Archive for 'Argentina'

On top of the world

SALTA to SAN PEDRO (via JAMA)

Yeah baby!  Paso de Jama – we’ve done it – and have now well and truly earned our stripes as adventure cyclists!!  What an incredible experience…

From the get go, the challenge was on.  Leaving Purmamarca, we began the slow climb up the Cuesta de Lipan – 25kms of the most amazing road ever!  Twisting and turning, higher and higher, each bend in the road sapping our strength and stealing our breath.  From a tour bus a woman shouts, “You must be crazy!”  Maybe we are, but at 4,170m, the feeling having cycled there is incredible – you’re crazy not to!

But we can’t celebrate too much, after all, we still have 5 passes and 450km’s to go…

After a nights rest and a brief downhill, we found ourselves in the Salinas Grandes – one of Argentina’s largest salt lakes.  It’s brilliantly white, and the high Andean mountains reflect perfectly in the mirror-like waters.  It was incredibly beautiful, and has now really wet our appetite for Bolivia!

We climb again to the village of Susques.  This will be our last “real” town before we reach San Pedro, some 320kms away!  Having no problems with the altitude, we decided against a planned days rest, load our bikes with 15L of water, and push onto to the Jama pass.

Now maybe it was the coca leaves, but incredibly we complete the 130km journey in a single day – taking on another pass, outrunning a thunderstorm and battling “Patagonian-like” headwinds in the process.  Not a bad effort at around 4,000m, I must say!

Feeling sorry for us, the police at the border give us a place to stay.  They then tell us it rains only twice a year here… just our luck, to be nearly struck down by lightening then, isn’t it?

The next morning we make a short climb to the actual Jama pass, and for the last time, wave goodbye to Argentina.  We feel a little sad, she’s been good to us and we’ll miss her.  We pose for photos and feel like hero’s.  San Pedro is getting closer… just 160kms to go!

The Chilean side of the pass is truly spectacular.  We enter the Atacama desert, complete with sand dunes, salt lakes and lunar-like mountains everywhere.  It’s beautiful and couldn’t contrast more with our toughest days ride yet – an incredibly steep climb to 4,840m!  We make it. We are on top of the world.  Now if only it was all downhill from here…

The wind forces us to make camp just over the pass at 4,500m.  We use rocks to hold down the tent, and cook inside the vestibule to shelter from the sandstorm raging outside.  Was that woman right? Maybe we are crazy??

We wake to a freezing morning.  Unable to feel our hands or feet, it’s really a struggle to ride… why is this bloody road still going up?  Come on sun, warm us, damn it.  We climb again to 4,700m.

Finally, we see the sign we’ve been waiting for… caution windy road ahead!  We punch the sky, put on all our warmest clothes and get ready for the 40km downhill into San Pedro!  Paso de Jama – we’ve done it.  Right, now where’s the nearest bar?!

Next on the agenda, is crossing into Bolivia, via the salt lakes of Uyuni. We climb back to 4,000m and take on some of the toughest roads in the world.   Stay tuned, it’s sure to be a wild ride!

Thanks again for all the support and we hope you like the pics below.

Jules & Jess

Setting off with Tom & Celine

Setting off with Tom & Celine

The amazing Cuesta de Lipan

The amazing Cuesta de Lipan

Hard work at altitude

Hard work at altitude

Incredible feeling to be at the top

... But incredible feeling to be at the top

The Salinas Grandes

The Salinas Grandes

Jess & I

Jess & I

On the road

On the road

Outrunning a thunderstorm

Outrunning a thunderstorm

Paso de Jama - Goodbye Argentina!

Paso de Jama - goodbye Argentina!

Amazing views on Chile side

Amazing views on Chile side

Like riding on the moon

Like riding on the moon

4840m, can you believe it!

4840m - On top of the world!

...And sure feels good too!

...And sure feels good too!

Hiding out from the sandstorm

Hiding out from the sandstorm

Freezing cold morning

Freezing cold morning

40km of downhill from here

40km of downhill from here

Paso de Jama - we've done it!

Paso de Jama - we've done it!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

CHILECITO to SALTA

Do we enter Bolivia via Chile or Argentina?  The challenge of Paseo de Jama (4,800m) and the Atacama desert is calling us.  Should we, or shouldn’t we?  Likewise, we’ve heard the horror stories of the roads in Southern Bolivia.  Crossing the Salar de Uyuni though would be an experience of a lifetime.  There are other transport options, but should we ride and maintain the continuity of our trip…

Luckily the ride from Chilecito gave us lots of opportunity to think.  Conditions were hot and the roads long and straight.  The next cold softdrink kept us pedaling.  It was dreamlike, with dead cows on the roadside the only thing snapping us back into reality…

Against this backdrop, my turning 33 almost seemed exciting!  First, Jess spoilt me rotten with cake and biscuits that she had managed to secretly stash in her panniers.  Then after a hard days ride, we caught up with Thomas and Celine, who prepared for us a barbeque feast, complete with beer, wine and even candles to blow out!  It was a perfect birthday.

We’d decided on a couple of days rest in Cafayete.  A great little town surrounded by vineyards and nestled below the bright red sandstone cliffs of the Quedebra de las Conchas.  The Andean Pacha Mama festival was in full swing, so we kicked back and did as the locals… had fun!

The ride to Salta through the Quedebra was amazing.  Bright colours, majestic views and lots of sandstone shapes to decipher.  The “amphitheatre” was a standout, with a local busker playing haunting tunes on his windpipe making it even more special.

So now in Salta, how have we decided to enter Bolivia?  The hard way of course!  From here we join up with Thomas and Celine to ride the infamous Paseo de Jama.  Three passes over 4,000m, complete with sub zero temperatures and headwinds.  I sure hope the flamingos in Atacama are worth it!  We then split, with Jess and I climbing again to the Bolivian border and the Altiplano.  From there we take on the sandy roads and ghost towns, and rain permitting, ride across the largest salt lake in the world!

We’re a little scared but excited – a real adventure awaits.

Thanks again for all your support.  Enjoy the pics and stay tuned to see how we go.
Jules & Jess

Long straight roads

Long straight roads

Local sheep transport

Local sheep transport

Umm this way out of town?

Umm this way out of town?

Should we be scared?

Should we be scared?

Intense concentration

Intense concentration

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

Kung fu panda in Cafayate

Kung fu panda in Cafayate

Quedebra de las Conchas

Quedebra de las Conchas

The Amphitheatre

The Amphitheatre

Our trusty steeds... Tez & Matilda

Our trusty steeds... Tez & Matilda

Not what we expected

SAN JUAN to CHILECITO

Ever tried to quench a thirst from a luke warm water bottle? You’d swear your drinking something else. You drink it because you have too. You gulp it down, wipe the sweat from your brow and keep on pedaling down a road that never seems to end. This is what we expected from Northern Argentina…

But it’s great when things turn out better than you expect, and this is how we would sum up our trip from San Juan to Chilecito. Let me explain;

We are cycling through a desert. It’s bloody hot, rivers run dry and everywhere you sit there is a thorn waiting for you. So imagine our delight when we saw storm clouds brewing. Rain was coming, but so was lightening. Within moments, huddled under a tarp on the side of the road, we smiled at each other in disbelief as the storm raged around us. Within an hour, the dry riverbeds had turned to rapids and the roads had become almost impassable. In a few more hours, it was like nothing had ever happened? It doesn’t rain here often, but boy when it does you sure know about it. PS: mental note – don’t camp in riverbeds.

We teamed up with our French amigos, Thomas and Celine, to tour the Unesco listed Ischigualasto and Talampaya national parks. Strange rock formations, bright red canyons and dinosaur bones – this is the real Jurassic Park! The parks were fantastic, but unfortunately you can’t cycle in them. Well that’s what we found out after being escorted back to park HQ and explaining our minor infringement to the waiting police officer. I guess they are just trying to avoid the headlines, “Four gringos, eaten by T-Rex!”.

Our lucky escape needed to be celebrated and so did Valentine’s day. What says “I love you” better than barbequed goat, a few beers and a bottle of red wine? We ate like kings, laughed till we cried and were probably the only customers in the Las Baldecitos comedor that week.

The ride into Chilecito required crossing the Cuesta de Miranda – a 2,000m pass complete with 800 turns! So clearly, we were expecting the worse. Finally, after fighting countless headwinds and being told constantly we are cycling the wrong way, those cycling from the north get a break. The pass for us was a joy, a few moments uphill, then 25km down through some of the most breathtaking scenery so far… the road twisted and turned through a bright red valley with the 6000m peak of Famatina looming over us….. This is great cycling and we will remember this day forever!

I guess this goes to show you just can’t plan even a few days ahead. But that’s what makes this adventure so exciting – you just never know what you’re going to get! From here we head to Belen, then Cafayete … its more desert, so we expect hot and boring. What do you think?

Thanks again for all the posts and emails. They are great motivators, keep them coming! PS we are up to 5,000Kms now!!

Jules & Jess

What we had expected

What we had expected

Fixing thorn punctures

Fixing thorn punctures

What a storm brewing, out here?

What a storm brewing, out here?

"Ischi" with amigos Thomas & Celine

Ischi NP with amigos Thomas & Celine

Having fun

Having fun

Clowning about

Clowning about

But we shouldnt be here - esorted out

But we shouldnt be here - esorted out

Valle de la Luna (aka Loon!)

Valle de la Luna (aka Loon!)

Spot the aussie tourist

Spot the aussie tourist

Shapes in the desert

Shapes in the desert

Cactus man!

Cactus man!

Talampaya canyon... fantastic

Talampaya canyon... fantastic

Jess ... fantastic too

Jess ... fantastic too

Cuesta de Miranda... breathtaking iews

Cuesta de Miranda... breathtaking views

Who cares about planning anyway...

Who cares about planning anyway...

Halfway to Peru !

ALGARROBO to SAN JUAN

What a great beach break.  Three days in Algarrobo really revived, and reminded us just how much we miss things like pillows and couches! We then spent a couple of days in Valparaiso, wandering the steep streets, riding the escalators and generally soaking up the colourful atmosphere of this famous port city. Lastly, a brief stop in Vina del Mar showed us how the other half enjoy their holidays… it was time to get back on the bikes!
With fresh legs we left the Chilean coast and headed once again for Argentina via the famous Mendoza pass. With the Andes gradually getting bigger in front of us, all we could think about as we rode was the climb to come. Would we make it? What about altitude sickness? Was the guy, energetically pointing and laughing at us from a passing bus, trying to tell us something?? We camped right beside the sign warning of 55km’s of uphill ahead. Tomorrow we would find out…
The Mendoza climb really involved two parts – a gradual 40km climb, followed by the more famous 15kms of switchbacks to the top and the tunnel to Argentina.  As expected, the first section was long but we managed it ok. With aching legs we then looked up in disbelief at the snaking road ahead. “Look how slow those trucks are going!”, “Look how steep that bit is!” … but then looking down from each rest stop and the shrinking world below us, it became clear that we were doing it and doing it well.  Passing trucks tooted and waved encouragement as we climbed higher and higher.  The relief at reaching the top and 3,185m above sea level is hard to explain.  We had in a single day crossed one of the world’s great mountain ranges by bike.  Enough said.

There is one good thing about riding uphill – going down – and the 85km through the Mendoza valley was no exception.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  A perfectly blue sky, mountains of every colour, and the famous Mt Aconcagua and Puenta del Inca whizzed by us on the way.  What a reward.  I even managed a new top speed – 77.6km/hr!  Our amazing day was topped off by bumping into fellow cyclists Thomas and Celine.  We had camped with them on our first night outside Ushuaia all those Kms back! What a small world hey?
Leaving the crowds behind, we once again cycled down a dusty road, this time on a scenic loop to San Juan via the oasis towns of Barreal and Calingasta.  As expected, the Northern Andean desert was hot and dry, but what wasn’t expected, was the “Patagonian” like headwinds, and the harsh lesson, that there are many more “uphills” in the Andes than just the famous ones!  With hard riding and nowhere to get water, we gratefully had to take a few extra litres from a roadside shrine.  The water was much needed, just not so sure about the beer and cigarettes??
With a day now to regroup in San Juan, we continue our ride north to Salta, with the Valle de la Luna our next major highlight. It’s a famous geological site with some pretty unique rock formations, a submarine, worm and mushroom for example… more in our next update.

Till then, we have one last thing to share… we’re now halfway to Peru!  Not bad going for a couple of aussie expats that were carrying a few extra kilos from their time in London!!  Here, here.
Thanks again for all the support and we hope you enjoy our pics below.

Jules & Jess

A "Valpo" ascensor

Valpo and its escalator thingys

Colourful streets

Colourful streets ...

... Stacked one on the other

... Stacked one on the other

Vina and the other half

Vina and the other half

Now thats a long uphill

Now thats a long uphill

First section - ok

First section was ok

Then the famous switchbacks

Then the famous switchbacks

Oh what a feeling!

Oh what a feeling!

Breathtaking downhill

Breathtaking downhill

Aconcagua, 7000m top of the Andes

Aconcagua, 7000m top of the Andes

Puenta del Inca

Puenta del Inca

A great days ride

A great days ride

Fancy seeing you here

Fancy seeing you here

Down another dusty road

Down another dusty road

Hot in the nth argentine desert

Hot under the argentine sun

Are we there yet?

Just cruising!

Roadside shrines

Roadside shrines

Another home for the night

Another home for the night

Lakeside

EL BOLSON to PUCON
Hi everyone! We’re now back in Chile at the lakeside resort town of Pucon. For the route followers out there, we travelled from El Bolson through Bariloche, Villa Angostura, San Martin de Los Andes, Junin de los Andes and passed over the Andes at Paseo Mamuil Malal (1253m) to reach here.

Cycling the “Seven Lakes Route”, as it is commonly known, has been fantastic. Yes, its touristy and maybe not as adventurous as down south, but it does mean more towns, lots to see and do and plenty of fresh food!  The weather is quite changeable too, and not always in our favour, which has kept us on our toes. We’ve experienced it all – bright and sunny, howling headwinds and persistent rain – in literally as many days. The views are stunning and more than make up for the randomness though… see the pics below for yourself!

Bariloche is the centre of the region and the main drawcard for the masses of Argentinian holidaymakers making their annual pilgrimage. For us though, it was too crowded and the roads too busy for cycling. We quickly headed on to Villa Angostura, a quaint little town of stone and wood chalets, chocolate, ice cream and souvenir shops. It was kind of like the “Noosa of the Sunshine Coast”, for those that know what I am talking about. San Martin was similar but squarely aimed at the top end tourists and not smelly cyclists that havn’t showered in 3 days! Junin is the place to trout fishing. We didn’t fish – but did enjoy camping by the many beautiful rivers around there. Coming over Mamuil Malal, our highest pass so far, we were treated too fantastic views of both volcans Lanin and Villarica. Speaking of which we’re booked to climb Villarica tomorrow… any tips on how to use an ice pick??

From here we put our heads down and pedal the 800km or so toward Santiago. We have decided to skip the capital, instead looping around via the coast for a few well deserved days at the beach. That should gives our legs the rest they need to tackle Mendoza and Northern Argentina.

We’re making great progress and now feel Lima in Peru is looking like a more realistic final destination than Lake Titicaca. But we’re not getting too excited, as there are still many unknowns ahead – proper mountains, high altitudes, dry deserts, salt pans and plenty of upset tummies in Bolivia (or so we’ve been told!).

We’re eating well, getting lots of exercise and most importantly enjoying ourselves – a real kind of adventure cyclists kind of groove I suppose. Day by day we are clocking up the kms too. People are now quite impressed when we say we’ve cycled all the way from Ushuaia! But we don’t need them to tell us… we’re pretty proud ourselves just quietly.

Thanks again for all your comments and support. While it hard to reply to all, rest assured they are getting read and providing that extra boost at the end of a long day in the saddle! Adios amigos.
Jules & Jess

What a view!

What a view!

Touristy but a nice change

Touristy but a nice change

Friendly locals

Friendly locals

Mate time

Mate time

A perfect riverside campsite

A perfect riverside campsite

And a not so perfect campsite

And a not so perfect campsite

If only there was something to look at??

If only there was something to look at??

Very pleased with ourselves

Very pleased with ourselves

Mucho Viento

PUERTO NATALES TO EL CHALTEN

Our final leg across Patagonia proved to be the toughest but also the most rewarding. From Puerto Natales we decided to skip El Calafate (the jumping off point for the Perito Moreno glacier) and instead head directly to El Chalten 450km north. This should mean we can make the Carretera Austral by Christmas and leave the “mucho viento” (much wind) behind us.

Our first day broadly followed the path we had taken on the bus to Torres del Paine. This time though, travelling at our usual 10km/hr, we could take it properly, including that magnificent lake we rode right alongside of (it must of been on the other side of the bus??).

We passed through the Cerro Castilla border with ease and started along the famous Ruta 40 (the road Che Guevera took on his motorbike). There was not much wind and we managed to clock up 115km and reach Tapi Aike by the evening. Like a lot of Patagonian towns there is not much to say – a petrol station, main roads depot and an Estancia (farmhouse). We camped by the river and soaked up the distant Andean views and the ‘last place on earth’ feeling of remoteness.

The next day we set off along 70km of bone rattling gravel to El Cerrito. Now there are gravel roads and there are gravel roads. This was one was more like a river bed than a road. It was like riding on marbles and it took every effort to keep our bikes upright. Sensing our vulnerability, the wind kindly provided a consistent headwind too. It took us over 10hrs to make El Cerrito. Unfortunately we were behind schedule and had to ride a further 15kms after dinner to get back on track for tomorrow.

Where we sleep between towns is always a surprise and tonight was no exception. Exhausted, we settled for a tunnel under the highway. You don’t get loyalty points for this kinda stay, but its relatively wind protected and can’t be seen from the road – and that will do us just fine for tonight.

We had 5hrs sleep before our 3am wake up call. We had to cover 60km of westward travel before the wind picked up otherwise we’d get stuck. We pedalled hard and a surprise 15km downhill run into Rio Biote just got us there in time. A sweet reward for the last 2 days climbing. PS, if ever asked, llama can run at 45km/hr … we know this as we raced one!

From there we enjoyed some of our best cycling so far - andean and glacial lake views, friendly locals, a tailwind at times and we even found a restaurant in the middle of nowhere that served empanadas and coke!

After 118km we stopped for the night at La Leona, a tourist Estancia that offers food, camping etc (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid supposedly hid out here for a month while on the run from the law).  A perfect place to celebrate our first 1,000km on the road! Two hamburgers and two beers, por favor!

The wind reached the ridiculous again overnight and we had to bus it the last 100km to El Chalten. You can ride a cross wind with a fair bit of effort, but head on it’s just impossible (and dangerous given traffic etc).

So, our time in Patagonia has come to an end. While in many ways this comes as a relief, its been great adventure and a fantastic intro into cycle touring. Long days, sleeping rough, constant wind and a lack of spanish has been a real test. But Jess and I have both passed with flying colours and that gives us confidence for the road ahead.

From here, we take the 3-day overland route to Villa O’Higgins in Chile. This town marks the start of the 1,200km Carretera Austral highway. Some say is the best road in the world to cycle?  We’ll let you know.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

Jules and Jess

Carbo loading

Carbo loading

Another Patagonian road

Another Patagonian road

The famous ruta 40

The famous ruta 40

Not exactly 5 star

Not exactly 5 star

Mucho viento

Mucho viento

Simply breathtaking

TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK

We’ve traded bikes for backpacks and have decided to hike for 4 days in the Torres del Paine national park. Several buses later and many pesos exchanged we were finally in the park. Simply breathtaking is the best way to describe it.

We planned to walk the typical “W” route which takes in the major sites – Grey Glacier, Valle de Frances and the Torres.

Glacier Grey was immense, so much frozen water! Jess saw a big piece fall off, but unfortunately I was busy peering into my water bottle for some reason?? I got my revenge by brewing up a tea with 1,000 year old glacier ice back at camp.

The Valle de Frances was our favourite part. The mountains there were alive, avalanches were constant and sounded like thunder all down the valley.

By now the packs were getting heavy and the hiking harder. Or maybe it was the 700km we had cycled just prior? We decided to skip the Torres and spend another night in Frances before making the trek out of the park. After all this is meant to be our rest from the bike!

Inspired and rested we are now back in Puerto Natales and preparing for a 500km ride north to El Chaiten. From there we leave Patagonia behind, take the overland path to Chile and begin our ride along the Carretera Austral.

No wind is all Jess and I want this Christmas. We’re aiming to be there by the 25th.

From Jess and I a Merry Christmas to all.

Simply breathtaking

Simply breathtaking

El presento Glacier Grey

El presento Glacier Grey

Happy camper

Happy camper

Say no more

Say no more

The wicked wind of the west

PUNTA ARENAS – PUERTO NATALES

We planned an early start to beat the wind.

By 4am we were on our way to Puerto Natales 245km north of Punta Arenas. We figured it would be a 3 day ride. The early mornings are great, traffic free and the wind is relatively calm (for Patagonia that is). Chile feels more developed than Argentina, which surprised us, given you seem to hear so much more about latter. Maybe though, it is that we are heading into tourist zone – Torres del Paine national park, Perito Moreno glacier etc. We look forward to them – and hopefully we’ll make it there in one piece, provided those air-con gringo buses keep their distance!

The Patagonian wind seems to build through the morning, reach its peak by mid-afternoon and blows itself out through the night (a theory which is holding for now). Its force is simple incredible. You literally wrestle with your bike to keep it on course. Side gusts are so strong they can blow you across an entire lane and onto the gravel. The howling in your ears never seems stops. It is patience testing stuff.

The road’s pretty flat, so how far you get in a day depends entirely on the wind. At times we can only go 4km/hr (walking speed!). On our first day, we managed 75km before making camp 20km before Lago Blanco. It wasnt much, but we turned our roadside thicket of trees into a pleasant home for the night. The next day we pushed onto Morro Chico. A sign by the roadside promised a roast lamb lunch and no wind on earth was going to stop us getting there. We devoured our lunch then hid out in a bus shelter across the road. We were on track to make Puerto Natales tomorrow. The wind howled all night, at times we thought our bus shelter would actually topple over! By morning it seemed to be getting stronger (there goes our theory). What do we do? We’d waited 18hrs in a bus shelter. If it was this strong now, what would it be like in the afternoon?? We made the difficult decision to hitch the last 100km into town.

Did we cheat ourselves? A purist may think so, but that’s not what this trip is about for us. You can ride across Patagonia no problems, all you need is lots of time (and patience). We gave it our best shot. Today the wind beat us, and we take our hats off to it!

Early morning starts

Early morning starts

Friendly locals

Friendly locals

Sorry Tom - Mums cooking a lamb roast

Sorry Tom - Mums cooking a lamb roast

A whole lotta nothing

RIO GRANDE – PUNTA ARENAS

Finally, we are in Punta Arenas after a 3 day 240km slog from Rio Grande!  Despite a 5am departure on our first day, the wind caught us. It was a very long day and we will never forget the constant howling. Several times we were almost blown off our bikes. Strangely no matter which way the road turned the wind was always blowing in our faces?? At times we averaged only 5km/hr at full speed! It was an experience, that on reaching San Sebastion (the Argentinian/Chilean border town) we were glad was over.

The next day, facing gravel roads, we decided 3am was a better time to start.  We started across the border, we waited in fear, then waited some more … but the wind never came? It was incredible, not even a puff.  Believe it or not, Patagonia is actually quite pleasant place without the wind.  You have time to take in the vastness, listen to the birds chirping and talk to the odd llama or two. Really though, Patagonia is a whole lotta nothing – No towns, just a long straight road, a few sheep and the occasional truck - and i guess thats what special about the place. It sure is a world away from London!!

The next day we again started at 3am, this time to make it to Porvenir in time to catch the 2pm ferry. As it turned out the 2pm ferry didn’t exist (just like some of the towns we had on our map the day before), instead we were assured it would be 8am the next day. This didn’t come as a great surprise as we were warned scheduled transport can be a bit hit and miss out here. As a town, Porvenir actually surprised vs what we had expected.  Jess found us a decent hotel and we celebrated our crossing of Tierra del Fuego with a meal out Chilean style – a gigantic lump of cow with chips!

So after 8 days how are we finding it?  Brilliant! Yes our knees ache and my red backside is best left unmentioned, but it is amazing. We are making our way slowly, but we now have a little line on our map to be proud of … and we´ve done it all by pedal power. Tomorrow we leave for Puerto Natales at 3am. The forecast is for 100km/hr winds. Wish us luck!

Jules & Jess

Chocolate is your friend

Chocolate is your friend

Yes, this now feels real...

Yes, this now feels real...

We are now in Chile!

We are now in Chile!

A whole lotta nothing

A whole lotta nothing

Sore bums and smiles

USHUAIA – RIO GRANDE

We are on the road - 3 days in fact. Jess and i have crossed Tierra del Fuego and are now in Rio Grande. Its been an eventful first 300kms or so…

Flying into Ushuaia was amazing but at the same time terrifying. The mountains are huge – can we do this ??

Ushuaia is a pretty grim place, but its surrounds are amazing especially the Tierra del Fuego National Park.  We camped there overnight and contemplated the road ahead staring up at the mountains (they are literally everywhere!).

Dogs are everywere too, though pleasingly they seem more fond of Jess than myself.

Our first “real” day riding was not a walk in the park – we had to cross Garibaldi Pass first. Jess and i are pleased to say we both did (just) and without having to get off and push! There is not that much traffic (which is good) and the truck drivers all give you a friendly toot as they fly by. However, i think this is guilt for the wind, flying stones and dust they leave in their wake.

There is not much between towns, actually there is nothing. We spent our first night in a closed down campsite near Lake Fagnano, second in the gauchos quarters on a working station (thankyou collins english/spanish dictionary) and now a rowing club. So varied accomodation is an amusing part of our daily travels.

Jess and I are also pleased to say we are not alone. We have met an English couple, French couple and a French/Dutch couple en route so far. Amigos with whom we swap tips for the road ahead, cry on each others shoulders and complain about the relentless wind.

From here the going gets tougher (ie. more wind and now dirt roads). We will next say hello from Punta Arenas in Chile.  In the meantime, here are some pics.

Enjoy! Adios!

Flying into Ushuaia... OMG

The mountains flying into Ushuaia

Camping in Tiera del Fuego NP

Camping in Tierra del Fuego NP

Ignorance is bliss

Ignorance is bliss

Jess the Gaucho!

Jess the Gaucho!

Tez and Matilda having a rest

Tez and Matilda having a rest

Hard work - but better than sitting behind a desk

Hard work - but better than sitting behind a desk