So Tuesday finally was the day I left for South America. The plan was that my parents would join me in La Paz for a few days before I would start cycling south and they would head to Peru. However, they had to cancel their plans at the last minute and so they just dropped me off at the airport.
My first flight left from Schiphol at 12:35. We arrived shortly before 10 after some delays on the road. It took quite a while to get my bike and luggage checked.
My checked luggage consisted of a pair of Radical Design recumbent “banana” bags and the bike seat sandwiched between them to avoid the bike being overweight and/or too wide for the box. This caused the first problem, as these could apparently not be sealed into one packet. Thus I had to buy an expensive flight bag at the airport and keep it with me all the time for the return flight.
After a very thorough security check I arrived at the gate 20 minutes before it opened, but I was not the only one who was a bit on the late side, as the flight was initially delayed to wait for some passengers. Eventually the delay got larger and larger for various reasons and so we left Amsterdam about an hour late. No problem for me, since I had a four hour transfer in Lima.
Initially I had three seats to myself as my parents had already checked in and not used their flight, but later someone joined me in that row. Still, the middle seat remained empty, which was of course nice. Otherwise the (KLM 777-300ER) seat would have been very narrow.
The transfer in Lima went smoothly, as the bike and luggage were checked through to La Paz. The second flight was uneventful and again I had a row of 3 seats to myself.
The luggage handlers in La Paz were very fast: I could already see my bike waiting for me before I joined the queue for immigration. Note for future readers: The customs officers required some kind of proof of ownership of the bike. When I showed the receipt they started worrying about the bike’s value. Apparently there is some upper limit beyond which it cannot be imported.
The taxi that brought me to the hotel was slightly too small for all my stuff, but we got it there. Only one challenge remained: carrying the bike up 3 flights of stairs at an altitude of 3700 meters above sea level. After more than 24 hours of travelling I finally got some rest.
So far I’m just a bit short of breath, but not showing any signs of altitude sickness. The box was damaged in a few places, but the bike is fine. I’ll stay in La Paz until Sunday to get used to the atmosphere and then the real tour starts.