Our first week in South America has been challenging to say the least. Arriving in Santiago extremely jetlagged, albeit very refreshed following a sneaky last-minute upgrade to Business Class. Our first experience on the road was in a taxi with no seatbelts, hurtling along at a refreshing 100 km/h despite the 40 km/h limit. We settled into Hostal Casa Matte, a fantastic place purely for motorcycle travellers in the downtown area of Santiago known as Providencia. It’s run by Christian, a local Chilean with boundless enthusiasm and knowledge of motorbikes. He lives upstairs with his family and is extremely accommodating. One Saturday afternoon we enjoyed an asado (or BBQ) on the roof terrace with his family and friends.
Organising the bikes for ourselves proved rather cumbersome, though the two American guys we bought them from were both super helpful and were great fun to be around. Intertwined with the double-up riding we did through the hectic streets of Santiago were the fantastic meals, beers and chats. The actual process involved us visiting a notary who wrote up a document explaining that we had been given full permission to use the bikes throughout the Americas. This document was signed and fingerprinted by all involved, as well as stamped by two notaries and someone from the Ministry of Justice. We also made a short (hours and fucking hours) trip to the Aduana (customs) at the airport, where they were able to change the names and dates on the Temporary Import Permits for the bikes. Ben and Brent if you guys are reading this, cheers for everything and for continuing to provide knowledge and advice. Don’t worry we will take great care of Suzi and Jumbo-love (the beautiful names of the bikes).
With the bikes in our names, we headed south on Route 5 to Rancagua, where we turned off the highway and wound our way through some small villages to Reserva Nacional Río de Los Cipreses. The National Park is named after the stunning aqua river that cuts through the great snow-capped mountains either side. The gravel road was slow, though fairly rigid, and offered us fantastic views of the river and surrounding landscape. We camped up at Ranchillo for two nights in a picturesque little spot. From here we hiked the surrounding trails, observing wild horses, foxes and various birds. Unfortunately we didn’t see any pumas which the park is renowned for. We were also given a tour of the small museum at the park entrance in Spanish, and we surprisingly were able to piece together a lot of the information. When asking for food, the guide pointed us to a walnut tree and we happily foraged from the ground. They tasted infinitely better than the stew we tried to concoct on the first evening (everything was undercooked). From the National Park we headed west to Pichilemu, though that’s a story for another time.