The next day on the Altiplano was my turn for a few spills, whilst retracing our steps around the lagoon to the main track, in almost exactly the same spot that Frank had come off, my own wheel dug into the sand catapulting me off the bike and onto the ground. I was unhurt, as was the bike but an altogether unpleasant experience nonetheless I continued with a little extra caution.

Rocky roads back out on the trail

Morning turned into daytime and soon we would be above 5000m. Not that we had any GPS to tell us so, or that even our map was that accurate but the tell tale “chug chug chug” of our bikes as they climbed even the slightest angle gave it away. At some points even first gear failed to produce any power, leaving us no option but to take turns, one pushing, one riding to get each bike up hill, after hill, after hill. It was tough going and tested our bodies to the limit and leaving our heads pounding.

Heads pounding and engines gasping at 5000m

Thankfully, as afternoon rolled around, the flat plains of the plateaux appeared below us and we once again dipped below 5000m. Yet just as we bid farewell to the mountains, the rivers greeted us in abundance. First there were just shallow streams that required just a little negotiation but soon came more sizable crossings requiring a small plan of action. One larger river blessed us with a small rickety bridge that, after jumping up and down on a few times, we decided it was good and each inched our way across.

where the 125's prosper

The ultimate test however came less than a mile from where we intended to stop for the night, both exhausted and hungry. The trail led into a river that looked so ridiculously deep that it could swallow both our bikes and ourselves. We set to work searching for a better crossing point, wading in under the bewildered gaze of nearby flamingo’s. Frank eventually picked out a spot and I lined up to go first, the plan being that one man rides, the other runs behind and pushes should disaster strike and the back wheel bog in. One long run up and I was in, carving my way through the soft river bed until my front wheel hit the opposite bank and I catapulted out of the water, throwing in a few victory donuts for good measure. Frank followed suit and soon we were both safely across. Yet as we were patting each other on the backs and ringing out our socks, a local from the township we were headed for cruised past us on a motorcycle with his girlfriend in tow, took one look at the point where the track crossed the river and ploughed straight through, instantly nullifying our achievement.

nothing hard about this one

We spent a night at yet another township, Frank utilizing some fine negotiation skills to get us a bed for the night. The road that led North from there became far more flat and manageable, we managed to break free of the difficult terrain that had kept us below 20 kilometres per hour and things were looking up. It was the home straight to Uyuni where hostels and restaurants awaited us, we would be re-united with Dutch Chris and see our beloved possessions once more. All around us the land was full of Alpaca, all sporting brightly coloured flashes of wool in honour of carnival, the same carnival that awaited us in Uyuni.

everyones dressed up for carnival

The day took us closer and closer to civilization, we passed by farms and townships, villages and even a petrol station. We were both already in high spirits before Uyuni appeared on the horizon and we could almost taste that steak dinner we had each promised ourselves before our tyres even hit its streets.

"the fuck you lookin' at?"

All across Latin America Carnival was being celebrated, even in the relatively small town of Uyuni. As we hit the town centre, both covered in the dust of the Altiplano, looking like shit, we were greeted by the procession, dressed to the Bolivian nines and creating a colour explosion. We simply sat, our bikes between our legs, watching the precession and reflecting on the past 3 days. We had climbed way over 5000m, crossed countless rivers and after being told we were crazy we had taken on one of the worlds most difficult and deadliest motorcycle rides on cheap 125’s. We deserved our steak dinner.

pre water fight, the calm before the storm