It was several months into our world bike tour before we learned what is arguably the most important rule of wild camping. Had we known it, we would never have put our tent here.
At first glance, it looks like the perfect spot – flat and hidden from the road by a ridge. This second photo gives you a clue as to why this is in fact a very bad place to camp.
Have you guessed yet? Here’s your answer: it’s a dry riverbed and it’s prone to dangerous flash floods.
The rain that triggers the flood might be miles away. You might never hear a drop of rain on the tent, but a few minutes or hours later the whole river channel can fill with water and sweep you and your stuff away.
Thankfully, we were warned about this danger a few weeks after this picture was taken. We were never swept away, though we did camp next to a dry river once (up on the bank) and watched later that night as it filled with water within seconds. Recently, a Dutch touring cyclist was not so lucky. He lost his leg, and nearly his life, to a flash flood in South America.
The lesson is a simple one: don’t camp in dry river beds, no matter how tempting they seem!
The Puna, or Altiplano, is a high altitude region of the Central Andes spanning southern Peru, western Bolivia, north-east Chile and north-west Argentina.
It is one of the most extensive areas of high plateau in the world, and Harriet & Neil Pike explored the Puna extensively by bicycle in 2010 and 2011. They recently took the time to answer 10 Questions about their bike tour through the area.
We spent nine months in 2010 and 2011 on the Puna, first cycling northwards through Argentina, Chile and western Bolivia before taking a circuitous route through southern Peru. Still eager to continue exploring the area, we then did an about turn and cycled south through Chile and Argentina.
Over Easter we went on a short bike tour through the east of the Netherlands with several friends. There were six of us in total, riding four folding bikes and two ‘big wheel’ touring bikes.
It was unseasonably cold (barely above freezing during the day) but despite the chilly weather we had a super time riding from Arnhem to Roermond. Below you’ll find the short film (in an English and a Dutch version) to tell the story.
Thanks to our friends Stijn, Shane and Marieke & Anthony for the great company, and to the lovely owners of the Landgoed Geijsteren and Raayerhof campgrounds, where we stayed in trekkers huts so that we wouldn’t have to suffer through sub-zero temperatures at night.