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Altiplano in May

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Altiplano in May

Old 02-22-19, 11:10 AM
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Altiplano in May

Unfortunately, that'd be 2020... Still, the idea is taking shape. 2-3 weeks, either a loop or open jaw (eg return by bus, or airport to airport, or a mixture). Unfortunately, our Spring calendar is not that flexible. Should be sometime in May, no earlier than last week of April, no later than last week of May.

Two questions for those in the know:

(1) itinerary suggestions: the main reason for our interest in the region are a couple of mind blowing pictures of gravel roads meandering in front of incredible landscapes. Trying to research routes, I came across pictures of much less aesthetic places. So where to go in order to be inspired? We'd rather ride on quiet/isolated gravel roads as opposed to highway shoulders even if that means carrying more supplies. We're not strong riders, but used to ride 100kms/day on decent surfaces. Total distance in the range of 1000-1500kms seems appropriate, unless road conditions were terrible.

(2) logistics: A very quick look at Weatherspark suggests that it's going to be nice and cool during the day, and freezing at night, but not that windy. So we'd rather camp. Which seems to be the only option if we travel in more remote areas of the salt flats, etc. May is a shoulder month and earlier in the month is probably better. I guess that the question should read like: is May a reasonably good time to ride there? What should we have in mind.

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Old 02-22-19, 12:22 PM
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UK based Touring Cyclist club https://www.cyclinguk.org/ has been around since 1878 , may benefit you to join and access their member base too ?


My friend Peter went to Argentina a few years ago , He is still a Green card Englishman living here for a long time..

Cycling | Marsh's Maritime Media


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Old 02-22-19, 01:22 PM
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This guy toured extensively in South America.

Bolivia | While Out Riding
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Old 02-22-19, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s
This guy toured extensively in South America.

Bolivia | While Out Riding
Thanks for the link. Not much as far as practical info goes. but amazing pictures and great narrative... life's definitely too short (and expensive
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Old 02-22-19, 05:49 PM
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The while out riding guy seems to be quite a hard ass, ie rather tough and strong. I love his photos and everything, but always figured I'm personally not in the same ballpark of being tough.
I'm sure others here who have been there can give you good info, but I too have dreamed of going there. Id be concerned a bit about climatizing to altitude, I've generally done it gradually and so didn't find it hard, although this is probably higher than the lower 3000 metres I've been at.

neat trip idea
have you looked at cgoab, there should be good specific date related info there
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Old 02-22-19, 07:11 PM
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I crossed in late July / early August 2017 and stayed mostly on larger roads so can't help you with offroad aspects as much.

However, a few thoughts:
* It is an arid region with a large day/night swing. So even though I was prepared for -10C overnight (14F), it also warmed up to +10C during the day (50F). May should be warmer than i went, so I'd think of having a warm enough sleeping bag and sleeping a little if slightly cold.
* While not completely flat (other than salt flats which are flat); there wasn't much in way of climbs once at elevation. The general area was between 3800m and 4200m, so one does want to take cautions with acclimatizing.
* Some of the smallest settlements didn't have a huge amount in way of stores/shops. Enough that I could typically get things to eat, but don't expect a lot of variety.
* I suspect May is probably fine, but I wouldn't go a few months earlier as the Salt flats flood during the wet period and then dry up.
* In just the past few years they finished paving the main roads to Uyuni. There were big construction projects underway from there south to Argentinian border as well. If you look at trip reports for that area - pay attention to the dates if it describes the road as being extremely rough
* If you are a US citizen, Bolivia has some extra provisions and costs to get a visa at land border. Look up details prior to the trip.

As far as places go along my route:
- Puno, Copacabana, Uyuni were what I'd describe as "backpacker towns". Lots of tourists, laundry service by the kilo, tours, etc.
- El Alto was a large city complex (I didn't go into La Paz)
- Oruro was a mid-sized town with lots of services. Juli Peru also had reasonable services.
- Outside of those sorts of places, the small hamlets are small hamlets.
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