The border to Bolivia and getting to Uyuni!

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Today we are in for a big day with crossing the border to Bolivia (country number 16) and 210 km of dirt to Uyuni.

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In the morning we were up at 630 to make it to the border early as we expected a huge line up after the closure the day before. There was no one there and we were second in line behind one of the guides from the tour dealing with the support vehicle!!!

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Pulling up to the border go under the covered area and park to the right along the curb. You will see a number of windows to your right.

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You start at number2, which is where you get the Argentinean exit stamp for your passport. Then you head to number 3 where you go into the office of the Aduana so you can get your Argentinean temporary permit cancelled. You need your passport, permit, proof of insurance for Bolivia, and title.

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Then proceed to window number 4 this is Bolivian Migration. Then wave at your riding friends back at number 2. The officer will give you a 2-part form in English to fill out and stamp your passport. Last go to window 5, which is the Bolivian Aduana. They will want your passport and title. They will get you to sign 2 copies of the new permit. Make sure you check the VIN carefully. This was the stumbling block as their Internet was on and off. Despite actually being the second in line the whole thing took over 90 min.

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Finally they will come out and check you plate number.

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Next head across the bridge to Bolivia, where they will check that you have completed the import process.

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We headed into Bolivia in dense fog and a temperate of 1 degree. We had planned to stop to get money in Tupiza in 110 km. Luckily the tollbooth agreed to take Argentinean Pesos (the toll is 5 Bolivianos or about .80$ to get to Tupiza). They give you a receipt to show at the next tollbooth.

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About 80 km later we came across a roadblock of several loads of rocks and dirt. Daniel went across to see what was going on. Basically the police were trying to explain to the protestors that blocking the road was unconstitutional. There response was that blocking the road was their constitutional right. Dan finally said in Spanish “ excuse me, but I don’t understand what the problem is here. Can we pass with the motos?” The leader of the protest said “si”.

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The only way to cross was over and so Dan drove the bikes over. This took tow tries for Lulu because she is so low. In between I flattened out the top and removed a few rocks. Dan’s bike was no problem.

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After this was a tunnel and then the road was strewn with rocks. Where they were really blocking the whole road the locals had made a 1-foot wide walking path that we could just drive up.

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Arriving in Tupiza we found the square and an ATM that “spoke” English. Despite what we had heard about Bolivia (horrible drivers, bad food, and very unfriendly people) we found just the opposite.

Just outside of town you head off road 208 km to Uyuni on the route of the Dakar. The first 104 km to the town of Atocha are very hard packed good dirt and gravel. There is actually a toll on this road of 5 BS per bike. There is not too much traffic on this road, but it is still very dusty. We stopped in the town for an empanada snack. The 650 again was having some issues with power and cut out a few times on the hills.

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The road after this got quite a bit worse, but the views were still stunning. The gravel got deeper in spots and there was a fair number of sand pits up to 20 meters and some mud pits too. There are a few ruins of towns also. We met this young guy who was planning to take 4 days to get to Uyuni with all this gear. Google says it’s a 10- hour drive from Yavi.

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Shortly after this Dan noticed his front tire was flat. We pumped it up and drove a few more km to where we could change the tire.

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After this the “road” was full of sand pits into which I did take a nap. Daniel will admit my bike with the 19-inch wheels is a lot harder to ride in sand and mud.

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The last 50 km was even tougher since we were so tired after an 11-hour day and there was more sand and the deepest corrugation we have seen on the trip so far. I thought it would shake out teeth out. Driving directly into the sun as we approached Uyuni it was blinding especially with trucks causing tons of dust.

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We arrived into Uyuni mentally and physically done, but still had to drive around to find a hotel. Pulling up in front of the Hotel Julia we parked and just then Charlie McCormack pulled up and said “ this is the hotel with the best wifi and hot water and I know a good parking lot 1 block away”. Another Moto Concierge I’m going to get used to this. He was right and he also knew an amazing pizza place.

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