flag) at km 13. To go there, head East following a more or less sandy piste. Take always the right piste in case of doubt. You will see some ‘stone marks’ all along the way and an abandoned house at km 10.
- Ask for directions in the 2nd military camp to head to the Salar. Same, follow the piste East toward the big moutain (which is the Isla de Coipasa) and in case of crossroads or doubt, take the right option.
- After 3-4 km you reach the Salar and short after it gets spongy for us and then fully wet (15cm of water) for 2 km maximum. We head toward the salt extractors (“saleros”) to get information. For us it was the end of the afternoon and we took the decision to go to the isla de Coipasa to spend the night there as it was impossible to camp on this wet part of the Salar. There is a 3rd permanent military base on the “isla” where we slept indoors.
- Next morning we went back to the salt extractors point: from there head south following the tracks of the jeeps (there is some stone marks too!). If you find the correct track, it is very easy to bike on it as the surface is excellent. It is about 18km to exit the Salar and reach a more or less sandy piste.
- Once on the “main land”, follow the piste going South along the Salar, skip the first right turn (the road goes uphill) and you will see a little village on your right after about 2-3km: this is Irpa.
- From Irpa, we followed the information of www.marek.li toward Llica.
We loved our first experience on the Salar, the conditions were very good at this period of year (late September) and we were lucky not to have any bad wind. The navigation is not that tough (no need of GPS), especially if you get information from the military and/or salt extractors along the way.
ROAD INFO FROM HUAMACHUCO TO CHUQUICARA (distance: approx. 190 km)
(Info as of July2012)
This piste is an excellent alternative to the coast option and avoid having to go through Trujillo (hot, flat, boring landscape and lots of traffic). You will have instead lots of climbs, amazing canyons and landscape. The piste crosses the gold mines area and traditional villages. We highly recommend it for its peace and local friendliness. The surface is all the way quite tough – rocky, sandy, deep dust, but there are small villages along the way which makes it easier and not so remote.
(distances from the Plaza de Armas of Huamachuco, following the main road direction Trujillo)
Km 10: turn left in Yamobamba onto dirt (before the bridge), alt. 3’100m.
Km 17: turn left @ Y (both roads go to the mine of San Simón.The right one might be shorter and more flat??), alt. 3’240m.
Km 22.9: turn left @ Y down toward the mine of San Simón, alt. 3’515m.The right goes over the saddle but is another alternative to reach Mollepata too... (for more info, ask Cass!)
Km 27: Tres Ríos, small village
Km 28: San Simón mine, alt. 3’400m.
Km 32: Cementery, turn COMPLETELY left (road going uphill!) @ Y, alt. 3’485m.
Km 45: Pass (vicuñas spot), alt. 3’950m.
Km ?: Lowest point, alt. 3’300m. Then the road goes up/down along the mine of Comarsa and finally seriously down to Angasmarca
Km: 70: Angasmarca village – hostal, restaurant, shops, alt. 2’825m.
Km 78: River crossing – bridge, alt. 2’700m.
Km 85: Tulpo village, hostal, restaurant, shops, alt. 3’065m.
Km 88: Pass, view on Moyebamba village, alt. 3’180m.
Km 91: Moyebamba village, hostal, restaurant, shops, alt. 3’020m.
Km 101: Mollepata, small village, limited shops!, alt. 2’660m.
Km 110.5: turn right @ Y (the left asphalted road goes to Pampas)
Km 111: 2 houses @ Y. The left road goes uphill to Pallasca, the right piste goes along the river via “Baños termales” (hot springs). Therefore you have here 2 options:
A) go uphill to Pallasca (approx 1’000m+elevation). This option is not so terrible as the downhill after Pallasca is great and you avoid the river crossing of the option B). If you are not used to river crossings, this option is yours!!
B) go along the right piste which follow the river. Please check the situation before trying it! As of July 2012, they were planning to rebuild this road and build 2 bridges across the river (expected to be finished in Jan 2013). The best is to get updated information at the “Baños termales”, all other locals have no idea at all about it. We gave a try, the 14km piste leading to the first river crossing were in bad condition but the real problem is the river crossing. In July, we considered the water level too high and strong to give a try and had to turn back. However we have heard about another couple of bikers who did cross the river end of the dry season (Mid-october) and it seems that it was ok for them (http://volksonbikes.blogspot.com/2011/09/segment-43-cajamarca-peru-to-huaraz.html , http://bicyclenomad.com/route-information/americas-bike-trip/peru/ , www.journeysbybike.wordpress.com)
Km ? : Pallasca village, hostal, restaurant, shops, alt. 3’065m.
Km 133.5: turn right @ Y (the road coming from left is the one of option B), alt. 1’625m.
Km 159: La Galgada, little village, basic shop, atl. 1’180m.
Km 164: asphalt start, alt. 1’120m
Km 190: Chuquicara, small village, restaurant, limited shops, gas station, alt. 600m. At this Y, the road right goes to Chimbote and left to the Cañon del Pato/Cordillera Blanca.
ROAD INFO FROM MOCOA TO PASTO (distance: approx. 145 km)
(Info as of May 2012)
It is the only way to connect Mocoa and Pasto where the Panamericana goes through and continues to Ecuador. The road/piste goes really through the mountains (4 passes) and the scenary is gorgeous. The piste is extremely rocky from km 12 to km 63.5. It is not that remote as you will find basic restaurants, traffic (mini-buses, trucks) all along the way. There are high chances to get the rain. The area (carretera de la muerte) is well known for its landslides too (especially in winter time and during the peak rainy season: April-May). There is no security concern as of May 2012.
km 0: Mocoa, alt. 530m.
km 10: Bridge – military check post, alt. 630m. Turn right to Pasto
km 12: End of asphalt
km 17?: Restaurant, alt. 1’100m. From here, nothing till the antenna
km 25?: Cross sanctuary, “mini shelter”, alt. 1’700m.
km 31: 1st antenna, alt. 1’900m
km 33: 2nd antenna – El Mirador – military check post + shop, alt. 2’000m
km 36: Pass – alt. 2’200m, military check post, 2 houses + shop
km 39: abandoned house – “km 110” mark, alt. 2’120m.
km 41: Restaurant Loreni, alt. 2’000m.
km 44: Abandoned house, alt. 1’820m.
km 47: Houses (closed but with small rooftop to pitch)
km ?: Up and down reaching the lowest point, alt. 1’740m.
km 52: Restaurant Buenos Aires, alt. 2’000m.
km 54.5: Abandoned house, alt. 2’100m.
km 63.5: Restaurant, houses, “centro educativo”, alt. 2’400m. From here, much better piste!!
km 67: Pass, alt. 2’660m.
km 74: Resto Los Laureles, alt. 2’280m.
km 76: Asphalt starts!
km 77: San Francisco, village, alt. 2’080m.
km 82: Sibundoy, major village, alt. 2’040.
km 89: Colon, village, alt. 2’020m.
km 97: Santiago, village, alt. 2’020m.
km 108: End of asphalt, good piste, alt. 2’650m, Restaurant + houses
km 111: Restaurant “cuy asado”, alt. 2’870m.
km 116: Pass “Virgen del Camino”, alt. 3’100m.
km 118: Asphalt start and last till Pasto!
km 125: El Encano, village, all, alt. 2’710m.
km 132: Pass - steady climb - alt. 3’100m.,
km 139: Village, alt. 2’600m.
km 145: Pasto, City, alt. 2’420m.