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Xplore2Gether - California to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JimsBeemer, Mar 6, 2019.

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  1. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    After spending the night in Ancud, we made the short ride to Castor, to an AirBnB. That is where we are as I type this, and we will be here for a few more days. We have already visited two of the faous wooden churches, and I'm going to stop updating this now so we can go see some more! Weather is ok - and is supposed to turn to "fantastic" for a few days starting tomorrow. We also need to stop at a hardware store - need to do more work on Carol's panniers, which seem intent to fall apart on her before we finish! I will post pictures from Chiloé soon.
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  2. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    Oh yeah - it is night and day. In all of South America, compared to Central America, the border crossings are straight forward. No fees, no need for, and zero presence of (from what we've seen) "fixers". No guess work as to what documents you will need, no running around to get photocopies.

    In SA, process is straight forward: At exiting country border facility: Go to immigration, stamp yourself out, then to aduana (customs) to get your motorcycle stamped out. It is generally clear and obvious what you are supposed to do. Then at entering country border facility (which in some cases may be in the same building!) do the same order: Immigration to get yourself stamped into the country, then aduana to get your bike in. Then you may need to find a kiosk selling insurance unless you have already arranged (we have a 6 month policy that covers Argentina, Bolivia and Chile). If there are no lines (no tour bus got there before you!) the time at each facility could be 10 to 15 minutes. Chile does a luggage inspection for produce and meat products, but it is quick.

    In Central America, nothing is straight forward! Every border is different, and even the same border may be different one hour to the next (no lie - we saw this happen). We would plan on four hours for a Central America crossing, and be happy if it was less than three. It was never less than two hours.
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  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    Yes - that is the place - we would definitely recommend it.

    Your question about the trip in reverse is very interesting! Obviously it can be done, and people do it that way. But two things would be different -

    1. Seasons. Going the direction we did worked very well (better than I imagined even) in terms of following the seasons. Once you are in Central America, all the way into Northern Peru, there are more or less two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. And when the rainy season occurs varies; Central America's rainy season is not aligned with Colombia and Ecuador. We managed to pretty much stay in the dry season all the way down. We have had very good weather, on the whole, and in large part, I believe, due to when we left, the direction of travel and the time scale at which we move.

    2. "The end of the trip" Wow - that is a brilliant observation, and I had not thought of it before. Yes - I am positive it would be a very different feeling, if we were ridding right now through Mexico headed into California, and home, on our bikes. Not sure just how - but I have no doubt it would be different. On one hand it would make a more gradual transition to "home" - you would be headed there for most of the trip. On the other hand - having our destination being "not home" but rather some exotic city in the never-before-seen land of Patagonia ... that means that most of our trip was focused away from home, on this new thing, and only now, at the end, are we thinking about "home"again. I don't know how much of a difference that would really be - but I'm sure it would be different, with probably both good and bad aspects.

    But I think the way we came definitely works better for #1.

    Thanks for the questions, and thanks for following! I will try to look up Itchy Boot's blog. I've seen it referenced in some other posts.

    Jim
  4. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Jim,

    FYI, there is a ferry from Punta Arenas to Isla Navarino, then a short drive/ride to Puerto Williams. The two and a half day ferry ride is supposed to be pretty phenomenal, likely similar to the one you just did.

    I have been toying with taking the ferry there, then trying to arrange a private boat ride across the straight to Ushuaia, but haven’t made much progress from Norte Idaho.

    Thank you for all the work and detail you have put into this report. It’s extremely useful and helpful for those of us trying to plan our own trip. Extremely entertaining as well.
    But probably my favorite part is how you got to share your dream trip with your lovely wife. The obvious love and affection you have for her is just as inspiring.
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  5. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    That sounds link an awesome option. We talked to some passengers on our ferry that had done another trip starting (I think) in Puerto Natales and going through the Beagle Channel - sounds similar. And they said it was even more beautiful than the route we took to Puerto Montt. On the P. Natales to P. Montt trip, the most impressive scenery is the first day or two - land is closer to you (narrower passage) and lots of glaciers.
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  6. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    We stayed in Castro on the Isla Chiloé for four nights. One of and maybe the main thing to do on Chiloé is to check out the wooden churches. These were built by Jesuit missionaries in the early 1700's, and are constructed entirely out of wood, using local trees and construction techniques. Boat building techniques are prevalent in the designs, particularly in the interior vaulted ceilings, which are essentially inverted boat hulls. The Jesuits were evicted for political reasons in 1767, at which point there were about 150 such churches on the island. The Franciscans took them over, and today there are 16 of the remaining churches that have been designated Unesco World Heritage Sites. We visited four of these - and the first one was in Nercón, just down the road from Castor.

    The day we arrived in Castor, the owner of the apart-hotel we were staying in told us that that day there was a festival at the church in Nercón, so we headed there to check out both the church and the festival.

    The festival was fun - and things about it just clicked with other experiences we've had since we crossed the border with Mexico. I made a YouTube video about our visit there and my thoughts - which I will restate here in case you don't watch the video :-)

    One of the things that we have observed about Latin culture is the existence of cultural traditions - music, dance, food, festivals , etc - that are experienced and practiced by young and old alike. The details of the traditions change from one point to the next, but the basic concept of shared cultural practices surrounding such events is common. So often we've seen young and old people singing the same songs (like our experience with the Peña concert in Salta, Argentina), or dancing the same folk dance together. Young people seem to legitimately enjoy and engage with these things right along with their parents and grandparents. I'm sure there is a "youth culture" alive and well, but this common culture is a thing - it is noticeable - and I don't think there is any exact correlation to life in the west, at least not in the USA. Obviously in the west we do share some things across generations, but it isn't the same. You have to see it first hand to understand. I think this must be profound - it gives a solid connection, a touchstone, that is a common point of reference for young and old, and must bind them together in some significant if intangible way.

    My sociological philosophizing aisde - it is fun to watch old people and young people dancing the same dance and singing the same songs! Here is a link to the YouTube video I made, which may be the last one i do this trip - it takes SO LONG to make a video! And still isn't as good as I know it could be if I took even more time!

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  7. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    Here are some pictures from our time on Chiloé. One day we wanted to take a ferry over from Chiloé to another island - Quinchao Island . But when we got to the ferry, the line was so long we decided to skip it. We calculated, based on the length of the line and the capacity of the single ferry making the short trek across and back, that it would take over two hours in line to get to Quinchao, and then we'd face the same thing coming back! It is peak tourist season! Lots and lots of vacationers on Chiloé, and their presence was obvious.

    So instead of going to Quinchao , we rode down a secondary highway (853) to it's end in Queilén, which was a nice ride. We did not do the somewhat more epic ride - which would have been to take Rt 5 (there was a lot of summer vacation traffic on Rt 5) to the end/beginning of the Panamerican Highway! Would have been a cool touchstone, but the ride we did was, I believe, much more enjoyable due to very little traffic.

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    The church in Necrón - the first one we visited, where the festival was going on.


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    Inside the church at Necrón. Note the vaulted ceiling - this is a common piece of architecture we saw in all four of the churches we visited, and is constructed using boat-building techniques. The next picture, taken in the attic of the church, shows this more clearly.

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    Attic, church of Necrón. Here you can see the way the vaulted ceiling is fabricated, basically it is an inverted ships haul. Chiloé was (and still largely is) a place where fishing the ocean was THE way of life - and with that went ship building. So when the Jesuits tapped into local craftsmen to build, they adapted the techniques they knew best.

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    From the festival at Necrón - I used this one in the YouTube video as well. Many people from the audience joined in with the dancers when invited, and it was fun to see generations dancing the same dance together. It was very clear that they all knew the dance - even in the crowd, people where doing little versions of it where they stood.


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    Carol in particular noted, and appreciated, that the interior of these churches was more subdued - no gold gilding, nothing glitzy, and even the icons and statues had a more humble, and in her opinion, life-like and more appealing, appearance.

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    This is the church in Castor, which from a poster we saw, seems to be the largest of the 16 Unesco World Heritage churches. It was for sure the most impressive of the four we saw.


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    Inside of the church in Castor. All wood and a very elaborate ceiling design, more complicated than the simple "inverted boat hull" design we saw in the others.

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    Inside Castor churhc

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    Castor church exterior

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    Castor church exterior walls. They are covered with what appear to be tiles of tin or some other metal. Probably aluminum if they have been reconstructed (all 16 churches on the list have undergone significant reconstruction)

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    Plaza de Armas in downtown Castor. What do you notice? No graffiti! There was almost no signs of the protests in Chiloé. Some, but everywhere else we've been in Chile, if you go to the Plaza de Armas (there seems to be one in every town), every building and public structure in the vicinity will be covered with graffiti. But not here.

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    Water fountain statue in the Plaza de Armas, Castor Again; graffiti-free

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    THis was the view from the window of our AirBnB accommodation, which I would say was an apart-hotel type of place. Chiloé is beautiful, when the sun is out! The sun is not out that often, it turns out! But we were blessed with reasonably good weather - only rained part of two days out of five we were there, not counting the rainy day we arrived.

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    Another church - in Vilupulli


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    Church in Chonchi. Chonchi was a cool town - if we were to go back this is where we would stay. Castor is larger, but lacks the charm of Conchi. We also toured a small museum here that was very good. The history of Chiloé is interesting - after colonization, and repression of some indigenous uprisings (which resulted in the decimation of the indigenous population), the peopel became very strong supporters of the Spanish crown. Chiloé was the last bit of Chile to hold allegiance to the crown, forcibly resisting assimilation into Chile. To this day the culture there is somewhat "distinct" from the rest of Chile, and you can sort of sense it. Lonely Planet called the people "fiercely independent". It was definitely different than the rest of Chile we have experienced - more like Ecuador or Peru in many ways.

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    Inside the church as Chonchi.


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    Typical Chiloé view, taken on drive to south end of the island.

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    View of the church in Chonchi

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    End of the road - not Rt 5 (which would have been cool), but Rt 853, in the town of Queílen. Fish farm in the background.

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    Good deep-fried empenadas (pulpo and camorones - octopus and shrimp) from a street vendor near our AirBnB, in Castor.
  8. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    Great RR and photography. As far as sociology is concerned, you will find similar generational involvement in Canadian provinces like Quebec and the Maritime Provinces and in Europe mostly among the Celtic populations of France (Normandy, Brittany) Scotland and Ireland and probably also Portugal and many other countries
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  9. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    That comment was so appreciated - meant to reply earlier. Thanks for that! I am fortunate to have the opportunity to share this trip with the woman I love and who has truly been my life partner.
  10. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    From Chiloé we headed to Argentina, to the Lakes Region around Bariloche, via hwy 215 (becomes 231 in Argentina). Leaving Chiloé, we spent one night in Puerto Varas, at the same place we stayed on our way south (Galpón Aire Puro) and the next day headed over the border to Villa Angostura, Argentina.

    The ride from Puerto Varas to the border was just wonderful! We had excellent weather (but it did get very windy later in the day), and just lovely roads and countryside. We enjoyed this part of Chile when we first came through and I think I mentioned before that it reminds of us New England in the USA - nice winding roads through farms and everything is green. If you are headed south through Chile on the Panamerican (Rt 5) - get off of it and head to the coast or the mountains! It is not that it is like the Panamerican in Peru - Rt 5 actually has some nice scenery here. But the alternates are even nicer to ride. From Orsorno you can make your way south on alternate roads more or less paralleling the Panamerican through some lovely country. I told Carol that roads like this on days like this are why I ride!

    The Chile border crossing (Paso Cardenal Antonio Samoré - long name) was not fun almost three hours, mostly waiting in line. Carol later read in Lonely Planet that this is a very busy crossing, and their recommendation was to "bring a crossword puzzle and your patience". It did not help that we are, as mentioned earlier regarding Chiloé, travelling now at the peak of summer vacation season, and headed into the Argentinian Lakes Region, which is a major tourist destination. The Argentina side is at least 10 miles further down the road, and I was expecting a similar line. But when we got there it was not so bad - and I was confused as to why. But Carol figured it out: The process on the Chile side was essentially acting as a metered on-ramp like we have on some freeways in the USA; the Chile border process was slowly but regularly metering people back onto the road towards the Argentina border, at a rate that more or less matched the rate at which the Argentina border process could handle them, so essentially no wait when we got there

    We used our motorcycle insurance for the only time this trip! While we were waiting in line at the Chile border facility, having got past immigration and waiting our turn at the aduana, someone came in and saw us in our gear and said that the viento (wind) had blown over one of our motorcycles. I ran out to check it out - and it was Carol's bike. We had parked with the wind pushing against the side stand, but the wind actually changed directions while we were inside (remember, it was almost three hours in line!) and tipped her bike over. We are still in Patagonia! It caused a small scratch to the car that had parked beside here. We found the owners and gave them our insurance info, and I've been in contact with them and our insurance agent since then to make sure they are taken care of. We have Allianz insurance purchased through Speiser Suguros, and Roby Speiser was very helpful with getting the claim filed for us. Very happy with them.

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    On board the ferry leaving Chiloé - our last ferry ride this trip! It was really rough going back, and we (and the bikes) got a couple of mistings with salt water. We stayed by the bikes the whole (short) ride to make sure they didn't tip. I think it is likely one or both would have tipped if we had not stayed by them.
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    Some interesting "wall art" in Puerto Varas. Looks like creatures from a Dr. Who episode.
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    On the way from Puerto Varas to the boarder. Lago Llanquehue and (I think) Volcan Orsono in the background. We came across this small museum in a barn. We had plenty of time so we stopped - the setting was beautiful and I wanted some pictures, and the museum was interesting - filled with artifacts dating back to late 1800's to mid 1900's.

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    Our bikes parked in front of the museo. Just look at the countryside! I want to go back and spend a week just riding around and exploring this part of Chile. On sunny days, of course!
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    Many of the fields were solid yellow from dandelions.

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    Note the volcan in the background - not as visible as it seemed it should be. The air quality was not so great - we couldn't figure out what it was. At first we thought it was fog - but as the day went on it was clear that was not it. No way it was smog - no sources near us. I asked about it when we stopped for gas: It is due to ash from one of the volcanoes in the area (this part of Chile has LOTS of volcanoes).
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    So long Chile! Our last border crossing this trip.
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    Chile border crossing - in the very packed parking log. This is where Carol's motorcycle was later blown over by the wind. The car that you see next to her here is not the one that was scratched - it came and parked later after we were inside. The wind was, at the time of this picture, blowing towards me as I am taking the shot - but when I came out to check out the tip over, it had changed and was blowing the other way.
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    Scenery riding between the border checkpoints - after Chile, before Argentina. The "mist" you can make out is from a nearby volcano vent - it is steam and ash. It is quite a ways down the other side of the pass before you get to the Argentina border control, the longest "no mans land" we've seen this entire trip. Well over 10 miles.
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    More scenery riding in no mans land.

    20200221_191844edited .jpg And here we are - in Argentina, one last time! This was taken at the hotel we stayed at in Villa Angostora, which is primarily a ski resort town. We stayed one night and then headed to San Martin de Los Andes.
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  11. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    I am behind on posting maps of our travles - and realized just now that I posted the last one twice! Oops. So here are a bunch of maps to catch up.

    This first one is just to illustrate my earlier recommendation regarding south-central Chile. I downloaded all the tracks for our route going and coming through this region (from our route down in December to our return in February). The region I'm talking about is the region to the north of Puerto Montt to more or less Pucon. I would gladly go back and spend a few weeks just wondering through the lakes and mountains in the indicated region, and I wish we had peeled away from Rt 5 more than we did on our way south. If you recall my post from back just before Christmas, upon leaving Villarrica, I created a route for that day to take us off of Rt 5 as long as possible - but Google dynamically re-routed me back onto Rt 5 long before I had planned! Still unhappy about that :(

    Going and coming - South-Central Chile_LI.jpg
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  12. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    This map follows (in time order) the last route map I posted (twice) - it is our path from Puerto Natales, down to Ushuaia, and eventually back to Puerto Natales where we eventually took the ferry north. Date range here is Jan 27 through Feb 10. And I'm including the link to the shared google map if you want to see details - I had the Inreach Mini running for most of our side excursions (penguin excursions, hikes, etc) so all that is there if you zoom in.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gzwPAGotO4QpVzUUJ9EDt9B5Y43cWSVE&usp=sharing
    Map P Natales to to Ushuaia and back.jpg
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  13. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    And here is the ferry route - we had a cabin with a window, so I was able to keep the Garmin Inreach Mini plugged in and sitting in the window, and it was enough sky for it to get a fix and track our route, which I think is pretty cool. It has our hotel coordinates in Puerto Natales, but then after we got on the ship it was off for most of the first day - that is why there is a gap at the beginning of the route. Date range here is Feb 11 to 15.

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1rchuX_xNhjSL1AyakR_cFml_yvezlaPF&usp=sharing
    Ferry Route - P Natales to P Montt Feb 2020.jpg
  14. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    This is our route from when we docked in Puerto Montt, onto Isla Chiloé and our explorations there, then leaving Chiloé and ending in Puerto Varas at Gulpon Aire Puro B&B. I earlier talked about the mishap on our ride from the dock to Chiloé when Google routed us (in the cold rain) onto a dirt track, which I eventually figured out was my error because somehow I had the "avoid highways" option selected! I annotated that little adventure - you can see what a unnecessary detour it was! If we'd just gone on Rt 5 we would have saved an hour riding in the rain. That's the way the adventure goes.

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1eRkyuAM_CF5hnUE8Ol7q11W8iBVxWEpL&usp=sharing


    Map P Montt to Chiloe to P Varas Feb 202_LI.jpg
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  15. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    And lastly (for now), here is our route from Puerto Varas, over the border to the Lakes Region, including all of our explorations there. We left the Bariloche area two days ago and are currently in the middle of the desert headed towards Buenos Aires, taking a rest day due to a) need a rest and b) the "Windy" app predicted pretty bad winds for our route today, but better tomorrow. I will try to catch up with pics from our week in the Lakes Region next - and after we get to BA, I'll update with another map showing our route from Bariloche to BA. I did post a map to our Facebook page up to current location if you are really interested - find us on FB at xplore2gether. Interesting thing about he FB page is that 90% of the post there are from Carol, so if you want to see the trip through her eyes, check out the photo albums there that she spends a lot of time curating and commenting on.

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fldCF_fiw4jAjcnfNJS2wqoOHsGFI0jx&usp=sharing

    Map P Varas Chile through Lakes Region Argentina Feb 2020.jpg
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  16. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    This is great info. Don't know if you had a chance to check out Itchyboots, but she mostly avoided Rt. 5, but on the eastern side of the Andes. https://www.itchyboots.com/route She's ahead of you (I think) so she might have some good suggestions on routes. At least they look great to me. Tks.
  17. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    As mentioned in previous post - we spent one night in Villa Angostora after crossing the border into Chile, and then we rode north to San Martin de los Andes, driving along the "Seven Lakes" route (part of Rt 40). It is an incredible drive - good road, amazing scenery (including seven lakes!), but lots of traffic due to being peak tourist season. Great thing is we got to do this ride twice, when we turned back to Bariloche a few days later.

    At San Martin de los Andes we spent two nights in a hotel Hostal Ayelen, not really a hostal - no kitchen available, for instance. More like a lodge. It is up on a mountain above the town, with incredible views of the town and Lago Lácar. The road up to the lodge was dirt and steep - and the driveway was REALLY steep, and consisted of two concrete strips about 18" wide, and between and on either side of those was stuff you didn't want to be riding in, given the grade. With sharp turns. Fun. I rode Carol's bike up for her, leaving her to do the not insignificant walk up, in her gear. I said something about the drive to the owner who told us "we ride up it all the time on our motorcycle" - then I parked next to their 125cc motorcycle and I understood the difference! There was another couple on a motorcycle at the lodge - they saw the driveway and decided to go back down and find a place to keep their motorcycle in town and took a taxi up to the lodge - I felt better about my comments to the owner after that.

    Three days later, on the way out, Carol was riding her own bike down the drive, and our timing just had to coincide with a taxi coming up. I barely held it together but manged to stop - Carol stopped but had no place to put her feet - remember we are riding down a concrete runner, her feet off each side of that, and she is can barely flat foot her bike on level ground. I'm stopped, looking at the taxi and talking to Carol on the intercom, and the taxi is just standing there like I'm supposed to do something. He doesn't know about Carol - she is up the hill and around the corner. And he was not budging - not sure what he wanted me to do. There was no way I could move off to the side, off of the concrete strips - I'd go into a ditch or off the edge. Finally he realized that having stopped he couldn't get traction to start going up again anyway (it was that steep - and he had bald tires), so backing down was his only option. With the taxi out of the way, I rode down to the main road, explained to the Taxi that there was another motorcycle on the driveway and it was down, and asked if he could hep us. He said yes, and then proceeded to get a running start and rode up past Carol and onto the Hotel. I walked back up the drive to Carol, and we managed to pick up her bike after some effort (it was in the ditch on a steep incline). We had to sort of drag it around to get it into a position where we could get under it and leg-lift. She is so used to this happening by now it was all taken in stride. The taxi driver stopped to see if we were ok on his way back down.

    That little adventure aside, the place we stayed at was amazing - the views were incredible, the lodge itself was of wonderful wood construction, had an awesome porch overlooking the lake and town, very nice. And it was not that expensive, considering (I think it was about $80/night, including breakfast). We walked down the hill to town for dinner one night (and took a taxi back up!), and the other found a restaurant not far from our hotel, up on the hill. But we basically just soaked in the scenery and tranquil atmosphere, read, did some tax prep and I played the guitalele a lot :-) One thing I'm looking forward to about the end of the trip is being able to play my guitars.



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    Lago Espejo, one of the "seven" - there are miradors (vista points) on the road, all along the seven lakes route, with signs with camera icons on them to give you a heads up. Another rider told us it was worth to pay attention and stop at them - they all have incredible views. So we did - at least at most of them. And they did (have incredible views).

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    Another view of Lago Espejo - it is a very big lake with a number of arms, so you come across it multiple times along the route, and the views are different every time.
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    Lago Correntoso


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    This little hawk stopped and perched right next to Carol as we were about to leave one of the miradors.
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    GoPro picture - this is what the ride looks like! That is Lago Correntoso to the right.
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    Another GoPro picture taken along the seven lakes route.

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    Lago Escondido. We hiked down the unofficial path from the mirador to the lake side, which was nice, but it was also a toilet. Argentina, and Chile, have wonderful national parks, that are fairly well developed in terms of roads. But they are not as developed as a state or federal park in the USA - most noticeably in terms of service infrastructure, like restrooms. There aren't any. But people have to go. So on a trail like this you will find pieces of toilet paper littered all about, and it smells like .. a pit toilet. I've thought about this - it is a fundamental thing: If you create a space that will bring in a lot of people, then you are going to get what goes with that - people have to go! But you can't just put up some bathrooms and be done with it - they have to be serviced and maintained. You have to not only put in the infrastructure, which is a one-time capital layout, but you have to have a staff and administration to maintain and service them. And that is an ongoing expense, and not cheap. But ... people got to go! So, given the way it is, all of the interesting (or even not so interesting) roadside stops double as go-where-you-can toilets. We stop almost every day on the roadside for lunch and it is just a reality we've come to expect. But it makes me appreciate the public infrastructure we have in the USA.

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    Dragonfly at the edge of the lake we hiked down to. Nothing so exotic about a dragonfly, but it was a cool picture. And I think the next picture is even cooler.

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    I had fun with this - probably spent 20 minutes. I put the camera on shutter priority with the fastest possible shutter speed (1/2500), and then waited for one of the dragonflies to hover in the sunlight (needed lots of light for the fast shutter speed) - and I got this! Frozen in motion.

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    And there was a lizard on the log by the lake shore. My kids follow this report and I know my grand kids will like that, so that's why it's here.
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    A family from Buenos Aires that were very interested in us, especially Carol, and our trip. Forget their names - but the man to right said that he owns a BMW motorcycle, and he was very interested in how we had our bikes kitted out. I've mentioned before that people gravitate to Carol. So typical after a road side stop; I'm getting ready to go, getting gear on and putting things away, then turn around and Carol has a group of people around her :-) I say it is because she is a woman rider, she says it is because I act like "I'm busy, don't bother me" so people go to her instead. That's how it happened here.
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    Lago Villarino


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    Lago Machónico

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    It is personality - for sure. They didn't ask ME to take their photo.
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    San Martin de los Andes - as seen from the Hostal Ayelén.

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    San Martin de los Andes - taken on our walk down into town for dinner.
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    This is the view of the lake from the porch at Hostal Ayelén. The window from our room had the same view. Wow.
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    Taken from the common area of the hotel, this is a couple from Buenos Aires, Mara (L) and Brenda (R), who were also staying at the Hostal Ayelén. Grao was running in a half marathon the following week, in Bariloche. Hope it went well! We enjoyed talking with them - their English was excellent so we could have a real conversation! Talking with them we obtained some interesting insight into Argentinian culture.
  18. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    680
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    After two nights in the Hostal Ayelén, we rode back along the seven lakes route, to Bariloche. We spent two nights in downtown Bariloche in the Hotel Milan, so that we could experience what downtown had to offer. We hit up some museums, took a walking tour on the German (including Nazi) history of Bariloche, and experienced Carnival (we didn't even realize we were hitting town at Carnival, lol. We are such bad tourist!). On the day we left our hotel in Bariloche, we did a ride along the lake on the Circuito Chico, a scenic route along the lake (see map a few post back) that includes a must see stop at the Patagonia Cerveceria, about which another rider, Sergey, from Germany, whom we met in Ushuaia (the mammoth tusk dealer) told me "just do it - you have to" He was right!. Had to contain it to one beer since I was riding, but man, between the beer and the views, I could have spent an afternoon there. The perfect weather definitely helped with the ambiance.

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    Lago Nahuel, on the way to San Carlos de Bariloche . Bariloche is on the shores of this lake
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    Beware portion sizes! This was in a cerveceria in Bariloche. We wanted to share an apetizer. This was an apetizer for two. It had enough food for four! We took "las sobras" (leftovers) with us and it was lunch the next day. It included that baked/grilled cheese I've mentioned before - Provoleta. It is like pizza without the crust. I would like to try cooking it when we get back if I can find it!
    20200224_203832.jpg It was Carnival, and there were parades and performances happening all around "centro" (center square) Many were "traditional" dancers, such as these.
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    And these.

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    But then there was the more "Mardi Gras" style of performances, like this one. Carol was not impressed with the lack of clothing, and I was shocked at the young kids they had on stage mimicking the decidedly suggestive moves. The women were all wearing thongs.

    DSC09521.JPG Carnival merry makers.
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    On the shores of Bariloche - note the white caps. It was windy this day.
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    There is this huge gothic-style church in Bariloche, right down by the water front. It is massive!

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    Inside the church. There is something about the size and design of such a structure that demands quite reflection.

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    A bike/skate-park near the waterfront. These are pretty common in both Chile and Argentina - even some small towns we've been in have bike/skate parks. Puerto Natales had one right down by the dock where our ferry departed. They seem very familiar - like what you'd find in many towns or cities in the USA - except that NO ONE is wearing helmets. Yikes.

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    Black Faced Ibis. We saw so many of these in Chile, but they disappeared as we continued south. This is the first time we've seen them in Argentina.

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    Yep - it is a tourist town. Pretty cool Alien though.
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    Bariloche is known for chocolate - we had some! This store is "El Reino de las Chocolates", The Queen of Chocolates. Was touristy - we didn't buy there. But we did get some elsewhere and it was really good (there are lots of chocolate stores in Bariloche). As you walk down the main street there are sweet smells of chocolate wafting through the air.
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    The guy to the lower right was our tour guide for a walking tour highlighting the German influence in Bariloche. The building in the backround is the original German alpine club, still active today, that dates back to the 1800's. The Germans came in three main waves of immigration - one before WW1, another after WW1 and yet another after WWII. Included in the tour was a bit about the Nazi German history of Bariloche, most famously the story of Erich Priebke, a Nazi SS oficer that was outed by the television journalist Sam Donaldson in 1994. At the time he was uncovered, he was an outstanding citizen of Bariloche, and was involved in the school and other civic organizations. Our guide told us that his case was very divisive in Bariloche because there were people that respected him and others who were appalled that a Nazi SS officer had hidden among them for so long.
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    This building was part of the whole Germanic story in Bariloche whose history I forget. But today, besides being a historic landmark, it is a great Cerveceria, called Manush. We ate there (that is where we bot the appetizer for two that would have fed four easily!)
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    The Saint Bernard dogs with the brandy flasks were a thing - they were all over in the main center of town, charging tourist to take pictures with them. I have no idea the connection with Bariloche, other than that the town became known for alpine sports early on (in large part due to the Germans who came here).

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    There is a good museum in the center of town, where we learned about Perito Moreno! His name was Francisco Moreno, and he was an explorer, politician and geographer. He was crucial in helping to establish the boundaries between Argentina and Chile. His argument, which was adopted by the British arbitrators who were brought in to resolve the dispute, was that the highest point of the Andes range should be used to define the boundary, not the watershed argument (Atlantic vs. Pacific flow) preferred by Chile. His argument, which Britain ended up agreeing with, was that the watershed argument was to variable, and would change with time much more than the pure geologic boundary defined by the Andes crest. He then went on to do the survey work to define much of that crest. "Perito" means "Expert", and he wrote a book where he called himself "Perito Moreno" and that is how the name came to be. The border issue was settled in 1904.
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    On our last day, before we went to our next hotel, we rode the Circuito Chico scenic route. These are some homes along that route.
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    Along the Circuito Chico
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    Along the Circuito Chico

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    Those are hops, so this must be the place!
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    Cerveceria Patagonia.
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    This was the view from our seat at the Cerveceria. Wow.
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    Another view, along the Circuito Chico, after leaving the Cerveceria.
  19. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    680
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    After our few days in downtown Bariloche, we headed about 15 miles up into the mountains to a golf and tennis resort, a Marriott property. I've mentioned before that when I was working, I traveled internationally on business a lot, and as a result I had built up quite a store of points in the Marriot/SPG hotel chain. We have used those points on this trip, and the remaining balance was just enough to book three nights at the Arelauquen Lodge. We do not golf or play tennis, but this place is just a lovely place to stay - a real treat for the end of our trip. It has only 24 rooms, is pretty posh, and has incredible views. Our room was on the ground floor with a patio that led right onto the golf course. If it seems we are splurging a bit on the accommodations as we near the end ... well, yeah. We are, a bit - but this one was free :-) We just ate up the views and enjoyed the luxury for three days, before heading off into the desert for Buenos Aires.
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    There were these geese all over the golf course. At first I thought they were the ubiquitous Upland Goose that we saw so many of further south - but not so. They are "Ashy Headed Geese", and are apparently common in southern Argentina and Chile. They were beautiful.
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    When the Ashy Headed Geese fly, you see that their wings display mostly white with black trim - they are quite beautiful to see.
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    Yeah - we stayed there! Our room was on the right, ground level. I sat outside and played guitalele, watched the birds, read and worked on my trip report!
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    We did take a walk one day - there is a nature reserve nearby. During that walk, I took a picture of this little hawk-like bird. What I'd like to know is what is that on his head, behind his ear?! I did not even notice it at the time - only when I was looking at the picture afterwards. I have examined it in the original photo, close up - it is not an artifact or lens flare as I first suspected. If anyone has ideas I'd love to hear them. Maybe some sort of tag? But location seems strange.
    DSC09619.JPG The Arelauquen Lodge is part of a larger gated community, with a lot of really nice homes that we were able to ogle on our walk - this was one.

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    A Queltehue, a very common bird in Southern Chile and Argentina.

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    The nature reserve had some really tall trees. I'm sure the picture doesn't do it justice.
  20. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    680
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Ok - time to catch up! But first - we made it to Buenos Aires! The fin de viaje (of sorts - more on that later). It still seems strange. We rented an apartment (AirBnB) for four weeks, in the Palermo neighborhood, and will use that time to explore the city, take a trip (by air) up north for a few days to check out Iguazu falls, and generally decompress and mentally process our journey a bit before we head back to the USA, sometime in the second week of April. Ending the trip this way, with a bit of an extended stay, was the advice of Greg and Jess - expats and adv riders who have done similar trips. I met Greg (gs_roughontheroad) through advrider.com, and we stayed at their place in Panajachal, Guatemala many months ago - in fact a month short of a year ago. Wow! I don't know if Greg is following this report or not - but if so - "Thanks for the advice". Carol and I both think this will be time well spent.

    The ride from Bariloche across the continent to BA is a long one - almost exactly 1000 miles. The route is called the "desert route" for self-named reason, and you just have to slog through it. As you can see from the map (below), we took six days to get to Buenos Aires, but we stopped just short of BA to visit an Estancia - would have been easy in five, and I'm sure others would due it in three days.

    Although this was a long and hot slog of a ride, we are still happy that we traded going up Rt 3 for the way we came, taking the ferry and then coming over into Bariloche - you have to pay your dues to get from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, but we are pretty sure the dues were not as steep going the way we did compared to the Rt 3 option. Taking that route from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires is just shy of 2000 miles, and although we did have winds, I don't think they were as bad as what you experience along Rt 3 based on reports I've read and what I've seen in the Windy app.

    I'll describe the route and our trip in more detail, with some pictures in posts following this. Below is a picture of the map of our route, annotated with the name of the towns we stayed in, and the link to the Google My Maps with that route.

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1D61FOclV3ezw9_FT4MJ-TFtLsBQtRYSb&usp=sharing

    Bariloche to Buenos Aires.jpg
    jowul, AngusMcL, Kyron and 2 others like this.