san pedro de atacama to uyuni
polques to uyuni (by 4x4)
Due to Laura's knee injury, we had to take a 4x4 to Uyuni. The weather - still snow storms and strong winds so best option was to get the lift. We paid 80 USD for 2 people plus bikes! About 300km to Uyuni, mainly downhill with villages and towns along the way.
refugio (laguna blanca) to polques hot springs (laguna chalviri)
We decided to cycle around Laguna Blanca to Laguna Verde. Strong headwind and sandy roads so progress was slow. A long climb over the pass (4780m) with a snow blizzard at the top (-10 degrees celcius). Possibly the hardest day of the trip. There is a restaurant (hot food, drinks, snacks) and accommodation (60Bs/person) at Polques as well as the hot springs by the laguna.
Laura sustained a knee injury - swollen, painful and red! Stayed here for a rest but no improvement in knee pain - so arranged a 4x4 transfer to Uyuni.
wild camp 1 (3300m) to refugio(laguna blanca) (4300m)
A brutal climb to 4600m. At this altitude, we struggled to cycle 1km before having to stop and catch our breath. Very slow ascent. The border is very basic. There is water but the guards refused to give us any - they said it was dirty. From the border, its downhill to the refugio on a sandy road. The refugio is a stone building, has water and basic supplies - we filtered our water. It has a kitchen and bedrooms (60Bs/person). Its very cold inside - no heating, but a few degrees warmer than outside. You need to pay the park entrance here too (150Bs/person).
san pedro to wild camp
We left San Pedro at about mid-day. YOU MUST STAMP OUT OF CHILE IN SAN PEDRO... we met a couple of cyclists who had to come back after riding some 20km uphill as they had not signed out. A gentle climb for 14km but then get ready for a big, steep climb to the Bolivian border - gain 100m altitude every 1km. As there are no shops/cafes/villages for about 7 days, we carried food for this time meaning that the bikes were also quite heavy. There is a refugio 8km after the Bolivian border for water and basic supplies (cookies, crisps) - so we carried water for 2 days (heavy bikes!) - although there is a kitchen which we used as well as bedrooms - 60Bs per person. They use this refugio for 4x4 tours and cook here for the tourists so possible to buy food - maybe - we cooked for ourselves.