2014-1604After threatening for a few days, the thick clouds above the tourist honeypot of Cafayate broke on the second night of the year, soaking a town that spends much of January braced for the worst. Both the main roads north from Cafayate run through valleys; when heavy rain hits the hills and mountains on either side, it runs down and collects in the driver’s path. Already difficult, the ill-maintained dirt track of Ruta 40 was apparently left impassable in places, while even the comforting tarmac of Ruta 68 suffered in the storm. At this time of year, in this part of the world, riding north means riding into the rain.

We’d always known that we’d hit the rainy season at some point. However, casually enjoying our time in Argentina, we took our eye off the ball until shortly after we left Mendoza, when it dawned on us that we may well run right into the thick of it. In an ideal world, taking into account the weather we’re likely to encounter and the abysmal condition of the roads, we wouldn’t reach soggy Bolivia until the middle of March. Given that we’re writing this just 380km from the border, that could call for an awful lot of hanging around.

Still, the itinerant cycle tourist’s greatest luxury is time. Rather than go through Bolivia, we’ve decided to go around it, at least for now. After at last crossing the Andes at some point in the next few weeks, we’re hoping to resume our original masterplan and trace a course north through the Atacama Desert to Peru. Keen to avoid the worst of the rainy season, we figure we should be safe in the driest place on earth.

from Salta, SA, Argentina