After spending three days relaxing in Arica, Iquique was suppose to be a two day stop to restock before heading off into the desert. What we found on arriving though was a vibrant modern city, next to the ocean, with great beach life, so of course we ended up staying a little longer than expected.
Sam wanted to surf, and while the waves weren’t as long as in Arica, they were larger and beach itself was much better. As well as the beech Iquique also has some reef breaks, but between the rocks, sea urchins, and large waves, we stayed well clear.
Filling up with fuel in Arica I decided not to fill the auxiliary tank and to just stop again and fill up on the way. That was a mistake. Even with the extra litre or two I was carrying in the Primus bottles, we still didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the nearest petrol station (35 miles out of Iquique).
There’s nothing but barren desert between Arica and Iquique, and riding inland means gaining altitude, which hurt our fuel consumption, not so much as the gale force head winds though.
Whilst cruising along in fuel conversation mode a convoy of larger bikes began to over take us. I flagged one of them down. As he pulled up on the BMW R1200RT I gestured to the fuel tank and asked if he had gasolina. To my surprise he said “sure, will four litres be enough.” to which I nodded.
He recorded a video of the whole incident, which should be on his website (soon) – http://www.mocofaia.com
From then one we rode in convoy, until the turn off for Iquique. Mostly on litre plus bikes they were riding fast, and I found myself causing at over 85 mph this time with a side wind blowing the bike about the road.
At the turn off for Iquique, the other riders continued toward the city, whilst the Brazilian on the R1200 waited for me to go into Pozo Almote and refuel. It’s a good job I’d take all four of those extra litres as the petrol station I was expecting some 30 miles prior wasn’t there.
Once fuelled we hit road again, and found the Brazilian waiting where we’d left him. Together rode into Iquique, and agreed to meet for dinner later at 7pm.
7pm came and went and there no sign of Helder. I sent him a message, which he didn’t get, and decided to wait just a few more minutes. As Sam and I were about to leave he turned on his bike still kitted out in all his riding gear.
It turned out, someone had told him that Bolivia wasn’t far, so whilst we were taking a nap and chilling out, he ended up riding part way to the border, only to realise that he wasn’t going to being able to cross, and so had to return to Iquique. I think he added an extra 200km onto his riding that day. Crazy.
We waited for him to check into his hotel and sort himself out, then headed out for dinner and some drinks. He brought up the idea of rather than selling the bike at the end of the trip, ride it into Brazil from Uruguay and get it transported to Salvador for storage. Then come back and explore Brazil. Sounded like a good a proposition at the time. I’ll have to give it some thought in the coming months.