The final leg of our trip, rounding off almost 2 years and 70,000km on the road. We take the long way through Eastern Europe and find a treasure trove of amazing sights, warm people and staggering motorcycling roads.
After the many deserts we've travelled through - and it's amazing just how much of the planet is desert - it comes with eye-popping delight to see the vivid greens and vast waterways of Europe and Scandinavia. The lush grasses of Britain and Ireland; the Highlands of Scotland; the fjords of Norway and the endless trees of Finland. Accompanied by spectacular scenery, we reach new goals and new extremes.
A lot of independent over-landers have a love-hate relationship with Ethiopia. Why? From the cradle of humanity and glorious scenery, to hostile kids and being robbed in the capital - it can be an emotional rollercoaster. We were glad to ride into Sudan and into the sweltering deserts of the Sahara - and experience its friendly people. It too had its challenges - but they came from raw nature.
We continue our journey through Africa, trying to catch up on the blog when internet speeds are enough. Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya, each one has a different flavour and we don't like the taste of them all. Nevertheless we take some time to explore each and try to adjust to being a target of attention where ever we go like never before.
From the deserts of Nevada, a date with Elvis in Vegas, across the great canyons of Utah, meeting real life cowboys, crossing vast prairies for days on end .... we're racing across the States to try and get to Toronto before winter to ship the bikes to the southern hemisphere . . . Winter is coming . . . will we make it in time?
A rather long entry this time around, we've been go, go, go since getting back on the road again and not much time to write. We manage to ship out of Lima and into Canada, meet lots of new friends and ride some of the most amazing roads. Sit down with a cup 'o tea and Jaffa cake for this one and enjoy.....
So, we have time to kill while my wrist heals. We have a few admin type things to do like chasing quotes for shipping the bikes; planning how best to use this time; filling in the insurance claim; checkups at the hospital, etc etc. But we have plenty of time just to be tourists in this capital city, kick back and relax for a few weeks.
We're making a beeline for Valparaiso. It's on the pacific coast about 1000kms north and we decide to ride it over 4 days, riding every day. Anything above 300km we just find too much and couldn't do it every day for a few days. I've got a toothache top right which is persisting, so we plan to stay in Valparaiso for 4 days so I can get it sorted . . .
We are entering the lakes district of Chile and there is so much to see. We pick a route that will take us around several of the lakes and into several National Parks. There's not so much 'ripio' (the South American term for a gravel / rock road), so we enjoy perfect, twisty serpentine roads for most of the time, but never fear we still manage to find the ripio when it's around.
Following a nice rest day in Gobernador Gregores, we have 360km up Ruta 40 to Perito Moreno (same name but not to be confused with the glacier we visited a few days ago). Arriving in town we pull up to a likely looking hotel with a driveway around to the back, where we can pull the bikes in away from the street.
There's about 130km of the usual wind and pretty flat landscape on the way to El Chalten. We turn off Ruta 40 then the scenery gets more interesting and, low and behold I'm nearly reduced to tears again - this time with something resembling pride in my chest cavity - it expands with an emotion - I'm not quit sure what it is - awe? disbelief? excitement? But this is what we see and it is in front of us for 90kms on the road to El Chalten.
Our first great milestone in our journey - "The End of the World" in the furious 50s is complete and now it's time to head north, destination Alaska. We head back to Rio Grande along the same lovely roads and scenery and spend a night there just on the outskirts of town. There's a great little Italian restaurant around the corner, El Chesare, which we're fortunate to have experienced.
Following a brilliant stretch of road and scenery, at the end of a straight, is the grand entrance to Ushuaia which welcomes visitors through a giant wooden facade and.....straight into a police checkpoint. The standard questions are asked, but the irony of 'Where are you going?' seems lost on them here at the end of the world.