Travel Stories

Ushuaïa. DesertX at the edge of the world.

Three riders, 14,000 km to ride, 5 countries to cross and 45 days of time to do it. Destination: Tierra del Fuego.
DUCATI DesertX 2023 Challenge -The diagonal from the Amazon to Tierra of Fire in 45 days

What can three riders do in 45 days riding DesertX? Laurent Lay, pro rider from French Guiana, tells us in an interview where he talks about his ambitious travel project DUCATI DesertX 2023 Challenge - The Diagonal from the Amazon to Tierra del Fire.

Episode 1 Sailing down the Amazon
Episode 2 The real Challenge begins
Episode 3 From hell to heaven
Episode 4 Chile's Pacific Coast
Episode 5 Straight to Patagonia
Episode 6 The end of the world
From the Atlantic to the Pacific

Laurent, tell us a little bit about how this project came about.

The idea for this trip was born three years ago, with the desire to discover Patagonia, because I needed to recharge my batteries. Initially I did not cared what means I would use to get there. The key thing was to be able to get all the way to Patagonia.

Why Patagonia?

Because Patagonia is at the end of the world.
It's wild and mysterious and these aspects, for me, really give you a way to get out of the grip of everyday life and recharge your energy.
Initially the plan was to go there by 4x4 but, at the same time, I knew that Ducati would release a magnificent motorcycle with great off-road capabilities. So I started leaning toward motorcycle travel.
Patrick, Me, Patrick and the whole group began talking seriously about it during the summer of 2021, and so we officially decided to go motorcycling, all three of us together.

Where did you want to go through?

This was the big question we immediately asked ourselves when we looked at the map. On the way there are so many extremely interesting regions, so we decided to cross all of Brazil, also touching on several neighboring countries, which are magical and wonderful places.

The final destination?

It is without a doubt the farthest destination we could have reached by staying on the South American continent.
For us it was a bit like reaching the end of the world...and in fact we could not have gone any further!

What are the countries you crossed?

We started the route from Brazil to descend to Peru and do Lake Titicaca and arrive in Bolivia, touching the Salar d'Uyuni.
After that we trespassed into Chile by traveling through the Atacama Desert and, finally, we arrived in Argentina. From here we crossed all of Patagonia to reach the bottom of the continent.

Did you feel ready to take on this venture? Was there any particular preparation?

We were aware that it would be difficult to maintain a daily pace of 500-600 km, so our training was focused mainly on off-road testing.
We also had to reevaluate our eating habits and find ways to sleep less than normal.
After that, we felt we were only 80% ready. Because one of the most important elements of this adventure was just "the unknown."
We knew we had more than 1,000 km of off-road driving ahead of us in Brazil, but the question was:
"What kind of off-road?" Hard offroad or easy? Wet off road or dry?"
Fortunately, our adaptive spirit allowed us to deal calmly with all situations. At the same time, after the first few hundred kilometers with the DesertX, we realized that this bike would really help us, even in the most extreme conditions.
It was this confidence that quickly made the fear of the unknown disappear.
Despite physical preparation and expert advice, the one element of this trip that we underestimated was the sickness in the mountains in Bolivia. Four days after arriving in El Alto (at an altitude equal to 4,050 m) headaches tested our resistance!

What are the places or moments of the journey that will remain most etched in your memory?

Every day we were struck by so many things!
In Brazil definitely the Amazon River: 3-day trip, passing through incredible landscapes, between forest and plains. As soon as we arrived in Cobija, the last stop before the border with Peru, we discovered that we would not be able to pass through this country because of the civil war. We therefore decided to go directly to Bolivia.
We then decided to go directly to Bolivia, where we will surely remember forever the Ruta de la Muerte (Ruta 8, in mountains). Here we were to reach La Paz and travel what we think is the worst road we have ever traveled in our lives, what's more during the rainy season. Several times, we traveled a road only 20 cm from a cliff. We really struggled!

Arriving in Chile, after a 3-hour drive through the Atacama Desert and at an altitude of 3,000 m altitude, we crossed the mountains, which suddenly opened up to the Pacific Ocean, allowing us to reach Paposo.
It was an important and symbolic moment for us and it was not possible to hold back our emotions and tears. For the first time we traveled a route touching both the Atlantic Ocean (Cayenne) and the Pacific Ocean (Paposo).

In Patagonia, the landscapes are incredible: in San Carlos de Bariloche, as in Villa La Angostura. Cities, lakes, forests, mountains, the glacier of Perito Moreno, the road itself. It will all remain forever etched in our memory.

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