RIDING ACROSS THE LARGEST SALT LAKE IN THE WORLD
A week ago we left La Paz. We are heading south and crossing through the interior of the Bolivian altiplano. Suddenly it lies in front of us: Salar de Uyuni – the largest salt lake in the world. We are standing on the last stony hill and are overwhelmed by the sight of the vast amounts of salt ahead of us. Over 10,000 square kilometres of blinding white swallow up the horizon. We had been speculating what it would be like to ride on top of a salty crust and now it is finally happening. Off into a surreal world! The experiences we share in the following days are without comparison. We’re faced with not only an altitude of over 3,600 metres but also a trail that will take us eleven days through unbelievable amounts of salt, deserted lagoons and a surreal desert landscape. The trail starts in the Southwest of Bolivia and ends right behind the Chilean border in San Pedro de Atacama.
Also, the water freezes to ice if you do not keep it warm with your body heat, plastic parts break apart and sand starts settling in our air pumps so we are no longer able to inflate our punctured tires. Despite all of our troubles, we do not despair because we feel blessed to be able to explore the exquisite natural phenomena this unique environment has to offer. We discover hundreds of pink flamingos crowded in breathtaking lagoons, and we pass by pulsating springs, impressive volcanic chains, and hot springs where we sneak in for a nocturnal bath. The colours we see cannot be described in words. After nine days we reach the Migraciòn. We leave Bolivia behind and step on to Chilean ground. The border officials are perplexed and ask: “Last week, we had the strongest winds of the year and you arrive by bicycle?” They couldn’t believe it but yes, we did. We went through the strongest winds of our lives. A few kilometres behind the border we suddenly stumble upon a tarred road. It is the very first after five weeks on gravel and dirt roads. Instantly, we’re filled with a childish joy and, blissfully, we fall to the ground. In 2012 and 2013, Lena Kleine-Kalmer and Hardy Handel crossed parts of Europe and Latin America with Supernova for a good cause. They tour the world to collect funds for the World Bicycle Relief which provides people in developing countries with bicycles. Find out more about their story and their project on: www.velosophics.de
Text: Lena Kleine-Kalmer | Pictures: Hardy Handel