The Pack Track - RTW with our dogs

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ThePackTrack, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. dolomoto

    dolomoto Destroyer of Motorcycles

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,266
    Location:
    Veneto, IT
    "but before leaving Puerto San Julian we made sure to get a photo with the real scale replica of the Nao Victoria. A visit to the museum will tell you that the ship arrived in March 1520. It was captained by the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and was in fact the first ship to circumnavigate the world. When you have the information as you stand before the ship it's really hard to believe how, since it looks so small!"

    Among the 18 survivors who returned to Seville was Antonio Pigafetta from here in Vicenza. In fact, his family home is here and around the corner from us. You are right, it was an amazing feat considering the size of the boat but it was at great cost in lives.

    Awesome report!
    #61
    ThePackTrack likes this.
  2. ThePackTrack

    ThePackTrack The Pack Track | Pillion Pooch

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    HEADING NORTH
    28 February 2015

    After the dramas of finding accommodation in Ushuaia, we were finally free to relax. It's pretty exciting being at the 'end of the world' and it marks a certain achievement or milestone on the journey. However, we weren't without drama. We'd lost one of our sleeping bags in Venezuela (it fell off the bike when it wasn't put away properly) and until now we had been getting by with just the one sleeping bag because the climate had been warm to hot. Now we were camping at the end of the world amongst snow capped mountains with all three of us huddling under a single sleeping bag.

    When we left Australia to embark on this adventure we put a lot of time into researching camping gear, especially our sleeping bags. We decided upon an Australian design by Sea To Summit. The Xt-II is 95% Goose Down, weighs 1.2 kg and squashes down to a really small size which is perfect for the limited space on a motorbike. The other important factor is that we bought a left and a right bag so they zipped together, if you've ever done this with sleeping bags you know how awesome it is. So, when we lost one it wasn't a simple matter of just going to a camping store to buy any old bag, we wanted another of the same to zip together.

    We made several attempts to contact Sea To Summit to seek their assistance and they were helpful but the best they could do was sell us the next model up at recommended retail price plus postage, over $1,000!!! A much cheaper option was to order the new sleeping bag online and have it delivered to an address in Australia where it could be forwarded to us in Ushuaia.

    When we reached Ushuaia we didn't rush to the post office, expecting the delivery to take longer than expected. On our first trip to the post office we were told that the tracking number didn't exist in their system which probably meant it hadn't arrived in Argentina yet. The online tracking through Australia Post had indicated that the parcel had left Australia but from previous experience we didn't expect the tracking to continue any further in this part of the world. In the end we stayed in Ushuaia for 2 weeks and enjoyed every day. It was a good day when the sleeping bag arrived, the gentleman in the post office had seen us nearly everyday so he was just as excited as us.

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    Ushuaia is a massive tourist destination. It attracts everyone from cyclists, motorcyclists, hitchhikers to lavish cruise ships that pull in to its port. It's a really pretty town that stretches along the Beagle Channel and nestled below snow capped mountains. There are loads of restaurants, cafes, chocolate shops and trinket shops to visit. Outside of town there are loads of trails to hike for the day or head out for a few nights.

    One Sunday the three of us took a ride 80km out of town to an old Station that is open for tourists to visit. It cost 140 pesos per person to enter and included two tours; one of the homestead and one of a bones museum. This particular homestead was the first in Tierre del Fuego and to this day, fourth generation family still live there and manage the station. The bones museum was quite small but the tour in English was very comprehensive explaining the evolution of marine life including various species of whales, dolphins and sea lions. We had a wholesome lunch in the restaurant and didn't get back to our hostel until 7pm. It was a really nice day.

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    We were camping at Momo's hostel. It is one block from the main street and three blocks from a supermarket. Momo's is famous to cyclist and motorbike travellers who pass on the location by word of mouth. We felt very welcome there and met really friendly travellers from all over the world. All the common rooms were heated so we spent a bit of time inside drinking red wine with our new friends and making the most of the kitchen cooking empanadas, pancakes and burgers.

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    The two weeks in Ushuaia and talking to other motorcyclists gave us plenty of time and information to figure out our next plans. We had initially thought it might be possible to find a boat to cross the Beagle Channel and go to Puerto Williams, the southern most town in Chile, then work our way north but our motorbikes were too big.

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    Friends, Michelle and Brian, spoke of a scenic route to Punta Arenas that didn't have us repeating too many kilometres. Our first stop was Rio Grande for one night, then we took the 150km of gravel roads to Porvenir where we spent a night waiting for the next days ferry. Brian and Michelle were already in Punta Arenas so we followed them to their hostel to spend a few nights.
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    Punta Arenas is one of the largest cities in Patagonia. It was historically established as a strategic military stronghold over the surrounding waters. The port grew in size and eventually a free zone was established; this can mean a few things, but to us it meant tax free shopping. We needed to service the motorbikes and hoped we could get the parts and materials we needed in the free zone at a reasonable price.

    Michelle and Brian were already settled in to Hospedaje Independencia when we arrived. It was really cheap accommodation by Chile standards, made even cheaper for us because we camped in the yard along with a bunch of other campers. Brian was well under way servicing his and Michelle's motorbikes so was able to give us some tips on where to go shopping. We bought 6L of oil plus some other bits and pieces however we just couldn't bring ourselves to do the work. It was so cold there, even in the middle of the day, and we just weren't that tough so decided to put it off until warmer climate and just enjoy a few days with our friends.

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    Austral Beer was a drink we had become accustomed to drinking and the brewery was only a short walk from our hostel so the four of us set off with some stubbies in hand hoping to hop on the afternoon tour. Luck was against us on this occasion as the security guard informed us the brewery was closed with key staff out of town. Doh! Well it was a pleasant walk and we had beer so the time wasn't completely wasted.

    Camping in the cold was a big incentive for The Pack Track to move on from Punta Arenas so we said goodbye for now to Michelle and Brian after sharing a very early hot strawberry porridge together for breakfast.

    Our next destination was El Calafate to see a glacier up close and personal. El Calafate is back in Argentina about 500km away but we were told the roads were good so planned to do it in one day. There was a 80km section towards the end which is the original Ruta 40 and turned out to be very unpleasant riding on gravel and rocks. But that didn't really delay us too much, just wore us out. Our two major delays which resulted in a 9pm arrival in El Calafate, were the border crossing from Chile to Argentina and a stop in Puerto Natales. We stopped in Puerto Natales for lunch and to get some information on the Navimag Ferry that could possibly take us from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt and save us potentially 1,800km. We ate lunch while waiting for the Navimag office to open but it was worth the wait as we were able to book a private room on the ferry, a kennel for Weeti and parking for the motorbikes for a total of $1,500.

    It was 4pm when we finished at the Navimag office and normally at this point in the day we would stop riding and find accommodation. We had 250km to El Calafate but a friend and fellow traveller from Ushuaia, Jenie, had helped us organise accommodation in El Calafate through Couchsurfing. Jenie had been in El Calafate a few nights staying in the home of Eduardo and his gorgeous dog, Blanquita. Jenie told Eduardo about us and he happily accepted us for a few nights saving us a lot of money and hassles. It was embarrassing when we arrived in El Calafate so late (8:30pm) and then couldn't find his home. We had to find WiFi and contact him to get more instructions which honestly we may not have needed if it had been daylight and we could see things and weren't so tired. We were so happy to finally get to his house that we cracked a bottle of wine to relax and chat before hitting the sack.
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    We had two fantastic days in El Calafate. Our first day we spent with Jenie who was leaving in the afternoon. She showed us around town, we had tea, wine, pizza and ice cream and she helped us book our glacier tour for the next day. Jenie is a really interesting person with a kind heart. She had incorporated two art residencies into her South American travel. You can read her blog at Jenie Gao Studio and see her amazing art. We said goodbye but hoped to see her when we got around to riding the USA.

    Yay, glacier day!!! To say we were excited is an understatement. We booked the Perito Moreno mini trek for 920 Pesos per person. We saved some money by riding 2-up to the National Park (entry 215 Pesos per person) rather than getting collected by the tour operator. Our tour started at 1pm so we gave ourselves plenty of time to ride, stop for photos and have a picnic lunch. There is a large parking area adjacent to where the boats depart. Its a really pretty lake and the boat trip to the glacier is short with everyone trying to take photo's out of the glass windows. What we didn't realise was that by the end of the tour we'd have hundreds of better photos later on. When we got off the boat our guide, English speaking for us, met us and guided us along a series of board walks to the base of the glacier where we received a short presentation on the science and geology of the glacier.

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    The glacier is compacted ice so it's very slippery, you can't just walk on it in shoes. The tour company provides crampons which are fitted and strapped by staff on site. The crampons work really well on the ice but take a little getting used to along with a little technique for up and downhill. Before we knew it we were all walking confidently over the glacier, taking photos and checking out all the pretty colours, shapes, holes and cracks with water. It was the middle of the day but surprisingly warm on the glacier, especially when moving. But just in case you got a chill on the ice, at the end of the trek you get a shot of whiskey with glacier ice and a dulce de leche sweet. What a great day out that we finished over a home cooked dinner with Eduardo and Blanquita.

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    The day we left El Calafate was 28 February and our one year travel anniversary. What better way to spend it than riding. We said a very warm goodbye to Eduardo and Blanquita who we were so grateful to for looking after us. It was 250 km on Ruta 40 to Cerro Castillo and we were back to camping in a hostel yard so we could ride out to the famous Torres del Paine national park the next day for an enjoyable but wet hike.

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    #62
    NSFW and twowings like this.
  3. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,509
    Location:
    GTA, ON, CDA
    Enjoying, thanks!
    #63