Bolivian adventures with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Longing for exceptional adventures, I joined Cass and Mike – now officially renamed as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – for a 7 weeks ride through southwestern Bolivia and a little a northern Chile. Following mainly the ingenious routes of Harriet & Neil, we explored 1.600 km of dirt roads and singletrack, rode up volcanos, camped on Salars and followed the traces of notorious train/bank robbers. Llamas turned out to be even tastier than fluffy, water froze solid every night and earplugs were needed as strong winds turned tent walls into loudspeaker membranes.

With our triple Rohloff-Surly-Power, that omnipresent dust, dirt and sand were fun instead of mechanical issues. Cass’ and my fatbike proved to be the ultimate bike to ride around there, as roads varied from corrugated gravel to beach-like sand dunes with occasional stretches that every bike park would be proud of to have as a rock garden on their downhill track. Maybe therefore and even though Mike elegantly circled his 29er around every obstacle, he now officially continues to ride north to Colombia on my – well, not mine anymore – Pugsley.

That’s it for the words I fear. For detailed information on our route and what happened there, check out Cass’ and Mike’s posts. If you have question on my bike and luggage setup or the gear I used, feel free to ask.

Now, enjoy the photos!

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20 thoughts on “Bolivian adventures with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

    1. Thanks, much appreciated! Though that area is so beautiful, it’s hard to not take some nice ones. And I’m pretty impressed with Lightroom’s possibilities …

      1. Yeah, I have been considering switching from Aperture to Lightroom… VSCO dropped support for Aperture, etc. Are you using presets or just hand rolled tweaks?

      2. I spent some time setting up my own presets. Of course, every photos needs a little individual tweaking afterwards. But with presets, it speeds up the whole process a lot. I also like the fact that lightroom works completely virtual. So no need for additional copies and various folders.

  1. Very nice shots – I can almost smell the dust. Clearly not a bad last adventure on the Pugs. Looking forward to seeing the replacement …

  2. Love the photos! The slightly desaturated look is refreshing and gorgeous. So many of us (I too occasionally fall into this trap) are guilty of pushing the colour saturation a bit to far for that candy-coated look. This post inspires me to not use that crutch!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! Bright and fresh colours are great as well. Always depends on the pictures. Some look good that way, others better in a bleaker look. Your Parón Valley photos for example look great with the full colours! Also, I like to have a kind of a HDR like look with tonal values in the highlights/whites (so no burned out areas) and as much details in the shadows as possible. If I would then push the saturation, I would look strange ..

      1. It’s an Ergon SM3 (no Pro or Carbon). So far the best I’ve had. Compared to the Brooks Team Pro Chrome I had before, it’s a little softer as it has padding, a lot lighter, less bulky and less slippery. Even though my Brooks is broken in, I always keep sliding to the back and my bones sit on top resp. the inner edge of the metal end .. For the durability I can’t tell you that much. Hasn’t made any noise yet, nothing’s broke and the form seems to be the same as when I bought it a year ago.

  3. Great photos, loved getting your perspective on a remarkable ride. Happy future travels, Joannie Gilbert (Cass’ mother).

    1. Glad you like the photos, though they’re merely capable of showing everything I saw and experienced.
      Has definitely been a lot of fun travelling with and learning from your son ;)

  4. Andi, I’ve always loved the feel of your images. I too was wondering is I should drop everything and buy a Fuji. Lightroom surely is a powerful tool. So, you’ve sold the Pugs to Mike?

    1. Thanks man! Though it’s not that important, a good camera – or better, good lenses – can certainly ease things up in the long run. Pictures need less retouching or can have certain looks you can’t achieve afterwards. The brand doesn’t matter that much anymore as well I guess. More if they have the lenses you want. Though I’d go for another Fuji (X-T1) right now, I picked my actual one for its size and sturdiness with still acceptable image quality rather then for it’s image quality alone or the brand.

      Yep, Mike does have it now. As I do his Ogre. ;) Partly at least. Will rebuild it soon, though it’s gonna be on a budget. While I’m on it .. Would you pay the extra money (which is double the price) to get some DT Swiss 350 hubs instead of Sram X.9?

      1. As I look at these images again, I am captured by the dark desaturated skies and the bright landscapes. The yellow tinge of the land is healing in contrast to the apocalyptic skies. Really beautiful. I’m happy with my camera, which I purchased for price and relative durability (did I mention I broke an E-M5 in a week, after killing the old E=P3 that I had?). Back to the E-P3 for now, but there are a few standout cameras in this range that I would try. For now, I’m moving away from expensive mirrorless bodies. I’m not sure they’re really built as tough as I want them to be. The screen on Przemek’s E-M5 began to fade to dark in the time that we were traveling together in the Balkans, as my E-M5 screen had gone dark within the first week I got it. Sadly, I purchased mine in excellent condition from a friend, so no warranty. He has a Ricoh GR that is a lot of fun to use, and slides into a shirt pocket.

        The Ogre could be a great bike for you. It’a no fatbike, which is both a fault and a feature I suppose. I’d stand by the SRAM X7 hubs for sure. They’re really cheap and so far, the bearings and freehub bodies have been reliable. Lael’s got two full summers of touring on her rear wheel, and while the bearings as slowly wearing, it keeps on ticking. I’ve read some bad reviews of the X9 rear hubs, regarding durability. I am not sure if they use lighter bearings or fewer bearings to lighten the package, but the X7 hubs are just fine, save for the option to convert the hubs to thru-axle, etc.

        As for high end hubs, I am no expert, but I am currently using a Hope in the rear. I really enjoyed building the wheel and the freewheel feels really solid, even if it loudly announces me in every town.

      2. It’s definitely going to be a budget build, so no Hope hubs and the like (although they have a great value, have build a few wheels with them and running a set on my full suspension as well). X7 you say .. Will have a look at them. The Ogre is a nice ride for sure. Actually I’d like to have some wide rims on it though none seems to be that nice at the moment. There aren’t many yet and most of them are too expensive for what they deliver and for that build. Why does no one do 40 mm 29er rims? They’d be the perfect size. I had my eyes on the Alexrims MD50, which should be a good bit cheaper then the Dually and the like but they told me they won’t be available before January. Had a look at the Derby and Nextie rims as well. They seem to be a great bargain though price wise out of question for that build. Guess I’m going for some Spank Subrosa then. Not the cheapest unfortunately (though still half the price of a 50 mm rim), but they’re durable, still quite light and well built in terms of tubeless setup. Drivetrain will most likely be a SLX/Zee mix. The rest of the parts are from Mikes build. Definitely looking forward to riding it. I even got a Carradice as well as I’m fed up with digging in the seat pack …

        Funny enough. Mikes E-M5 screen died as well. If you’re fine with a single fixed lens, the Ricoh looks like a nice one. In that matter, many people really go crazy on the Fuji X100/s/t .. seems to be a nice one, though more expensive. X10/20/30 have a smaller sensor but a zoom lens. Guess if you excatly know what you want, there’s a camera for that out there. You just have to find it. :) Problem is, durability only shows itself after a while …

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