Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Back from the Salar!

From Bolivia

I have been back from the Salar for a week now and have updated the web site with a day-by-day diary of the expedition and some nice photos. Please see


I will start posting articles about the expedition here shortly!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Fund-Raising for Charity

Raising money for charity as part of the Salar attempt will give me a massive psychological boost and, more importantly, will provide benefits for a very worthy cause.

I have chosen East Anglian Air Ambulance, a local charity which provides a valuable service in life threatening situations such as road traffic accidents, incidents involving people in inaccessible places, cardiac arrests, etc. On average the EAAA are called to four incidents a day and need over £3M a year to keep their two helicopters in the air.

My charity donation page is at:



Slight Change of Plan...

My leg injury is much better and I decided to attempt a return crossing from Uyuni to the far side of the Salar and back again. The whole trip will be of course unsupported (i.e. will not pick up any supplies mid-way). The map below shows my new planned route.

From Arctic to Amazon

Friday, 30 July 2010

What's in Your Fridge

You can learn a lot about someone by the contents of their fridge.

For example, if you looked inside my fridge right now you would find fruit, meat, Greek yogurt and...a high-power emergency light blinking.

From Arctic to Amazon

One of the problems when camping in the Salar de Uyuni is the possibility of vehicles driving across during the night (sometimes with their headlights off!).

So is there a danger I will be run over by a 4x4 while sleeping?

Salar de Uyuni, BoliviaImage via Wikipedia

I think it is extremely unlikely that a vehicle travelling on a 10000 square Km salt flat will actually pass through any particular point the size of a 1-person tent. But for my own piece of mind I decided to use signal lights around my tent at night.

FoxFire is a rugged, super bright light which is designed for use in emergency helicopter landing zones, disaster sites etc. I got one for £28/$43 the other day for testing as I need to determine the battery life in very low temperatures.

And what better way of doing that than sticking one in the freezer at -18C, loaded with 4 Energizer Lithium batteries (which are less affected by cold than alkaline batteries).

It has been blinking since Tuesday night now and still going strong.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

My Training Program Until the Expedition Begins

Due to an injury I decided to not do any more running in preparation for the Salar de Uyuni expedition. The injury itself is getting better and I probably could run but I don't want to risk it turning into something debilitating so close to the expedition.

So my plan is as follows:

On weekdays I alternate between the following schedules.

Schedule 1 - Morning
Cycle 30k
Agility workout
Cycle a further 15 minutes
Strength workout

Schedule 1 - Afternoon
Easy walk 1 hour

Schedule 1 - Evening
Flexibility workout
Core strength and balance workout

Schedule 2 - Morning
Weight training

Schedule 2 - Afternoon
Easy walk 1 hour

Schedule 2 - Evening
Digging in the garden for 30 minutes (don't ask)
Flexibility workout


Tyre pulling several hours


Long walk somewhere nice.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Salar Expedition Equipment – Head Protection

Each environment has its own requirements for head protection. And although I am not convinced you can lose most of your body heat through your head (newer research indicates otherwise) ,  I do accept it can make a considerable difference warmth-wise.

Jungle                          Image via Wikipedia
Many westerners go for a hat/cap and headnet in the jungle. I think this is OK if you are not exerting yourself too much. Try it when doing a massively physical activity and the heat combined with humidity quickly makes it impractical. Mosquitoes and flies tend to go for the legs anyway.

A different story in the Arctic where high winds and freezing temperatures can quickly give you frostbite on the ear or nose. Even there, when engaged in very physical activity a lighter woolly hat or no hat at all may be possible – depending on temperature.

In the Salar I expect massive swings from night-time temperatures of -20C to day time temperatures of +15C. And so I have selected my head protection accordingly:

Terra Nova Windy Balaclava

This is a windproof, balaclava with a small wired visor. I got one yesterday for £23/$35. My normal cold weather balaclava is an OR Gorilla which has a great detachable face mask. However, I have heard good things about the Windy and I know it has been used on a number of expeditions with good results. It also has a visor (the Gorilla doesn’t), which I think may prove useful in the Salar.

 Injinji Desert Hat

Racer winding their way up a large ridge.Image via Wikipedia
This hat has been used extensively in desert stage ultra-marathons like the Marathon des Sables and I have never heard anything bad about it. The newer model has a longer and wider neck cover. My
only concern is its performance under high wind as the neck cover does not cinch in the front. I got one for £22/$34.

Is there a single piece of headgear that would protect against wind, cold and the searing sun?


The traditional middle-eastern headscarf called Shemagh was designed to do just that. I have had a shemagh for many years now and its versatility is astounding. I have never used it while doing intense physical activity though so its performance in that respect is unknown to me. I will give it a good test in the Salar and will keep you posted on the results. I wouldn’t be surprised if yet again a traditional approach proves superior to our modern-day technological contrivances.

8537 SHEMAGH TACTICAL SCARF - Tan 8537 (Proforce?)Image by gaak0-0 via Flickr

Friday, 23 July 2010

My route Across the Salar

The map below shows the approximate route I will be taking across the Salar. I will be travelling from West to East.

My starting point is a tiny village at the west edge of the desert called Llica. My ultimate destination is the town of Uyuni. However, I believe that the safest exit out of the Salar is 20km north of Uyuni, at a village called Colchani. From there I will take the road to Uyuni.

View Salar Crossing Route in a larger map
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