Chile was almost too hot to handle for double Guinness World Record chasing rider Rhys Lawrey, who was lucky not to be caught up in a huge volcanic eruption.
The Villarrica volcano is the most active in the South American country, and decided to erupt, throwing ash and lava up to 1,000 metres into the air, just a day after Rhys had left the area.
“I’d been camping in the National Park near the Villarrica volcano and chose to leave a day earlier than planned. I woke the next morning to see on the news that the volcano had erupted!” said the lucky young adventurer.
Before entering Chile, Rhys crossed the Equator in Ecuador; “Seeing a reading of all zeros on the GPS is a weird feeling. I stopped the bike and started jumping from the Northern hemisphere to the Southern and back again – when am I going to get another chance to do that?”
“Once you cross the Equator it becomes much less European and more indigenous, which makes things more exotic and interesting.”
After Ecuador he entered Peru, where he experienced some horrendous weather, and the culinary delight that is Guinea Pig. He also took on the challenging ride along the Canon del Pato, which clings to the edge of a sheer drop, eminent of the famous ‘Death Roads’ made famous in recent television programmes.
“Peru’s an amazing country and I really like it – incredible mountains and tunnels. I arrived in Arequipa city to be greeted by torrential rain and the worst floods I’ve even ridden in. Water was coming at me from all directions, running off the roofs and straight onto the road (or you, if you’re riding on it). Water was coming up to my knees and the streets are pebble covered, so it’s treacherous”.
Now in his 32nd country, Rhys has completed 36,000 miles on his Tiger 800XC. Up until now he has been using the ContiTrailAttack 2, but with some more challenging terrain ahead as he heads towards Patagonia, he has now switched to the more off-road oriented TKC 80 Twinduro.
“Chile keeps changing, from barren desert in the North, through the densely populated central region around Santiago (population 6 million!) and into the lush green mountains and lakes below.”
“I got pretty bored riding through Northern Chile – it’s a straight road through the desert, which is a real drag. It wasn’t so bad in Australia, because it was the first time I’d experienced endless desert riding, but now I’m 10 months into the trip and it’s a struggle.”