Northern Chile

Why the choice of this way and not through the Altiplano of Bolivia?
The logical route many other cyclist take from the Lake Titicaca is through the Bolivian Altiplano visiting Copacabana, La Paz, Potosi and arriving along this way to Uyuni. As I had already visited all these towns previously and knew about the Bolivia's Altiplano how boring it can be, I found it more interesting to ride along the Altiplano than straight through it. That’s why I skipped these historical towns.

Arriving at the border of Chile was a big joy. To my surprise the border control looked more like an airport than a normal border: Chile's law forbids to enter fresh and open food, that's why you have to send all of your luggage through the well known radiation check system.

Arica and our breath of Chile's culture
What a big difference to Peru's rushing traffic; I experienced for the first time after almost a year a quiet traffic, no honking, but patience and respect. I felt finally safe again after the long distance since the US border throughout eleven countries. I don't know if you can follow me, what it means to be day after day in a surrounding where you never feel totally safe and then can finally leave it. It feels like redemption.

After a three day break we climbed up Paso Tambo Quemado to reach the National Parks Lauca and Isluga, a route almost only for the Bolivian trucks coming to Arica's harbour, 1200 a day.
To ride through the parks was a worthwhile decision although the roads were sometimes in a very bad condition: The beauty of Atacama Desert is just awesome with the dry grass brush, the vicuñas, the thermal baths, the many tornados you see everyday and the huge plains surrounded by all the coloured volcanoes. I am so satisfied we took this way. Although the nights were cold it was fun to camp amidst of the wild nature and we enjoyed that; the time of safe camping had come again.
At Salar de Surire we were warned not to cross the green border to Bolivia as there was a lot of narco traffic and the police would shoot at the people. Well without knowing we crossed it for a small distance and came back to Chilenian territory but there was no danger at all.

At Colchane we arrived at the Bolivian border when a young lovely guy came and talked with us. I wondered how much he resembled a Bolivian boy but did not think much more.  Some minutes later he noticed the Chilenian police arriving and immediately hid until the police disappeared again. The case was clear, he was a Bolivian.
A funny story we experienced at the Chilenian migration. The border police was that interested in our bikes that they came out of their office to look at them, to test them and to take pictures while the other people had to wait for their stamp. We enjoyed the interest of the police as the Bolivian border police also came over and started to chat with us. Like this we were not checked at all and could cross the border without any stress.