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Old 05-07-2012, 12:33 AM   #61
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New Years day woke up with a decent hangover, Chilean wine is good but too much will do you in.
after saying goodbye to my lovely hosts, headed on south towards Coyhaique, Cochrane and the border crossing of Chile Chico.
The countryside quite spectacular and a lot of smooth blacktop.












The road turned to rough gravel again and I pull over for the day at the Alpaca campground. It was very windy there.






The next day I push on south, have a nice breakfast at this very pretty B&B.


Very pretty time of year,


the scenery truly breathtaking
















I get down to Cochrane have a mediocre meal in a touristy restaurant, and realize I missed the turn off for Chile Chico.

Nice older Landcruiser spotted in Cochrane



On the way out of Cochrane had the front tire go flat. I managed to find some shade to fix it. It was an ordeal the bike fell over....
Later I found a lovely campsite along this magnificent river to relax and unwind after my ordeal. Just up stream from some ultra fancy fly fishing lodge.
Took a video of that campsite


Some more scenery of that area.











Next it was on to Chile Chico and my first of many crossings into Argentina.
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Old 05-10-2012, 01:03 AM   #62
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Next it was on to the border crossing at Chile Chico which turned out to be more of an adventure than desired.
Checked out of Chile no problem, but the Argentine side wanted to bust my chops about insurance. After some discussion they allowed me in the country to the nearest town to buy some. Unfortunately they didn't sell the insurance there and I had to go back into Chile!
Upon reentering Chile the fruit and veggie lady manages to spot a bottle of honey and a small bag of millet. After a bit of explaining what was going on they decided not to impose the fine and allow me to collect my stuff on the way back with my insurance. I get the insurance head back, get my honey and millet back and then get stamped legally into AR.
I all took much longer than expected.
I stop that night in Perito Moreno, at nice simple workingman's campground, I would stay there again on the way back north.

My intention was to head south on ruta 40.
The next day I didn't study my GPS map very closely and headed east out of Perito Moreno. I didn't realize I'd already passed the turn off for ruta 40.
By the time I realized my mistake I was already 100 kms out on the boring route.
Screw it I just kept on and would cover ruta 40 on the way north.

So I push on east to the big hwy 3 and south.

I roll into Puerto San Julian late afternoon buy some groceries and start looking for a place to camp. Found a nice campsite but the grumpy old guy wasn't taking any customers.
Against better judgment I elect to push on in the dark to the next town; Commandante Luis Piedrabuena, what a name!

I finally find a spot on the edge of town next to this old Beech 18. One airplane I always wanted to fly but never got the chance.


I'd picked a really desolate and boring route


And I took pictures of myself!


Look closely you'll see a small herd of Vicunas. Kind of a Llama like animal.


The weather turns really crappy as I get closer to Rio Gallegos, its also getting difficult to find open restaurants, as the one I stopped at to put on rain gear was boarded up.
I finally roll into Rio Gallegos wet and cold looking for a coffee shop to warm up in. As I'm have some coffee at a YPF gas station an older fellow approaches and is very interested in my journey. Anyway I ask him if he knows of any camping spots? He says no but I was welcome to camp at a house of his. He didn't live there but it was dry had heat and hot water and place to park inside. He just handed me the keys and was off to his main home, some lodge along ruta 40.
I stay three nights in Rio Gallegos resting and getting some new tires for the bike for the Kawasaki dealer which turned out to be quite the fiasco.
My big camera konked out here too.
to be continued...
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Old 05-11-2012, 09:24 PM   #63
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Rio Gallegos is a pretty strange place, Argentina in general for that matter!
There are a great many small cars. They are either brand new or banged up. People race around town like a bunch of scalded monkeys.
The only restaurants to be found are crappy and expensive sandwich and pizza places. People don't seem to eat out much, unlike any other Latin America country I've seen.

So I needed tires and I pop into the Kawasaki dealer. I was unaware that Punta Arenas would have been a much better choice for tires
Anyway they had the tires in stock, very expensive, but I figured it would worth it. I arranged to have them mount the tires.(a big mistake) They told me to be around at 09:00 the next day. I get there at the appointed time. At 09:15 one of the helpers shows and starts roll out a dozen or so 4 wheelers in various stages of repairs. By 09:30 the head mechanic shows up. It's nearly 10:00 before they have me roll my bike into the shop.
He get the tires mounted up and told I was ready to go. I take a look and observe he'd mounted the rear tire wrong. Since I was paying top dollar I wanted it right. (second big mistake)
A few minutes later they tell me it's read. I get ready to go, and glance at the tire, incredulous he had remounted the tire the wrong way again. I said how is this possible?
He finally puts it on correctly after what seemed like a long time.
Anyway the reason for my telling this is as I rolled up to the gate at the Tierra Del Fuego national park my brand new rear tire goes flat and it begins to rain. As I'm fixing the flat I discover it wasn't just a puncture, the flat was because the bonehead in Rio Gallegos had pinched the tube during installation, also I noted the tube wasn't the one I had put in there, apparently he'd pinched the tube I had and replaced it with this POS.
I was pissed. This was notable for being one my worst repair shop experiences ever.
It took a while to get over the urge to go back up to Rio Gallegos and beat that poor excuse for a mechanic with my tire iron!
I recommend no one use the dealer in Rio Gallegos.
All part of the adventure I reckon.


From Rio Gallegos I have to cross back into Chile, take a ferry across the Straights of Magellan, then along a dusty highway back to Tierra del Fuego Argentina.



The house in Rio Gallegos where I camped for three nights






I pass Rio Grande which is famous for its sea run trout fishing. It was very windy, but the hardcore anglers were out there.


Its cold and raining again and I stop to put on my heated bib.
Meet this group of riders out of Rio Grande, they call themselves Los Lobos
They gave me a cool sticker for my panniers
They were on some mighty fancy iron, I would have preferred a big GS to the KLR for battling the wind down there.



That night I find a great spot to camp to camp next a beautiful lake.


The next day was Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego national park.


So after repairing my flat tire I buy a ticket into the park. It wasn't cheap, but it included camping for two nights.
I found this lovely spot and relaxed for a couple of days.



When the sun was out it was very pleasant, but it was cold and rainy much of the time.
The place is inundated with a constant parade of tour buses of tourists from the cruise ships.
I had to get up early to avoid getting trampled for my picture of the sign at the end of the highway.



cute little tourist choochoo train, someone took very nice care of it



Back in Ushuaia while having coffee at the only coffee shop, I met a gal who worked the Antarctic cruises and she told about the true end of the highway which was 90 kms down a gravel road which followed the Beagle Channel.
I decided to go check it out since the mega tourist circus of the Tierra del Fuego park was somewhat disappointing.
This was indeed a spectacular side trip.












the real end of the hwy



great campsite all to myself



Had some company the next morning






wildly deformed trees from the wind



one of the Argentine linguistic particularities. All other Spanish countries call trash "basura" but in Argentina their trash is special, so its "residuos".




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Old 05-12-2012, 11:25 PM   #64
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Some sights around Ushuaia





Now it was the long journey back to the north.
I now headed for Punta Arenas via the back route. One guy I met on a KLR told me how it was over 500kms between some of the fuel stops.
So I got 5 liters of extra fuel in Rio Gallegos before heading west on road B.
I stopped at a police check point to ask and make sure the remote border crossing was indeed open. Alarmed the police lady informs how terrible this road is and recommended I not go!

The road was pretty bad but certainly passable, went through some pretty ranch land filled with these magnificent white face bovines.


and lots of sheep


I get to the border crossing at around 9 at night. It was a remote spot.
I ask how many people came through today, apparently I was the first for day!
I clear out of Argentina and follow a grassy tract leading to the Chilean side, where I have to make a river crossing. Well there was no turning back! I ease in to the river slowly and put a foot down, water was over my boot. I roll on some throttle and hope I didn't fall!
Made it across. It would have been a real drag to fall in that river it was cold windy and very lonely out there.
I get to Chilean side and go through the process and then the fruit lady asks if I'm carrying any food? Lying, I tell her I just had a can of beans.
She want's to see it! Jeezers Christmas! I open my pannier and she right away spots the prized salami I'd bought at the Carrefour in Rio Gallegos, (I was really looking forward to eating it)
Anyway she snatches it informing me "no carne",
I cried, "por favor, tengo hambre".
I ask if could camp there and eat it. She relents and says ok, and gives me back the salami! What a good sport she was, I could have kissed her!.
I roll the bike out of the wind behind one of the buildings and add the 5 liters of fuel I was carrying. It was lousy place to camp and had no intention of staying there. I waited for a while to let her settle back down to her TV, and quietly rode away.
Thank you Kawasaki for such a quiet muffler!

Down the road a bit I find a perfect spot out of the wind to camp.


I almost lost my tent the next morning as the winds picked up. One of the lines snagged a branch before sailing up up and away, very close call, devilish winds down there.
The heavy wind also made riding on the loose gravel rather nerve wracking.
Big country down there, big estancias (ranches)


they were getting ready for spring shearing.


Got some fuel in Porvenir and had to camp in this un sheltered spot on the Pampas. The bike was my only wind break
Beautiful spot with lots of wild Vicuna and Llama.
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Old 05-12-2012, 11:36 PM   #65
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Great stuff!!, Excellent ride report mate, Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-16-2012, 11:34 AM   #66
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On to Punta Arenas.

I have to cross the Straights of Magellan again.
Stop and have nice meal in a simple little trucker restaurant, very friendly trucker folks and good food. Its been a cold and windy ride.
I seem to have lost some photos from this day.

When I stop for gas in Punta Arenas I notice coolant leaking from the radiator. Turned out to be a pin hole leak caused by the plastic shroud rubbing on the bottom tank.
I was friday and I'd have to wait till monday to find someone to fix it.
I hunted for a suitable place to stay where I could park out of the weather and work on the bike.

After a bit of looking found a homestay with a nice secure car port. The place was run by a little old Croatian lady. She was aggreable to letting me work on the bike there, and insisted I come in and have afternoon tea and cakes. She reminded me of my grandma.
There is a large Croat community in Punta Arenas, they have their own TV station also.
Punta Arenas is a pretty interesting place with a widely diverse expat community.
Some shots on a downtown walkabout.






















Monday I found a great motorcycle mechanic who did a proper heliarc fix to my radiator.


Next will be up to El Calafate and the Morreno glacier.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:13 PM   #67
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Out of Punta Arenas I headed for Puerto Natales and a visit to the Torres del Paine national park.



Found this great campsite just outside the entrance to the park




The famous spires of Torres del Paine




lots of these critters around


















Next will be up to El Calafate and the Morreno glacier. Honest!
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Old 05-26-2012, 02:27 PM   #68
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Nicely paced trip report. Really enjoying the pictures and commentary.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:42 PM   #69
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Excelent ride and awesome pictures!!!
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:12 PM   #70
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BEAUTIFUL!!!

Looking forward seeing your next pics.

A trip of a lifetime, enjoy to the max!
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Old 05-30-2012, 03:41 PM   #71
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^thanks guys for the encouragement.


On the way back back to Puerto Natales the road got kinda interesting, the road grader was working the gravel getting it ready for pavement. When they do this it make the road really soft and my horribly overloaded KLR just behaves like a wobbly plow, very tedious riding. The sides of the road along the fence looked hard and smooth so I decided to venture there, nearly getting very stuck in the process.
Anyway I finally make it to the nice paved part without taking a spill, what a nice relief.
Then it began to rain, a big rain, I stopped at one of many nice little covered shack the folks use for bus stops and headed into Puerto Natales for some fuel and supplies.
Another rider from the USA on a DR was there waiting out the rain. After a pleasant time chatting in English (something I hadn't done for while) I got some supplies, wine, bread, salami and cheese for a cold camp.
Then headed for the Argentine border and the famous Ruta 40.
Late in the day the border crossing was quiet, I was the only customer on either side.
The Argentine side the officials were young and efficient and seemed out of place in this end of the world border crossing, they were smartly dressed in nice woolen uniforms, I wish I'd taken some pics. But being tired and road weary it was the last thing I thought about. Actually I was more concerned about how they only stamped my bike in for 90 days, I was hoping for 8 months like I'd gotten previous at the bigger crossings. After brief discussion I understood since they didn't have their computers up and running everything was by hand and only 90 days.

A few miles up I find a nice looking public campsite.


Looks nice right! But don't let that fool you! It took quite a bit of looking to find a spot that wasn't covered with broken glass. The Argentinians and their propensity for litter was annoying. What would really get me were the used disposable diapers left lying on the ground at these beautiful spots.

The next day was beautiful, passed this big moto tour group on rentals out of Chile, Europeans mostly.


I get up to El Calafate which is a busy little tourist hub serving the Perito Moreno glacier. One of the few still growing glacier in Argentina.


Its very active with lots of cracking and splashing.


I stayed three nights at the very popular campground, drying out, doing laundry, taking nice hot showers, and eating lots of parrilla. Every night I'd hook up with some group of campers and had a BBQ. Its was great fun.
Some fellow campers, a french anthropologist and and aussie surfer turned school teacher.


There were lots of interesting folks. Sadly no more pics of this campsite.

Then it was up to El Chalten and my first "trekking".
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Old 05-31-2012, 05:23 AM   #72
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awesome ride, awesome reading!
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Old 05-31-2012, 05:44 AM   #73
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Then it on to El Chaltén, trekkers paradise.

I hadn't been trekking before, turns out its kinda like taking a walk, or going hiking.
They are bussed in and have nifty walking poles, they kinda look like ski poles to me.

Anyway there are some serious mountaineering type mountains.
This is Mount Fitz Roy on the way in.
It was another beautiful day!






In town bumped into this wild young feller who is going RTW of his Pakistani CL125






Woke up the next day to a lovely sunrise.


This was some kind of fancy trekker touring rig, they traveled in style


You meet a bunch of very interesting folks at these campgrounds
Cool guy from Brazil.




Nice Landcruiser camper


The next morning I went for nice walk up close to Mt Fitz Roy, I wasn't sure how the trekking thing worked, so I just went for a walk!
I got out early to avoid being trampled by the hoards of trekkers with their ski poles who arrived later.






So after El Chaltén was the long arduous poke up Ruta 40 towards Perito Moreno, including an accidental 200km detour!
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Old 05-31-2012, 01:25 PM   #74
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FANTASTIC!
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Old 05-31-2012, 09:37 PM   #75
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Out of El Chalten it was going to be a long way between fuel. I get to Tres Lagos have a nice coffee and roll at the bakery.
This is where ruta 40 turns to gravel again.
There was a lot of road construction and no hwy signs to speak of.
It was a little confusing but a quick glace at the GPS indicated I was on the right road.
So I happily rode down a lonely gravel road kinda mesmerized with this magnificent feature in front of me.


I was told this was a lonely stretch of road, and I hadn't seen anyone yet.
I continue, then going the other way, a couple german guys in a rental VW Polo, they were looking for the Estancia Condor. I had no idea, they seemed kinda lost. I was still pretty sure I was on the right road.
I stop for some lunch in the shelter from the sun in a large culvert.
The Germans pass again and wave. I follow a bit later, and get to a gate in the road! That seemed odd on this main hwy! I go through the gate and catch up to the Germans, they'd gotten a puncture and were just getting it switched out.
I consult with their map, and discover I'd gone about 100 kms the wrong way down this road. They were on the correct road for the Estancia Condor.

I head back to Tres Lagos where the fuel station had been closed for months. I found someone selling fuel out of barrels for 15 peso a liter(triple the normal price!)
Its late in the day by then and I camp just outside of town along the river.
The campground in town wanted 80 pesos to camp! Crazy!

The next day I decided to buy some more of the barrel fuel just to be on the safe side.
There was a lot of construction on ruta 40, trucks, dust, and often very tricky road surface.
This stuff was like riding on big ball bearings. My grossly overloaded bike was a freaking handful.





I stop at another remote Estancia for some fuel, I wasn't sure where the next fuel was, I managed to by-pass Gobernador Gregores which had a fuel station.
My lack of planning was making things interesting.

Anyway I do make it to the next town where there is fuel; Bajo Caracoles.
Kind of a pretty place, it felt very remote though.


I push on, the wind is picking up at this point making the loose gravel very challenging.

I camp that night near the traveling road grader. These guys go out for a week or so at time grading road carrying their home with them.




The next few days on the road proved to be very difficult, I didn't take any pictures, it was all kinda beating me up.

The wind and endless gravel was really getting to me. The bike threw the chain at one point necessitating a lengthy roadside repair.
Stopped for two nights again in Perito Moreno to recuperate. I stay again at the simple migrant worker campground, have a nice time chatting and cooking fry bread with some workers from up north, A group of young Israelis show up, three girls two guys crammed in a rental SUV. The girls turn out to be soldiers, the boys not. Someone later told me the Israeli have designs on Patagonia!

Then onward towards Bariloche.

I have a very tough day of battling wind huge dust clouds rain on the way to Esquel.
The wind unbelievably strong and gusty, I was barely able to stay on the road, creeping along in first gear.
I buy some fuel and supplies in Esquel, and soldier on, The wind gets worse, some riders who passed me earlier tried to wave me down, but they were stopped out in the open and the wind would've knocked me over. The big 18 wheelers were parked, I took shelter next to them and chatted with the drivers, they agreed it was bad out!
I carry on, it was just too miserable next to the trucks and all the dust kicking up.
This was shaping up to be one the most unpleasant days of riding I've ever had.

I get to a bridge and nice wooded area sheltered by the bridge embankment and camp.

After setting up camp and relaxing with some wine and my ipod I discover the wad of about 1500 pesos I'd stuck in my breast pocket were gone! Dang about $350usd! I figured all the jostling of the wind had worked them out of my pocket. Oh well
The next day while going for a walk I pick up a trail of money! Holy crap! I pick up 1300 pesos. The wad of bills must have worked out of my pocket and into the sleeve of my riding jacket, where some time during the night had fallen out and got blown around by the wind. I was amazed I found any of it!

The next day I was going to stop in El Bolson, an hip place I'd heard about.
But it was raining and miserable there so I pushed on to Bariloche.
I located the highly recommended Alaska hostel. Meet up with a friendly Canadian fellow riding south on a big KTM. Drank a lot of beer and hung out for a couple days waiting for it to stop raining. Someone told me there are pretty mountains there, they were in the clouds the whole time.
One night went out for more beer wearing my sandals and dropped the bike on my leg, stupid! But I'd survive.

I kinda stopped taking many pictures, I was getting tired.
Was some nice scenery,


Met these guys from Cordoba and BA, at a city campground, Zapala I think it was.
His boxes were made of wood!


Some wild country side.







Around here I met a very nice couple out of Chile riding two up on a very old Royal Enfield, dang I wish I'd gotten the camera out!

Double rainbow, for good luck.


Big empty country down there.




The next morning's camp along an irrigation channel


The Argentinians have some thing about these funny shrines of used plastic bottles, someone explained it to me but it didn't make much sense so I forgot about it.



I had planed to go to Mendoza but I had enough sightseeing by then and was ready to wind up the trip, I'd made plans to store my bike with some friends near Cordoba.
I had to cross a large desert along the way. 100 kms of straightness.


That night I have a time finding a place to camp, ended up going down some dirt track near dark and encountering a freaking gate, where I camped.

On the way in I noticed thunderstorms in the distance, and realized if it rained here that dirt track would turn to oozy slicker than snot shit!

Around 03:00 I awaken to lighting flashes in the distance. In a half awake groggy state I make the decision to break camp before the rain hit.
At 04:00 I'm just getting on the bike ready to go when I finally hear a clap of thunder. A thought flashes through my mind as I'm warming up the engine. "It would be a bad thing to run right into the rain in the dark!"
Hell the rain was still a ways away! I got going. A couple of clicks and I felt a rain drop on my face. The track turned greasy in a heartbeat, the bike slid out from under me and I was down, my headlight shinning in to the brush, my face in the brush, my left leg pinned under the pannier at a slightly weird angle, and I'm thinking this is exactly what I wanted to avoid, fuck!. I work my leg out from under the bike, it slightly tweaked but nothing serious, dang that was luck! A serious injury would've been bad way out there.
I gradually access the damage, my face hurt where the mirror hit me when I went down, had nice shiner for a week!
The chain had come off the rear sprocket and got all bunched and jammed up around the swing arm.
My adrenaline kicks in by this time and I go after dealing with the situation.
Its still very dark out.
By the time the sun came out I had the bike sorted and decided to relax and drink tea till the trail dried out some.
It doesn't look so bad after, but it was really slick!




As I was finishing loading up these two guys showed up.
They kinda worried me some because as I was rolling away they tried to hit me up for money! I told them the reason I was camping out there was because I didn't have any money. The last thing I was going to do would be to flash the wad of pesos in my pocket!

So that's about it for now folks.
My bike is in storage for a few months and I'll return to Argentina in August to resume the journey north.
I'm thinking of crossing over to panama and check out Central America and Baja California on the way back.
Cheers,
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