Chile – Austria on steroids?!

Written by Martin on May 13th, 2012. Posted in Allgemein

Sebastian: Soooo, where were we? Ah yes, we just started our livelong trip on the bus from Lima to Valparaiso. The only time we gret of the bus is when we cross the border and later in Santiago to take a last bus to Valparaiso. I can tell you that 60 hours on a bus is not what I call fun… but whatever!!! We are about to get reunited with our babies, livepartners, best friends, pets or however you want to call them… ok, let’s just say with our bikes! When we arrive in Valparaiso we have to take a taxi (that you share with other people and that has a fix route, just like a bus) to get to the so called Villa Kunterbunt. It’s a hostel for bikers and travelers just 20 minutes walk from the center of Valpo (that’s how local people call the city 🙂 ).

Even though the owners offer us to take care of getting the bikes out of custom (they have all the experience and contacts) we decide to handle it by ourselves since we are not willing to pay 150 Euros per bike and we already read in forums that it is no as difficult as often described. Finally we end up meeting Alejandro, a guy that works at the sister company of Effendy (the guy who helped us to ship from Malaysia to Chile), at the local customs authorities. I am a bit afraid since Effendy told us at the time that getting the bikes might cost a bit so we are really happy as Alejandro explains us that he will not charge anything for his help. Having traveled himself he knows how nice it is if somebody helps you without wanting anything in return. Once again we enjoy one of this heart warming moments. Alejandro organizes the papers that we need and another guy that we meet in the customs offices even gives us a ride to the depot where we have to pick up the bikes.

When we arrive things are handled fast and without complications, the bikes are unpacked by the workers and the only thing we have to pay is the stockage fee for 3 days. Our KTMs also start without any trouble after two months (batterie not being unplugged!) and we are once again on the road. We drive back to the hostel where we also get in touch with some other travelers. Almost all of them tell us that going down south is not the best idea, it’s too cold and petrol is scarce… hmmm, sounds as if we have to go exactly there – so far negative info about a place has always been a good reason to visit it :). One fellow then gives me the contact of Martyn, a british lad living in Santiago who then invites us right away to stay with him for night. He’s a KTM fanboy and happy to meet drivers whenever he can 🙂

So, what to do before going to Santiago? Well, having a couple of drinks with Alejandro. He leads us through the nightlife of Valparaiso and we really have a great time with him. It is just impressive how with some people you can feel as if you knew them for a long time. For Martin this „going out with kind of a long time friend“ had a special ending… As we take a taxi back to the hostel I (sitting in front) suddently hear this well known and horrible noise of somebody throwing up just behind me… Concluding from the fact that one of the two girls that also sit in the back jumps on the lab of the other it can only be my travel buddy who couldnt hold it anymore… 10 meters before we arrive 🙂 Later he would explain me that he was quite sure that he could make it – LOL. The hightest respect goes to the driver who didnt say a word as we paid, apologized and got out of the car! The next day we are on the way and I am not unhappy to leave the two dogs of the Villa Kunterbunt – one barking like a psycho, the other one pissing as if he had incontince – behind us.

When we arrive at Martyn’s we are more than surprised about the wonderful house with garden, BBQ, pool and a view down a beautiful valley. It’s kind of a perfect place to be, beautiful architecture and loads of „feeling great“ atmosphere. At night he and his lovely wife serve us with one of the best pieces of freshly grilled meet that I have ever eaten. Looks like a roastbeef and is soft as butter. The evening end late after some great bottles of chilenean wine and a great time chatting about important and not important stuff. Our plan to leave the next morning also gets changed to taking a ride with Martyn and one of his buddies to the coast. Martyn insisted so hard we just couldnt say no :))!

We start the trip with perfect weather and after around one hour we are ready for the nice part – curves, curves, curves! But what happens now? Martins bike starts to fool him. Every time he puts in the first gear the engine stops… Being a bit helpless at the beginning we analyze the problem step by step with the help of some KTM forums and finally find the solution to the problem by faking a signal to the computer of the bike with a paper clip and a bit of duck tape – just after we asked a guy to organize a van that could bring the bike to the KTM dealer in Santiago… I wonder if he ever showed up but will never know it since we left as fast as possible. The rest of the day is wonderful curve gliding, lunch at the seaside and hoping into the pool as we return to Martyn’s house.

Before we continue our ride to the south Martyn explains us two things: first, the south of Chile is like Austria, but on steroids. Second, food in Chile is crap. Never before somebody resumed things more accurately as we should realize throughout the next weeks. So, of we go – out of Santiago where we are not capable to find the KTM dealer and directly to Chillan where we do find it to get Martin’s sensor changed. It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes and is covered by the warranty, so everything great.

The next day we continue and end up in Villarrica, normally a very touristic place but at the moment completely empty since summer vacations for Chileans just ended. Unfortunately this didn’t have any effect on the local prices and we have to pay 20 Euros for a camping ground! To be fair I have to explain that we are directly at the lake with an open view to the smoking Villarrica volcano and also have BBQ and hot shower included. And if this was not enough we are completely alone! That’s also why in the end we stay five days and not only one enjoying cooking on the open fireplace and swimming in the lake (me, not Martin 🙂 ). As it became already a habit for me I caught another nail in my back tire to make it my fifth flat one compared to Martin’s zero!!! But no problem, by now it’s an easy game to take the wheel out and have it fixed.

On the last day we even decide to hike up the volcano. We end up with around 30 Israelis and get split up into two groups: one that takes a lift to the first stop starting the hike from there and one that starts at point zero walking for one hour more. You can have a guess who chooses which group :). As hiking is always a bit of a “going to the limit” thing for me I take group two not imagining that at the end I might almost regret this decision. Our guide seems to have only one thing in mind, walking more and faster than all the other, making less pauses than all the other groups and arriving first on top. The last couple of hundred meters, that we have to use crampons and an ice axe I start to have weak and shaky legs and when we finally arrive at the top I am more than happy not to have needed to take an extra break (imagine the embarrassment 😉 ).

To describe the view into a cooking crater I can only find one word: BREATHTAKING. And I mean it as I say it…the smoke that is blown out of the crater burns acidly in my eyes and lungs and it is really hard to breath… but it is just amazing to look into a pimple of the earth and to inhale the earths deepest respiration. And not only this is amazing – the view from the volcano is just as beautiful and it really does look like AUSTRIA ON STEROIDS! It is unbelievable how it is similar to our home country only everything a bit bigger and the mountains changed for volcanoes… To finish the great day we slide down on slopes that have been worked into the snow that covers the top of the volcano. For all future Chile travelers: we recommend!

So after this great expedition we continue our trip further south – or at least we want to… we do not get very far. After a half day of beautiful gravel roads passing by Puerto Fuy and leading us to the amazing lake Panguipulli we take a break at a parking next to lake. Checking the videos I thought I just took with the helmet camera I realize that it didn’t work and are quite upset. It was just an incredible part of the road so with a mixture of “Yihaaaaaa, life is great!” and “damn camera, have to do it again, damn…” I decide to drive back a couple of kilometers.

As I drive on the road I have one of this moments of lose of control and turn up the gas like crazy with the goal to make a nice wheelie. But… my hand is stronger than my brain and I overdo it completely. The front wheel shoots up like a rocket and I fall off the bike backwards like of a horse that wants to get rid of me. As I hit the ground the bike continues it’s way to hit a rock-wall to the right of the street… When I get up I do the instinctive auto-check: everything ok! Next check, no cars, no other people around… THANKS GOD! Third check, the bike… ouch that doesn’t look good 🙁 ! My mind is racing feeling happy that no person had been harmed as this is the only thing that really matters but horrible and guilty because I might have killed the rest of the trip… and if you want to know how the story continues stay tuned 😉