Archive for the ‘Bolivia’ Category

Travel Summary – Bolivia, Argentina, & Chile

Monday, February 12th, 2007

(If you are signed up for the email list, you would get this entry emailed to you)

Ride for Climate followers,

   Hello from northern Patagonia. It is summer here, and I am relaxing in a small town before continuing on for the very last stretch of this journey. I have recently read through my personal journals for the past 15 months and I am literally having trouble processing everything that has happened. I find it difficult to believe how long ago it was that I was crossing Mexico, let alone how long ago it was that I left my front door in California and started biking south.

Wouter and I camped at this rural school and then talked to the kids in the morning - Escuela Eduardo Abarua
Bike, full moon
Lago Aguas Frias
Article in La Nacion

   Since last update I have zigzagged southward across the Andes (see map of Boliva and Argentina & Chile), crossing the Atacama desert, northern Argentina, and central Chile. I have just crossed back into Argentina for the final push southward through Patagonia. As schools have been on summer vacation, I have given almost no presentations, but I have appeared on a few news programs and publications across this end of the continent.


  • Dec 11 Biking Southern Bolivia and the Atacama Desert
  • Dec 17 The fork on my bike breaks
  • Dec 29 Northern Argentina and biking with Dave Johnson
  • Jan 16 Santiago, Chile
  • Jan 17 Melting Glaciers and a climb of El Plomo
  • Jan 19 Heat Waves
  • Feb 1 What happens when the poor become rich?
    Youtube video of me on Chilean National TV
    Biking off into the sunset on the world’s largest salt flat
    Official Christmas video of Ride for Climate
    Lots of bikes are used in northern Argentina
    View from 18,000 ft in the Andes near Santiago

    Campsite (Mt. behind me is 19,000 ft tall and has almost no snow)

       Since the last update, I have written about the danger of future heat waves as well as the risks to water supply for people who live along the Andes and depend upon snow and glacial water. There are many risks that I have not written about recently – such as rising sea levels, increased chances of both droughts and floods, and loss of biodiversity. As many of you know, the IPCC – an international team whose results almost all governments of the world have accepted – recently published their conclusions that we are to blame for global warming, and that it will get much worse unless we do something. The time to act has come.

       Travel dates for Ride for Climate USA, the planned trip around the US, are being set. I have added to the bottom of this email our schedule for the first month of travel. Do you know people in these places that would be interested in events? If so, send the website their way. We are still in the process of setting up presentations and finding places to stay, so spread the word!

       If you know people in the southern cities of Punto Arenas or Ushuaia (or any towns along the way), let me know. I will also be flying out of Buenos Aires, likely spending a few days in the capital city. Schools will be in session, so if you know of a school that would like a presentation, let me know.

    I should know what building this is
    Campsite, one day south of Temuco
    Biking along Lago llanquigue, Volcon Osorno
    Dirt roads in the Altiplano

       Look for one more final update when I reach the islands at the tip of South America. I am almost there…..

    In Patagonia,


    Flats by country:
    Bolivia: 1
    Argentina: 1
    Chile: 4

    Ride for Climate USA Schedule (subject to small changes)

    Boston, MA ~ Ride begins! – April 21
    Amherst, MA ~ April 23
    Hartford, CT ~ April 25
    Brooklyn, NY ~ April 30
    New York, NY ~ May 1
    Lambertsville, NJ ~ May 3
    Westchester, PA ~ May 5
    Philadelphia, PA ~ May 6
    Gettysburg, PA ~ May 7
    Chambersburg, PA ~ May 8
    Pittsburgh, PA ~ May 13
    Oberlin, OH ~ May 20
    Bowling Green, OH ~ May 21
    Monroe, MI ~ May 23
    South Bend, IN ~ May 26
    Chicago, IL ~ May 28

    You can see more of what might come at

    The Melting Spine of the Andes

    Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

       Since Peru, I have followed the Andes south, crossing the continental divide at least five times and gazing at peaks that stretch to 20,000 feet. The tallest of these peaks have been covered in snow and ice, and pictures that you see say more than I can about these experiences.

    You can see beneath each of these glaciers where they used to reach.
    Almost at the pass Aguas Negras

        I have written about this before, but passing through Chile has made the point even more clear. So much agriculture and so many people along these mountains rely on this snow pack to grow their crops and have drinking water. So much of the land along these mountains is dry – I went for a month, once, without seeing a single forest – yet the people have water during the dry seasons because of snow and ice in the mountains. (See a scientific article about how this is a problem worldwide, and not just along the Andes).

       Chile has a climate very similar to California, and, like California, Chile grows an amazing variety of fruits and nuts. Next time you are in the supermarket in the winter (if you live in the northern hemisphere) take a look to see where the fruits come from. Quite likely, there will be a tag on the fruit saying ‘product of Chile.’

       Like California, during central Chile’s summer, it does not rain, yet these orchards and vineyards have water because of snowmelt from the mountains. Below you can see photos from where I entered Chile most recently, via the Valley de Elqui, one of Chile’s most productive regions for vineyards. Far up in the valley, above 15,000 feet, you see snow and glaciers. Further down, you see a dry landscape with a river. Even further down, you see highly productive agriculture.

    Descending - can you see Dave Johnson on his bike on the road?
    High up in the Valle de Elqui
    The valle de Elqui has high productive vineyards - for making pisco, the national drink.

        While in Santiago, I decided I wanted to climb into the mountains to see these glaciers and snow. After visiting the local mountaineering club, I convinced Roberto to join me, and in two days, we hiked to the top of El Plomo, a 17,800 ft peak overlooking Santiago. From the top, we gazed on the tallest part of the Andes, including Aconcagua, South America’s tallest mountain. All these glaciers that you see in these photos are shrinking, and are all essential for the agriculture that I have biked by here in Chile.

    Roberto and I at the top of El Plomo, 5,450 m (17,900ft)
    The view from the top of the mountain
    Starting the long descent
    The melting of the glaciers
    Aconcagua, South America's tallest mountain

    South into Argentina

    Monday, December 11th, 2006
    American School of La Paz - Elemantary School

       I spent a week in La Paz, where I talked to almost the entire American School. I also somehow managed to get in two major newspapers, three radio stations, and a morning live interview on national television (the program ‘Al Despertar,’ for those of you who tune into Bolivian television…)

       From La Paz, I basically started biking south as fast as I could, and I am now in Northern Argentina. I have been traveling fast for a few reasons – the end of the school year (southern hemisphere summer) means I can’t give presentations, I have a desire to not be rushed later in the trip, and I made a promise to meet a friend who is flying in to bike with me.

    American School of La Paz - High School
    A radio interview in La Paz
    Al despertar - a national morning talk show in Bolivia

       The terrain has been breathtaking. I crossed the world’s largest salt flat, and biked across the Atacama Desert, crossing sections of the desert by moonlight. There were few services on these roads – at one point had to carry 30lbs of food and water. Click on the images below to visit the photo albums of the past few weeks.

    Southern Bolivia, including the world’s largest salt flat (biked partially with Wouter):

    South to Chile

    The Atacama Desert of Chile, including some incredible night biking:

    Northern Chile - the Atacama Desert

    Northern Argentina, where I am now. I caught up with Brooks and Gregg (and another cyclist Tom). Remember Gregg and Brooks? I biked across sections of Mexico with them, and just ran into them again:

    Northern Argentina

    Travel Summary – Brazil, Peru, Bolivia

    Friday, November 24th, 2006

       Hello from Bolivia! Welcome to the 5th travel summary of Ride for Climate: The Americas.

       In the past two and a half months, I have crossed some of the most impressive terrain of this journey (see map of Peru). I traveled two weeks on a boat up the Amazon, crossed the Peruvian Andes (including a section where I had to put my bike on the back of the horse), and followed many dirt roads, camping next to houses where people live off only what they can grow on the mountainsides. I Visited 9 schools (sometimes talking to the entire school) and appeared in the national media of both Peru and Bolivia. I celebrated my one year anniversary of travel overlooking the ruins of Machu Pichu, and I am now in La Paz, Bolivia.

    River boats at the dock in Manaus
    Embrita is ready to go!
    On the road

       Thank you again to all of the people who have helped me out and sent me positive messages from the road. As always, the people I meet along this journey continue to keep me going (even if I have to learn how to count to ten in the local indigenous language).

    ENTRIES FROM PERU (and parts of Brazil and Bolivia)

  • 9/6, Two weeks traveling up the Amazon River
  • 9/14, Ride for Climate passes 100,000 page loads
  • 9/15, Biking the Peruvian Jungle
  • 9/27, Putting my bike on a horse and crossing the Andes
  • 9/28, What do I say to public schools?
  • 10/2, Climbing a mountain and melting glaciers
  • 10/15, Into Lima, Peru’s capital
  • 10/16, Water problems in Peru and Global Warming
  • 10/17, Transportation in Lima
  • 11/2, Dirt roads through the Andes to Cusco
  • 11/15, Machu Pichu, Cusco, and Lake Titicaca
  • 11/21, Announcing Ride for Climate USA
  • Huascaran, Peru's tallest mountain, is behind me on the left
    School Santa Rosa de Viterbo in Huaraz
    Just another campsite - 30 miles south of Huaraz


    Running around a boat to get exercise while floating up the Amazon
    My bike on the back of a horse
    Getting caught in a thunderstorm at 12000 ft
    learning to count to ten in Quechua, the native language of the Andes
    The view from 19,000 ft
    biking in Lima
    Camping next to llamas
    Students saying ‘take care of the environment’ in the native language of Quechua
    Biking by a political parade near Lake Titicaca

    Lima's Main Plaza and Cathedral
    Into the Andes


       In my last update, I wrote about the dangers that the Amazon rain forest might face under global warming.

    View from (near) the top of Vallunaraju 5690 meters (18,650 ft)

       I spent most of the past few months, though, in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia. The clearest problem in the Andes is that much of the water supply and hydroelectric power during the region’s dry seasons is based on glacial water. In the next 50 years, we will likely lose all of these glaciers, resulting in major costs to Peruvians and Bolivians. These countries are also very poor, and the costs to adapt to losing these glaciers is likely to be very high (a world bank study puts the number in the billions of dollars for Peru).
       I did not write about this in my entries, but the region is also vulnerable to El Niño, a phenomenon that causes floods in northern Peru and a collapse of fisheries all along the coast (I talked with
    some fishermen about this, and during El Niño years they said they had to find other work). It is unclear how El Niño will change under global warming, but there is some suggestion that El Niños may be stronger or more frequent, or even that the world would turn into a permanent el nino state. How El Niño may change, though, is still very scientifically uncertain.
       More likely is a loss of biodiversity. The Andes here are incredibly biologically diverse, and traveling up and down in the mountains, I have seen the vegetation change dramatically (just look through the photos from Peru). A rapid warming, as is predicted, may result in major extinctions.

       Yes, I know you all just received an email about this, but I am so excited about this project that I am telling you again: And don’t forget to tell people you know who are near our route! The trip starts April 21st, 2007, in Boston.

       From La Paz, I will be traveling south through Oruro, Bolivia, then down to Salta, Argentina. I will follow the east side of the Andes, and then likely cross into Chile at La Serena before arriving in Santiago just after the new year. If you know people on the route that would be interested in Ride for Climate, let me know!

       I now have a little over four months to make it to the tip of Argentina and Chile. Until next time, probably from southern Chile,


    (I am actually in northern Chile right now, and not La Paz – I wrote this almost two weeks ago, but found almost no internet in southern Bolivia to send it out!)

    I slept here, protected by this flock of llamas
    I found this lamb far from the flock, and biked it to the flock. The shepeard then told me 'I was going to go get him later'
    Roly, Randy, Mercedes, Yoni, Lusiano, Leonor, and me
    Machu Pichu
    Wouter leads the way
    Campsite atop Isla del Sol in lake Titicaca
    Yes, I am doing my laundry at the fire station with a fire hose.
    Bomberos de Chincha

    Flats in Peru: 2
    Miles of paved road in Peru: 1,130
    Miles of dirt road in Peru: 838
    Fire stations slept at in Peru: 9

    Announcing Ride for Climate USA

    Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

    Ride for Climate followers,

       Hello from La Paz, Bolivia! It has been over a year of travel now, and I am excited to write you to officially announce the next phase of Ride for Climate.

       Announcing Ride for Climate USA, a bicycle loop around the U.S. to encourage action on global warming. Visit the website and see for yourself!

    Ride for Climate USA route

       I will be doing this trip with Bill Bradlee. Bill has worked in the non-profit sector fighting global warming for the past decade, and is helping to organize this ride. We will start our trip April 21st in Boston, and bicycle west to Seattle and then follow the coast south. If we get funding we will return east following a southern route. See our route. (This route is flexible and may change somewhat.)

       Please share this new website with friends and family, and especially people who are close to our route. We hope to give many presentations at both schools and community centers (which will include photos and videos of my current trip) and we want to encourage people from all over the country to take action on global warming.

       I am personally very excited for this trip – having traveled Latin America, I know that the entire world must take action against global warming and that developing countries will not take the issue seriously unless those of us in the United States take the lead. I beleive that Bill and I (and those of you who help us) can make a difference and convince people along this route to take action.

       I will send out my travel update in two more days, complete with the usual photos and stories, so stay tuned and enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend!

       In Bolivia, on mile 11,140 on the way to Patagonia,