cycling Gran Sabana

Patiperro's travel stories

It’s not love at first sight. At first, too self-centered and full of yourself, you barely notice her. But all at once you catch her eye and look again – deeper. And suddenly you get hooked. You look for the third time and you are lost. You can’t take your eyes off her any more. You know this feeling, don’t you? This is how my tumultuous affair with Latin America started. It was love at third sight. This is how this story starts…

 

A bicycle – another uneasy relationship. Rough, exhausting, painful and totally unrequited. At times the divorce seemed imminent. Yet the marriage persists – not of convenience at all. It’s simply the most appealing form of travel and I’m not swopping it for another. There’s something magical in covering huge distances by sole power of one’s own muscles.

 

And mountaineering… What kind of power do the mountains have that we so willingly embark on those “extended periods of intense boredom, interrupted by occasional moments of sheer terror”? What makes us fancy the jagged horizon over the flat one? Why do we always want higher and harder? The mountains are the incarnation of the wild nature in its most sophisticated and dramatic form. And climbing them is an atonement for our sins of arrogance, cynicism, greed... It is a cure for a soul and return to the simplicity of aims and actions. For me the Andes are the biggest appeal of South America, and the main reason that I keep coming back. They are a perfect goal for somebody who has always dreamed about high summits but who doesn’t have enough skills and courage to set upon the Himalayan giants – someone like me.

In Bolivian bus

 

So, the mountains and the bike. Preferably in the same time… Here you will find some travel stories - sometimes unpolished and unfinished but always real - from my cycling and mountaineering expeditions to Latin America. Here is the modest beginning. I hope to add more chapters in the future.

 

 

 

 

Do Not Disturb The Driver! It’s a short story in which I try to describe why an attempt to reach the mountains sometimes tends to be much more risky than climbing them.

 

 

 

 

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni is my favourite place in Bolivia. Perfectly white and plane - beside the islands full of cacti in the middle - and some 200 km across, it’s the biggest salt pan in the world. And all of it at the altitude of 3656 m (with the difference of no more than 40 cm across its vast area!). The place just made for cyclists. For what is the other option? A tour in a cramped Toyota fallowing dozens of other Toyotas. They visit the same few places exactly at the same time to let people take exactly the same pictures. While on the bike you have the whole Salar for yourself. For free and for as long as you want! I cycled Salar de Uyuni three times: in 2001, 2007 and 2010, each time in different direction. Some impressions from my first visit you will find in a story: Twelve Thousand Square Kilometers of the Courtyard

 

 

atacama

“Slow down! The children do not abound in Pozo Almonte.” – I spotted such a common-sense traffic sign in the outskirts of one of many tiny settlements, scattered in the Atacama Desert along the Pan-American highway. The cyclists do not abound either – during my several affairs with Atacama I haven’t spotted a single one! I don’t understand why. It’s such fun to bike across the driest desert in the world, with its Martian landscapes and ghost mining towns. And if you don’t want to struggle along it, you can easily cycle across. It will take you, with a bit of stamina and some careful planning, just one day. Such a day (and night) in the desert I made into the story: Free Hotel in a Ghost Town.

(Only in Polish, the English version will come shortly!)