SALTA to SAN PEDRO (via JAMA)

Yeah baby!  Paso de Jama – we’ve done it – and have now well and truly earned our stripes as adventure cyclists!!  What an incredible experience…

From the get go, the challenge was on.  Leaving Purmamarca, we began the slow climb up the Cuesta de Lipan – 25kms of the most amazing road ever!  Twisting and turning, higher and higher, each bend in the road sapping our strength and stealing our breath.  From a tour bus a woman shouts, “You must be crazy!”  Maybe we are, but at 4,170m, the feeling having cycled there is incredible – you’re crazy not to!

But we can’t celebrate too much, after all, we still have 5 passes and 450km’s to go…

After a nights rest and a brief downhill, we found ourselves in the Salinas Grandes – one of Argentina’s largest salt lakes.  It’s brilliantly white, and the high Andean mountains reflect perfectly in the mirror-like waters.  It was incredibly beautiful, and has now really wet our appetite for Bolivia!

We climb again to the village of Susques.  This will be our last “real” town before we reach San Pedro, some 320kms away!  Having no problems with the altitude, we decided against a planned days rest, load our bikes with 15L of water, and push onto to the Jama pass.

Now maybe it was the coca leaves, but incredibly we complete the 130km journey in a single day – taking on another pass, outrunning a thunderstorm and battling “Patagonian-like” headwinds in the process.  Not a bad effort at around 4,000m, I must say!

Feeling sorry for us, the police at the border give us a place to stay.  They then tell us it rains only twice a year here… just our luck, to be nearly struck down by lightening then, isn’t it?

The next morning we make a short climb to the actual Jama pass, and for the last time, wave goodbye to Argentina.  We feel a little sad, she’s been good to us and we’ll miss her.  We pose for photos and feel like hero’s.  San Pedro is getting closer… just 160kms to go!

The Chilean side of the pass is truly spectacular.  We enter the Atacama desert, complete with sand dunes, salt lakes and lunar-like mountains everywhere.  It’s beautiful and couldn’t contrast more with our toughest days ride yet – an incredibly steep climb to 4,840m!  We make it. We are on top of the world.  Now if only it was all downhill from here…

The wind forces us to make camp just over the pass at 4,500m.  We use rocks to hold down the tent, and cook inside the vestibule to shelter from the sandstorm raging outside.  Was that woman right? Maybe we are crazy??

We wake to a freezing morning.  Unable to feel our hands or feet, it’s really a struggle to ride… why is this bloody road still going up?  Come on sun, warm us, damn it.  We climb again to 4,700m.

Finally, we see the sign we’ve been waiting for… caution windy road ahead!  We punch the sky, put on all our warmest clothes and get ready for the 40km downhill into San Pedro!  Paso de Jama – we’ve done it.  Right, now where’s the nearest bar?!

Next on the agenda, is crossing into Bolivia, via the salt lakes of Uyuni. We climb back to 4,000m and take on some of the toughest roads in the world.   Stay tuned, it’s sure to be a wild ride!

Thanks again for all the support and we hope you like the pics below.

Jules & Jess

Setting off with Tom & Celine

Setting off with Tom & Celine

The amazing Cuesta de Lipan

The amazing Cuesta de Lipan

Hard work at altitude

Hard work at altitude

Incredible feeling to be at the top

... But incredible feeling to be at the top

The Salinas Grandes

The Salinas Grandes

Jess & I

Jess & I

On the road

On the road

Outrunning a thunderstorm

Outrunning a thunderstorm

Paso de Jama - Goodbye Argentina!

Paso de Jama - goodbye Argentina!

Amazing views on Chile side

Amazing views on Chile side

Like riding on the moon

Like riding on the moon

4840m, can you believe it!

4840m - On top of the world!

...And sure feels good too!

...And sure feels good too!

Hiding out from the sandstorm

Hiding out from the sandstorm

Freezing cold morning

Freezing cold morning

40km of downhill from here

40km of downhill from here

Paso de Jama - we've done it!

Paso de Jama - we've done it!