Herbie’s Dakar Rally

The Love Bug made it! The border between Chile and Argentina levels 15,505 feet (or 4,726 meters) and its way up there is called “El Paso de San Francisco” – the toughest section of the world famous Dakar Rally. Paved roads were hard to find and the weather was windy as well as freezing cold. Oxygen was quite rare and Zainab even got a bit of an euphoria. Here are our last impressions of Chile.

It took us hours to reach the pass, which is located between the two border posts. It was getting dark and we finally arrived at the frontier of Argentina two hours after its closure. The executives were so kind to do all the immigration formalities, even though they already had off for the day. We stopped for the night in Fiambalá.

The Atacama Desert

Herbie is driving through the driest area on the earth – the Atacama Desert in Chile. We’re heading further south besides the Pacific ocean. Right after we’ll leave the “Panamericana”, climbing the Andes a very last time, going to Argentina.

The Republic of Chile

After meeting the President of Bolivia, we finally entered Chile at Colchane and headed downhill towards the Pacific. We are now following the coast line further south, before we’ll cross over to Argentina.

Meeting Mr. President

The Bolivian border at Pisiga was closed for two hours, while we wanted to cross over to Chile. The reason was an official visit of Bolivian’s President Evo Morales, who arrived by helicopter in the little border town for the grand opening of a market hall. We were very surprised to meet the President himself in the middle of nowhere in Bolivia.

Till the End of Roads

Herbie made it to the end of the road in Bolivia. According to our maps and the natives we’ve spoken to, the street towards the border should be totally paved and in perfect condition, but we got surprised! We had to drive parts of it on an unpaved path for hours until we reached the Bolivian border town Pisiga on Highway No. 12.

Leaving Oruro in Bolivia

After spending three nights in Oruro, in the South of La Paz, we’re going to leave this town for good, heading towards Chile. Tomorrow we’ll probably cross its border.

We had a good time in Oruro, taking a rest from rallying across the Peruvian Andes.

We stayed at an old hotel right in the center. And Herbie parked in the courtyard.

It was also time for a small motor service, after driving so many miles since California.

Domi changed spark plugs (Champion “Copper Plus” L86C) and tightened Herbie’s belt.

Furthermore Herbie got a new distributor rotor and cap (made in the European Union).

A Taste of Bolivia

We’re taking a little rest from driving cross country in Oruro, Bolivia. Today we went a bit shopping and Domi took some pictures, so you can get a taste of it too. Tomorrow we’ll take off heading west towards the border of Chile, where we want to continue following the Pan-American Highway further south down to Santiago de Chile.

La Paz (11,975 feet)

After entering Bolivia we had a short visit in La Paz – with 11,975 feet (or 3,650 meters) the highest capital in the world. “Nuestra Señora de La Paz” is the official name of the second largest city in Bolivia. We are already in Oruro, a little bit further south.

In the next days we’ll probably cross the border to Chile in order of heading south along the Pacific coast towards its capital, Santiago de Chile.

Herbie is doing well after driving in extreme high altitudes, always above 10,000 feet. Today Domi will change spark plugs, distributor cap and rotor.

¡Bienvenidos a Bolivia!

We spent our last Peruvian night in a small town named Juli and entered Bolivia right besides Lake Titicaca. Bolivia is obviously different: Here you get two different gas prices, one for the natives and one for foreigners like us. The so-called “international price” is three times higher. Meanwhile we filled up Herbie already two times. Domi had long discussions at the pump, but finally succeeded – we got treated like “Bolivianos”.

Back in Europe we read some good things about Bolivia and its president Juan Evo Morales Ayma, who is in charge since 2005. So far we were lucky regarding the gas prices but we cannot understand why tourists should be treated differently.

We headed south via Oruro to Santiago de Huari, because we were planning to cross the border to Chile as far as south as possible in order to see more of Bolivia. But suddenly the street changed into an unpaved one.

We got told that the road won’t change back into a paved one until the border. We had to choose if we should drive hundreds of miles without pavement or if we should go back. We decided to make a u-turn and drove back to Oruro.

Redemption Day

We are glad to inform you that our ocean carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics made amends and paid for Herbie’s damages. Therefore we’re probably going to ship the Love Bug back from Colombia to Mexico with the same company. Many thanks to Mr. Bakker from New Jersey who took care of our case!